posted June 26, 2002 07:02 AM
ECKERT WINS SECOND STRAIGHT IN DENISON, IA TO BECOME ELIGIBLE FOR $100 Gs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DENISON, IA - Defending United Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar
Series Champion Rick Eckert of York, PA made it three wins in the last four
events Tuesday night by taking the victory in the 50-lap UDTRA Pro DirtCar
Series race at Crawford County Speedway driving the Raye Vest Rocket/Cornett
Combined with his Masters 75 win on Saturday night at Cedar Lake Speedway
New Richmond, WI, Eckert will now be eligible for the Great Northern
Challenge $100,000 Bonus if he can win the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake
Speedway on August 3.
"I couldn't think of a better place to go for $100,000 than a track like
Cedar Lake where I know I have and can run well," Eckert said. "We've been
pretty consistent all year with top five finishes, and lately we have run
well enough that the wins are finally coming our way."
Eckert almost had a disastrous start that could have put him out of the
before the completion of the first lap.
Second row drivers Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA and Eckert joined front
row starters Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA, and Steve Francis of Ashland,
KY in a four-car battle for the lead on the first lap. Francis took the
early lead, while Eckert used the outside groove to challenge Francis coming
off the fourth turn to complete the first lap.
Francis drifted up high coming off the turn, and Eckert ran out of room
the high side, hitting the front straightaway wall with the right-front
wheel. The car climbed the wall, but Eckert made the save, wrestling the
car back down on all four wheels pointed in the right direction. By the
time Eckert recovered, he had dropped back to fourth behind Francis,
Birkhofer and McDowell.
"I got a run on Steve coming off the fourth turn, and I guess he didn't
me up there, and I just ran out of race track," Eckert said. "I really
couldn't tell if it changed the handling of the car because I hadn't driven
it that long in the race to make a comparison."
The brush with the wall didn't seen to effect the car because Eckert shot
back around McDowell and Birkhofer to move up to second on lap two, and
repeated the outside move on Francis coming off the fourth turn on lap three
to take the lead he would only briefly give up once more in the race.
Francis made a couple of bids for the lead, and actually passed Eckert for
the point coming off the second turn on lap 17. But Eckert was too strong
to be denied the lead using the outside groove in turns three and four to
pass Francis down the frontchute to lead lap 17.
The Kentucky Colonel reloaded his Valvoline/Mopar Parts Rocket/Stanton
Intrepid for one more shot at the lead in the closing laps, beginning on
43. On lap 45, Francis pulled along side Eckert coming down the
backstretch, but that's as close as he got. Eckert then pulled away to
the $10,000 victory.
"I knew Steve was there at the end of the race, and my crew chief Robby
Allen kept signaling me how far in front I was," Eckert said. "I was trying
different lines around the track trying to see which one was the fastest.
drove the last five laps of the race as hard as I could go."
Francis dropped back after pulling alongside Eckert on lap 45, but hung
to finish second. The 1999 UDTRA Champion McDowell took the third spot
the Larry Shaw Race Cars Rocket/Custom Grand Prix.
Birkhofer finished fourth in the Seubert Calf Ranches Mastersbilt/Pro Power
Grand Prix, and Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI rounded out the top five, after
starting 11th in the Jimmy Mars Racing Mastersbilt/Pro Power Monte Carlo.
Eckert now leads McDowell by 51 points in the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series point
standings. Francis moved around Mars into the third spot. Francis trails
McDowell by 68 points, and leads Mars by just three points.
Joe Kosiski of Omaha, NE finished sixth after starting 12th in the first
race out for his new Kosiski Auto Parts Mastersbilt/Draime Monte Carlo.
1996 UDTRA Champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN finished seventh in the
Tender Heart Treasures/Christenberry Trucking and Farms Warrior/Custom Monte
Steve Kosiski of Omaha, NE claimed the eighth spot in the Omaha Drywall
Rocket/Grove Grand Prix, with Lucas Oil Rookie of the Race Mark Kraus of
Stratford, WI recording his first career UDTRA top-ten finish with a
ninth-place effort. Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL rounded out the
top ten in the Lucas Oil/Dunn-Benson Ford Rocket/Eatmon Taurus.
Kraus also shared the Advance Auto Parts Hard Charger of the Race Award
Lucas Oil Rookie Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, TN in the Calhoun's Restaurant
GRT/Clements Monte Carlo. Kraus started 17th and finished ninth, and Ogle
started 24th and finished 16th.
