ROSSBURG – For 35 weeks, racers in DIRTcar’s UMP Modified and Late Model ranks at member speedways across the country have competed against the drivers on the track all the while keeping an eye on how their rivals are faring at other speedways – and against how many other drivers because in the battle for the national championship, it’s all about your best finishes.
This weekend’s Allstar Performance Fall Nationals, a show for the Modified division, begins Friday and will put an even greater emphasis on best finishes this year with the event adopting the format used at the World 100. Drivers will tally qualifying points each time they are on track Friday night for their group time trials, heat race and feature race efforts. The ranking that results will seed them into tournament-style qualifying races on Saturday. These races decide the starting lineup for three feature events and the $5,000-to-win national championship finale. The Late Models will join for a full racing program and a $5,000-to-win national championship finale of their own.
There is more money to be earned, more races to be won and three major points titles to be decided – plus many of the top positions in both the DIRTcar UMP and Eldora standings are separated by just a few points.
Each of the national championships pay $20,000-to-win and are based on a driver’s best finishes (30 in the Modified division and 35 in the Late Model division). This weekend’s event offers Modified drivers up to three additional “best finishes” to improve in the DIRTcar standings and one for the Late Model competitors.
Mike Harrison (Highland, Illinois) has clinched the national championship for UMP Modifieds while the $10,000 that comes along with second place remains within the reach of drivers including Ray Bollinger (Kewanee, Illinois) and Randy Lines (Marion, Indiana). The unofficial top 10 consists of drivers Jamie Lomax, Allen Weisser, Kenny Wallace, David Mielke, Mike McKinney, Jeffrey Ledford and Nick Hoffman.
The national championship for Late Models is anything but over with Rusty Schlenk (McClure) leading Ryan Unzicker of (El Paso, Illinois) by just nine points going into Saturday night’s finale.
The 2017 Eldora Season Champions will also be decided this weekend for both divisions. All races contested during the season count in the standings.
The top-eight drivers in the Modified standings are separated by just 39 points. Longtime Eldora campaigner “The Jedi” Jerry Bowersock (Wapakoneta) leads by nine points over Jonathan Taylor (Saltsburg, Pennsylvania) with Josh Morton (Piqua) just 22 markers out of the lead. The remaining drivers in the top 10 include Joel Dick (Leamington, Ontario), Dylan Woodling (Warsaw, Indiana), Ryan Sutter (Coldwater), Evan Taylor (Saltsburg, Pennsylvania), Andy Galgoci (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan), Earnie Woodard (Georgetown, Kentucky) and Mike Hohlbein (Coverdale).
Growing up with the legendary Steve Kinser as a neighbor, another Bloomington, Indiana, native hopes to make his mark at Eldora this weekend – but in the Late Model division. Kent Robinson enters Saturday night’s Late Model show with a 10-point lead over Jon Henry (Ada). Jacob Hawkins (Fairmont, West Virginia) sits in third place with Jeff Babcock (Wayne) within striking distance. Meanwhile, Henry just needs to start Saturday’s feature race to claim the Sunoco American Late Model Series championship.
Off the track highlights this weekend include complimentary inspection of driver seats and personal safety systems and advice for all competitors on Friday by former NASCAR champion and motorsports safety advocate Randy LaJoie of The Joie of Seating, the annual post-race “Party at the Barn” and bonfire on Friday night for competitors and fans and $1 Busch Lights all weekend. All parking and camping (Lots 1-5) is free this weekend per usual.
Nearly $180,000 in prize money is posted for the event dedicated to the competitors who are the backbone of weekly dirt track racing.
Tickets for the Allstar Performance Fall Nationals are $12 on Friday and $20 on Saturday. Children (12 and younger) admitted free to general admission seating for all events. Advance tickets and event information is available online at www.EldoraSpeedway.com or by calling the Speedway Box Office at 937-338-3815.