Rusty Schlenk, Rich Ruff, Curt Lancaster and most of all a whole bunch of kids were the big winners on a rain shortened Night of Wheels at Oakshade Raceway.
The smiles on the winners faces were wide as over 30 bicycles, scooters and wagons that were donated by drivers, crews, fans, etc. were randomly given away to the children in attendance during the weekly Links Zone intermission segment organized by Dan Rice.
Once the Night of Wheels festivities concluded, it was UMP Late Model feature race time. 2008 Late Model Track Champion Rody Schroyer took command early in his first appearance of the year on the 3/8 mile dirt oval. Schroyer hadn’t missed a beat as he held the lead while fending off a couple challenges from Brian Ruhlman. Last week’s Birthday Race winner, Rusty Schlenk, began to charge to the front late in the race taking the second position on lap 14 and then went by Schroyer on the outside one lap later to take the lead. A lead he would not relinquish as he went on to win his seventh Oakshade feature win of the year in the caution-free event. Schroyer and Ruhlman held on to finish second and third respectively while Frank Heckenast Jr. from Frankfort, Illinois was fourth. Pole-sitter Brad Eitniear ended up fifth.
The most exciting race of the night was by far the UMP Sportsman feature race. Brice Luttrell started on the pole and grabbed the early lead. After a caution for Bruce Stuart who spun on lap four, Luttrell had his hands full trying to hold off Rich Ruff and Mike Jessen who went to his inside and outside, three-wide for the lead. Jessen got the lead, but could not shake Ruff who continued to race to his inside. Ruff had the lead on lap seven, but Jessen regained the lead on lap 11 and the two drivers raced the remaining nine laps side by side. Ruff edged back ahead for the lead on lap 14 and Jessen once again got enough progress on the outside to claim the top spot on lap 17. Ruff fought back and on the final lap, it was Rich Ruff claiming his first feature win of the year narrowly beating out Mike Jessen. Rusty Smith climbed nine positions in the race to finish third followed by Brice Luttrell and Joe Derbeck. Brett Miller finished sixth, but won the Racer’s Connection/JT’s Automotive Dash for Cash earlier in the night where he earned $200 for the victory.
Curt Lancaster was the story of the UMP Bomber A Main. He started on the outside of the front row and went on to lead the entire distance of a caution-free race to pick his first A Main win of the year and an additional $100 in memory of Bob Holbrook. Terry Rushlow finished strong in second while Billy Brown closed to within 33 points of the UMP Bomber point lead with his third place finish. Last week’s feature winner Jeff Foks came home fourth with Craig Dippman rounding out the top five finishers.
Right at the conclusion of the UMP Bomber A Main, the skies began to open up with a light, but persistent rain. The track officials tried to wait it out, but the rain picked up and with the threat of even more rain on the way, it forced the postponement of the last three races of the night. Those races, the Hornet feature, UMP Bomber B Main and C Main will be run next week. The makeup B and C Mains will still pay an extra $100 to each winner in memory of Bob Holbrook. These races will be in addtion to a full show of UMP Late Models, UMP Sportmen, UMP Bombers and Hornets with an exhibition by the Vintage American Race Cars. It is also Scout Night so all scouts in uniform will receive free grandstand admission. Gates open at 4pm with racing at 7pm.