By Jay Hardin Track Enterprises Staff
Springfield, IL (August 14, 2019)-The current entry list for the 26th running of the Sportsman Nationals event during this weekend’s Illinois State Fair is star studded and may be one of the most competitive in the history of the event. The race is the pinnacle for area short track UMP Sportsman drivers who race on the World’s Fastest One Mile Dirt Track but once per year. Five former winners dot the entry list along with some famous names returning to the Springfield Mile.
Springfield’s Dennis Vandermeersch and Wes O’Dell dominated the first years of the sportsman nationals race, each winning five times between 1994 and 2010. O’Dell had started every event from 1994 through the 2014 race before taking a haitus and returning last year to finish second while friend Vandermeersch made a fine run to third. Both are past age 50 yet appear to be quite capable of keeping up with the younger set.
Jeremy Nichols of Lovington won five straight races starting in 2013 and led nearly every lap in the process. He appeared poised for win number six in 2018 yet faded after leading the first lap and finished fourth. Monticello’s Tim Dick won the 2007 race and returns after missing last year.
Ethan Schnapp of Springfield won in 2018 leading the last 19 miles to score a very popular win in front of a partisan crowd. He returns to defend his title.
Randy Huffman of Maroa and Eli English of Benton bring back two famous last names that were frequent competitors in the ARCA Allen Crowe 100 which is also part of the racing weekend.
Heat races for the UMP Sportsman are on Saturday during events for the USAC Silver Crown Bettenhausen 100 presented by Brandt while the 20 mile main event is slated immediately prior to the Allen Crowe 100 presented by Lucas Oil on Sunday.
The Sportsman Nationals are all part of a huge race weekend in Central Illinois featuring POWRi Midgets at Lincoln Speedway on Friday night, USAC Silver Crown Series on Saturday afternoon at the Illinois State Fair, POWRi Midgets Saturday night at Macon Speedway, and the ARCA Menards Series on Sunday afternoon at the Illinois State Fair.
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