Erb Conquers Eldora In World 100 Prelim

Dennis Erb Jr. (Julia Johnson photo)
Dennis Erb Jr. (Julia Johnson photo)

ROSSBURG, Ohio — Dennis Erb Jr. won the first of two 25-lap features on the second night of preliminary racing for Saturday night’s World 100 at Eldora Speedway.

Experience was the key on this night at the half-mile oval as Jonathan Davenport won the nightcap.

Thursday night’s Group B Feature winner, Hudson O’Neal, jumped to the early lead in the opening two laps before the race’s first caution was displayed just a few corners later in the opening feature.

On the restart, Jonathan Henry lit a fire under his Heckenast Racing No. 33 and shot out of a cannon to the lead with a slide job underneath O’Neal coming out of turn four. Henry kept the lead all the way through lap 11, until making a costly mistake going into turn three on lap 12.

Henry was reeling in the lapped car of Kody Evans down the backstretch when he decided to take it to the bottom to get around Evans’ No. 4g. Unfortunately for Henry, Evans decided the bottom lane was the place to be as well. The two made contact on the low side of turn three, sending them both into the outside wall.

O’Neal, trailing not far behind the leader with limited time to react, steered his No. 71 Longhorn Chassis hard to the left to try and avoid the wreck, but got a piece of Evans’ sideways in turn three. The incident left three cars with significant damage – Evans and Henry took it pitside and did not return while O’Neal nursed it across the finish line as the final car on the lead lap in 20th position.

This opened the door for Erb, who used his know-how of Eldora Speedway to drive it back home to the promise land, leading each circuit from there on out to collect his first crown jewel event preliminary Feature win since the 2016 Dream finale.

Two restart attempts after the Henry-Evans incident saw Erb lined up on the top side of Michael Norris, where he powered around the outside of “The Crusher Kid” to swipe the lead away permanently.

“I knew starting on the outside meant I had to have a good start. I was able to get a good run getting into turn one and carried some speed through there. It made the difference in getting that pass,” Erb said.

The current World 100 format includes an invert for the qualifying Heat races on each night, and Erb’s 24th-best time trial lap put him right on the pole of Group A’s final Heat race. He held that spot through the checkered flag, placing him on the pole for the Feature.

Veterans of the sport like himself know just how important it is in marquee events like the World 100 to start up front as often as possible, and it paid off quite well for him on Friday night.

“These cars are just so equal, so be able to get up there and not have to battle with people going up to the front, it makes a big difference,” Erb said.

One honorable mention goes out to Chris Madden, who just recently got back behind the wheel of his Scott Bloomquist Racing ride this weekend after recovering from an eye injury sustained a few weeks ago.

Coming from his 14th-place starting spot, “Smokey” broke into the podium by lap 12 and held position inside the top five for the rest of the race, getting around Shannon Buckingham for the runner-up spot with just two laps remaining to claim a second-place finish.

The finish:

Feature (25 Laps): 1. 28-Dennis Erb Jr.[1]; 2. OM-Chris Madden[14]; 3. 12J-Jason Jameson[13]; 4. 50-Shanon Buckingham[6]; 5. 7W-Ricky Weiss[12]; 6. 5-Don O’Neal[16]; 7. 18-Shannon Babb[8]; 8. 25Z-Mason Zeigler[18]; 9. 32S-Chris Simpson[22]; 10. 25C-Shane Clanton[9]; 11. 39-Tim McCreadie[5]; 12. 2H-Nick Hoffman[10]; 13. C9-Steve Casebolt[19]; 14. 1T-Tyler Erb[7]; 15. 14-Josh Richards[21]; 16. 22S-Gregg Satterlee[23]; 17. 111-Steven Roberts[17]; 18. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr.[20]; 19. 72-Michael Norris[3]; 20. 71-Hudson O’Neal[2]; 21. 33-Jonathan Henry[4]; 22. 1P-Earl Pearson Jr.[24]; 23. 18X-Michael Page[11]; 24. 4G-Kody Evans[15]