WHEATLAND, MO (May 12, 2007)-Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA took the lead on the 45th lap and then went on to capture the 100 lap inaugural running of the Superchips “Diamond Nationals” Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts on Saturday Night at Lucas Oil Speedway. The 35 year old racer earned $25,000 for his win which was taped before the cameras of SPEED Channel. Birkhofer’s win was his sixth career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory as he became the ninth different winner in ten tour events in 2007. Birkhofer behind the wheel of his familiar #15B Rocket Chevrolet sponsored by Daufeldt Transport/J&J Steel/Simon Trucking/McDonald’s of the Quad Cities/Asi Racewear, Etchberger Trucking/Community Bank of Muscatine/Bryant Roofing/VP Racing Fuels and powered by a Pro Power Engine held off a late race surge from John Anderson of Omaha, NE who took second in the Shop Quick Convenient Stores/Jay Dickens Racing Engines/MasterSbilt Cadillac. Third place was Steve Shaver of Vienna, WV in the Cosgrove Racing/Ludicrous Hardcore Energy Drink/Rocket GTO with Don O’Neal coming home fourth in the Jerry Jones/Jones Core/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo with Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR completing the top five in the Garrett Racing/Davison Transport/GRT GTO. A total of 60 cars were on hand for the weekend as the O’Reilly MLRA Late Models were also on hand for the mega events.
Outside pole sitter, Don O’Neal grabbed the lead at the start of the 100 lap main event with John Anderson coming from fourth to second in the early going. Brian Birkhofer who started from the pole fell to third with series points leader, Billy Moyer running fourth followed by Steve Shaver.
Those five stayed in the same running order as three grooves were very distinctive at the start of the race. Shaver would make the first pass inside the top five when he went around Moyer on lap eight. Traffic started to play a part in the race with O’Neal catching the tail end of the field by the ninth circuit. The first caution of the race came out on lap 13 for a spinning Michael England.
On the restart O’Neal was still on the point with Birkhofer gaining the second slot from Anderson who slipped back to third at this point in the event. The top three were neck and neck for the lead with O’Neal, Birkhofer and Anderson going three wide for the race lead on lap 18. Anderson would storm to the lead by the 19th circuit passing both O’Neal and Birkhofer on the same lap.
Anderson then started to sprint away from O’Neal and Birkhofer with a spirited side by side duel between Batesville, AR residents Billy Moyer and Wendell Wallace taking place. Anderson stretched his lead to ten car lengths with O’Neal going to the inside of the rim riding O’Neal on lap 30 to take over second place.
Anderson continued to maintain a torrid pace but his lead was quickly gone when the caution came out for a slowing Jeremy Payne on lap 34. On the restart however Anderson would quickly pull away from as O’Neal regained the second spot from Birkhofer on the restart.
After the caution Anderson would gain a seven car length advantage over the field as O’Neal and Birkhofer would again race side by side this time for three laps until Birkhofer was able to forge in front of O’Neal in the tight battle for second. Birkhofer then started to close rapidly on Anderson as he sliced Anderson’s lead from seven lengths to just two.
Shaver would then start to chase down the leaders as he nabbed the third spot on lap 45 getting past O’Neal. Wendell Wallace then moved up from his ninth starting spot into the top five. All eyes were on the race for the lead with Birkhofer gaining the lead over Anderson on lap 45.
As the cars took the halfway signal Birkhofer was starting to enter lapped traffic with Anderson, Shaver, O’Neal and Wallace in the thick of things. Birkhofer however was good in traffic as he cleared at least three lapped cars putting them between himself and Anderson.
The fourth caution on lap 57 for a slowing Freddy Smith would tighten the field once more with Birkhofer still holding the point. On the restart Birkhofer gained a five car length that quickly spread to almost a straightaway lead over Anderson and Shaver.
As the track became a low line track Birkhofer would again encounter more lapped traffic as Anderson was able to close on him with 20 laps remaining. Birkhofer was able to put two lapped cars between himself and Anderson as the laps were winding down. Shaver started to close in on the two frontrunners with Birkhofer’s lead fading to a car length with less than ten laps to go.
The fifth and final caution would come out for Justin Rattliff in turn two with laps left. Anderson had closed right on Birkhofer’s bumper as he was trying an avenue to get by. On the restart Birkhofer would hold his line on the track as he would take his car to the checkers and take the victory by two car lengths. Anderson was second followed by Shaver, O’Neal and Wallace.
