PEVELY, MO (September 8, 2001) The 2001 UMP Late Model season championship came down to the wire on the final night of points, with four drivers still with a chance to take the title. Ed Dixon came in as the point leader holding a 43-point lead...
PEVELY, MO (September 8, 2001) The 2001 UMP Late Model season championship came down to the wire on the final night of points, with four drivers still with a chance to take the title. Ed Dixon came in as the point leader holding a 43-point lead over Mark Oller who was three points ahead of Kevin Gundaker and twelve points ahead of Tim Ratajczyk. Tension and nerves were high at the start of the feature, which resulted in seven cautions in the first three laps of the feature for various spins and crashes including a hard crash by Randy Korte into the back stretch wall. One of those cautions was for point leader Dixon, who slowed with what he thought was suspension problems but turned out to be excessive mud in his right side wheels. Dixon had to restart on the rear and the points battle turned into an all out war. Oller and Gundaker battled feverishly for the remainder of the race for the lead. Gundaker rode the cushion around the top and Oller continued to pull along side using the very bottom of the track. The two crossed the finish line side-by-side with Gundaker winning by about 1 foot. Clay Baumann chased both leaders the entire distance and came home third. Jim Durbin, for the second straight week, moved up from a mid-pack start to grab a top five as he finishes fourth. Dave Jumper rounded out the top five. Dixon battled his way back to a ninth place finish, which secured him the season championship for 2001.
In the UMP Modified division, it appeared to be a two-car battle for the win early on between Scott Weber and Rusty Griffaw, but they started rubbing sheet metal and banging wheels while battling for the lead and Jim Shereck drove around both of them and pulled away to grab the win. Griffaw held on for second. Rich Whaley continued his great second-half of the season and finished third. Weber was fourth and Brett Cygan fifth.
Troy Naeger and Paul Belken renewed their season long battle in the AARA Sportsman division. They started side-by-side on the front row, with Belken jumping out to the early lead. Naeger was able to move around Belken on the fourth lap and he never looked back. Belken held on for second, Brian Worley was third, Dan Dixon fourth and Mark Blanke fifth.
The 19th Annual I-55 Pepsi Nationals will follow that on September 15th. The UMP Late Model feature will pay $10,000 to win and is also part of the UMP All Star Series. The UMP Modified feature will pay $1200 to win and is part of the UMP Thunder and Lightning Series.