ROSSBURG – One of the most competitive point chases in Eldora Speedway history, where the championship titles in each division were not determined until the final laps of their final feature event, will be honored Jan. 19 with the annual awards celebration.
To be held in the adjacent Eldora Ballroom, the doors will swing open at 5 p.m., with opening remarks at 6:30, meal service at 6:45; followed by the awards. Schedule permitting, track owner and three-time NASCAR Cup champion, Tony Stewart will bestow the honors.
As has become tradition in recent years, the Sunoco sponsored American Late Model Series (ALMS) will join the ceremony with the presentation of their championship awards.
Jeep VanWormer (UMP DIRTcar Late Model), Joey Kramer (UMP DIRTcar Modified) and Barney Craig (Eldora Stock Car) will receive their Eldora championship accolades as they reign over the balance of the top 15 drivers from the cumulative points chase. Brian Ruhlman will accept the ALMS championship hardware.
The Late Model title chase was competitive right up to the checkered flag of the 40-lap UMP Nationals in October. Going into that event, Matt Miller was leading the leading the point war and appeared to have it wrapped up. That was until mechanical woes forced him to the pit area 25 laps into the race. With his fifth-place finish, VanWormer, the 2007 champion, then locked up his second Eldora title. Andrew Reaume completed his best Eldora season to date to finish second in the final tally, five points behind VanWormer. Three points behind Reaume was three-time champion Matt Miller (2000, 2008, 2010); with Jeff Babcock and Jerry Bowersock completing the top five.
Kramer had set a goal at the onset of the season to chase and secure the coveted Eldora Modified championship. A strong run that produced four feature wins wasn’t enough to keep eventual runner-up Rob Williams from becoming his nemesis. Williams used consistency and a feature win at mid-season when Kramer was unable to attend, to remain in the thick of the battle. Going into the UMP Nationals, Williams needed to finish the feature three positions ahead of Kramer to grab his first-ever Eldora title, but instead, finished three spots behind him to fall short of the championship by five points.
Kramer, with his initial Eldora championship run, and Williams were followed in the chase by Matt Westfall, Ryan Sutter and Brian Post.
Barney Craig brought a halt to his bad luck string at Eldora. The three-time (1992, 1993, 1999) Stock Car champion has been in the hunt many times during recent seasons, only to suffer unpreventable hard luck in the closing of each year’s racing calendar. History nearly repeated itself again this season. In what ended up to be the final points race of the year due to succeeding rain cancellations, he crossed the finish line for his fifth triumph of the year, only to have the rear end explode. A wrecker was summoned to take Craig across the Eibach Springs scale, where he met the minimum weight requirements and gathered enough points to capture his fourth Eldora title.
Former champion Shawn Phillippi finished as runner-up in the chase, only six tallies behind, while Earnie Woodard, defending champion Rob Trent and Dean Pitts completed the top five.
In addition to the hardware and point fund distribution to the champions and their court, numerous specialty awards will be distributed. Among those will be Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Driver, Hard Luck, Best Appearing Car and the esteemed Chick Hale Sportsman of the Year trophy.
Tickets to the affair are priced at $23 per person and may be purchased by contacting the Eldora office at (937) 338-3815 during normal business hours. The deadline for ordering is Jan. 14.
Additional information regarding Eldora Speedway and its 60th season, including ticket and campsite purchases for the traditional major events, may be found at www.EldoraSpeedway.com. Like Eldora at www.Facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway or catch all the behind-the-scenes preparation for the 2013 season on Twitter @EldoraSpeedway.