The American Late Model Series presented by Sunoco Racing Fuels made its first of four stops this season at Oakshade Raceway on Saturday night. With threatening skies looming, Jeep Van Wormer held off an exciting late challenge from Justin Paxton to win the ALMS Feature.
Shortly after the conclusion of the Late Model and Sportsman heat events, the rain began to come down in buckets, delaying the rest of the night’s events. The Oakshade crew worked diligently to get the greasy track back in racing condition once the race had past.
During the delay, Dan Rice and his intermission program aimed at the younger race fans called the Links Zone kept the crowd entertained by giving away 26 brand new donated bicycles making a bunch of kids very happy that night even with the soggy weather conditions.
The track had changed significantly after the rain shower by narrowing the racing groove up to the outside with the inside of the track still a bit slippery, but by feature time, the inside had begun to get worked back in.
Duane Chamberlain from Richmond, Indiana started on the pole led the first lap of the 30-lap ALMS Feature, but the yellow flag flew early for Dusty Moore.
Jeep Van Wormer was second behind Chamberlain for the restart and tried to get to the inside. Jeep’s car jumped sideways and he had to check up allowing Rusty Schlenk to take away second.
With Chamberlain continuing to lead after a couple more cautions in the first few laps, Van Wormer reclaimed second getting by Schlenk on a restart.
Van Wormer took advantage of another caution after Hillard Miller spun on lap four by passing Chamberlain for the lead on the ensuing restart.
Van Wormer began to pull away during a long green flag run with Justin Paxton working his way up to second by lap 13. Paxton began to close in as Van Wormer worked through lapped traffic.
Chris Keller brought out the final caution on lap 26 after getting into the front stretch wall which set up a four-lap dash to the finish with clear track ahead of the race leaders.
Van Wormer got a good jump on the restart, but Paxton didn’t let the 55 car get away. Paxton took one final shot at the lead as he dove to his inside going into turn three on the final lap. Paxton and Van Wormer were side by side through the corners, but Van Wormer had the momentum coming off turn four on the outside to pull ahead and win the $2000 ALMS Feature.
Aaron Scott got by Chamberlain to finish third and Rusty Schlenk fell back to finish in the fifth position.
With some more weather approaching the area, the UMP Sportsman Feature took to the raceway with John Hadley starting on the pole. Hadley lost it in turn two on the first lap and spun in front of the entire field causing a huge pile up and a complete restart.
The unofficial Sportsman points leader, Josh Steinacker, failed to make his heat event earlier in the evening and had to race his way in to the feature through the consolation race which he won after starting at the back of the field. Steinacker, last week’s feature winner, had his work cut out for him once again starting deep in the field for the feature.
Former Sportsman Track Champion Chris Smith took over the pole starting position and quickly took command of the race. He pulled out to a big lead over the rest of the field with Steinacker working his way up to fifth by lap six.
Terry Stratton spun after going a lap down just past the halfway point of the race to bring out the yellow flag which tightened the field back up behind Chris Smith.
Steinacker jumped to the outside of Brian Fisher on the restart to battle for second. Steinacker completed the pass and then reeled in Smith.
Smith had to check up for a lapped car which allowed Steinacker to take the lead with just two laps remaining.
It was the second consecutive feature win for Josh Steinacker whose worst feature finish this year has been a couple of second place finishes the first two weeks of the season.
Smith settled for second followed by Brian Fisher, Tim Fisher and Mike Jessen with another top five finish.
Immediately following the conclusion of the UMP Sportsman Feature, the skies opened up once again raining out the final three races (Bomber Features) of the night. Those will be made up on Saturday, June 2 with double features for the UMP Bombers. It will be a regular show for the UMP Late Models and UMP Sportsman with gates opening at 4pm and racing at 7pm.