Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
By Mike Ernst
Miller grabs late lead for Eldora win
ROSSBURG - Like so many American Late Model Series (ALMS) events at Eldora Speedway, Sunday night's Baltes Classic appeared to be heading to an exciting dual between past Eldora track champions Jeep VanWormer and Matt Miller.
VanWormer, who beat Miller for an ALMS win at Eldora in April, passed early leader Chris Brown on lap seven for the top spot in Sunday's 25-lap main event. Miller, meanwhile, started fifth and followed VanWormer through to the runner-up spot on lap 10 and then slowly began to reel in the race leader.
"Jeep got off to a great start and pulled away from there a little bit, but my car kept getting better and better and then when we hit the lapped traffic we really started gaining on him," Miller said.
Miller, from Toledo, caught VanWormer on lap 18, as the leader was held up behind the lapped car of Andrew Reaume. Miller began poking the nose of his car below VanWormer, but as quick as the battle heated up, it came to an end.
VanWormer's car began showing a heavy trail of smoke and Miller streaked by with VanWormer slowly heading to the pit area.
"Jeep and I always race each other real hard and it was about to get really interesting," Miller said. "Probably a good thing he dropped out or we may have both crashed."
From there it was clear sailing for Miller as he easily held off Brown and led the remaining five laps for his third career ALMS win at Eldora. The win also gives Miller some momentum heading into next weekend's running of the dirt late model racing most prestigious event, The World 100 at Eldora.
"It has been a while since we won a race here," said the 2005 winner of the $100,000 to-win Dirt Late Model Dream. "I always come here believing I can win so I am really looking forward to next weekend now."
Brown, who made the long haul to Eldora from Texas, finished in the runner-up spot while veteran Arkansas driver Wendell Wallace, Jared Landers and Scott James completed the top five.
After winning on the B-main with the ALMS, Wayne native Jeff Babcock dominated the 18-lap modified main event to pick up his second win of the season at Eldora. Babcock jumped to the lead from the outside pole starting position and was never seriously challenged.
Ruhlman methodically worked his way to the runner-up spot, while Jerry Bowersock finished in third place, ahead of first-time 2010 competitors Clint DeMoss and Nick Allen.
Jon Henry finished in sixth place, and by doing so, wrapped up the 2010 track championship. Henry entered the race a single point behind Brian Post, but when Post failed to qualify for the A-main, he was eliminated from title contention.
Scott Orr, driving the car owned by Mercer Countians Chuck Sanning and Bill Dues, entered the race only 12 points from the lead but finished one spot behind Henry on Sunday night and settled for the runner-up spot in the points battle.
Two-time defending Stock Car track champion Mike Dirksen had himself perfectly positioned in third place behind Jeremy Creech and Earnie Woodard and seemed content to finish there to wrap up a third straight track championship.
Creech led the first 14 laps of the 15-lap event, before he got loose in turn one spinning sideways directly in front of Woodard, who had nowhere to go. Woodard slammed into Creech sending Creech's car into the air and over once before slamming back to the track right-side up. Neither driver was injured in the violent mishap.
Dirksen, from Union City, inherited the lead and led the final lap after restart, holding off Barney Craig to pick up his third straight win, while wrapping up his third straight title.
"This is awesome," Dirksen shouted after the race. "I was giving those two some distance just in case something happened with them and sure enough it did. We are certainly going to take the break."
Shawn Phillipi, Doug Tieman and Ed Johnson completed the top five.
Eldora now turns its attention to its oldest, most prestigious race. More than 150 late model teams will converge on Eldora for the World 100 this weekend. Tech inspection begins on Thursday, while qualifying and non-qualifier races are on Friday evening with the heat races, B-mains and 100-lap 40th annual World 100 on Saturday night.
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