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Monday, May 18th, 2009

Ruhlman, Trent take home wins at Eldora

By Mike Ernst

Race fans enjoy the sunshine and flock to the cars for autographs during the Fam. . .

ROSSBURG - Brian Ruhlman made a thrilling last-lap pass to capture the UMP DirtCar Modified main event and Rob Trent held off several late race charges to capture the Eldora Stock Car win at Eldora Speedway's Family Fun Night on Saturday.
Ruhlman, of Clarklake, Michigan, shared the front-row starting position with Loretto, Kentucky's Jason Wheatley.
Wheatley, who won his first Eldora UMP DirtCar Modified main event last week, jumped to the early lead, but unlike last week, could never pull away from the field.
Ruhlman, a two-time Eldora Modified track champion, kept Wheatley within his sights, while Todd Sherman, Jeff Babcock, Chad Ruhlman, Mike Roediger, Doug Adkins and Jacob Hawkins battled for position behind the lead duo.
Attrition slowly eliminated many of the top contenders. Adkins, the point leader at the start of the evening, dropped out with a flat tire on the initial start while Hawkins dropped out on lap three with a mechanical issue. Chad Ruhlman, driving for Mercer County car owner's Chuck Sanning and Bill Dues, moved to fourth on lap seven but then slowed and pulled into the pit area one lap later.
Roediger, of Rockford, was having his best run of the season, battling for a spot in the top five when his engine went up in a giant plum of blue smoke on lap 11 ending his night prematurely.
With some of the competition dropping out behind them, Brian Ruhlman continued to hound Wheatley and with two laps to go, tried to make a move on the high-side of turn two. Wheatley was up to the challenge and held the lead as they raced to the white flag signifying one lap to go.
"I knew I had one chance to get him," Brian Ruhlman said. "Jason is a great competitor and a great guy to race against. I knew he was not going to make a mistake."
While Wheatley kept his car on the cushion on the high-side of the track, Brian Ruhlman dove to the bottom of turn one on the final lap and slid up in front of Wheatley to take the lead as the two raced down the backstretch.
Wheatley tried to return to the favor with a low move in turns three and four which were unsuccessful, and adding insult injury, opened the door for Babcock to move around on the high-side to take the runner-up spot behind Brian Ruhlman at the flag stand.
"Anytime you win at Eldora is feels great," Brian Ruhlman said. "This track is in just awesome shape. I give Chad Schmitmeyer and his track crew guys a lot of credit, they really have this track in great shape."
The win was the 27th for Ruhlman in UMP Modified competition at Eldora, which is second on the all-time win list, just five behind Scott Orr.
Sherman held on to finish fourth, while David Smith finished fifth. Jesse Bitterling, Rob Williams, John Brooks, Eddie Shaner and New Knoxville's Brent Hole rounded out the top 10.
Sherman and Bitterling set identical fast-times over the 42-car field in qualifying. Doug Adkins won the Fast Car Dash while Steve Schnapps, Smith, Babcock and Brian Ruhlman won the heat races. Brooks and Brian Post captured the B-Mains.
Local drivers Mike Chrisman, Ryan Sutter, Josh Greber and Nick Katterhenry failed to make the 17-lap main event.
After a dazzling fireworks show, Lima's Rob Trent held off all challengers to capture the 15-lap Eldora Stock Car feature event. Trent, who started the main event third, moved around Jeremy Creech on lap three and never relinquished the lead.
Babcock, driving in both divisions, moved to the runner-up position on lap five and began to challenge Trent for the top spot. The two made contact several times but Babcock could never wrestle the lead away.
On lap nine, Babcock's smoking car slowed on the back stretch giving Trent some breathing room over the remainder of the field. The lead margin was eliminated when Mendon's Jason Kinney, who was running in the top five, crashed in turn two and stopped on the backstretch on lap 13. Kinney scored 16th in the finishing order.
Creech restarted directly behind Trent on the restart but could not find a way around the Eldora veteran and Trent held on for his first win of the season. Creech held on for second-place, while Scott Bowersock, Earnie Woodard and Tony Anderson rounded out the top five. Mike Dirksen, Andy Strait, Mike Krueger, Adam Schaeff and Eric Sandlin finished in the top 10.
Local drivers Jamie Heiser, Bob Sutter, Luke Timmerman all failed to finish high enough in preliminary events to qualify for the feature event.
Eldora Speedway returns to action next Sunday night with the Johnny Appleseed Classic for the American Late Model Series. The National Racing Alliance 360 sprint cars will also make their first appearance of the season, while the Eldora Stock cars will also be in competition. Warm ups begin at 6:00 p.m. with the first heat race hitting the one-half mile, high-banked, clay oval at 7:30 p.m.
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