There was plenty of side-by-side action throughout the 24-car field for
SPEED Channel cameras to try and catch. The race will air on SPEED Channel
on August 29 at 11 p.m. ET.
After Eckert took the lead from Francis on the third lap, McDowell moved
to race side-by-side with Francis for the second spot by lap seven. Francis
was able to hold the position, but Eckert had checked out to a
half-straightaway lead by lap nine.
The first of six caution flags came out when Kelly Boen of Denver, CO had
very anxious moment in the fourth turn. Boen spun his Road Runner
Fabrication Barry Wright/Dickens Grand Prix in the fourth turn on lap 13.
When Boen tried to restart the race car, it ignited raw fuel in the exhaust
pipes, which caused a big fire that had to be extinguished by track safety
personnel under red flag conditions. Boen got out of the car and was O.K.,
but he was done for the night.
McDowell shot around the outside of Francis to take the second spot in turn
two on the double-file restart, but Francis moved back around McDowell when
they got back to the flagstand. Pearson moved up to challenge Birkhofer
side-by-side for fourth, and Moran moved up from ninth to sixth in the QPI
Tools Dirt Ripper Rayburn/Fisher Monte Carlo.
Once Francis put McDowell behind him after the restart, he began to chase
down Eckert. On lap 17, Francis got a tremendous bite coming off the second
turn, and passed Eckert for the lead. Eckert was running the cushion in
turns three and four, which he used the momentum to retake the lead coming
off the fourth turn.
Ace Ihm of Hazel Green, WI brought out the second yellow flag of the race
with a flat tire in turn three. On the restart, McDowell again motored
the outside of Francis to challenge for the second spot. This time,
McDowell made the move stick. By the halfway point in the race, Eckert
McDowell by 20 car-lengths.
Not content to ride in the third spot, Francis picked up the pace, and was
challenging McDowell for the second spot by lap 27. Francis was able to
shoot under McDowell for the second spot on lap 30. Meanwhile, behind the
leaders, there was a torrid four-car battle going on for the sixth spot
among Joe Kosiski, Mars, Smith, and Cook.
Steve Kosiski stalled in turn four to bring out the third caution flag of
the race, and when the field lined up for the double-file restart, it was
Eckert, Francis, McDowell, and Mars had blasted his way up into the fourth
The restart saw McDowell power around the outside of Francis for the second
spot in turn two, and Birkhofer passed Mars for the fourth spot. On Lap
Moran tagged the first turn wall and collected Smith for caution flag number
It was Eckert leading the doubled up cars of McDowell, Francis, Birkhofer,
Mars, Pearson, Smith, and Joe Kosiski down for the green flag. Birkhofer
moved up to challenge Francis for the third spot, but the field was slowed
once again by caution.
John Anderson of Omaha, NE spun his Tender Heart Treasures GRT/Hatfield
Grand Prix in turn three, and during the caution period, Pearson gave up
sixth spot to pit. The lap 36 double-file restart saw Birkhofer pick up
where he left off, and pass Francis for the third spot. Anderson stopped
turn four with a flat tire on lap 37 for the sixth and final caution.
Eckert and McDowell sped away on the restart, but a three-wide battle for
the third spot ensued in turn two. Francis took the rail on the inside,
with Mars in the middle, and Birkhofer riding the cushion. When they sorted
it all out, the trio ended up running with Francis in third, Birkhofer
fourth, and Mars in fifth.
On lap 42, Francis pulled inside McDowell in turn one, and they raced
side-by-side until Francis made the pass coming down the frontstretch.
Francis was on the move, chasing down Eckert on lap 43, and then on lap
pulled alongside the leader. Francis faded in the last five laps and Eckert
pulled away for the win.
Birkhofer was the fast qualifier, turning the 1/2-mile black dirt oval in
21.498 seconds for an average speed of 83.729 miles per hour. Birky then
won the first 10-lap heat race to earn the pole position for the main event.
Francis picked up the Scott Performance Wire $100 Bonus Award with a second
heat win and the outside front row starting spot.
McDowell won the third heat race and the $100 JE Pistons Bonus Award. Dirk
Kirk of Sergeant Bluff, IA won the Polaris ATVs 12-lap Consolation Race
the Sterling Trucks Mastersbilt/Roberts Grand Prix.
The next event for the Pro DirtCar Series will be this Friday and Saturday
nights with a pair of main events at Nebraska Raceway Park in Greenwood,
Friday night's show will feature a 40-lap $7,000-to-win main event, and
Saturday night main event will be a $10,000-to-win 50 lapper.
