posted September 23, 2001 12:21 PM
ECKERT OVERCOMES ADVERSITY FOR SIXTH WIN OF THE SEASON
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
GAFFNEY, SC - Rick Eckert of York, PA shook off two anxious moments during
the weekend, came back and won the 100-lap main event on Saturday night
the United Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar Series at Cherokee
Speedway in front of a standing-room-only crowd. The $20,000 victory was
the sixth of the season for the UDTRA point leader.
Eckert led all 100 laps in his back-up Raye Vest Rocket/Cornett Mustang
with the two drivers chasing him for the title following him under the
checkered flag. Steve Francis of Ashland, KY finished second followed by
the defending and four-time UDTRA Champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg,
The weekend got off to a bad start for Eckert on Friday night when he had
mechanical problem in hot laps, and drove off the end of the speedway in
turn one. His primary car was done for the night, so his crew had rolled
Eckert's back-up car out of the transporter by the time he made it back
the pits on foot.
His crew had to scramble to get the back-up car ready, as Eckert drew the
first qualifying position. Eckert, his crew, and the car were up to the
task, as he turned in what would be the fifth fastest time, giving him the
outside front row starting spot in the second Borla Performance Heat Race.
Eckert won that event to earn the outside front row starting spot for the
Then came Saturday night. During the hot lap session before the main
event, Eckert's car developed a miss fire. Eckert's crew chief Robbie Allen
once again turned up the wick and began to thrash over the car with the
event fast approaching. Crew members from several other teams pitched in
help completely replace the ignition system.
Just minutes before the main event, the car was ready to roll, and it didn't
miss a lick for 100-laps around the ½-mile high-banked clay oval.
"We had a very eventful weekend," Eckert said. "Last night, we broke a
crankshaft at the end of the front straightaway. The front half went
through the radiator, and the back half locked up the motor which broke
rear-end assembly. So we had to get our other car out, and it had a small
motor in it. They say a small motor won't run here, but ours was pretty
"Then during hotlaps tonight, we had a miss in the engine, and my crew and
lot of guys from Steve Francis' crew, Dale McDowell's crew and Freddy Smith'
s crew came over to help, and I want to thank those guys," Eckert said.
"Freddy Smith even offered his back-up car to us if we couldn't get ours
fixed. I want to thank him for that, and Freddy even helped us out with
tire selection tonight."
The only time Francis could get his Valvoline/Mopar Performance
Rocket/Stanton Intrepid close to Eckert was when they were working through
lapped traffic. Bloomquist started seventh and methodically used the inside
groove to work his way up to the third spot in the Miller Brothers Coal
Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR was fourth in the JFR Graphics/Monday
Motorsports GRT/Russell Baker Grand Prix after holding off 1999 UDTRA
Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA, who finished fifth in the Larry
Shaw Race Cars Rocket/Hatfield Grand Prix.
The 1996 UDTRA Champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN made a late race
charge to bring his Christenberry Trucking and Farms GRT/Custom Monte Carlo
home in the sixth spot. Randle Chupp of Mooresville, NC had to take a
provisional and start 24th after a crash during his consolation race.
Chupp and his crew repaired the Biscotti's Restaurant and Winery/Park Ohio
Rocket/Draime Monte Carlo, and he charged all the way up to finish the race
in the seventh spot for the JE Pistons Hard Charger of the Race Award.
Tim Headen of Martin, GA drove a steady race to finish eighth in the Swift
Supply Barry Wright/Fowler Monte Carlo. Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC made
late race charge to take the ninth spot in the English Mountain Spring Water
GRT/Cornett Taurus. Billy Hicks of Mount Ary, NC rounded out the top ten
the Union Grove Saw and Knife GRT/Rumley Monte Carlo.
Eckert took the lead from the polesitter Francis coming off the second turn
of the first lap followed by Wallace, Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN,
Bloomquist. On lap four, Ronnie Sewell of Shelby, NC spun in turn two to
bring out the first of seven caution flags. On the restart, Bloomquist
began to work the inside groove to challenge Johnson for fourth spot.
Francis was able to get inside of Eckert on lap 15, as the leaders
approached lapped traffic, but that is as close as Francis would get to
Eckert all night. Eckert was able work his way through the traffic and
maintain the point. A tangle between Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, SC and
Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL in turn three on lap 21 brought out
second yellow flag.
