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NEW RICHMOND, WI (June 17, 2005)- The opening race of the 7th Annual "Masters" at the Cedar Lake Speedway on Friday Night, June 17 would see the return of Don O'Neal to the race track after a 14 year absence as he would pass Jimmy Mars on the final lap to win the 50 lap $10,000 to win race to open the weekend at Cedar Lake.  For O'Neal it was his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of '05 as he padded his series points lead.  The 40 year old driver took the Well-Pict Berries/All-Star Performance/A-1 Auto Salvage/Living Room Centers/O'Neal Wood Products/Jay Dickens Racing Engines/MasterSbilt Monte Carlo to victory lane after a race in which there were seven lead changes among four drivers.  Mars of Menomonie, WI finished second by less than one car length in the T.L. Sinz Plumbing/Pro Power/MasterSbilt Monte Carlo with third place going to Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA in the Daufeldt Transport/Pro Power/MasterSbilt Monte Carlo.  Fourth at the finish was Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, IL in the Arkansas Motors/Jay Dickens Racing Engines/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo with Scott James of Lawrenceburg, IN in the Powell Motorsports/Baylor Trucking/Rocket Grand Prix.  A total of 53 cars were on hand for the event which gave points for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and the World Dirt Racing League. 

This 50 lap race would be dandy all the way with a terrific battle for the lead which went on most of the way.  Brian Birkhofer would take the point at the start of the race with Jimmy Mars going to second followed by third place starting, Don O'Neal.  O'Neal by the second lap was by Mars taking second from the former Dream winner as O'Neal would then start to pressure Birkhofer for the race lead.  Fifth place starter and two time WDRL champion, Kyle Berck was up to third around Mars on lap three with Donnie Moran up to fourth as Mars fell back to fifth.  The leaders would start to pick up the tail end of the field by the 10th circuit with Birkhofer still holding the advantage over O'Neal.  The first car to go a lap down happened on lap 11 and then two laps later the first caution of the race came on for a stalled Eric Breeschoten in turn number three.  On the restart the running order would be Birkhofer, O'Neal, Berck, Moran and Scott James in the top five.  When the race went green again Moran would bolt from third on the double file restart grabbing the lead away from Birkhofer in a tremendous move to the head of the field.  Moran then started to immediately pull away from the pack as the four time World 100 winner opened up a five car length lead.  Birkhofer and O'Neal were dicing it out for second place with James getting past Berck for fourth on lap 18.   As the race reached the halfway mark it was still Moran showing the way with a fierce duel between Birkhofer and O'Neal for second which saw the two veteran drivers go door to door around the 3/8ths mile high banked track. 

There would be traffic ahead for Moran by lap 27 and that would allow Birkhofer, O'Neal, James and now fifth place runner, Shannon Babb to close up on the leader of the race.  Mars then regrouped and started picking up his momentum again getting by Babb and then James to move into fourth by lap 38.  Moran was feeling the heat in traffic from the rest of the top five now, but suddenly Moran would slow on the front straight on lap 40 after something apparently had gone through his radiator damaging it enough that he would pull his car to the infield and out of the race after leading 27 laps.  As a disappointed Moran would sit and watch from the infield Birkhofer would then inherit the lead from Moran but he still had O'Neal and Mars to deal with in the final 10 circuits.  Those three drivers would put on a great show in the final laps with O'Neal scooting past Birkhofer for the lead on lap 43.  O'Neal, Birkhofer and Mars would go three wide a lap later with O'Neal getting a little bit sideways down the back straight making slight contact with Birkhofer's car.  Both O'Neal and Birkhofer would see Mars slide by on the inside around them as the two gathered their race cars.  Mars would then go to a three car length lead and looked to be on his way to a win, but with two to go O'Neal picked up the pace closing right in on Mars and as the two took the white flag O'Neal would pull alongside Mars and take the lead as the two would race clean all the way to the checkers with O'Neal coming out on top by less than a car length to take his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of 2005 in his first visit to Cedar Lake since 1991.  Mars would finish second followed right on his heels by Birkhofer.  Babb and James would round out the top five. 

