(St. Louis, MO) November 30, 2018
By Tyson Graves, RPM Writer
Last year during a Friday night prelim it had the looks that Rusty Schlenk would get his first win under the Dome in St. Louis until a flat tire sidelined him and took him out of contention. But last night redemption found Rusty as he drew the #1 in the pill draw before the race. He started on the front row with one of, if not the best driver in the country Jonathan Davenport. Rusty was able to jump and take the lead and he never looked back leading all 20 laps in the special invite only Race of Champions. Rusty was made eligible for the event for being the defending UMP National Late Model point’s champion. 13 of the best drivers in the country squared off for the $5,000 payday that kicked off racing action in the 3rd Annual Gateway Dirt Nationals.
Rusty revealed to us a possible broken hand in his post-race interview with him that gave this feat even a little more respect. Rusty compares the 1/5 track inside the Dome to that of Belleville, a small bullring not far from downtown St. Louis where he won an event earlier this year. This was a big national win for the CJ Rayburn house car, an iconic name in the dirt late model world.
In other action Thursday night at the Dome Tanner English set overall fast time for the Late Model division with a lap of 11.119 seconds. Tanner was in the thick of the fight for the win last year before a late race spin took him out of contention. Bobby Pierce last year’s winner was quickest in the second group of time trials. There will be 12 Late Model heat races today to decide who will make the 2 prelim features tonight both paying $10,000 to win each. The top 4 from each prelim event will be locked into Saturday nights $30,000 to win event.
In modified action St. Louis product Nick Hoffman set overall fast time with lap of 11.851 seconds. Heat winners included Chris Arnold, Ray Bollinger, Josh Harris, Nick Hoffman, Kyle Strickler, & Kenny Wallace. The modifieds will have last chance races tonight before a pair of Prelim features tonight.
The midgets made their debut to the Dome with a series of hot lap sessions. They will get into full swing today with qualifying, heat races and 2 prelim events as well. NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell are among those in action today. All the action gets underway after 2pm today at the America’s Center in downtown St. Louis. Tickets are still available at GatewayDirt.com or at the door. If you can come you don’t want to miss this event!
Race of Champions Full Results
1. Rusty Schlenk 2. Jonathan Davenport 3. Dennis Erb Jr 4. Jason Feger 5. Brandon Sheppard 6. Shannon Babb 7. Jeremiah Hurst 8. Don O’Neal 9. Bobby Pierce 10. Billy Moyer 11. Gordy Gundaker 12. Scott Bloomquist 13. Tim McCreadie