Miller Leads Baltes Classic Winners
ROSSBURG, Ohio — Sunday night’s feature action at Eldora Speedway included a tune-up by Matt Miller (Sunoco American Late Model Series), a clean-up by Barney Craig (Eldora Stocks) and continuation of parity by Jeff Babcock (UMP DIRTcar Modifieds).
The WIX Filters sponsored evening was a tribute to Eldora founders Earl and Berneice Baltes, and the 98 race teams responded with highly competitive action on the half-mile clay oval.
For Miller, the 25-lap main event was a tune-up for this weekend’s (Sept. 5-7) World 100. Moving into victory lane for the third time this season, he was pumped, “Rick (Delong) and guys had this car dialed in tonight, it could go anywhere I put it. I feel great going into next week’s World 100.”
When the green flag waved, it was former champion Brian Ruhlman darting into the lead, with Kent Robinson and Chris Keller in pursuit, while Miller was charging from his seventh starting slot. At the end of two circuits, Miller moved into third behind Ruhlman and Robinson.
Two laps later a yellow caution flag appeared for a two-car tangle in turn 2 and with the double-file restart policy, it moved Miller on the outside behind leader Ruhlman. That fell right into Miller’s playbook and he made the most of it by dogging Ruhlman for two laps before taking the lead he was to hold to the finish.
It became clear sailing for Miller at that point, while Ruhlman and Robinson began their own battle that was soon joined by Jon Henry. Henry appeared to be the fastest car on the track, but a lack of any further caution periods prevented him from getting close enough to mount a challenge.
At the stripe, it was Miller over Henry, Robinson, Jeff Babcock and Ruhlman.
For the stock cars, it was their final night of Eldora competition for the season, and defending champion Barney Craig continued his domination of the division.
It was Earnie Woodard leading the first several circuits over Rob Trent, with Craig inching forward. Craig first disposed of Trent, and then Woodard to clinch the checkered flag and the season-long title.
Trent turned in his best performance of the season to finish second with Paul Pardo inching ahead of Woodard for third. Anthony Goode completed the top five.
Doing double duty on the night, Babcock was able to continue an amazing string of parity in the Modified class; becoming the seventh different winner in as many feature events this season.
Just like in the Late Model headliner, Ruhlman (also doing double duty) jumped into the early lead to keep the 24-car starting field at bay. But, by lap three, it was Babcock overtaking him for the lead.
There was no denying Babcock of the win – even with the likes of defending champion Joey Kramer; along with former champions Ruhlman and Jerry Bowersock chasing him down.
Two yellow flag periods slowed the pace, but not enough to stop Babcock. Kramer finished 1.284 seconds behind in second at the finish, with Ruhlman, Bowersock and Aaron Orr completing the top five.