ROSSBURG, Ohio – official release — Jim Denhamer photo — Kent Robinson collected $3,000 for a World 100 tune-up victory while Nick Bowers won the stock-car feature, and Jonathan Taylor took the modified feature portion of Sunday’s 7th annual Baltes Classic presented by Coors Light at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.
With the granddaddy of dirt Late Model racing, the World 100 (Sept. 4-6) just a few days away, Sunday’s Sunoco American Late Model Series served as valuable track time for the teams.
For Robinson, the schooling required overcoming a late-race battle from defending Eldora Late Model champion Matt Miller and a wild three-car battle among a rising crop of young drivers – Jacob Hawkins, Jeff Babcock and Duane Chamberlain. Apparently Robinson did his homework well, as he completed the testing with a perfect score and the resulting $3,000 payday.
In the early going it was Hawkins running third with Brian Ruhlman and Scott James in tow. Babcock came on the scene by the third tour to move into fifth and drop James back to fifth.
Swapping spots continuously, it came down to the checkered with Robinson and Miller sweeping first and second, while Hawkins was able to hold back Babcock and Chamberlain.
Coming into the evening, Jeff Koz had a somewhat comfortable 15-point margin over Paul Pardo towards the season championship title. Pretty much, all he had to do was start the race and finish 14 spots ahead of Pardo at the end of the 15-lap chase.
Knowing the mission that needed to be accomplished, Pardo was up to the task and jumped into the early lead, as Koz remained within the top five; keeping Pardo in sight.
All was fine through the first five laps and that is when a storyline that couldn’t have been written any better by the Hollywood experts began to unfold.
Coming down to complete six laps, Koz’s car sputtered through turns three and four and came to a near halt on the front stretch, before being rear-ended by Robbie Phlipot. Koz limped to the pit area as the field realigned themselves with Pardo out front and with his first season title in sight due to Koz’s misfortune.
Only three laps later, Lady Luck turned her nose on Pardo and he too, dropped off the pace and into the pit area. Koz had seen this and came back on to the track several laps off the pace, but in hopes of regaining some valuable finishing positions. It wasn’t meant to be, he returned to the pits, but with enough points to finish ahead of Pardo.
Enter the scene Frank Paladino. While all of this unfolded in front of him, he drove a heads-up race to finish third behind Bowers and Rob Trent and earned enough to give him his first-ever track championship.