FARLEY, IA (May 16,2008) – Homestate driver Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA grabbed the lead on lap 30 and then had to fight off a furious late race charge from Brian Shirley of Chatham, IL to win the Banner Valley Hauling 50 Friday Night at Farley Speedway for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. The victory was Birkhofer’s first with the series in 2008 as he became the 10th different winner in the first 14 events held. It was also a special win for the Birkhofer family as his oldest son Cruz was at the track celebrating his sixth birthday. Shirley finished second as he barely held off Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpenterville, IL on the final lap. Rounding out the top five were Billy Drake of Bloomington, IL and Steve Casebolt of Richmond, IN who’s fifth place finish put him in the LOLMDS Championship Points Standings lead by 20 points.
The 50 lap main event saw more twists and turns than a Stephen King novel as a pair of Buckeye State drivers, Bart Hartman and Matt Miller, led from the front row. A first lap altercation between Joel Callahan and Jeff Larson brought the field to a restart to begin the race after they brought out the first caution of the race on the opening circuit.
Hartman officially led the first lap as fifth place starter Billy Moyer was already knocking on his door for the lead as he was quickly up to second place as Casebolt, Shirley and Matt Miller held the top five in the running order.
Moyer then saw his chance to grab the lead from Hartman as the two completed lap five in a side-by-side duel heading into turn number one. Moyer then shook Hartman off of turn two clearing him for the lead. At the same time Shirley was all over Casebolt in the battle for third as the Illinois driver overtook Casebolt on lap six to gain third.
Once out in front Moyer started to immediately build his lead over the rest of the field, as the driver who came into the event leading the nation with ten A-main wins to his credit already in 2008, looked to take command of a race that was running caution free.
Moyer started to encounter lapped traffic by lap ten as Hartman was trying to hang on for second over Shirley with Casebolt and Erb breathing down his neck as the race completed 15 laps. As Moyer was racing his way through traffic Brian Harris slowed on the front stretch with a flat tire bringing out the caution with 21 laps in the record books.
What followed next was some incredible set of circumstances. On the restart Moyer was out in front all by himself with Hartman and Shirley lined up side-by-side on the Delaware double-file restart. Shirley got a good restart as he fired into turn number one with a full head of steam in his attempt to pass Moyer for the lead. As the two raced hard into turn number two there was contact between the two racers with Moyer coming out on the worse end of the deal as his night would end on the back of a wrecker with left front damage to his car.
With the yellow flag being displayed the field reverted back to lap 21 and that meant Hartman was on the point and just when Moyer’s car was being towed off the track and the race was getting ready to go back green again Hartman darted into the pit area to change a flat tire that had developed on his car.
So with the top two runners out of the picture Shirley picked up the lead of the race with Erb, Casebolt, Birkhofer and Darren Miller the top five drivers at this point of the race. On the restart Shirley gained some distance between himself and Erb and with the signal of the halfway mark given to the drivers Shirley was up to a three-car length advantage over last year’s UMP Late Model Champion.
Later with 29 laps scored another caution slowed the field as Shirley saw a now six-car length lead go by the wayside as Erb and Birkhofer were the drivers lined up behind him for the next restart. Birkhofer, who started sixth, made his way around Erb and chose the outside line for the restart as Erb restarted on the inside.
When the green flag reappeared Birkhofer made the move for the lead which thrilled his home-state fans that had come to see him race at Farley. Birkhofer took hold of the lead and quickly opened up the gap between him and Shirley and with 19 laps to go in the race it looked like he was going to be the man to beat now.
With no caution flags in sight Birkhofer built his lead to nearly a straightaway over Shirley as a competitive tussle for third was going on between Erb, Drake and Casebolt all wanting a top five or higher finish.
With ten laps to go, Birkhofer was in complete control of the race, but with some lapped traffic in front of him and a narrowing groove on the race track Birkhofer’s insurmountable lead was in jeopardy as Shirley started to close the gap on him and in fact with five laps remaining Shirley had closed to the deck-lid of Birkhofer as Birky’s fans became a bit nervous at this point.