"That was pretty exciting," said O'Neal in victory lane.  "I have not been here since 1991 so I really didn't have a baseline to go off of, I though I really messed up there on the back stretch with Birky, I didn't know that he was there and we touched just a little bit and I then saw Jimmy go by us so I drove the car harder in the turns and caught up to him there in the last few laps and the car worked real good on top and it stuck and I was able to pass him, hoped the fans liked that one," said O'Neal who in 2004 was the winningest dirt late model driver in the country with 26 feature wins. 

Completing the top ten were Earl Pearson, Jr., Matt Miller, Kyle Berck, Brady Smith and Duane Mahder. 

In preliminary events for the 53 entrants, the Heat Race Winners were Don O'Neal, Kyle Berck, Jimmy Mars, Brian Birkhofer, Shannon Babb and Donnie Moran.  The First B-Main was won by Earl Pearson, Jr. and the Second B-Main was taken by Tim Dohm. 

Race Summary  Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series  Cedar Lake Speedway-New Richmond, WI  Friday Night, June 17, 2005  

Heat #1:  Don O'Neal, Scott James, Tim Dohm, Brady Smith, Justin Fegers, Freddy Smith, Tony Bahr, Matt Furman, Bill Koons 

Heat #2:  Kyle Berck, Eric Breeschoten, Pat Doar, Steve Laursen, Troy Kuyoth, Steve Isenberg, Barry Underdahl, Larry Stockwell, Trent Follmer 

Heat #3:  Jimmy Mars, John Anderson, John VanDenBerg, Duane Mahder, Scott Cramer, Bryan Wennen, Jon Chrest, Kerry Hansen 

Heat #4:  Brian Bikhofer, Terry English, Keith Foss, Joel Cryderman, Mike Nutzmann, Paul Brust, Paul Hipsag, Larry Skalberg, Caley Emerson 

Heat #5:  Shannon Babb, Jerry Redetzke, Denny Eckrich, Eric Pember, Pete Parker,Tom Nesbitt, Tim Isenberg, Andy Simonson 

Heat #6:  Donnie Moran, Darren Miller, Matt MIller, Earl Pearson, Jr., Dave Eckrich, John Hampel, George Scheffler, Jeff Kenney 

First B-Main:  Earl Pearson, Jr., Duane Mahder, Brady Smith, Matt MIller, Freddy Smith, Justin Fegers, Steve Isenberg, Tony Bahr, Kerry Hansen, Andy Simonson, Jon Chrest, Pete Parker, Matt Furman, Bill Koons, Joel Cryderman, John Hampel, Tim Isenberg 

Second B-Main:  Tim Dohm, Eric Pember, Paul Brust, Steve Lauresen, Mike Nutzmann, Barry Underdahl, George Scheffler, Larry Stockwell, Bryan Wennen, Scott Cramer, Trent Follmer, Paul Hipsag, Dave Eckrich, Larry Skalberg, Troy Kuyoth, Tom Nesbitt 

7th Annual "Masters" Feature Event: (50 Laps):  Don O'Neal, Jimmy Mars, Brian Birkhofer, Shannon Babb, Scott James, Earl Pearson, Jr., Matt Miller, Kyle Berck, Brady Smith, Duane Mahder, Terry English, Denny Eckrich, Keith Foss, Jerry Redetzke, Tim Dohm, Justin Fegers, Eric Pember, Dave Eckrich, Donnie Moran, Pat Doar, John VanDenBerg, Darren Miller, Eric Breeschoten, John Anderson 

Race Statistics: Entries:  53 Cautions:  1 Red Flags:  0 Lap Leaders:  Brian Birkhofer 1-13, Donnie Moran 14-40, Birkhofer 42, Don O'Neal 43-45, Jimmy Mars 46-49, O'Neal-50 Weld Wheels Hard Charger of the Race:  Matt Miller (Started 22nd and finished in 7th) Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Race:  Scott James Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals:  Matt Miller and Brady Smith WDRL Provisionals:  Dave Eckrich and Justin Fegers

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