posted November 26, 2002 08:40 AM
2002 UDTRA PRO DIRTCAR SERIES SEASON IN REVIEW
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WOODSTOCK, GA - The 2002 United Dirt Track Racing Association season saw
another hard-fought battle for the championship, and for the second straight
year, Rick Eckert of York, PA was crowned the champion. Eckert was able
clinch the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series title after the 37th of 38 races in
"It was nice to be able to clinch the championship in Cumberland, MD
because it's close to home and a lot of my friends and family were able to
be there to share it with us," Eckert said. "When you have the level of
competition there is in UDTRA, it's quite an accomplishment to win one
championship, but to win it two years in a row is something we're very proud
Although Eckert's title wasn't as tight as 2001 when he defeated Steve
Francis of Ashland, KY by one point, Eckert battled hard throughout the
season with the 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA.
Driving the Raye Vest Rocket/Cornett Taurus, Eckert finished the season with
six wins, 23 top fives, 34 top tens, a series leading seven fast times, and
earned $371,295 in prize money, point fund cash, and contingencies. Eckert
is $42,660 shy of going over the $1-Million mark in UDTRA career earnings.
McDowell was the points runner-up with nine wins, 24 top fives, 30 top tens,
two fast times, and earned $257,395 in cash and awards. McDowell was also
the Muddslinger Magazine Most Laps Led Award winner, leading 524 laps of
UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series competition in 2003 driving the Larry Shaw Race
Cars Rocket By Shaw/Custom Grand Prix.
Although Mac Daddy had the most wins this season, Scrub had consistency
going his way. Eckert's worst finish of the season was 14th in the season
ending Hardee's Shootout at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA, and he
completed 2,337 of a possible 2,340 laps of UDTRA competition this season.
The battle between Eckert and McDowell for the 2002 UDTRA Championship saw
them swap the point lead eight times during the first 24 events of the
McDowell took the point lead after the second race of the season in Tampa,
FL, but Eckert was at the top of the list after the fifth race of the season
in Glenmora, LA. McDowell won the next race in Lancaster, SC to retake the
lead. McDowell opened up a lead on Eckert during the month of May winning
four out of five races.
Eckert kept pace, however, but it wasn't until Round 14 on June 1 that
Eckert broke into the winners circle with a win in Florence, KY. The next
event in Davenport, IA saw Eckert grab the point lead, and then he won the
next two events in New Richmond, WI and Denison, IA. McDowell was able to
close the gap with his sixth win of the season on June 28 in Lincoln, NE.
The point lead changed hands back and fourth between Eckert and McDowell
after the first four races in the month of July. McDowell fought back to
retake the point lead with a Round 21 win in Zanesville, OH on July 3.
McDowell didn't have long to enjoy being on the top of the list, as Eckert
dropped him back to second two nights later with a win in Conneaut, OH.
McDowell came back the next night in Parkersburg, WV to take a one-point
lead over his rival. Eckert took the lead for good after the 24th event
July 19 in Knoxville, TN, when McDowell was sidelined with a mechanical
problem. That began a string of four DNFs in five races for McDowell.
After the 28th race of the season in Macon, IL, Eckert had pulled out to
184-point lead over McDowell. The 1999 UDTRA Champion tried to rally with
couple of late season wins in Madison, NC and Rome, GA, but could not make
up the difference on Eckert, despite eight straight top five finishes.
Eckert's final win of the season came on August 4 in New Richmond, WI and
was the richest one-day payoff in UDTRA history. Eckert's USA Nationals
was worth $40,000 plus another $101,000 in bonuses for winning the Great
Northern Challenge. Eckert's other New Richmond, WI win and his victory
Denison, IA gave him three wins in the five-race series.
Francis turned in his fourth straight top five points finish in UDTRA
competition with a third-place effort driving the Valvoline/Mopar Parts
Rocket/Stanton Dodge RT. The Kentucky Colonel stayed in the championship
battle for most of the year with two wins, 20 top five, 30 top tens, four
fast times, and $171,330 in season earnings.
Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI was another title contender during the first
half of the season, but had to settle for fourth in the final points tally.
The Ice Man drove his Jimmy Mars Racing Mastersbilt/Pro Power Monte Carlo
two wins, 20 top fives, 30 top tens, one fast time, and earned $136,770 in
After a slow start, Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL came on strong
during the second half of the season to wind up fifth in the UDTRA point
standings driving the Lucas Oil/Dunn-Benson Ford Rocket/Eatmon Taurus. Earl
The Pearl had one win, eight top fives, 22 top tens, four fast times, and
$104,685 in season earnings.
The 1996 UDTRA Champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN finished sixth in the
UDTRA point standings. The Southern Gentleman drove his Christenberry
Trucking and Farms Warrior/Gaerte Monte Carlo to one win, four top fives,
and 20 top tens.
Smith was the Advance Auto Parts Hard Charger Award winner in 2002. The
National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Member earned $89,270 in UDTRA
earnings this season and needs another $37,805 to go over the $1-Million
mark in UDTRA career earnings.
Randy Korte of Highland, IL improved on his 2001 tenth-place effort with
seventh-place points showing in 2002. The Highland Hustler drove his
Mid-Continental Fuel Rocket By Shaw/Pro Power Grand Prix to two victories,
four top fives, seven top tens, and two fast times. Korte earned $80,602
2002 UDTRA earnings.
For an unprecedented eighth consecutive year, Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC
posted a top ten points finish with an eighth-place effort in 2002. Driving
the Youngblood Concrete Mastersbilt/Cornett Taurus, the Tarheel Tiger had
two top fives, nine top tens, one fast time, and $57,475 in season earnings.
Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, TN finished ninth in the 2002 UDTRA points
chase and won the $10,000 Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year Award driving the
Calhoun's Restaurant GRT/Clements Monte Carlo. Big O posted one top five,
two top tens, and earned $49,980.
Shane Tankersley of Morganton, GA rounded out the top ten in UDTRA points
and was the Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year Runner-Up. Tank had one top ten
finish and $30,500 in earnings driving the American Race Tires Rocket/Custom
There were several other notable names in the UDTRA win column in 2002.
Some were regulars on the winners list, others were new, and a few returned
after a long absence.
The 1997 UDTRA Champion and National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Member
Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR had three UDTRA wins in 2002 in Tampa, FL,
Lincoln, NE and Macon, IL. Mr. Smooth is in a tie with McDowell for second
on the all-time UDTRA winners list at 29.
Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA swept the three UDTRA Quad Cities events.
Birky posted wins in Davenport, IA, East Moline, IL, and West Liberty, IA.
Another National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Member, Four-time UDTRA
Champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN, had two wins early in the
season in Glenmora, LA and Lavonia, GA.
Three-time Renegade DirtCar Series Champion Chub Frank of Sugar Grove, PA
was once again in the UDTRA win column taking the $55,000 top prize by
winning the 13th Annual Hardee's Shootout in Woodstock, GA. Chubzilla also
had a North-South 100 victory in Florence, KY.
The Real Deal Don O'Neal of Martinsville, IN won his second UDTRA East Bay
Winternationals in Tampa, FL and Steve Shaver of Parkersburg, WV was The
Kahuna for the second straight year with a win in Cumberland, MD.
Three drivers returned to the UDTRA winner's circle after long absences.
National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Member Mike Duvall of Gaffney, SC
secured a last minute ride in Barry Wright's "house car", and the Flintstone
Flyer took the UDTRA win in Lawndale, NC.
The Chattanooga Flash Ronnie Johnson won for the first time since 1997 when
he posted the victory in Rome, GA. Skip Arp took his first UDTRA since 1998
by coming from the 18th starting spot to take the win in Knoxville, TN.
Skipper also had two strong second-place finishes, both in Woodstock, GA.
A total of 532 different drivers entered UDTRA events in 2002 competing for
over $2.5-Million in prize money. There were also 235 different drivers
that competed in the 38 UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series main events in 2002.
Three new drivers, Korte, Ogle, and Randle Chupp of Mooresville, NC went
over the $100,000 mark in UDTRA career earnings to bring the total on that
list to 31. For complete UDTRA statistics including points, series history,
news and information visit the UDTRA web site at www.udtra.com.