Paducah International Raceway
Unretired Claycomb gets UMP victory at Paducah
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com chief writer
PADUCAH, Ky. (June 26) — The whipper-snappers on the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals tour at Paducah International Raceway probably wish Kevin Claycomb was still retired. Competing on the grueling circuit for the first time in five years, the 47-year-old driver from Vincennes, Ind., dominated the final 26 laps at Paducah International Raceway for a $6,000 victory. | Clippinger team profile | Slideshow | Complete series statistics
Claycomb's fourth career Summernationals victory, and first since winning at Paducah in 2000, gave him three victories overall in 16 starts since coming out of retirement to run for Evansville, Ind.-based Scott Clippinger Racing this season.
"The breaks really haven't been going our way, and tonight they did," said Claycomb, who drove for his family-owned team 20 years before they shut the team down in 2004. "In the feature, it just seemed like we got a rhythm going and got rolling. I think we went a little softer on tires than everybody else did."
In becoming the 10th winner in 11 Summernationals events in 2008, the high-running Claycomb turned in the most convincing victory as he swept around polesitter Dennis Erb Jr. on the 14th lap and stretched his lead to more than a straightaway at the 3/8-mile western Kentucky oval. Erb ended up second in the 40-lapper for his second straight runner-up finish on the series. He also cut Brian Shirley's points lead to 11 from 21 as the series nears its midpoint.
Duke Whiseant of Texarkana, Ark., who failed to make the feature lineups of his two previous Summernationals appearances, turned things around with an 11th-to-third run at Paducah, finishing one spot better than Shirley. Hometown driver Jeff Walston posted his best-ever series finish with a fifth. Several contenders fell by the wayside, including Darren Miller, who led the first nine laps before a deflating, and then flat, right rear tire forced him out. Jeep Van Wormer came from the tail after a lap-one scramble to run as high as fourth, but he pulled to the infield with just five laps remaining.
Claycomb started fourth and immediately jumped to the high side, stalking Miller and Erb as they ran the low groove early in the race. After losing the lead to Erb on the 10th lap, Miller jumped to the high groove and briefly held Claycomb up. But Claycomb took second from Miller on the 12th lap, then swept around Erb exiting turn four following a restart to take command. Miller pulled to the infield in turn two on the 13th lap after his right rear blew out.
Without any cautions the rest of the way, the 47-year-old Claycomb cruised, building a full-straightaway lead by the 25th lap and weaving through lapped traffic to maintain his margin. Claycomb took the checkered flag more than a straightaway ahead of Erb.
The race was slowed by three cautions, the worst for a turn-four pileup on the first lap that sent former track champion Terry English off on a tow truck. Steve Sheppard Jr., Jeep Van Wormer and Dewayne Kiefer were also involved. A lap-three caution appeared for debris and fourth-running Randy Korte pulled off with a flat tire during the yellow. Another caution for debris appeared on lap 13, just after Miller pulled to the infield.
The began with lightning off to the west and rain eventually reached the area around speedway a half hour after the race. ... Claycomb won two of his first three starts for Scott Clippinger Racing in 2008, including a $5,000 victory at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky. ... Claycomb led most of the first half of last Thursday's Summernationals feature at Mount Vernon, a race won by Darren Miller. ... Before this year, Claycomb's last Summernationals feature start was July 18, 2003, at Kamp Motor Speedway in Boswell, Ind. ... Unofficially, Brian Shirley holds the series lead with 845 points followed by Erb (836) and Wes Steidinger (714), who took third from Will Vaught (706). Jeep Van Wormer is fifth at 703. ... Vaught, of Crane, Mo., had a tough night as he flipped his car in a consolation accident. He suffered an apparent broken thumb and complained of sore ribs, but he took a provisional starting spot and drove Mike Hammerle's car a single lap. ... Three of the top six finishers (Claycomb, Whiseant and sixth-finishing Kevin Weaver) posted their best series finishes of 2008. ... Three drivers didn't complete a lap and Steve Sheppard Jr. pulled out on the fifth lap, followed by Tim Lance on the sixth lap. About half the 21-car field was running at the finish. ... The series moves to Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway on Friday, June, 27, for a $10,000-to-win even at the reconfigured track.
UMP @ Paducah: (1) Kevin Claycomb, (2) Dennis Erb Jr. (3), Duke Whiseant, (4) Brian Shirley, (5) Jeff Walston, (6) Kevin Weaver, (7) Wes Steidinger, (8) John Tindal, (9) Dylan Thompson, (10) Jordan Bland, (11) Tim Brown, (12) Jeep Van Wormer, (13) Billy James, (14) Darren Miller, (15) Tim Lance, (16) Steve Sheppard Jr., (17) Randy Korte, (18) Will Vaught, (19) Dewayne Kiefer, (20) Jason Feger, (21) Terry English. Fast qualifier (among 35 cars): Steidinger, 15.553 seconds. Heat race winners: Erb, Miller, Korte, Claycomb. C-Main winner: Sellars. B-Main winner: Van Wormer. Provisional starters: Vaught, Steidinger, Tindal.
Fourth-starting Jeep Van Wormer took the lead from Jeff Walston on the eighth lap and went on to win a 10-lap B-Main marred by Will Vaught's flipping accident. Walston was a close second followed by four other drivers transferring to the feature: Kevin Weaver, Billy James, Tim Brown and Tim Lance, whose car was torn up early in the race. The race was stopped by a lap-three red flag when Vaught's car flipped exiting turn two. Vaught climbed out unassisted before track workers reached him, but he appeared to be in some pain as he was hunched over walking away from the car. Vaught stumbled back and sat down for a few minutes against the outside wall, where he was attended by track workers and medical personnel. Vaught walked mostly unassisted and climbed into an ambulance. The 21-year-old Crane, Mo., driver is making his first full-time run on the Summernationals and stands third in points. Vaught's mangled car, with severe damage to the right front, was removed from the track on a rollback.
