Monday, May 16th, 2011
Schrader's quick start paves way for victory
By Mike Ernst
ROSSBURG - Prior to Saturday night's United Midwest Promoter (UMP) DirtCar Modified main event at Eldora Speedway, veteran driver Ken Schrader figured he would have to grab an early lead from his fourth starting position.
Schrader did just that, going to the outside groove at the drop of the green flag, sweeping around front-row starters Scotty Williams and track points leader Jesse Bitterling and into the top spot by the exit of turn two on the first lap.
"We were talking before the race and one of my crew guys said you probably better pass them quick because once they get going they are going to be tough to pass," Schrader said.
With Schrader setting a torrid pace out front, the remainder of the field jockeyed for position behind him. Bitterling ran in second place most of the way but lost out on a great battle with Doug Adkins on lap 14 of the 18-lap event.
Adkins hounded Schrader as the final few laps were being counted down, and seemed to get the break he needed when the caution flag flew on lap 17. But under that caution flag, Adkins pulled his car into the pit area with an apparent mechanical problem.
Bitterling reassumed the runner-up position on the restart but could not seriously challenge Schrader, who picked up his second win at Eldora in as many starts, dating back to last October's UMP Fall Nationals.
"I will never get tired of winning at Eldora," Schrader said. "It's fun winning in front of fans like this. I can't believe the fans stuck this out, but we are really glad they did."
The race was delayed by nearly two hours because of a rainstorm that hit the track at 7 p.m., but track officials still completed the racing card before 11 p.m.
Jerry Bowersock, who won the only other modifieds main event completed this season, finished in third place while Scott Orr and Jacob Poel, who arrived at the track during the rain delay, rounded out the top five. Josh Morton, Brian Post, Shaun Smith. Matt Westfall, driving for Bill Dues and Chuck Sanning, and Williams completed the top 10. Fort Recovery's Ryan Sutter finished in 12th place, while Celina's Josh Greber came home in 19th.
St. Marys' Casey Luedeke was running in the top 10 before being involved in a hard crash on lap nine ending his night in 21st, while Brent Hole, of New Knoxville, suffered early mechanical problems and dropped out early for a 24th-place finish.
Heat races were won by Bowersock, Morton, Orr and Adkins, while Poel and David Smith won B-mains.
Earnie Woodard has had a fast Eldora Stock Car all season long but has had little luck, with mechanical issues hurting all of Woodard's finishes over the first three events. Woodard, knocked the monkey from his back on Saturday night, leading flag-to-flag to pick up his first win of the 2011 season.
"I was counting the laps down there at the end," Woodard conceded. "The start of this season has not been good for us. I have been doing this a long time and when it is bad, it is bad, but when you get going good, it is good. Hopefully things will be good for a while now."
Two-time defending track champion Mike Dirksen chased Woodard the entire 15-lap distance and settled for a second-place finish. Kevin Gossard pressured Dirksen early for the runner-up spot but was forced to withstand a paint-swapping battle with Rob Trent to finish third. Trent came home fourth while points leader Barney Craig, finished in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Ed Johnson, Dean Pitts, Doug Tiemann, Tony Anderson and Andy King. Gossard, Craig and Tiemann won the three preliminary heat races.
Eldora Speedway will sit idle this coming weekend, before returning to action on Memorial Day weekend with a rare Sunday night event, featuring the American Late Model Series, National Racing Alliance Sprint Invaders, UMP Modifieds and the Eldora Stock Cars.