ROSSBURG – It may have been 16 hours later than scheduled, but Jeep Van Wormer (Pinconning, Michigan) and Nick Hoffman (Mooresville, North Carolina) scored the $5,000 victories in the rain-delayed championship events in the Allstar Performance Fall Nationals Sunday at Eldora Speedway.
The UMP Late Model feature restarted with 16-laps completed before Saturday night’s rain. Van Wormer was immediately challenged by Kent Robinson (Bloomington, Indiana), and they dueled top and bottom around the extremely racy high-banked half-mile oval.
While the lead was exchanged several times unofficially, Robinson used the low side of the speedway to officially record the lead at the flag stand on lap 18. Van Wormer rallied back on the outside and took the lead back on the following lap. They were soon joined by 2016 World 100 winner Bobby Pierce (Oakwood, Illinois) and three raced three-wide, jockeying for the top-three positions.
Following a lap-27 caution flag for Jeff Berwanger’s brush with the wall (Murray City), Pierce moved around Robinson into the runner-up position and began pressuring Van Wormer for the lead.
Van Wormer was up to the challenge and held Pierce at bay over the final 12 laps to pick up his first win at Eldora since July 2015.
“It feels good to get back in victory lane here at Eldora; it’s been a while,” Van Wormer, a two-time Eldora Late Model Season Champion said on the victory stage. “We’ll never know what would have happened if it didn’t rain last night. They had harder tires on then I did last night, but we changed before we started today, and my guys gave me a really good car.”
Pierce held on for second place while Robinson finished in third place, which secured him his first Eldora track championship.
“It ranks right up there with everything else I have accomplished in my career,” Robinson said. “When we sat down to set our goals at the beginning of the season, we made this one of our main goals. It is pretty cool to accomplish a goal you set out to achieve.”
Jon Henry (Ada) finished in fourth place and wrapped up the Sunoco American Late Model Series season championship. Jacob Hawkins (Fairmont, West Virginia) rounded out the top five, bringing St. Henry’s Bill Dues-owned machine home in fifth place.
Rusty Schlenk (McClure) finished ninth to secure his second DIRTcar UMP National Championship over Ryan Unzicker (El Paso, Illinois).
Nick Hoffman grew up in Belleville, Illinois, but moved to Mooresville, North Carolina, at a young age and worked his way up through quarter-midgets, karts, Bandoleros and Legends Cars before turning his attention to dirt cars.
Hoffman started Friday’s show by hitting the wall in qualifying. With no time, he lined up last in his heat race and powered his way to the front taking the win. An invert of six based on qualifying time for the feature race lined him up sixth but he scored one of the four $2,000-to-win A-Features, scoring valuable points towards Saturday’s tournament qualifiers.
Seeded by total points based on performance, Hoffman started the first of the four 15-lap qualifying races in 13th position, worked his way to a second-place finish behind winner Kyle Strickler (Mooresville, North Carolina) and into the redraw for the top-12 starting positions.
Drawing the fourth starting spot, Hoffman chased pole sitter Trent Young (Crofton, Kentucky) for the first six laps of the 30-lap UMP Modified Championship feature event before driving under Young in Turns 3 and 4 to take the lead. Young was not done and challenged Hoffman several times, retaking the lead before Hoffman started to pull away.
From that point forward, Hoffman, was never seriously challenged but did have a scary moment under the race’s first caution period when Nathon Loney crashed on lap 16. Hoffman’s car rolled to a stop on the frontstretch but was able to get the machine to re-fire on his own and re-assumed his position at the front of the field.
It was Hoffman’s second win in the event, his first coming in 2012. He also scored his first career Late Model victory at Eldora in the season opener in April.
“It just kept wanting to stall out under those cautions, and I really didn’t want to see that caution with four to go, so I just held it wide open and tried to clean it out,” Hoffman said. “My hats off to everyone here at Eldora for putting this thing on and getting us a good track to race on today.”
Former NASCAR driver David Stremme (Mooresville, North Carolina) moved from his 12th starting position to second place at the finish while Young completed the podium finishers, coming home in third place. Kenny Wallace (Imperial, Missouri) and Taylor Cook (Huntersville, North Carolina) completed the top five.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Justin Haley (Winamac, Indiana), Josh Rice (Verona, Kentucky), Dylan Woodling (Warsaw, Indiana), Jerry Bowersock (Wapakoneta) and Ryan Sutter (Coldwater) completed the top 10.
Bowersock wrapped up his fourth career Eldora Modified championship, his first since 2013 and his fifth overall track championship.
“We didn’t win any races, which was kind of disappointing, but we had a lot of top five and top threes, and that’s how you win a championship,” said Bowersock, who is now tied for the third most championships in Eldora’s 64 year history.
Eldora wraps up the 2017 season Saturday night with the “Last Call For Methanol.” The Arctic Car All Star Circuit of Champions highlights the three-division program, which also features a program for the K&L Ready Mix National Racing Alliance 360 Sprint Cars and traditional non-wing sprint cars.
Ticket and event information can be found at www.EldoraSpeedway.com or by calling 937-338-3815.