In victory lane Birkhofer was presented a champion’s ring by Zales. “I told O’Neal and the other guys that started up front that they might check on me early, but I’ll try to hang around,” said the winner afterward. “Obviously this place has been good to me winning here last year and I especially want to thank Bill Schlieper of Pro Power Engines, Jeff Daufeldt of Daufeldt Transport and Johnny Johnson of J&J Steel for all of their help.”
Completing the top ten were Steve Casebolt, Dan Schlieper, Billy Moyer, Darren Miller and Donnie Moran.
The next Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events will take place on Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19. On Friday Night the series visits Farley Speedway in Farley, IA. On Saturday Night the series travels to the La Salle Speedway in La Salle, IL for the Annual “Spring Shootout.” Both events will pay $10,000 to win. For more information you can log onto www.lucasdirt.com.
Race Summary Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Lucas Oil Speedway-Wheatland, MO Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12, 20
LifeLong Locks Fast Qualifier: Billy Moyer 14.838 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat: (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance) Billy Moyer, Damon Eller, Freddy Smith, Gary Stolba, Terry Phillips, Eric Jacobsen, J.D. Hubert, Scott Bloomquist, Garrett Durrett, Tim Manville
Quarter Master Second Heat: (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance) Don O’Neal, Justin Rattliff, Earl Pearson, Jr., Terry English, Jason Bodenhamer, Matt Miller, Jeremy Payne, Rickey Frankel, Brantlee Gotschall, Shad Badder
Hawk Brake Third Heat: (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance) Dan Schlieper, Wendell Wallace, Billy Drake, Scott Drake, Alan Vaughn, Denny Eckrich, Todd Morrow, Christian Rayburn, Steve Rushin, Brad Neat
Quarter Master Fourth Heat: (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance) John Anderson, Darren Miller, Michael England, Al Purkey, Brad Looney, Daniel Anders, Jeremy Watts, John Mason, Johnny Fennewald, Chris Smyser
Hawk Brake Fifth Heat: (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance) Steve Shaver, Steve Casebolt, Scott James, Brandon McCormick, David Turner, David Barker, P.J. Haskins, Larry Clawson, Donnie Moran, Randy Zimmerman
Quarter Master Sixth Heat: (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance) Brian Birkhofer, Chris Simpson, Brian Harris, Todd Shute, Andrew McKay, Mike Collins, Rylan Long, Richard Foster, Jacob Murray, Reid Millard
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shocks Dyno B-Main Lineup: (15 Laps-Top 2 Advance) Terry English, Scott Drake, Terry Phillips, Jason Bodenhamer, Eric Jacobsen, Scott Bloomquist, Gary Stolba, Denny Eckrich, Todd Morrow, Brad Neat, Shad Badder, Garrett Durrett, Brantlee Gotschall, Jeremy Payne, Christian Rayburn, Alan Vaughn, J.D. Hubert, Rickey Frankel, Steve Rushin, Matt Miller
Penske Shocks Second B-Main Lineup: (15 Laps-Top 2 Advance) Brandon McCormick, Al Purkey, Todd Shute, Brad Looney, Andrew McKay, David Turner, John Mason, Jacob Murray, Donnie Moran, David Barker, Mike Collins, Rylan Long, Jeremy Watts, Daniel Anders, Richard Foster, P.J. Haskins
Inaugural “Diamond Nationals” Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts Feature Finish (100 Laps): Brian Birkhofer, John Anderson, Steve Shaver, Don O’Neal, Wendell Wallace, Steve Casebolt, Dan Schlieper, Billy Moyer, Darren Miller, Donnie Moran, Scott James, Earl Pearson, Jr., Damon Eller, Terry English, Matt Miller, Michael England, Al Purkey, Justin Rattliff, Brian Harris, Freddy Smith, Brandon McCormick, Billy Drake, Jeremy Payne, Terry Phillips, Scott Drake, Chris Simpson
Entries: 60 Yellow Flags: 5 Lap Leaders: Don O’Neal 1-18, John Anderson 19-44, Brian Birkhofer 45-100 Edelbrock Hard Charger Award: Donnie Moran (Started 24th and Finished 10th-Advanced 14 Positions) Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Don O’Neal K&N Clean Pass: Donnie Moran Comp Cams Rookie of the Race: Damon Eller Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Matt Miller and Donnie Moran MLRA Provisional: Terry Phillips and Jeremy Payne
Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship Points Standings (After May 12, 2007)
Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series COMP Cams Rookie of the Year Points Standings (After May 12, 2007)