Bloomquist worked the inside groove on the restart, and once again put the
heat on Johnson for the fourth spot. Bloomquist made the pass on lap 22
turn three. The only other driver to try the inside groove was Smith, who
ducked under Cook for tenth spot on lap 25.
Up front, Eckert again encountered lapped traffic on lap 32, as Francis
closed in, but Eckert was able to pull away before "The Kentucky Colonel"
was able to mount a challenge for the lead. On lap 37 Wesley Hood of
Cowpens, SC stalled in turn two to light up the caution bulbs for a third
Eckert led Francis, Wallace, Bloomquist, Johnson, McDowell, Mike Duvall
Cowpens, SC, Headen, Ricky Weeks of Rutherfordton, NC, and Smith down for
the restart. When the field went green, it was Bloomquist and Smith working
the bottom groove. Bloomquist raced side-by-side with Wallace for third,
and it was Smith putting the heat on Weeks for the ninth spot.
Debris on the backstretch slowed the field under caution for the fourth
time. Bloomquist was able to clear the inside of Wallace in turn two for
the third spot on the restart. The yellow was back out on lap 53 when UDTRA
Rookie of the Year point leader Joe Izzo of Chicago, IL cut down a left-rear
The restart saw Bloomquist dive to the inside of Francis to challenge for
second, but Francis has his own ideas of using the bottom groove to take
look inside of Eckert. Eckert pulled Francis off the second corner, and
Bloomquist settled in behind Francis. McDowell began to take a peek to
inside of Johnson for the fifth spot.
Beginning early in the race, Johnson's J&J Steel Barry Wright/Clements Grand
Prix was showing evidence on the right-rear quarter panel of an oil leak,
but Johnson was able to keep pace with leaders.
Caution flag number six waved on lap 75 when Petey Ivey stalled in turn
four. On the restart, Smith finally made his inside move stick, as he
passed Weeks for the ninth spot, and Chupp made his first appearance in
top ten on lap 80. McDowell was another driver beginning to figure out
inside groove, as he worked under Johnson for the fifth spot on lap 85.
The final caution flag came out on lap 93 when Dan Schlieper of Pewaukee,
stalled in turn four. This set up an eight-lap dash to the finish. When
the field took the green flag for the restart, there was not much action
the top five, but behind them there was some frantic racing going on from
sixth back through 13th spots.
In the closing laps of the race, Johnson, Duvall, and Weeks faded from the
top ten, while Smith and Chupp sprang from ninth and tenth respectively
to sixth and seventh. Headen held his ground in eight, Cook went from 11th
to ninth, Hicks from 12th to tenth, and Schlieper from 13th to 11th, while
Johnson and Duvall fell from sixth and seventh respectively to 12th and
at the finish.
Eckert's win, along with the five bonus points for leading the most laps,
extended his point lead over Francis to 23 points with five events left
the 2001 UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series season. Bloomquist is still in the hunt
from the third spot, 121 points behind Eckert.
The victory from Eckert also clinched the second straight 2001 UDTRA Chassis
Manufacturers Championship for Rocket Chassis.
On Friday night, Wallace was the fast qualifier among the 38 entrants with
lap in 19.160 seconds for an average speed of 93.946 mile per hour. The
three 12-lap Borla Performance Heat Race wins went to Francis, Eckert, and
Johnson. Francis picked up the $100 JE Pistons Bonus Award, and Johnson
cashed in the $50 Scott Performance Wire Bonus Award.
Hicks won the Renegade Transporters 1st 12-lap Consolation Race, and Doug
Sanders of Gastonia, NC won the Polaris ATVs 2nd 12-lap Consolation Race
the Allstate TNT/Clements Grand Prix.
The next two events for the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series will be this Friday
Saturday night at Green Valley Speedway in Glencoe, AL. Friday night's
will feature a 40-lap $7,000-to-win main event, and the big show on Saturday
night will be a 50-lap $10,000-to-win feature race.
