Polyak, Ball Make Eldora History
ROSSBURG, Ohio – Eldora Speedway history was created this weekend, as the inaugural Blue Collar Bash produced the first-ever female A-Feature winner and the oldest known driver to capture an A-Feature on the legendary half-mile clay oval.
Paige Polyak drove a determined race to capture the 305 sprint-car trophy while 74-year old Art Ball captured his 299th career and first-ever Eldora victory in the Fremont/Attica Truck division.
Rounding out the 12 division program with checkered flags were Shane Stewart (sprint cars), Mike Sawmiller (Circle Track/Waynesfield Trucks), Rusty Yarger (Chevettes), Dale Puckett (Compacts), Rod Henning (Mini Sprints), Brian Ruhlman (UMP DIRTcar Modifieds), Barney Craig (Eldora and Hometrack Stock Cars) and Jason Hehman (UMP Sportsman).
Jess Stiger, who had captured Saturday’s preliminary heat race for the 305 Sprint Cars, appeared poised to duplicate the triumph Sunday afternoon. However, midway through the 15-lap chase, Polyak began closing in on Stiger, with a decidedly quickly car through the turns than Stiger.
Lap after lap Polyak would move in on Stiger, only to drop back on the straights. After a couple of moves to the outside, the pert 18-year old outsmarted Stiger with a low side pass coming off of turn four – a pass that proved to be victorious. Following Polyak and Stiger across the line were Jamie Miller, Jeremy Duposki and Kean Kester.
When the 22-car winged sprint car finale took to the high banks, it was Kyle Sauder jumping into the lead at the dropping of the green flag. But Sauder instantly had his hands full, as seventh place starter Stewart moved all the way into the runner-up position by the completion of one lap.
Sauder’s momentum kept him out front through three circuits when the yellow flag appeared for a spinning Bryce Dickson.
That was all Stewart needed, as on the restart he shot by Sauder and never looked back. From that point forward Stewart let everyone know that the battle on the race track would be for the positions behind him – and that was the exact response as Sauder had his hands full holding back first Dallas Hewitt and then a quickly arriving Jimmy Stinson.
A late race spin dropped Hewitt deep into the pack, while Stinson stepped up the pace enough to get past Sauder for runner-up honors behind Stewart. Completing the top five behind Sauder were Danny Smith and Ron Blair.
Art Ball has won in many types of race cars and at many race tracks, but a win at Eldora has eluded Ball and his familiar pale blue No. 01. At least up until Sunday afternoon.
Ball took advantage of Saturday’s heat race win to line up in the pole position for the finale, a spot he parlayed into a close victory over Kent Brewer. Bob Dibble and Tim Schatzinger rounded out the finish.
The companion A-Feature for the Circle Track/Waynesfield Trucks turned into a marathon as multiple crashes and spins decimated the 26-truck field in the early stages. Once settled down, the battle up front turned into a Sawmiller chase as Mike Sawmiller held off a quickly closing Jerry Sawmiller to take home the trophy.
Erik Wolleson, who like Polyak is a graduate of go-kart racing, drove to a strong third place finish. Dennis Wood and Troy Campbell completed the top five.
Rod Henning’s Mini Sprint feature came after a spirited race-long battle with Aaron Farney. Multiple times Farney would close the gap, but could never quite muster the power to move to the front; having to settle for second at the finish.
Hehman’s victory in the UMP (United Midwestern Promoters) Sportsman class was his second of the weekend. Saturday afternoon he prevailed over the Oakshade Sportsman class.
Just as in the Mini Sprint finale, it was a two-car chase to the finish in the UMP Sportsman division as Hehman had his hands full trying to hold back Steve Peeden. He was able to do so, with Jake Leitzman, Jim Bailey and Terry Rushlow following at the finish line.
In the early going of the UMP DIRTcar Modified A-Feature, it was Todd Sherman up front, with a strong Cory Seeling in strong pursuit.
Seeling, turning in his best performance of the season, hung in tight with Sherman until multi-time Eldora champion Brian Ruhlman moved into the picture. At that point, Seeling had to break his concentration from the Sherman battle to that of holding off Ruhlman.
He was able to get the job done for quite a few laps before giving way to Ruhlman, who then duplicated the pass on Sherman.
With 10 laps in the chase, Seeling’s run came to an abrupt halt as he made heavy contact with the turn one wall and in the melee collected several other cars to end his otherwise successful run.
On the restart, Ruhlman continued to pull away from the field. Jeff Babcock moved up to challenge and eventually pass Sherman for second, but ran out of time to mount a serious challenge on Ruhlman. Finishing behind that trio were Brent Hole and Justin Matson.
Barney Craig joined Hehman as a double winner over the weekend that found over 200 race cars converging upon Eldora Speedway. Craig, the reigning Eldora Speedway Stock Car champion, doubled up in the Blue Collar Bash Stock Car classes; with wins in the Eldora and Hometrack Stock A-Features.
Following him in the Eldora finale were Anthony Goode, Mark Wooten, Garry Domoe and Adam Schaeff, while Robbie Sternberg, Terry Rushlow, Josh Steinberg and Dave Golembiewski, Jr. finished behind him in the Hometrack closer.