posted August 30, 2002 05:12 AM
UDTRA CHAMPIONSHIP STRETCH DRIVE BEGINS WITH ATOMIC LABOR DAY RUMBLE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
KNOXVILLE, TN - The stretch drive for the 2002 United Dirt Track Racing
Association Pro DirtCar Series championship begins this Saturday and Sunday
night at Atomic Motor Speedway with the $20,000-to-win 100-lap Labor Day
Rumble. Four drivers are still in the hunt for the title, while several
local favorites will be looking to play the spoiler role.
The Defending UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series Champion and current point leader
Rick Eckert of York, PA has come to really like Atomic Motor Speedway with
three top ten efforts in his last three UDTRA starts at the World's Fastest
1/3-mile high-banked clay oval.
Eckert posted one of his six 2002 Pro DirtCar Series wins at Atomic on July
19, finished second in the UDTRA Labor Day Atomic Blast in 2001 and finished
eighth there in October of last year. Eckert holds a 141-point lead over
Steve Francis of Ashland, KY.
These two drivers know just how close this championship stuff can be.
Eckert beat Francis for the 2001 UDTRA by just one point. Last Saturday
night at the North-South 100 at Florence Speedway in Union, KY, it looked
like Francis would gain substantially on Eckert in points with five laps
go in the race.
On lap 95, Francis was running third and challenging for second, while
Eckert was outside the top ten in 11th spot. Francis slowed off the pace
lap 95, and Eckert found a late race rally. At the checkered flag, Eckert
moved up to finish seventh, while Francis dropped back to 11th. Francis
will be looking for his third win of the season this weekend at Atomic.
Francis finished ninth in the July UDTRA Atomic show, and finished sixth
the Labor Day race last year. However, it was the October UDTRA Atomic
last year that Francis will remember the most. Francis was charging through
the field late in the race, and was moving up to challenge the leaders late
in the race.
A mechanical failure sent Francis to the sidelines in a race he thought
could win. Not only did he lose the race, but also it ended up costing
the UDTRA title. Francis will be returning to Atomic this weekend to get
back the one that got away.
The 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA is looking to make
move this weekend to challenge Eckert for the championship.
McDowell is third in UDTRA points, seven points behind Francis, and 148
behind Eckert. It has been nine years since McDowell has won a UDTRA race
at Atomic. In his last three Atomic UDTRA starts, McDowell has finished
20th twice, but finished second in last October's race.
Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI needs a strong run this weekend to stay in
title hunt. Mars is fourth in UDTRA points, but is 249 points behind
Eckert. In his last three Atomic UDTRA starts, Mars has two tenth-place
efforts and an 18th. Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL is fifth in UDTRA
points, and has 15 top ten finishes in his last 16 starts.
Four-time UDTRA Champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN is the
defending champion of the Atomic Motor Speedway Labor Day Rumble, and will
be looking for his third UDTRA win of the season this weekend. Other top
entries expected include 1996 UDTRA Champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville,
Randy Korte of Highland, IL, and Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC.
Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year point leader Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville,
will be welcoming a return to his old stomping grounds. Ogle is a six-time
Late Model champion at Atomic Motor Speedway, and also has several other
track championships at different East Tennessee tracks.
In his first season traveling with the Pro DirtCar Series, Ogle has one
five finish, two top ten finishes, and is tenth overall in the point
standings. Ogle leads Shane Tankersley of Morganton, GA by 149 points in
the $10,000 Lucas Oil Rookie battle.
East Tennessee favorites always give the traveling pros a rough way to go
Atomic Motor Speedway. Duayne Hommel of Newport, TN came a half car-length
short of posting his first career UDTRA win on July 19 in an exciting
paint-swapping last lap battle with Eckert. Many-time Atomic Late Model
Patrick Duggan of Lenoir City, TN finished third in the July 19 Atomic UDTRA
Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN finished fourth in that race, while Scott
Sexton of Pigeon Forge, TN was the fast qualifier and had a top ten finish.
Mark Douglas of Knoxville, TN had a top ten finish on July 19, as did former
UDTRA regular and past Atomic Late Model champ Skip Arp of Georgetown, TN.
On Saturday night, the Pro DirtCars will be featured in qualifications and
heat races that will begin to fill the starting field for Sunday night's
main event. The Atomic Modified Street Division will also qualify and run
heat races, while the Limited Late Models and Pure Mini Stocks will qualify
and run feature races.
Sunday's activities will begin with a UDTRA Drivers Autograph Session at
p.m. on Souvenir Row. On the track, the Pro DirtCars will compete in their
Consolation Races to fill the starting field for the following 100-lap
$20,000-to-win Labor Day Rumble. The Modified Streets will also return
Sunday for a consolation race and a feature race.
Each day the pit gate will open at 3:30 p.m., with the grandstand gate
opening at 6 p.m., and racing scheduled for 7:30 p.m. For race day and
ticket information call (865) 986-3589. Atomic Motor Speedway is located
just west of Knoxville, TN at exit 364 on I-40 and then one mile north on
U.S. Highway 321.
The next UDTRA Dirty Thursday will air September 12 at 11 p.m. ET with
action from Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA. For the complete UDTRA SPEED
Channel schedule and a direct feedback link, visit the UDTRA web site at www.udtra.com.