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF ROUND 38 AT CHEROKEE SPEEDWAY IN GAFFNEY, SC ON 9/21/01:
POS STRT CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN CAR LAPS $ WON
1. 2 24 Rick Eckert York, PA Ford 100 $20,600
2. 1 15 Steve Francis Ashland, KY Dodge 100 $10,700
3. 7 0 Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg, TN Ford 100 $6,950
4. 4 6m Wendell Wallace Batesville, AR Pont. 100 $4,600
5. 5 17m Dale McDowell Rossville, GA Pont. 100 $4,100
6. 11 00 Freddy Smith Knoxville, TN Chev. 100 $3,600
7. 24 114 Randle Chupp Mooresville, NC Chev. 100 $2,500
8. 6 2x Tim Headen Martin, GA Chev. 100 $2,250
9. 12 53 Ray Cook Brasstown, NC Ford 100 $2,600
10. 19 6h Billy Hicks Mount Ary, NC Chev. 100 $1,750
11. 9 s9 Dan Schlieper Pewaukee, WI Chev. 100 $2,100
12. 3 5 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga, TN Pont. 100 $1,450
13. 8 F1 Mike Duvall Cowpens, SC Chev. 100 $1,300
14. 17 166 Joe Izzo Chicago, IL Chev. 99 $1,800
15. 10 1w Ricky Weeks Rutherfordton, NC Chev. 98 $1,200
16. 23 00k Randy Korte Highland, IL Chev. 98 $1,200
17. 21 20 Ronnie Sewell Shelby, NC Chev. 97 $1,200
18. 16 88 Petey Ivey Union, SC Pont. 74 $1,200
19. 20 42 Doug Sanders Gastonia, NC Pont. 56 $1,200
20. 13 57 Wesley Hood Cowpens, SC Chev. 36 $1,200
21. 15 1 Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville, FL Ford 35 $1,200
22. 14 c5 Chris Madden Laurens. SC Pont. 31 $1,200
23. 18 2 Dennis Franklin Gaffney, SC Pont. 20 $1,200
24. 22 70 Jeff Smith Dallas, NC Pont. 17 $1,200
PROVISIONALS: Korte (3) and Chupp
LAPS LED: Eckert, 1-100
JE PISTONS HARD CHARGER OF THE RACE: Chupp (started 24th and finished 7th)
TIME OF THE RACE: 57 Minutes, and 24.360 Seconds
UDTRA SHOOTOUT INVITEES: Sewell, Hood, J. Smith, Steve Phillips, Tony
Farris, and Larry Blankenship (Promoter's Choice)
POS CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN CHASSIS CAR MAKE 1ST LAP 2ND LAP TIME SPEED
1 6m Wendell Wallace Batesville, AR GRT Grand Prix 19.185 19.160 19.160
2 F1 Mike Duvall Cowpens, SC GRT Monte Carlo 19.260 19.181 19.181 93.843
3 5J Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga, TN Barry Wright Grand Prix 19.387 19.195
4 15 Steve Francis Ashland, KY Rocket Dodge 19.533 19.227 19.227 93.618
5 24 Rick Eckert York, PA Rocket Mustang 19.553 19.249 19.249 93.511
6 1 Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville, FL Rocket Mustang 19.638 19.343 19.343
7 0 Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg, TN Warrior Mustang 19.345 20.162 19.345
8 17m Dale McDowell Rossville, GA Larry Shaw Grand Prix 19.682 19.371 19.371
9 2F Dennis Franklin Gaffney, SC GRT Grand Prix 19.664 19.467 19.467 92.464
10 1w Ricky Weeks Rutherfordton, NC GRT Grand Prix 19.491 19.551 19.491
11 c5 Chris Madden Laurens, SC Rocket Monte Carlo 19.511 19.991 19.511
12 2x Tim Headen Martin, GA Barry Wright Mustang 19.631 19.538 19.538 92.128
13 88 Petey Ivey Union, SC GRT Monte Carlo 19.661 19.606 19.606 91.809
14 00 Freddy Smith Knoxville, TN GRT Monte Carlo 20.005 19.613 19.613 91.776
