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posted June 21, 2002 10:16 AM UIN: 16262997


NEW RICHMOND, WI - The United Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar
Series portion of the Great Northern Challenge continues this Saturday night
at Cedar Lake Speedway with the $15,000-to-win Masters 75 in front of the
SPEED Channel cameras. Going into this weekend's action, two drivers are
eligible for the $100,000 bonus.

Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA was the winner of the UDTRA Pro DirtCar
Series event on Tuesday night in Davenport, IA, and Earl Pearson Jr. of
Jacksonville, FL won the Renegade DirtCar Series event on Wednesday night
LaSalle Speedway in LaSalle, IL.

Cedar Lake Speedway will host rounds three and four of the five race Great
Northern Challenge Tour. The Renegade Series will take to Cedar Lake
Speedway on Friday night for a $15,000-to-win main event. The fifth round
will take place on Tuesday night at Crawford County Speedway in Denison,
for the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series.

Any driver that can win three of the five races will pocket a $100,000
bonus. Outside of Birkhofer and Pearson, any driver that will have a chance
at claiming the 100 Gs will have to win two-in-row at Cedar Lake this

Defending UDTRA Champion Rick Eckert of York, PA took over the point lead
from Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA with a third-place finish in Davenport,
IA on Tuesday night. McDowell, the 1999 UDTRA Champion, dropped out of
Tuesday night's event with a mechanical failure, the first DNF of the season
for McDowell.

McDowell had success at Cedar Lake Speedway last season, winning the USA
Nationals, and a Renegade Series event. In the first 16 UDTRA Pro DirtCar
series events of 2002, McDowell has won five. Eckert has kept pace and
moved ahead of McDowell by 26 points by posting one win and 11 top five
finishes in 16 starts.

Another title contender will be returning to his home turf in an effort
close the gap on Eckert and McDowell.

Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI is third in the Pro DirtCar Series points
chase, 77 points out of first place. Mars, who has one win this season
ten top five finishes in 16 starts, will be returning to his home track,
is always a contender on the 1/3-mile dirt oval.

Steve Francis of Ashland, KY is another driver in the championship hunt
after being the series runner-up for the past two seasons. Francis has
win, nine top five finishes and 12 top ten finishes in 16 starts. The
Kentucky Colonel is fourth in UDTRA points, just 79 points behind Eckert.

Dan Schlieper of Pewaukee, WI is fifth in points, and a win in his home
state could also make him a title contender. The 1996 UDTRA Champion Freddy
Smith of Knoxville, TN is sixth in UDTRA points, just 20 points behind
Schlieper. Smith won the Pro DirtCar Series season opener in February in
Brunswick, GA.

Donnie Moran of Dresden, OH is sixth in the Pro DirtCar Series points,
behind Smith. Pearson, in addition to being a candidate for the Great
Northern Challenge $100,000 bonus, is also right in the UDTRA Championship
battle, holding down the eighth spot, nine points behind Smith. Ray Cook
Brasstown, NC is ninth in the UDTRA point standings, five points behind

Birkhofer's win on Tuesday night in Davenport, IA vaulted him into the
tenth spot in the Pro DirtCar Series points chase. Birkhofer is 53 points
behind Cook. Another driver looking to close in on the top ten is Randy
Korte of Highland, IL, who is 13th in points going into the Masters 75.

Shane Tankersley of Morganton, GA still leads the Lucas Oil Rookie of the
Year point standings by 64 over Mark Kraus of Stratford, WI. Kraus, a
pavement racer who has been impressive making the switch to dirt racing
season, will be looking to show his local fans he has made a smooth
transition to different racing surface.

Tankersley is 14th overall in the UDTRA point standings, with Kraus in
15th. Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, TN is third in the Lucas Oil Rookie
the Year point standings, 40 points behind Kraus, and 16th overall.

Rick Aukland of Zanesville, OH is 17th in UDTRA points despite making just
10 of 16 events. Aukland is a former regular at Cedar Lake Speedway when
was racing out of his native Fargo, ND.

The Ohio-based Renegade Series will also be bringing a large talent pool
Cedar Lake Speedway this weekend. The defending and two-time Renegade
Champion Chub Frank of Sugar Grove, PA had some impressive runs at Cedar
Lake Speedway last season, and he also won four UDTRA events in 2001.

Former Renegade Series Champions Mike Balzano of Parkersburg, WV and Davey
Johnson of Greensburg, PA also have UDTRA wins on their resumes. Johnson
a former winner of the UDTRA USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway. Steve
Shaver of Parkersburg, WV and Matt Miller of Waterville, OH are two other
Renegade regulars that have won UDTRA events.

On Saturday at Cedar Lake Speedway, the pit gate opens at 1 p.m., and the
grandstand gate opens at 3 p.m. Hot laps begin at 6 p.m., Pro DirtCar
Series time trials are set for 6:45 p.m., and racing is scheduled for 8
Along with the Pro DirtCars, the WISSOTA Late Models and Street Stocks will
also be in action.

SPEED Channel will tape the UDTRA Masters 75 to air on UDTRA "Dirty
Thursday" on August 1 at 11 p.m. A complete UDTRA television schedule and
link for feedback to SPEED Channel are located on the UDTRA web site at


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