WHERE HE DOMINATED IN 2007
It’s been more than a year but fans still remember the dominance Robert Ballou had on Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway banks in 2007, winning both 30-lap feature events!
The “Rocklin (Calif.) Rocket” returns to the half-mile dirt Ohio oval this weekend for the “Coca Cola Spring Classic” after a lackluster start to his 2009 USAC National Sprint Car season.
“Look out, I’m back with a vengeance,” says Ballou. “We could have won two at Eldora last year. After losing two engines the first night, his crew changed a rear-end prior to the June feature. We got involved in a tangle at the start, lost the brakes, but came from last on a restart back to fifth before we had a tire go down. We restarted last again and came back to fourth before the tire again went down! At the 4-Crown I was running second when we packed a wheel full of mud. That won’t happen this time!”
Ballou attributes his Eldora success to the fact he ran with a wing so much before switching to USAC. “The speeds don’t bother me” he adds. “When some drivers back off for the corners, I just jam it in there and hope it sticks. The crew chief I had on my winged car is back with me this year and he was with me for my first non-wing 410 win a few years ago. That night I passed Bud Kaeding with five laps to go and won by a half-lap. I have to admit though, I didn’t know what I was doing then.”
In the 2009 opener at Phoenix, Ballou piloted a car for Tony Smiley but he and the car didn’t work well together and after missing the feature there, another team was in need of their engine, so Ballou came home.
Ballou only competed in 16 races last year but ranked 15th in the final standings.
This weekend, he’ll have two more opportunities for victory at Eldora, with 30-lap features both nights. Saturday night’s race is the annual “Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic,” a race he won in 2007. Ballou’s car this weekend will be the same one he drove to the 2007 victories, entered by MPHG Promotions’ Dallas Mulvaney.
He’ll have plenty of competition, including defending USAC National Sprint Car Champion and 2006 “Branson/Larson” winner Jerry Coons Jr., defending “Branson/Larson” champ Tracy Hines and 2008 “4-Crown” champ Brad Sweet.