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posted September 16, 2001 10:22 PM UIN: 16262997

Eastern Iowa hotshoe Denny Eckrich netted the biggest win of his career on Saturday September 15th, taking home more than $15,000 in his dominating performance of the 24th Annual Yankee Dirt Track Classic. Eckrich topped an event record 88 Late Models during the Budweiser Open Late Model Shootout portion of the four day event that saw a total of 315 racecars compete for a starting spot in one of the eight feature events on the high banked half mile.

After finishing second to Josh McGowan during the Cutting Edge Fast Dash, Eckrich lined up for the 100 lap shootout on the outside of the front row. Quickly establishing himself as the man to beat, Eckrich took off at the drop of the green and opened up as much as a fifteen car length advantage over seventh and eighth place starters Darren Miller and Brian Birkhofer before McGowan brought out the first caution on lap eight with a disabled mount. Planting his car on the cushion on the restart, Eckrich held off the low challenge of Miller on the restart, stretching his advantage when Birkhofer began working on Miller for second. Using the top of the track, Birkhofer was unable to push Miller back into third until a lap ten restart when Miller chose the topside of the track on the restart, leaving the bottom for Birkhofer to power past. Lapped traffic helped the second consolation event winner and 22nd starter Jeff Aikey drop Miller back into fourth on lap 20 when the pair encountered a large group of cars fighting for position just prior to the next yellow flag when fifth and sixth place Ray Guss Jr and Terry Neal tangled in the fourth corner. Aikey made the most of the restart by advancing from third into the lead on the restart, beating Eckrich on the bottom into the first turn. Aikey's stint as the pacesetter was short-lived when Eckrich returned the favor seven laps later by getting underneath Aikey in the second corner and beating him into turn three. Eckrich showed his strength once again by pulling out to a full straightaway lead while Aikey, Birkhofer and Miller battled for runner-up status. The three way battle ended following a lap 38 restart when Birkhofer retired to the pits with mechanical woes.

Continuing to dominate, Eckrich was in compete control until the three quarters mark when he began struggling through heavy lapped traffic. That allowed Aikey and Miller to eliminate the 30 car length lead that Eckrich had established by lap 80. Miller took a look at the lead two laps later by getting around Aikey and pulling alongside the leader as the pair split a lapped car entering the third turn. Miller came up short on that attempt but kept withing striking distance as slower traffic became a major factor in the race. Close quarter racing eventually took it's toll when contact between two cars sent innocent victim Chris Smyser out of sixth place and into the turn three wall on lap 85. With lapped traffic cleared, Eckrich was once again in complete control of the race, surviving one more caution flag when debris on the track set up a six lap shootout.

Crossing underneath the checkers with a fifteen car length advantage, Eckrich led Miller and Aikey under the checkers. Kyle Berck parlayed his nineteenth place start into the fourth place finish with barely a scratch on his car while Dennis Erb made two runs through the pack, the first from his 23rd place start, only to get spun out of the eighth place on a lap 38 restart and again from the rear of the field to place fifth when the checkers flew. Todd Davis led the second five across the line after starting sixteenth, ahead of seventh place Rick Wendling, the only driver to qualify for all 24 previous Yankee Dirt Track Classic's. Matt Furman took the tough route to his eighth place finish after being involved in two on-track fracas. Darren Mish kept his car on the lead lap all night to quietly sneak into ninth place while Ace Ihm rounded out the top ten. Ihm garnered a starting spot in the Yankee Dirt Track Classic after trading his second place finish in the Auto Acres 25 for non-qualified cars earlier in the evening for the 29th and final starting spot.

Duane Coulson dominated the Auto Acres Non Qualifiers Feature, taking hom $1000 for his efforts. Ihm took home the second spot and the last position to be given the option of transferring by battling with polesitter Pete Parker throughout the event with Mark Merfeld and Darrall DeFrance rounding out the top five.

The Silver Anniversary 25th Annual Yankee Dirt Track Classic is scheduled for September 11th to 14th 2002. For more information, please contact Simmons Promotions at 563-744-3620 or on the internet at For raceday updates and instant results upon completion please call your local McLeod USA InTouch directory category #3740 or #3741.


1. 50 Denny Eckrich Coralville
2. 32d Darren Miller Chadwick IL
3. 77 Jeff Aikey Cedar Falls
4. 14 Kyle Berck Marquette NE
5. 28 Dennis Erb Jr Carpentersville IL
6. 3t Todd Davis Iowa City
7. 78 Rick Wendling Hazelton
8. 51 Matt Furman Iowa City
9. 79 Darren Mish Cassville WI
10. 11 Ace Ihm Kieler WI
11. 53 Joe Kosiski Omaha NE
12. 21h Brian Harris Davenport IA
13. 70 Max Corporon Marion
14. 45k John Kresser Bridgeview IL
15. 1f Jason Friesen Sutton NE
16. 25s Chris Smyser Lancaster MO
17. 37 Rolle Frink Davenport
18. 3 Josh McGowan Vinton
19. 32 Tom Cannon Iowa City
20. 37b Troy Bruder Rock Falls IL
21. 26 Steve Boley West Liberty
22. 15b Brian Birkhofer Muscatine
23. 99 Johnny Johnson West Burlington
24. 12 Ray Guss Jr Milan IL
25. 12n Terry Neal Ely
26. 58 Dave Eckrich Coralville
27. 1a Duke Whiseant Texarkana AR
28. 07 Terry Ryan Davenport
29. 21 Luke Merfeld Dubuque


1. 44 Duane Coulson E Dubuque, IL
2. 11 Ace Ihm Hazel Green, WI
3. 10 Pete Parker Kaukauna, WI
4. 8 Mark Merfeld Dubuque
5. 99d Darrell DeFrance Marshalltown
6. 28 Jeff Bair Solon
7. 45 Curt Martin Independence
8. 75 Billy Tuckwell Peoria, IL
9. 1d Bob Dominacki Bettendorf
10. 54 Ryan Dolan Lisbon
11. 98.1 Bobby Hansen Dike
12. 73 Greg Kastli Waterloo
13. 18z Rusty Zook Riverside
14. 88 Kevin Kile West Liberty
15. 30 Gus Hughes Monticello
16. 3z Randy Havlick Madrid
17. 92.1 Craig Jacobs Freeport, IL
18. 27d Bob Silaggi Freeport IL
19. 9z Lyle Zanker Inglewood, IL
20. 53x LeRoy Brenner Davenport
21. 72 Terry Huizel Freeport IL
22. 77k Kevin Kile West Liberty
23. 21c Todd Cooney Des Moines
24. 35 Ed Kosiski Ralston, NE

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