By Larry Boos
ROSSBURG, OH (July 25) – Saturday’s doubleheader, presented by NAPA Auto Parts, will offer Eldora Speedway fans the rare opportunity to witness both winged and non-winged Sprint Cars on the same card. A vastly different degree of technique and driving style accompanies each of the forms of open wheel racing.
Whereas the winged Sprint Cars rely on the emphasis of the aerodynamics of the top mounted wing to guide the cars around the one-half mile clay oval at high speed, the non-winged cars rely more on raw driver ability to manhandle the cars. Chassis set-up and coordination between the pit crew and driver is paramount to a successful non-winged run.
Robert Ballou appears to have the handle on that combination with two victories recorded from the three previous non-winged Sprint Car events that have been staged since 2009, as part of the Road to the Jack Hewitt Classic series. The colorful Ballou drove to victories in 2009 and 2010, but when the tour invaded Eldora in April of this Spring, he struggled to a 15th place finish after an early race skirmish. Matt Westfall captured that race.
A Mother Nature shortened series this year finds Westfall on top of the tour points, with a six point margin over Justin Grant. In additional to the April Eldora victory, Westfall triumphed at Waynesfield in May. To date 64 different drivers have competed in the three Hewitt tour events completed to date. Ballou, after his dismal Eldora showing in April, has been absent from the tour, but is always a threat when non-winged Sprint Cars invade the high banks.
For the winged counterparts, their event will be sanctioned by the NRA (National Racing Alliance) Sprint Invaders, and veteran Tim Allison will be in the hunt to extend his domination of that division, while ending an Eldora dry spell.
Allison has amassed 14 wins thus far, of the 106 events in the record books, to sit atop the list of 34 drivers that have accumulated Eldora checkered flags. But, it has been since 2005 that the veteran has seen victory lane. Since then he has knocked on the door multiple times, but has been unable to ‘seal the deal’.
Nonetheless, Allison’s stronghold seems intact. His nearest active competitor is Kyle Sauder, with 11 wins, and after that it would be Butch Schroeder as his next rival. Schroeder, with his May 29 checkered flag, has 3 wins to his credit.
The all Sprint Car doubleheader will be preceded in the afternoon, by Eldora’s annual Cruise-In from 2:00 to 5:00. At 4:30, the fans will be invited into the Eldora pits for a driver meet and greet for one hour.