The festivities at NRP begin Wednesday night with a practice session and
visit by the Kyle Petty Charity Motorcycle Ride at 7 p.m. NRP is located
just off I-80 at exit 420 on State Road 63. For race day and ticket
information call (402) 944-2233.
The Villager Best Western Hotel in Lincoln, NE is the Official UDTRA Host
Hotel for the NRP events. The Villager Best Western Hotel is offering UDTRA
fans and competitors a special discount rate of $59 per night. To make
reservations call (402) 464-9111 and ask for the special UDTRA discount
The next UDTRA Dirty Thursday will air on August 1 at 11 p.m. ET with the
4th Annual Masters 75 from Cedar Lake Speedway. For the complete UDTRA
SPEED Channel schedule and a direct feedback link, visit the UDTRA web site
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF ROUND 18 AT CRAWFORD COUNTY SPEEDWAY IN DENISON, IA
POS STRT CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN CAR LAPS $ WON
1. 4 24 Rick Eckert York, PA Ford 50 $10,850
2. 2 1 Steve Francis Ashland, KY Dodge 50 $6,700
3. 3 17m Dale McDowell Rossville, GA Pont. 50 $3,800
4. 1 15b Brian Birkhofer Muscatine, IA Pont. 50 $3,100
5. 11 28 Jimmy Mars Elk Mound, WI Chev. 50 $2,600
6. 12 53k Joe Kosiski Omaha, NE Chev. 50 $1,800
7. 7 00 Freddy Smith Knoxville, TN Chev. 50 $2,200
8. 9 52 Steve Kosiski Omaha, NE Pont. 50 $1,400
9. 17 H2O Mark Kraus (R) Stratford, WI Chev. 50 $1,275
10. 5 1p Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville, FL Ford 50 $1,700
11. 8 56 Gary Webb Blue Grass, IA Pont. 50 $1,000
12. 6 53 Ray Cook Brasstown, NC Ford 50 $1,550
13. 16 50 Denny Eckrich Tiffin, IA Pont. 50 $900
14. 10 99 Donnie Moran Dresden, OH Chev. 50 $1,475
15. 13 1k John Anderson (R) Omaha, NE Pont. 49 $850
16. 24 201 Billy Ogle Jr. (R) Knoxville, TN Chev. 49 $900
17. 21 99d Darrell DeFrance Marshalltown, IA Pont. 48 $800
18. 15 T31 Shane Tankersley (R) Morganton, GA Pont. 35 $750
19. 23 00k Randy Korte Highland, IL Chev. 34 $700
20. 19 86 Dirk Kirk Sergeant Bluff, IA Pont. 34 $700
21. 20 99j Johnny Johnson West Burlington, IA Ford 21 $700
22. 22 11 Ace Ihm Hazel Green, WI Pont. 21 $700
23. 18 07 Kelly Boen Denver, CO Pont. 12 $700
24. 14 3x Skip Frey Ely, IA Pont. 12 $700
PROVISIONALS: Korte (6) and Ogle (3)
LEAD CHANGES: 1
LAP LEADERS: Francis, 1-2; Eckert, 3-50
LAPS LED: Eckert, 48; Francis, 2
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS HARD CHARGER: Kraus (started 17th and finished 9th),
Ogle (started 24th and finished 16th)
LUCAS OIL ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Kraus
TIME OF THE RACE: 54 Minutes and 38.22 Seconds
HARDEE'S SHOOTOUT INVITEES: DeFrance, Kirk, Jo. Johnson, Ihm, Boen, and
Frey (Promoter's Choice)
POS CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN CHASSIS CAR MAKE 1ST LAP 2ND LAP TIME SPEED
1 15b Brian Birkhofer Muscatine, IA Mastersbilt Grand Prix 21.498 21.601
2 1 Steve Francis Ashland, KY Rocket Intrepid 22.132 21.644 21.644 83.164
3 17m Dale McDowell Rossville, GA Rocket Grand Prix 22.116 21.919 21.919
4 24 Rick Eckert York, PA Rocket Taurus 22.103 21.942 21.942 82.034
