A rain shower just after time trials delayed the start of Oakshade Raceway’s 10th Annual Birthday Race and UMP Summer Nationals Finale by about three hours, but made for some very fast and very exciting UMP Late Model Feature race action with Jeep Van Wormer victorious.
Track crews and drivers worked diligently to get the moisture out of the track after the rain mucked things up. The track drying process was hindered by the lack of wind after the rain and the dampness in the air, but Oakshade officials were determined to give the packed house a show and to let the drivers race.
Van Wormer started on the pole of the 60-lap feature and led much of the race.
Matt Miller was the first to apply pressure to Van Wormer, but later fell back through the running order and retired to the pits just past the midway point in the race.
Steve Sheppard worked his way up to second by lap 10 and briefly challenged Van Wormer for the lead on a lap 12 restart, but A.J. Diemel was the man on the move picking off a bunch of positions and eventually took away second from Sheppard. Sheppard soon slowed on the track and stopped after falling back to fourth behind Brian Ruhlman which brought out the yellow flag. Sheppard pitted under the yellow and restarted at the tail end of the field.
Justin Paxton started 21st and worked the outside groove to work his way up to sixth, but on a lap 37 restart, Paxton took it a little too high and lost a ton of positions.
A few laps later, Diemel made a bid to the inside of Van Wormer for the lead and succeeded to take over the top spot on lap 44. Van Wormer then slipped up high in turn two which opened the door for Wes Steidinger to move into second.
Steidinger then closed in on Diemel and the two raced side by side on lap 54 with Steidinger assuming the lead with just five laps to go.
Jeep Van Wormer made a final charge back to the front in the final handful of laps staying in the high groove while Steidinger battled with lapped traffic down low in the corners. Van Wormer reclaimed the lead as the white flag flew and Steidinger tried to battle back alongside, but Van Wormer shot off turn four with the advantage in an exciting finish at the checkered flag. Van Wormer was presented with the Birthday Race check for $10,000 for the win.
Steidinger had to settle for second. A win would have put him in a tie with Don O’Neal for second in UMP Summer National points after both O’Neal and Dennis Erb opted not to race and packed up their cars early. Dennis Erb will claim the 2007 UMP Summer Nationals Championship.
Diemel from Navareno, Wisconson slipped back to finish third followed by Casey Noonan, Brian Ruhlman and Aaron Scott. Steve Sheppard worked all the way back to finish seventh after restarting at the tail earlier in the race and Paxton recovered back to eighth. Eddie Kirchoff and Hillard Miller were the rest of the top ten finishers.
Randy Roseman, Tony Tolles and Tom Ordway battled three wide for the lead early in the Bomber A Main with Tolles and Ordway getting by Roseman who slowed to a stop on the track which brought out the caution flag.
Ordway appeared to be on the way to another victory to add to his Bomber points lead, but Garry Domoe came out of nowhere and closed in on Ordway after starting back in 12th.
Domoe got around Ordway with two laps to go and went on to pick up his first Bomber A Main win of the year.
Brian Przepiora finished third behind Ordway followed by last week’s A Main winner Dan Dippman. Tony Tolles fell back to finish fifth.
Dan Bleikamp took the lead from Danny Nighswander on the first lap of the Bomber B Main. It was the first night of competition for both of these familiar names this year at Oakshade.
The two drivers worked through lapped traffic much of the race and ended up finishing in that order. Bob Rendel finished third behind Nighswander followed by Jerry Signor and Jody Burton.
The final event, the Bomber C Main was marred by multiple caution periods.
Ron Bloomfield and Craig Turner got together on lap one and Curt Lancaster took advantage of the situation to take the lead and he never looked back. Lancaster went on to pick up the easy victory in the wee hours of the morning with Jim Plotts, Chris Tressler, Brad Brehm and Dawaine Slater filling out the rest of the top five finishers.
On Saturday, July 21, Oakshade Raceway will host another action packed racing program with UMP Late Models, UMP Sportsman and UMP Bombers in action. Gates open at 4pm with racing at 7pm.