(JACKSON, MICHIGAN) For the second time in three years The Jackson Assassin Rusty Schlenk was Crowned Champion of the American Late Model Series, presented by Sunoco. The awards ceremony took place at the Eldora Ballroom, in conjunction with the Eldora Speedway Banquet and the Crowning of their Champions.
Just before the Champion received his awards, two time ALMS Series Champion, and perennial front runner, Brian Ruhlman came to the stage and began his speech for the runner-up accolades, by saying When I heard Mike Lawrence and Rusty Schlenk were teaming up, it wasn't good news. Brain himself had driven for Mike Lawrence, and that pairing had a huge amount of success together. Double digit wins, three strait Eldora Speedway Late Model Track Championships, an ALMS Series Title, and a $10,000 victory at Eldora's season ending UMP National Championships. Brian knew his road to a third ALMS Series Championship would be much tougher if the Young Hot Shoe was to acquire the seat in the Mike Lawrence owned, meticulously maintained Dargie Powered Rocket. And his instincts were spot on! In the first ALMS event of the season, held at Tony Stewart's Legendary Eldora Speedway, on April 19, 2008, Brian Ruhlman would take the Win and the Championship point lead. A position he would keep the entire season, until the very last ALMS Series event held at Millstream Speedway, in Findlay, Ohio, on September 28, 2008.
Many in the Regional Dirt Late Model world, including Championship Caliber Car Owner Mike Lawrence, wondered if young Rusty Schlenk could make the transition from a swing arm Rayburn, in which he's had the bulk of his success, to the 4 bar Rocket, in which he's had very little experience. That question was answered very quickly, as Rusty would capture his best career Eldora heat race finish(2nd), and his best Feature Event finish(4th) in the new team's first race together. This would make a powerful statement, as everyone in the area knows Eldora has been Rusty Schlenk's weak link. They were also aware Rusty Schlenk is a serious contender at any of the region's short tracks and bull rings.
With Forty Five(45) career Feature Wins, and Seven(7) combined Championships under his belt at the age of Twenty Two(22), Rusty Schlenk has established himself as arguably the most successful Dirt Late Model racer in the region over the last half decade. Mike Lawrence's 6 Eldora Speedway Late Model Track Championships, and 3 ALMS Series Championships has already established him as arguably the most successful Car Owner in the Region and Eldora Speedway, during the same time frame. Rusty's career best finishes at Eldora on opening night 2008, solidified him and the new team, as the odds on favorite to return to Championship Title Holders for 2008. Rusty's finessive aggressive driving style and ability to relay set-up feedback, coupled with Mike's 30+ years of Racing Knowledge, excellent equipment, and willingness to take a chance on a talented young driver, has produced the results both of them were looking for. WIN RACES AND CHAMPIONSHIPS!
Two Wins came on the ALMS tour, one each at Gas City and Oakshade. The Oakshade Win was in the Annual Butch Wildermuth Memorial, paying $3000 to win. Story and detailed results can be found here: http://oakshaderaceway.info/news/?p=27 . The Gas City Win was also a hair raising feature event with a fierce battle for the lead between Rusty Schlenk and Holland Ohio's Bye Bye Ky Harper. Full results of that event can be viewed here:
Rusty also picked up a pair of Super Impressive 2nd place finishes. One at Moler Raceway Park. Rusty finished second to The Boss Barry Doss, the reigning and defending Moler Raceway Park Late Model Champion. Only two cars qualified in the 12 second bracket, Barry Doss, and Rusty Schlenk. Schlenk and Doss both won their heat races. Doss drew the pole and Schlenk would start third. When the green flag flew Schlenk wasted no time and took over the lead from Doss and went on to lead the first half of the race. A mid race caution would erase a sizable lead and allow The Boss to get right on the Jackson Assassin's bumper. As the race resumed Rusty once again built a sizable lead. When the second caution flew and bunched the field again, Schlenk and Doss would give the fans their money's worth, as the battled for the lead until the approached the lap traffic. Schlenk held the lead as Doss continued to hound him. The Young Gun went to the bottom, and hesitated for just a split second to allow the ill-handling lap cars to drift up a bit where he could continue on and make the pass under them, and that allowed the Wiley Veteran to make a Banzai move around the outside and grab the lead from the hard charging youngster. Doss went on to win, but not without saying That kid is one hell of a driver! That was a great race for the fans, I'm sure A big majority of that race is available on video, and can be seen exclusively at Jody Shannon's www.thedrc.net. Here's a direct link: http://www.thedrc.net/2008/07/05/mol…8-big-bang-50/
The second Super Impressive runner-up finish came at the ALMS Series Finale, at Millstream Speedway, to Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Regular, Wayne Chinn. The Sniper started on the pole and jumped out to an early lead, with the Jackson Assassin assuming second spot right away. Rusty would close the gap on Wayne, and wait for Touring Pro to make a mistake, and he did! Schlenk immediately took advantage, and grabbed the lead when Chinn jumped the cushion exiting turn two. Before they could get back to the Flag Stand the caution would fly, and allow Mr. Chinn to regain his spot at the front of the field. After making several attempts to take the lead, Schlenk would have to force the issue and possibly make contact to get the job done. The Young Throttle Stomper would show poise and patients, and keep the Big Prize in mind as he settled for a solid 2nd place finish, which would ultimately net him his second ALMS Series Championship. Full results of that event can be viewed here:
The ALMS Series Crown, and it's $5000 pay day, wouldn't be the only accolades the Young and Talented Wheelman would receive . By virtue of several impressive moments, including his First Ever Win(heat race @ UMP National Championships) at the Historic Speed Plant, a career best feature finish(the afore mentioned 4th), and a Super Impressive Top 25 qualifying effort at the Dirt Late Model World's most Prestigious Event, the 2008 World 100. Rusty Schlenk was named Eldora Speedway's Late Model Most Improved Driver. After the Awards Ceremony Rusty said I didn't expect this, I didn't even know I was up for it. This is all thanks to Mike and his guys. A guy couldn't ask for a better car at Eldora. I am truly blessed to drive such a great race car The polite and near speechless young man went on to say I've struggled here for years with my owns stuff, and I was kind of down on myself, not sure if it was me, my cars, my set-ups, I just new something was missing. As soon as I hot lapped the first time in Mike's car, I knew it was going to be better. Now that we've had a little bit of success, and I got my first win here, I've got way more confidence, and I actually look forward to coming here. This award really is about Mike Lawrence's experience. Now I have to repay him and get him some more wins here, he most definitely deserves it. It's the least I can do
Both Rusty Schlenk Racing, and Lawrence Motorsports are putting final touches on their equipment for the 2009 season, and tentative schedules are being worked out, with Official Press Releases to follow shortly.
Rusty Schlenk Racing would like to thank:
CJ Rayburn Race Cars, Kircher Racing Engines, Main&Company Precision Machined Components, K-B Carburetors, Melling Engine Parts, Performance racing Super Stores, Jim Johnston and Complete Truck Repair, Micro-Armour Industrial Lubricants and Engine Additives, and War Paint Motorsports Graphics. Mike Lawrence Motorsports, Rocket Chassis, Dargie Racing Engines, Stoop's Freightliner, Accu-Force Shock Dyno's, Keith Berner and Bilstien Shock Absorbers.
Contact Informantion: Rusty Schlenk Racing firstname.lastname@example.org or (567) 202 7771
Jeff Cornes, Competition Communications, email@example.com
(419) 332 4520(H) or (419) 463 3605(C)
Dan Rice, Links Zone PR, firstname.lastname@example.org