5 1P Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville, FL Rocket Taurus 22.481 22.001 22.001
6 53 Ray Cook Brasstown, NC Mastersbilt Taurus 22.552 22.139 22.139 81.304
7 1k John Anderson (R) Omaha, NE GRT Grand Prix 22.208 22.186 22.186 81.132
8 201 Billy Ogle Jr. (R) Knoxville, TN GRT Monte Carlo 22.224 22.229 22.224
9 52k Steve Kosiski Omaha, NE Rocket Grand Prix 22.380 22.752 22.380 80.429
10 00 Freddy Smith Knoxville, TN Warrior Monte Carlo 22.427 22.498 22.427
11 H20 Mark Kraus (R) Stratford, WI Mastersbilt Monte Carlo 22.734 22.486
12 5j Jay Johnson West Burlington, IA Mastersbilt Grand Prix 22.534 22.631
13 99 Donnie Moran Dresden, OH Rayburn Monte Carlo 22.681 22.580 22.580
14 28m Jimmy Mars Elk Mound, WI Mastersbilt Monte Carlo 22.754 22.605 22.605
15 07 Kelly Boen Denver, CO Barry Wright Grand Prix 22.853 22.640 22.640
16 50e Denny Eckrich Tiffin, IA Barry Wright Grand Prix 22.864 22.660 22.660
17 3x Skip Fry Ely, IA Warrior Grand Prix 22.787 22.687 22.687 79.341
18 53k Joe Kosiski Omaha, NE Mastersbilt Monte Carlo 23.056 22.931 22.931
19 11i Ace Ihm Hazel Green, WI Rocket Grand Prix 23.395 22.958 22.958 78.404
20 56 Gary Webb Blue Grass, IA GRT Monte Carlo 23.201 23.035 23.035 78.142
21 T31 Shane Tankersley (R) Morgonton, GA Stinger Grand Prix 23.290 23.073
22 99j Johnny Johnson West Burlington, IA Rayburn Mustang 24.319 23.083
23 00k Randy Korte Highland, IL Rocket Grand Prix 23.304 23.146 23.146
24 86 Dirk Kirk Sargent Bluff, IA Mastersbilt Grand Prix 23.283 23.179
25 99d Darrel DeFrance Marshalltown, IA Larry Shaw Grand Prix 23.893 23.305
26 2w Darryn Waldo Billings, MT Rocket Monte Carlo 23.659 23.533 23.533
27 2x Gregory Peck Sioux City, IA Mastersbilt Monte Carlo 23.762 23.926
28 22m Donnie McClellan Granite City, MO GRT Grand Prix 24.091 23.998 23.998
29 3c Mike Collins Council Bluffs, IA American Monte Carlo NT NT NT NT
HEAT RACES (10 Laps - Top 6 Finishers Transfer To Main Event):
1ST HEAT: 1. Birkhofer; 2. Eckert; 3. Smith; 4. Moran; 5. Anderson (R);
Eckrich; 7. Jo. Johnson; 8. DeFrance; 9. McClellan; 10. Ihm.
JE PISTONS 2ND HEAT: 1. Francis; 2. Pearson; 3. Webb; 4. Mars; 5. Fry;
Kraus (R); 7. Ogle (R); 8. Waldo.
SCOTT PERFORMANCE WIRE 3RD HEAT: 1. McDowell; 2. Cook; 3. S. Kosiski;
J. Kosiski; 5. Tankersley (R); 6. Boen; 7. Kirk; 8. Peck; 9. Ja. Johnson.
POLARIS ATVs 12-LAP CONSOLATION RACE (Top 4 Finishers Transfer To Main
Event): 1. Kirk; 2. Jo. Johnson; 3. DeFrance; 4. Ihm; 5. Ja. Johnson; 6.
Ogle (R); 7. McClellan; 8. Korte; 9. Peck; 10. Waldo.
UDTRA POINT STANDINGS THROUGH 6/25/02:
1. Rick Eckert - 2886
2. Dale McDowell - 2835
3. Steve Francis - 2767
4. Jimmy Mars - 2764
5. Freddy Smith - 2363
6. Donnie Moran - 2274
7. Ray Cook - 2241
8. Earl Pearson Jr. - 2224
9. Brian Birkhofer - 2192
10. Dan Schlieper - 2072
11. Randy Korte - 2031
12. Scott Bloomquist - 1918
13. Billy Moyer - 1829
14. Shane Tankersley (R) - 1734
15. Mark Kraus (R) - 1697
16. Billy Ogle Jr. (R) - 1634
17. Rick Aukland - 1247
18. Shannon Babb - 1059
19. John Anderson (R) - 1042
20. Steve Shaver - 1028
R - Denotes Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year Candidate