15 s9 Dan Schlieper Pewaukee, WI Mastersbilt Monte Carlo 19.773 19.627
16 57 Wesley Hood Cowpens, SC GRT Grand Prix 19.885 19.637 19.637 91.664
17 166 Joe Izzo Chicago, IL GRT Monte Carlo NT 19.709 19.709 91.329
18 20 Ronnie Sewell Shelby, NC GRT Monte Carlo 19.909 19.753 19.753 91.125
19 6 Billy Hicks Mount Airy, NC GRT Monte Carlo 20.094 19.830 19.830 90.772
20 15m Jimmy McCormick Dobson, NC GRT Mustang 19.911 19.892 19.892 90.489
21 42s Doug Sanders Gastonia, NC TnT Grand Prix 20.033 19.897 19.897 90.466
22 114 Randle Chupp Mooresville, NC Rocket Monte Carlo 19.968 19.904 19.904
23 70 Jeff Smith Dallas, NC GRT Grand Prix 20.069 19.931 19.931 90.312
24 53 Ray Cook Brasstown, NC GRT Taurus 20.141 19.958 19.958 90.189
25 00k Randy Korte Highland, IL Larry Shaw Monte Carlo 19.981 19.976 19.976
26 h7 Phil Hall Mount Airy, NC Larry Shaw Grand Prix 20.148 20.901 20.148
27 1c Mike Chilton Mt. Airy, NC GRT Grand Prix 20.307 20.201 20.201 89.104
28 95 Bill Godowns Jr. Louisville, GA Newman Monte Carlo 20.234 NT 20.234
29 24p Dabs Potts Highlands, NC GRT Monte Carlo 20.398 20.368 20.368 88.374
30 72 Steve Phillips Gaffney, SC GRT Grand Prix 20.604 20.505 20.505 87.783
31 2m Winky McGee Pilot Mountain, NC Rocket Monte Carlo 20.948 20.655 20.655
32 1b Danny Breuer Mooresville, NC Rocket Monte Carlo 21.015 20.703 20.703
33 R8 Kurt Owens Newport, TN GRT Monte Carlo 21.074 20.832 20.832 86.406
34 23 Jimmy Mac Gastonia, NC Mastersbilt Monte Carlo 21.415 20.983 20.983
35 T1 Tony Farris Charlotte, NC GRT Grand Prix 21.414 21.178 21.178 84.994
36 0d Derrick Cook Charlotte, NC Cook Monte Carlo 23.176 22.628 22.628
37 32b Larry Blankenship Mooresville, NC Warrior Mustang 24.046 NT 24.046
9/21/01 BORLA PERFORMANCE 12-LAP HEAT RACES (Top 6 Finishers Transfer To
JE PISTONS 1ST HEAT: 1. Francis; 2. Wallace; 3. Bloomquist; 4. Weeks;
Hood; 6. Ivey; 7. Hicks; 8. Chupp; 9. Korte; 10. Mac; 11. McGee; 12.
2ND HEAT: 1. Eckert; 2. McDowell; 3. Duvall; 4. F. Smith; 5. Madden; 6.
Izzo; 7. J. Smith; 8. Godowns; 9. Phillips; 10. Breuer; 11. Farris; 12.
SCOTT PERFORMANCE WIRE 3RD HEAT: 1. Johnson; 2. Headen; 3. Schlieper; 4.
Cook; 5. Pearson; 6. Franklin; 7. Sewell; 8. Sanders; 9. Potts; 10. Owens;
11. D. Cook; 12. Hall.
CONSOLATION RACES (12 Laps - Top 2 Finishers Transfer To Main Event):
RENEGADE TRANSPORTERS 1ST CONSY: 1. Hicks; 2. Sewell; 3. Godowns; 4.
McCormick; 5. McGee; 6. Korte; 7. Breuer.
POLARIS ATVs 2ND CONSY: 1. Sanders; 2. J. Smith; 3. Hall; 4. Phillips;
Reed; 6. Chupp; 7. Farris.
UDTRA POINT STANDINGS THROUGH 9/22/01:
1. Rick Eckert - 5805
2. Steve Francis - 5782
3. Scott Bloomquist - 5684
4. Dale McDowell - 5089
5. Wendell Wallace - 5039
6. Dan Schlieper - 4891
7. Ray Cook - 4848
8. Freddy Smith - 4674
9. Jimmy Mars - 4633
10. Joe Izzo - 4040
11. Randy Korte - 3964
12. Billy Moyer - 3414
13. Steve Boley - 3255
14. Rick Aukland - 3150
15. Brian Birkhofer - 2912
16. Davey Johnson - 2814
17. Steve Shaver - 2753
18. Shannon Babb - 2633
19. Randle Chupp - 2467
20. Chub Frank - 2288