posted March 04, 2002 08:16 PM
UDTRA THUNDER VALLEY SPEEDWAY PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WOODSTOCK, GA - The top drivers of the United Dirt Track Racing Association
Pro DirtCar Series and the Speed Channel cameras are ready to roll for the
75-lap $15,000-to-win Paragon Casino Resort Soaring Eagle Classic at Thunder
Valley Speedway in Glenmora, LA on March 16.
The 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA leads the UDTRA
DirtCar Series points standings going into the Thunder Valley Speedway event
that is co-sponsored by the Louisiana Bureau of Tourism and Recreation.
the first four races of the season, McDowell has three top five finishes,
and has finished in the top ten in each event.
In two previous UDTRA starts at TVS, McDowell has two top ten finishes,
10th in 1999 and ninth in 2000. He was the third fastest qualifier in 2000.
McDowell has his Larry Shaw Race Cars program in full gear after forming
new team last season, and hitting full stride at the midway point of the
McDowell will carry a 29-point lead over Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI going
into the March 16 event that will be the first of ten UDTRA events taped
airing on the Speed Channel.
Mars is off to a fast start in the 2002 UDTRA title chase, despite losing
his long-time sponsor due to economic reason just three days before the
start of the season. Mars won the third race of the season at East Bay
Raceway in Tampa, FL, and has two top five finishes, and three top ten
finishes. In his only TVS UDTRA appearance, Mars had a tenth-place finish
after qualifying sixth quick.
Mars could be following the same pattern as McDowell did in 1999. McDowell
lost his sponsor early in the 1999 season, but kept his program rolling
won the title.
Defending UDTRA champion Rick Eckert of York, PA is third in the point
standings, 33 points out of first-place, with two top five finishes and
three top ten finishes in the first four events. Eckert's history at TVS
has been steady, but not quite a contender to win. In 1999, Eckert finished
seventh after qualifying 15th, and in 2000, he was 11th in the main event
after qualifying 11th.
It's been two years since the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series has been to TVS,
Eckert's Raye Vest Team has gotten much stronger.
Last year's National championship Runner-Up, Steve Francis of Ashland,
is fourth in the UDTRA point standings, 50 points behind Eckert. Francis
has shown a lot of strength at the Glenmora, LA 1/4-mile clay oval with
win in 1999, and a seventh-place finish in 2000. He was the second quick
qualifier in 1999, and had the ninth quick time in 2000.
For the 2002 UDTRA season, Francis has teamed up with the UDTRA winning
Rocket Chassis "house car" team. In the first four races, Francis has
top five, three top tens, and one quick-time.
The 1997 UDTRA Champion Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR has run up front
TVS in two previous starts. In 1999, Moyer was running second, but a tangle
with another car early in the race dropped him to 23rd at the finish. In
2000, Moyer qualified second, ran in the top five early in the race, but
faded to a 14th-place finish.
Moyer has shown his strength in the first four races of 2002 with one win
at East Bay Raceway in Tampa, FL, and three top five finishes to ride in
fifth spot of the points chase, 85 points out of the top spot.
If Moyer would have not given up a provisional starting spot after
withdrawing from the season opener in Brunswick, GA, and had a 22nd-place
finish or better, he would be leading the UDTRA point standings.
Four-time UDTRA Champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN has gone from
the Outhouse to the Penthouse at TVS in two starts. In 1999, Bloomquist
qualified mid-pack, and then tire problems had him ending up 19th in the
main event. In 2000, Bloomquist qualified 14th, and then took over the
late in the race to take the win that would spark his fourth title run.
Bloomquist is sixth in the UDTRA points going into this year's TVS run with
a second-place finish in Brunswick, GA, and two top tens. Bloomquist is
four points behind Moyer.
Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR is seventh in the UDTRA points chase with
one top ten finish, but is only five points behind Bloomquist. If the
numbers are right compared to his first two TVS appearances, 2002 could
Wally's year in Glenmora.
In 1999, Wallace finished third after qualifying 11th. In 2000, Wallace
qualified fourth-quick and finished second to Bloomquist after leading 72
laps of the race. In two UDTRA prior TVS appearances, Wallace has the best
Steve Shaver of Parkersburg, WV is eighth in UDTRA points with two top ten
finishes and one fast time. In one prior TVS appearance with UDTRA, Shave
finished sixth in the main event and qualified seventh in 2000.
Donnie Moran of Dresden, OH is back on the UDTRA Tour full-time in 2002,
is ninth in the point standings with one top ten finish in four starts
driving the QPI Tools Dirt Ripper. Moran will be looking to improve on
only UDTRA start at TVS in 2000 when he finished 15th in the main event
after qualifying 13th.
