posted August 03, 2001 09:56 AM
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS COULD MAKE FOR A COMPETITIVE USA NATIONALS
NEW RICHMOND, WI - The United Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar
Series will be in action this weekend for the second richest race of the
2001 season, the Annual $40,000-to-win USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway.
When the 24-car field is set for Saturday night's 100-lap main event,
beginning with Friday night qualifying and heat race action. No certain
chassis make should have an advantage. Most all chassis makes have had
success at the 3/8-mile clay oval.
Starting with Rocket Chassis. UDTRA point leader Rick Eckert of York,
and his closest challenger Steve Francis of Ashland, KY drove their Rockets
to second and third respectively in UDTRA Masters 100 on June 23 at Cedar
Lake Speedway. Eckert came close to winning the USA Nationals in 1999,
to tangle with a lapped car in the closing laps.
Eckert has five wins on the 2001 UDTRA tour, and Francis has one win.
drivers had top five finishes in their last UDTRA outing in LaSalle, IL,
Eckert leads Francis in the points chase by 111 points.
Both Eckert and Francis will be keeping a close eye on the newest
Rocketeer, Rick Aukland of Fargo, ND, now racing out of Zanesville, OH.
Aukland gave up the seat in the Mastersbilt "house car" a couple of weeks
ago to take a seat in the Mark Richards-prepared Rocket house ride. Aukland
is fresh off of a UDTRA win on Tuesday night in LaSalle, IL with his new
Richards' blue and yellow machine won the USA Nationals last year with Davey
Johnson of Greensburg, PA driving. Aukland is a former USA Nationals
Champion and a former Masters 100 Champion at Cedar Lake Speedway.
After winning for the fourth straight year in UDTRA competition at LaSalle,
Aukland said it was with a strong team, and the team would be even stronger
at Cedar Lake.
That might be of concern to the competition, but don't tell Scott Bloomquist
that. The Mooresburg, TN defending and four-time UDTRA Champion has had
share of success at CLS in his Warrior Race Car. Bloomquist, like Aukland,
is a former USA Nationals and Masters 100 Champion. Bloomquist is third
UDTRA points, and looking to stay in the championship hunt.
Bloomquist has seven wins this season to lead that UDTRA category, and also
leads the 2001 UDTRA earnings list having pocketed over $180,000.
The 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA has two good sources
of technology. McDowell drives a Rocket tweaked by another noted race car
builder Larry Shaw of Batesville, AR. McDowell won the STARS-sanctioned
race in June at CLS, and followed that up with a fifth-place finish in The
McDowell has had some strong runs, but crashes not of his own making, cut
tires, and near misses have kept him out of the UDTRA winner's circle so
this season. Despite the bad luck, McDowell goes into the USA Nationals
fourth in UDTRA points.
Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR leads the GRT Race Cars contingent as
house car driver. Wallace has had some good Cedar Lake Speedway runs in
past, winning the 1999 Masters 100. Wallace is fifth in UDTRA points with
three wins this season. Wallace is also closing in on another milestone
his UDTRA career.
Wallace is $33,175 away from becoming the second UDTRA Millionaire. If
Wallace wins the $40,000 top prize in the USA Nationals, he will join Scott
Bloomquist in going over the $1-Million mark in UDTRA career earnings.
date, Wallace has won $966,825 in his UDTRA career since 1996.
Joining Wallace in the GRT Race Cars camp for the USA Nationals will be
Cook of Brasstown, NC, who is seventh in UDTRA points, 1996 UDTRA Champion
Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN, who is ninth in points, and UDTRA Rookie
the Year point leader, and tenth overall in points, Joe Izzo of Chicago,
With Aukland leaving Mastersbilt for Rocket, Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI
will lead the Mastersbilt Race Cars effort. Mars has two UDTRA wins this
season and is eighth in UDTRA points. Mars knows how to get around his
Mastersbilt-mounted Steve Boley of West Liberty, IA has had some success
CLS. Mastersbilt has now added young-lion Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine,
to their stable for the USA Nationals.
Dan Schlieper of Pewaukee, WI leads a strong Rayburn regiment. Schlieper
has a UDTRA Cedar Lake win on his resume, and has one UDTRA win this season
to sit sixth in the UDTRA points chase. Schlieper has come close more than
once to winning more than his lone Cedar Lake victory.
Other Rayburn riders are 1997 UDTRA Champion and former USA Nationals
Champion Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR, his teammate Shannon Babb of
Decatur, IL, and 1999 UDTRA Rookie of the Year Dennis Erb Jr. of
On Friday night, the UDTRA competitors will take to Cedar Lake Speedway
USA Nationals qualifications, and the Borla Performance Heat Races that
begin to set the starting line-up for the USA Nationals.
Saturday night will see the UDTRA Pro DirtCars competing in the Renegade
Transporters and Polaris ATVs Consolation Races, and the $40,000-to-win
Nationals. When the grandstand gates open on Saturday afternoon, the UDTRA
driver will participate in an autograph session on souvenir row. For times,
ticket and race day information call (715) 248-7119.