ROSSBURG, Ohio – official release — Mike Campbell photo — A first-time visit to Eldora Speedway’s victory lane is becoming the norm rather than the exception, as Saturday night produced another pair of new Eldora winners in Chase Stockon and Nick Bowers.
Jeff Babcock, no stranger to victories, rounded out the tripleheader of action.
After knocking on the door several times without success, Stockon finally etched his name into the Eldora record books, by besting a strong 42-car field of BOSS (Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series) non-winged sprint cars.
“I have to tell you,” Stockon said, “my biggest win so far was at Terre Haute, but this has to rank right up there with it.”
Stockon shot into the lead at the dropping of the green flag, with Justin Grant behind him in pursuit as the pole-sitter, Brandon Spithaler, dropped to third. While Stockon began opening a margin over Grant, deep the in the field a pair of drivers making their moves noticed were Robert Ballou and Brady Bacon.
Ballou completed lap one of the 25-lap A-Feature in eighth spot and every other lap was picking off the cars until he moved into third spot behind Stockon and Grant. After four laps of riding third, Ballou made his bid on lap 13 to move into second and set up a whale of a battle with Stockon. The duo began executing successful slide jobs on each through the lapped traffic.
Three laps from the finish, Stockon was able to pin a lapped car between himself and Ballou to take the victory by .270 seconds. Grant hung on for third, while Brandon Whited came on strong in the second-half of the race to finish fourth, just ahead of Mike Miller in fifth.
While Bacon didn’t finish in the top five, he easily passed the most cars on the track. After starting 18th in the 24-car field, he was dialed in and had gotten as high as sixth before looping the car to bring out the caution flag and a restart from the tail of the field. Undaunted, he again picked up where he left off, but simply ran out of time as he had to settle for eighth at the finish.
In only his second full year of stock car racing, Bowers showed the moves of a veteran Saturday night on Eldora’s high banks.
It was Dean Pitts taking charge at the start of the event, with opening night winner Chris Douglas hot on his tail, along with defending champion Barney Craig. Hunting them down was the most recent feature winner, Paul Pardo, while Bowers was looming in fifth.
Pitts was sailing along, until a hard hit into the wall by Emily Gade brought out the yellow flag on lap three. During the caution flag, Pitts shot into the pit area with mechanical issues to hand the lead over to Douglas. At this point Pardo had gotten by Craig and brought Bowers along with him.
When the green flag came out, Douglas was able to hold Bowers at bay for two laps before giving up the top spot. Once in front, Bowers was untouchable and he cruised to 1.477-second victory over Douglas, while Jeff Koz came charging in the closing laps to finish third. Craig and Pardo completed the top five.
Keeping the newcomers from sharing the total limelight Saturday was Babcock, scoring his second UMP DIRTcar Modified win of the season.
Defending champion Jerry Bowersock bolted to the front at the start of the race, but right behind him was Jonathan Taylor.
Taylor dogged Bowersock for the first four laps, before making his move on a lap five restart to take charge of the 27-car feature. While that restart was to the favor of Taylor, it was another restart five laps later that found Taylor overtaken by Babcock in a typical Eldora slide job.
At this point, Babcock was simply dialed in and proved to be no match for the balance of the field. Matt Westfall felt otherwise and made several strong moves to reel in Babcock, but just couldn’t get the job done and had to settle for second at the checkered flag. Taylor dropped to third, with his brother Evan and Bowersock completing the top five.
The unseasonable cold weather and threat of rain failed to keep the popular Family Fun Night themed event from packing the stands, as a huge fireworks display culminated the night.
Eldora returns to action next weekend in a rare Sunday time slot due to the Memorial Day holiday. The Johnny Appleseed Classic presented by Miller Lite will see four divisions of cars fill the pit area. The Sunoco American Late Model Series will be joined by the National Racing Alliance (NRA) Sprint Invaders, UMP DIRTcar Modifieds and Eldora Stock Cars.