Finish: Jeep Van Wormer, Jeff Walston, Kevin Weaver, Billy James, Tim Brown, Tim Lance, Jarryd Holshouser, Randy Sellars, Brent Kreke, Tanner English, Jason Riggs, Todd Hall, Jason McBride, Will Vaught. Scratched: John Tindal, Justin Rattliff.
Fourth-starting Randy Sellars, the 1996 Summernationals winner at Paducah, took the victory over polesitter Jason Riggs. Todd Hall and Jason McBride, who overtook Rusty Griffaw in turn four on the last lap, got the other two transfer spots in the 10-lapper. Wes Steidinger, in line for a series provisional, ran by himself early in the race at the rear of the field and pulled off on lap four.
Finish: Randy Sellars, Jason Riggs, Todd Hall, Jason McBride, Rusty Griffaw, Chris Shelton, Brandon Chappell, Mike Hammerle, Wes Steidinger.
Dennis Erb Jr. got the jump on polesitter Terry English and went on to capture the final 10-lap heat. English got alongside Erb a few times after an early caution, but he couldn't make the pass and eventually slipped to third behind Jason Feger, back on the series after a one-race absence with engine problems. Feger was second followed by English with the third and final transfer spot. Jeep Van Wormer, who got too high in turn one on the first lap, challenged English late but settled for fourth. Will Vaught and Justin Rattliff were never in contention in finishing out of transfer spots. A lap-two caution appeared for Jason McBride, who spun in turn four and rejoined the field.
Finish: Dennis Erb Jr., Jason Feger, Terry English, Jeep Van Wormer, Will Vaught, Justin Rattliff, Randy Sellars, Jason McBride.
Polesitter Randy Korte went unchallenged in winning the third heat while Jordan Bland and Duke Whiseant also grabbed transfer spots in the night's first caution-free heat. Bland nearly got sideways in turn four on the first lap, but he smoothed things out and was able to hold off Whiseant and finish second. Kevin Weaver was fourth, just behind the Bland-Whiseant battle.
Finish: Randy Korte, Jordan Bland, Duke Whiseant, Kevin Weaver, Jarryd Holshouser, Brent Kreke, Todd Hall, Chris Shelton, Mike Hammerle.
Polesitter Darren Miller cruised to an easy victory in the second heat, beating fellow front-row starter Dewayne Kiefer by nearly a full straightaway. Kiefer fought off a late challenge from Steve Sheppard Jr. as both drivers transferred to the feature event. Jeff Walston was fourth. Two starts were called back, the second when Sheppard slowed to a stop in turn four; that helped Kiefer, who had gotten into the backstretch wall. Joe Mike III pulled out on the fifth lap, the same circuit that Ryan Unzicker pulled his smoking car to the infield. Unzicker was pushed off the track following the race.
Finish: Darren Miller, Dewayne Kiefer, Steve Sheppard Jr., Jeff Walston, John Tindal, Tanner English, Rusty Griffaw, Joe Mike III, Ryan Unzicker.
Winning a three-wide battle with Brian Shirley and Dylan Thompson down the frontstretch as the field took the green, a high-running Kevin Claycomb took command and raced to a 10-lap heat race victory from outside the front row. Shirley, who inherited the pole position when overall fast qualifier Wes Steidinger was late to the starting grid, challenged Claycomb a few times but settled for second while Thompson got the third and final transfer spot. Tim Brown was a distant fourth. Steidinger, who dropped out on the last lap while running near the back, was lucky to make the race at all after his team changed radiators following time trials. One attempt to start the race was made without Steidinger on the track, but he tagged the tail of the field for the next start. Other starts were called back for separate spins by Brown and Jason Riggs.
Finish: Kevin Claycomb, Brian Shirley, Dylan Thompson, Tim Brown, Tim Lance, Billy James, Jason Riggs, Brandon Chappell, Wes Steidinger.
Wes Steidinger of Fairbury, Ill., was fastest among 35 qualifiers in the 11th leg of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals event at Paducah International Raceway. Steidinger posted a fast lap of 15.553 seconds at the 3/8-mile oval, narrowly edging Kevin Claycomb for overall fast time honors.
Steidinger will start on the pole of the first heat race. Other heat race polesitters, by virtue of group qualifying: Darren Miller of Milledgeville, Ill., Randy Korte of Highland, Ill., and former track champion Terry English of Benton, Ky.
The top three finishers from each of four heats will transfer to the $6,000-to-win feature event. Finishers 4-6 will go to the B-Main and everyone else will start the C-Main.
Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., enters the race as the series points leader with 770 points. Dennis Erb Jr. is second at 751. ... Among series newcomers at Paducah were Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series regular Justin Rattliff of Campbellsville, Ky., Todd Hall of Charleston, Mo., and Joe Mike III of Mayfield, Ky. ... Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., rejoined the series after skipping Wednesday's race at Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Mo. Feger picked up a freshened engine from Mullvain Motorsports to replace an overdue engine hurt in Sedalia, Mo. ... Steve Sheppard Jr. of New Berlin, Ill., swapped engines in his No. 5s after breaking a rocker arm each of the past two nights. ... The DirtonDirt.com video crew is heading to the World of Outlaws-sanctioned Firecracker 100 at Lernerville (Pa.) Speedway, scheduled for June 27-28. Videos of Summernationals events are scheduled to resume with the feature race June 29 at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway.