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posted May 29, 2001 10:20 AM UIN: 16262997


BRISTOL, TN - The top dirt late model competitors in the country will begin
rolling on to hallowed ground today. Preparations have begun for the United
Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar Series 2nd Annual Battle of
Bristol Presented By Free Service Tire and Auto Centers and Advance Auto
Parts at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 30-June 2.

The Battle of Bristol is not the richest dirt late model race in the world,
but there is just something special about the place that gives competitors
the desire to want to win there.

Bristol, with its 140,000 plus seating capacity that surrounds the
.533-mile oval, the high banks, and the history, provides the ultimate
challenge for man and machine. All of that combined with 45,000 fans -
largest crowd to ever witness a dirt late model race - that attended the
race last year gave the event an electricity in the air unlike any other
dirt late model race.

"You can win 100 races at 100 different tracks, but when you say you've
at Bristol, everyone, even those that aren't familiar with dirt late models,
knows about that track more than any other you've won at," said last year's
UDTRA Bristol winner and 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville,

Some of the world's greatest stock car drivers have competed and won at
Bristol Motor Speedway, but that was when it was covered with asphalt, or
its present surface of concrete. McDowell is the only driver who has won
the track in a full-bodied race car when it was covered with rich red clay.

Over 100 other entrants are looking to join McDowell on the beginnings
of a
prestigious list. The drivers of the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series have special
feelings for Bristol Motor Speedway.

"Bristol Motor Speedway is a very special place and a track we all want
win at," current UDTRA point leader Rick Eckert said. "There is an
atmosphere at Bristol unlike any other place we race at with the history
the place and all of the fans that were there last year. I hope it just
keeps getting bigger and better."

The 45,000 fans that attended the event last year surprisingly showed the
Bristol Motor Speedway officials that dirt late models do have tremendous
following. Their support of last year's event have led Bristol Motor
Speedway to make this year's edition of the Battle of Bristol three times
bigger than last year.

Last year's Battle of Bristol was a regular UDTRA-sanctioned two-day show
with a $70,000 purse paying $20,000-to-win a 100-lap main event. Last year,
the competitors sailed in uncharted waters, as the tremendous speeds and
g-forces on man and machine broke both past the halfway mark of the race
that saw a total of 189 entrants.

This year's edition of the Battle of Bristol has been increased to four
days, beginning with qualifying on Wednesday, May 30. The top 144
qualifiers will advance, with the fast qualifier pocketing $1,000 from Die
Cast Digest Magazine. Then half the field will compete in a 30-lap
$10,000-to-win event on Thursday, May 31, and the other half competing in
the same type of event on Friday, June 1.

The top 36 drivers from those two preliminary events will advance as a
72-car field to the grand finale on Saturday, June 2 capped off with a
60-lap $25,000-to-win main event. There will be six heat races and two
consolation races to go along with the main events all three nights. The
total purse over the four days will be over $200,000.

"There were so many unknowns last year, and we learned a lot about what
equipment would and wouldn't take, and the logistics of running a dirt late
model race at Bristol Motor Speedway," UDTRA President Mike Swims said.
took what we learned last year, and have spent a full year working with
competitors, the manufacturers, and the Bristol Motor Speedway officials
come up with a safer, smoother, and bigger show than we had last year."

UDTRA officials have worked with the competitors and manufacturers to come
up with equipment that will take the tremendous stress and speed the
high-banks of Bristol Motor Speedway puts on the race cars, especially in
the areas of wheels and hubs. UDTRA officials have also worked closely
Bristol Motor Speedway officials in coming up with a racing format involving
a large number of competitors that can be conducted in a smooth timely

With all of that in place, the competitors are ready once again to face
of the toughest tracks they will see all year.

Eckert is one of the hottest drivers in dirt late model racing heading
the 2nd Annual Battle of Bristol. In the first 17 events of the 2001 UDTRA
Pro DirtCar Series season, Eckert has three wins, 13 top five finishes (nine
consecutive), $79,375 in earnings, and a 218 point lead over Steve Francis
of Ashland, KY.

"We got off to a fast start in 2000, winning the first three UDTRA races,
but we started to try different things, and that got us behind," Eckert
said. "We're off to a good start again this year, and my crew chief Robbie
Allen and Mark Richards of Rocket Chassis have worked hard to keep us

Francis has 15 top ten finishes in the first 17 events of the 2001 UDTRA
Pro DirtCar Series season, but has yet to win a race. But Francis knows
s getting close.

"We've had about three races won this year, but when we made a pass for
lead, the caution would come out, and put us where we were on the previous
lap," Francis said. "We've been doing a lot of R&D work on the new Dodge
engine we're running, and I just know our first win is right around the

The defending and four-time UDTRA champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg,
TN got off to a slow start in the 2001 season, failing to post a top ten
finish in the first seven races. But since then, Bloomquist has posted
win, and eight top ten finishes to climb to third in the point standings.

Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR is currently fourth in the UDTRA points
chase with two wins. Wallace is trying to continue his unprecedented streak
of finishing in the top five of the UDTRA point standings, which he has
for the past five years. Wallace would also like to finish in the only
of the top five he hasn't finished in - first place.

The 1997 UDTRA champion Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR has been in the top
five of the UDTRA point standings since the beginning of the season with
win. Moyer has been trying to develop a new Ford Taurus, while also running
a Chevrolet Monte Carlo at some events.

Dan Schlieper of Pewaukee, WI is currently sixth in the point standings
also looking for his first win of the season. Schlieper has also been in
the top five in points during most of the early part of the 51-race season.

Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI won the UDTRA event at Texas Motor Speedway
March 31, and is seventh in the points chase. Mars has 9 top ten finishes
in the first 17 events. McDowell is eighth in the point standings while
looking to repeat his victory from last year at Bristol.

"We got off to a terrible start last year, and winning at Bristol really
turned our season around," McDowell said. "This year, we're on a new
program working with a new Larry Shaw chassis. We've been having problems
qualifying, but the car races like no other car I've ever driven. If we
get the car in the main event, it really comes alive."

Testament to McDowell's statement is proven on the UDTRA JE Pistons Hard
Charger points list which McDowell sits on top of having passed more cars
this season in UDTRA competition than any other driver.

Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC is ninth in the UDTRA point standings, and comes
to Bristol this year with something different. Since the beginning of the
season, Cook has spearheaded the return of American Race Tires to the
national scene of dirt late model racing. At the most recent UDTRA event
Lincoln, NE, Cook set fast time on the American Race Tires.

The 1996 UDTRA Champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN won the UDTRA season
opener back on February 3 in Brunswick, GA, and struggled until the last
couple of weeks. Smith is fresh off his second Show Me 100 victory on May
26 in West Plains, MO.

Two weeks ago in Huron, SD, The Southern Gentleman posted a third-place
UDTRA finish, and bolted from the 16th starting spot in Lincoln, NE to
finish seventh. Smith and his crew chief Jimmy Cabral have found something
the Christenberry Trucking and Farms GRT Monte Carlo likes.

There are several drivers that ran fast, and some that even led the race
with potential of winning at Bristol last year, only to break wheels and
hubs, putting them out of action. Drivers looking to get revenge on Bristol
Motor Speedway include Chub Frank of Sugar Grove, PA, Mike Balzano of
Parkersburg, WV, both of whom have won UDTRA events this season, Shannon
Babb of Decatur, IL, and Scott Sexton of Pigeon Forge, TN.

Steve Shaver of Parkersburg, WV made a charge at Bristol last year from
back of the field to third spot. Shaver showed some early strength in UDTRA
competition by winning his second East Bay Winternationals in February at
Tampa, FL, and was third in the points chase before deciding to limit his
2001 schedule.

Other top entrants expected for the Battle of Bristol include UDTRA Rookie
of the Year point leader Joe Izzo of LaSalle, IL, Randy Korte of Highland,
IL, Steve Boley of West Liberty, IA, two-time UDTRA winner this season Davey
Johnson of Greensburg, PA, Rick Aukland of Fargo, ND, and Bob Pierce of
Oakwood, IL.

For details on the Battle of Bristol schedule of events and race format,
visit the UDTRA web site at and click on the Battle of Bristol
logo. For ticket information visit the Bristol Motor Speedway web site

Battle of Bristol news and results will be posted each night on the UDTRA
web site at Live updates of all Saturday night Bristol Motor
Speedway UDTRA events will also be available at, and Action
T-Shirts will offer a live webcast of all Saturday night Bristol Motor
Speedway UDTRA events on their web site. For details, visit

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