Dan Schlieper of Pewaukee, WI could be a man to watch on March 16.
Schlieper has been a front runner in his two previous UDTRA runs at TVS.
1999, Schlieper finished sixth in the main event after qualifying third
fastest. In 2000, Schlieper set fast time, and was running in third spot
before hitting the backstretch wall on lap 25, which knocked him back to
Schlieper is running a GRT Chassis for 2002, and is tenth in the point
standings with one top ten finish.
Outside of the top ten, there are four drivers that are within striking
distance of breaking into the top ten, and three of them have had success
Thunder Valley Speedway.
The 1996 UDTRA Champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN is a former Louisiana
resident, and Cajun Cooking must make him stand on the gas. In two previous
TVS runs for UDTRA, the Southern Gentleman has finished fifth in 1999, and
third in 2000. Smith is 11th in points, just three points out of the top
ten, and debuted a new Warrior Chassis with a UDTRA win in Brunswick, GA.
Don O'Neal of Martinsville, IN may be the hottest dirt late model driver
the country leading into the TVS race. O'Neal won the UDTRA East Bay
Winternationals in Tampa, FL on February 9, and won a total of five Florida
In three starts with UDTRA in 2002, O'Neal has one win, two top five
finishes, and one quick time for 12th in the points chase, just nine points
out of the top ten. The "Real Deal" has indicated to UDTRA officials he
just might try for the 2002 UDTRA title, and March 16 would be his first
visit to Thunder Valley Speedway with his potent Pro Power-engined Rayburn.
Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC has been better than his 13th-place in the current
point standings might show. The "Tarheel Tiger" has had some good runs
the first four events of the UDTRA season, but mechanical problems have
plagued the team with a new Mastersbilt Chassis. TVS could be a welcome
site for Cook, as he has had a 12th place finish in 1999 and an eighth-place
effort in 2000.
Shannon Babb of Decatur, IL is 14th in UDTRA points after four events with
one top ten finish. The "Babbster" finished 11th at TVS in 1999, and
brought home the fourth spot in 2000. Babb will enter this year's UDTRA
event at TVS in a Billy Moyer team car.
Another tight point battle is for the $10,000 Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year
Award. Shane Tankersley of Morganton, GA leads the Lucas Oil RoY points
chase by 31 points, with a three-way tie for the second spot. Billy Ogle
Jr. of Knoxville, TN, Anthony White of Clinton, TN, and John Anderson of
Omaha, NE are tied for second, and Mark Kraus of Stratford, WI is fifth.
Other top entries expected for the Louisiana Paragon Casino and Resort
Soaring Eagle Classic are 2001 UDTRA Rookie of the Year Joe Izzo of Chicago,
IL Terry English of Benton, KY, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, IL, Randy
Korte of Highland, IL, and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA.
Thunder Valley Speedway owner Jackie Thacker said he has made many
improvements to Thunder Valley Speedway since the last UDTRA appearance
"We have put six inches of new clay on the track and we have also widened
the exits to turns two and four which should provide more multi-groove
racing," Thacker said. "There are new VIP Booths and new rest rooms in
pit area, and we have also paved the entrance road in to the track."
Thacker also said that Miss Christmas On The Bayou, Courtney Danielle LaCaze
of Simpson, LA, will be the Trophy Queen for the Paragon Casino Resort
Screaming Eagle Classic.
Thacker and Thunder Valley Speedway will host a practice session and Cajun
Pit Party on March 15. The gates will open at 4 p.m., with practice from
p.m. to 10 p.m. Thacker said he has set admission prices for the practice
day at $10 for the grandstand, and $25 for the pit area, which includes
The UDTRA-sanctioned activities on March 16 will have the pit area opening
at 1 p.m., the grandstand gates at 4 p.m., and UDTRA hot laps are scheduled
for 6 p.m.
The Paragon Casino and Resort in Marksville, LA will be the Official Host
Hotel for the Thunder Valley Speedway event. To inquire about discount
rates and reservations call 1-800-642-7777. Ask for the Thunder Valley
Other area hotels offering discount rates for the event are the Hampton
in Alexandria, LA, and the Oakwood Inn in Oakdale, LA. To make reservations
call the Hampton Inn at (318) 487-8500, the Oakwood Inn at (318) 335-4000,
and ask for the Thunder Valley Speedway rate.
Thunder Valley Speedway is located 10 miles west of Glenmora, LA on S.R.
113. For ticket and race day information call (318) 748-4473.