Brian Ruhlman waited eight years two get his second late model feature win at Oakshade Raceway, but he made it two feature wins in a row Saturday night when he won his third in the 30-lap American Late Model Series presented by Sunoco feature event.
Sixty late models once again filled the pits for the first of four ALMS events at Oakshade in 2004. It was also the second night of a four night Memorial Day weekend stint with stops at Eldora, Fremont and Attica in addition to Oakshade.
Twenty-one cars made the feature through preliminary races. Jerry Bowersock and Dean Anderson took the two available provisional spots to bring the number of cars starting the race to 23.
Brad Miller’s night ended prematurely after he bounced off the backstretch wall on the very first lap. He limped his car back to the pits without a caution.
Mark Frazier brought out the first yellow after he had trouble in turn two on lap two.
Greg Martin was the leader at the restart, but Brian Ruhlman quickly closed in on the leader and took over the top spot on lap four. Kris Patterson, who has one Oakshade feature win this year, followed Ruhlman by Martin to take second.
After a caution for Justin Paxton’s spin, Ruhlman opened up a sizeable lead on a long green flag run that lasted all the way until the finish.
During that long green flag period, Patterson and Rick Delong traded the second position a couple of times, with Patterson eventually winning that battle. Patterson then began to close back in on Ruhlman as they came up on lapped traffic.
Patterson caught Ruhlman using the inside groove as much as he could and the two raced side by side for the lead while working through some heavy lapped traffic. Ruhlman threaded the needle a couple of times, shooting through the middle of lapped cars that were side by side in front of him. This allowed Ruhlman to maintain a slight advantage over Patterson, as he had to deal with the same slower traffic.
Patterson caught back up to Ruhlman and it was a dead heat as the two drivers took the white flag with Patterson still on the inside of Ruhlman. They remained door to door the entire last lap until Patterson had to take evasive action coming off of turn four to avoid the spun car of Jayme Zidar.
That slight hesitation was all Ruhlman needed to pick up the very narrow victory over Patterson and to take home the check for $2000 for winning the ALMS feature. Rusty Schlenk had an impressive third place finish after starting 16th and was followed by Rick Delong and Tony Marks.
In sportsman action, a bit of bumping while jockeying for position launched Dale Cole’s automobile up in the air and ended up with Chris Keller in the wall and Evan Myers spun to the inside during the second lap of the feature.
A pair of Fishers occupied the top two spots, Brian and Tim, and both would remain at the front for the entire race. Brian Fisher opened up a good lead, but a caution for Brian Roop’s spin allowed Tim Fisher to close up to Brian’s back bumper for the restart.
One lap later, Tim Fisher took the lead for good and went on to win his first sportsman feature of the season with Brian Fisher taking second. Ray Klawitter finished third with Rob Liaeff fourth and Joe Derbeck rounding out the top five.
Jake Rendel held on to win a close bomber A Main feature. Rendel took the lead from the drop of the green flag after starting on the pole.
A pile up involving Josh Steinacker, Gary Domoe, Tom Ordway, Brian Stricklin and Billy Ruff brought out the caution flag on lap four. Most drivers were able to continue.
Rendel’s first competition for the lead was from Dan Dippman who kept trying to look to the inside in the closing laps and eventually lost the back end and spun with two laps to go and brought out the yellow. Dippman had to restart at the tail of the field and the moved Bill Toedter to second with a chance to challenge for the lead.
Rendel and Toedter kept exchanging the lead the final couple laps, but it was Rendel who was ahead when the checkered flag dropped. Randy Murday finished third ahead of Jim Scout and Bob Zuver.
Another Rendel, Bob, appeared to have things in control in the bomber B Main, but Chuck Leininger had plans to spoil a Rendel sweep.
Bob Rendel led the almost the entire distance of the bomber B Main until Leininger closed in and drove the 43 car between the 06 of Rendel and a lapped car on the final lap to take the lead and the win. Jared Rendel ended up third behind Bob.
Danny Hogrefe opened up a huge lead early in the final event of the night, the bomber C Main.
The red flag came out for a fire under the hood of Brian Hensley’s car midway through the race.
This set up Gary Cole to challenge Hogrefe for the lead until the finish. Hogrefe proved too strong and picked up the victory over Cole and Dennis Laney, who came all the way from the back of the field to finish third.
Next week, yet more great racing action will be featured at Oakshade Raceway with UMP Late Models, sportsman and bombers all back in action.