posted October 03, 2002 12:29 PM
COULD THE "BIG KAHUNA" BE A CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY NIGHT FOR ECKERT?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WOODSTOCK, GA - The United Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar Series
rolls into "The Rock" Allegany County Speedway in Cumberland, MD this
Saturday night for the 2nd Annual $15,000-to-win "Big Kahuna." Defending
UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series Champion and current point leader Rick Eckert of
York, PA can clinch his second straight UDTRA title.
Eckert has a 121-point lead over 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of
Rossville, GA going into the Big Kahuna. If McDowell sweeps the show by
winning the race, leading the most laps, and setting fast time, Eckert would
have to finish sixth or better to win the 2002 UDTRA Championship.
This was the scenario Eckert faced last year when he was involved in a
championship battle with Steve Francis of Ashland, KY. Eckert went into
last year's Big Kahuna with a 70-point lead over Francis.
Eckert was running eighth late in the race when he cut down a tire. Francis
finished second, while Eckert took the 12th spot. They went to the last
race of the season at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA 27 points apart.
Despite that 27-point advantage, Eckert was running third, but broke an
axle with six laps to go in the Shootout at Dixie. Francis rallied from
20th starting spot to finish the Shootout in the fourth spot. Eckert
squeezed out the championship by one point. If the race had gone one more
lap, Eckert would have finished worse than tenth, and Francis would have
been the champion.
Having experienced first-hand what can happen in a championship battle,
Eckert was very reserved in his thoughts on clinching his second straight
UDTRA Championship at The Rock.
"I was in a position to clinch the championship in Cumberland last year,"
Eckert said. "I had two bad races in a row, while Steve had two good races
in a row, and he almost beat me for the championship. I'm not going to say
anything that will incriminate myself. Dale is on a roll, he won the last
race out in Rome, GA, and he runs real strong at Dixie. It would be nice
win the championship Saturday night at Cumberland because it's close to
home, but I know things can happen."
McDowell had problems of his own at The Rock in last year's Big Kahuna.
McDowell was running third late in the race when he cut down a tire and hit
the first turn wall. He ended up 14th.
Although Francis has been mathematically eliminated from the championship
hunt, he can still challenge McDowell for the second spot. Francis goes
into the Big Kahuna third in points, 77-points behind McDowell.
Other top ten UDTRA drivers expected for the Big Kahuna are Jimmy Mars of
Elk Mound, WI, Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL, 1996 UDTRA Champion
Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN, Randy Korte of Highland, IL, Ray Cook of
Brasstown, NC, Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, TN, and Shane Tankersley of
Ogle and Tankersley will be battling for the $10,000 Lucas Oil Rookie of
the Year Award. Going into The Big Kahuna, Ogle leads Tankersley by 125
points. If Ogle leads Tankersley by 88 points or more after The Big Kahuna,
Ogle will be the 2002 Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year.
The defending Big Kahuna Champion Steve Shaver of Parkersburg, WV leads
strong contingent from the Renegade DirtCar Series that will take on the
UDTRA regulars. Among the Renegade Series favorites are Chub Frank of Sugar
Grove, PA, Mike Balzano of Parkersburg, WV, Davey Johnson of Greensburg,
Tim Hitt of Weston, WV, and Matt Miller of Waterville, OH.
Local favorites expected for The Big Kahuna include Gary Stuhler of
Greencastle, PA, Jack Pencil of Bedford, PA, and Eric Zembower of Bedford,
The Holiday Inn at 100 S, George St. In Cumberland, MD is the Official
UDTRA Host Hotel for The Big Kahuna. The Holiday Inn is offering a special
discount rate of $75 per night for UDTRA fans and competitors. Call (301)
724-8800 to make reservations, and be sure to ask for the UDTRA discount
On Saturday, the pit and grandstand gates open at Noon, with Pro DirtCar
Series hot laps at 6 p.m., time trials at 7 p.m., and racing at 8 p.m. The
Rock is located three south of I-68 at exit 42 on Route 220, then east on
Moss Avenue. For race day and ticket information call (301) 729-5050, or
visit the track's web site at www.dirtrock.com.
The next UDTRA action on SPEED Channel will be on October 5 at 3 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