ROSSBURG – The always heated Eldora Speedway championships take center stage on Saturday evening when the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds and Eldora Stock Cars headline the Saturday Night SpeedFest, which will also include the only 2017 appearance of the Vore’s Compact Touring Series.
One week ago Jacob Hawkins picked up the opening night 20-lap DIRTcar UMP Modified main event while defending and four-time Eldora track champion Rob Trent notched another win with a late charge in the 15-lap Stock Car feature.
While Hawkins is not expected to make a run at the Eldora track championship in 2017, the championship battle did get off to an intense start last week as three-time Eldora modified track champion Jerry Bowersock and defending track champion Jeff Koz battled for the runner-up spot.
At the checkered flag, Bowersock held on for the second-place finish. The veteran from Wapakoneta, who has 27 wins at Eldora and ranks third on the all-time Eldora win list, has not visited the Eldora victory stage since 2013.
Koz, who hails from Lima, is still looking for his first career modified win at The World’s Greatest Dirt Track, but he once again displayed the consistency that led him to last season’s title with a strong third-place finish a week ago.
Brothers Evan and Jonathan Taylor were both forced to charge from the back of the field last week as their hauler experienced mechanical issues on their way to Eldora from their home in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. Both salvaged good finishes a week ago with Jonathan finishing in fifth-place and Evan taking the checkered flag in eighth-place.
Other top contenders expected back for Saturday evening’s UMP Modified event highlighted by a 20-lap feature event include Canadian driver Joel Dick, who finished runner-up in 2016 title chase, last week’s fourth-place finisher Mike Learman, second-generation driver Dylan Woodling, Jared Spalding and brothers Aaron and Scott Orr, who is tied at the top of the all-time win list with 36.
Georgetown, Kentucky’s Earnie Woodard appeared headed to the season opening win a week ago, but the veteran spun coming off turn four on lap 12 handing the lead over to Trent. The snake-bitten Woodard, who has won races at Eldora for nearly three decades, is still trying to join his father (Al, a four-time Eldora track champ) as an Eldora track champion.
Trent, who is sporting new colors and a new number in 2017, had to hold off a late charge by Dayton’s Donnie Jeschke in the closing laps to pick up the season opener, but the veteran from Lima appears primed for his fifth Eldora track title, which would tie him for third-most on the all-time list.
Veteran Paul Pardo, the busy owner of Pardo Towing in Richmond, Indiana, has been to Eldora’s victory lane but despite threatening the past several seasons is still looking for his first track championship. He opened the season with a strong third-place finish ahead of newcomer Craig Swartz.
Ed Hounshell won the 1978 Eldora Stock Car championship and is back in 2017 trying to better his 10th place finish in points from a season ago. Hounshell opened the season with a top-five run coming home in fifth-place.
The Eldora Stock division is also now sanctioned by DIRTcar and the drivers earn both National and Regional points in the DIRTcar UMP Sportsman division while chasing the $2,000-to-win Eldora Championship.
The Vore’s Compact Touring Series have been scheduled for one stop at Eldora annually for the past five seasons and their one appearance of 2017 is Saturday. Last season, Matthew Morris won his first race in the economical, front-wheel drive machines taking the lead just past the half-way point of the race.
Other top finishers a year ago included Chris Jennings, Jake Steraka, Justin Brown and David Yoder.
Eldora officials are expecting more than 30 compact teams from seven states to compete on Saturday evening. The division recently raced at Indianapolis Raceway Park and has an upcoming event at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Despite its widespread schedule, the division is sponsored by Vore’s Steel and Welding of Fort Recovery.
Eldora will once again be using its special “Springtime Starttimes” schedule. Ticket sales will begin at 3:30 p.m. with the gates opening at 4 p.m. The first hot lap session will take to the high-banks at 5 p.m. Showtime is scheduled for 6 p.m. Last week’s season opener was complete with fans were on their way home by 8:25 p.m., and fans can expect the same thing again this week as track officials will try to help fans combat the cooler temperatures that are expected after dark.
Adult tickets are still $12 and children (12 and younger) are admitted free. All seating is general admission for the event. For more information, contact the Speedway Box Office at 937-338-3815, visit www.EldoraSpeedway.com and follow @EldoraSpeedway on social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.