Shirley took a couple of shots at Birkhofer but could not muster enough traction to pass him as Birkhofer was able to pull away in the waning laps to pick up his seventh career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory and the $10,000 that went with it. Shirley than had to fight off Erb who made a last gasp effort on the final lap to see who was going to finish second as Shirley held him off. Drake, in another strong effort coming from 12th, finished fourth with Casebolt in yet another consistently solid finish crossed the line fifth to take the series points lead after coming into the event tied with Earl Pearson Jr. atop the standings.
Climbing from his car in the Lucas Oil Victory Circle the 36-year-old Birkhofer pumped his fist to his cheering fans in the stands. “That was pretty awesome out there, I was thinking when I got to second I thought about my son and this being his birthday how neat it would be to win this for him and it happened.” said the former World 100 winner who became the fourth different winner in the four Lucas Oil appearances at the Simmons Promotions, Inc. ran facility.
“Billy Moyer had the best car and I don’t really know what happened for sure with him and Shirley but they got together and the next thing you knew Billy was out and it was a whole new race. I didn’t know what spot to pick there in traffic and I thought I messed up there once, but we were able to hang on, for a few laps we were driving not so smart, but it’s good to get a win in the Mars-Birkhofer car and I want to send my best wishes to Jimmy Mars and his family, his son Taylor is battling bacterial meningitis and looks like he will be in the hospital for another week. And thanks to Jimmy and Chris Mars and all of my great sponsors who make this possible like Johnny Johnson, Jeff Daufeldt and Roger Simon.”
Birkhofer debuted the chassis, designed by himself along with brothers Jimmy and Chris Mars, a few weeks ago now has two wins with their new creation. The familiar #15b is sponsored by Pro Power Engines, J&J Steel, Daufeldt Transport, ASI Racewear, McDonald’s of the Quad Cities, Simon Trucking, 34Raceway.com and Community Bank of Muscatine.
Second place finisher Brian Shirley felt good about his second place finish, his best of the season at any track. “We’ve been good several times this season, but just haven’t had the finishes to show for it.” said the driver of the Petroff Towing, Jayco Construction sponsored Rocket Chassis. As far as the lap 22 restart as he and Moyer were going for the lead Shirley had this to say. “To me I felt I got a pretty strong restart on the bottom and actually it was the same when Birky got by me and I felt like I had the upper advantage on him (Moyer) when I went through the center of the corner I was past him and I felt like when he came off the corner he just ran into the back on my quarter-panel and that he had some other options other than that, but after watching the replay on DirtonDirt.com I know I was in front of him.” For Shirley it was his best Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series finish since placing fourth in an event at LaSalle, IL in 2005.
Erb in his J&J Steel/Thomason Transportation/C.J. Rayburn Race Cars Impala SS had his best series finish of the year taking third with Drake in the Creative Kitchens and Baths/Steidinger Construction/MasterSbilt GTO taking his third top five finish in the last four events by coming home in fourth as Casebolt in his Dixie Chopper/Cornett Engines/Rocket GTO finishing fifth.
Completing the top ten were Brady Smith, Darren Miller, Chris Simpson, Earl Pearson Jr. and Brian Harris.
In preliminary action Billy Moyer set a new Farley Speedway track record in the PRC Time Trials with a lap of 18.775 seconds among the 40 entrants on hand. Matt Miller, Steve Casebolt, Bart Hartman and Dan Schlieper won heat races. Brian Harris and Jason Rauen took the B-Mains.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Race Summary Friday Night, May 16, 2008 Farley Speedway—Farley, IA
PRC Fast Time: Billy Moyer/18.775 seconds (NTR)
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Matt Miller, Billy Moyer, Darren Miller, Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Harris, John Mason, Curt Martin, Pete Parker, Rob Klein, Terry Casey
Hawk Brake Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Steve Casebolt, Brian Birkhofer, Brady Smith, Andy Eckrich, Justin Rattliff, Freddy Smith, Dave Eckrich, Chad Simpson, Andrew McKay, Alonzo Grosse
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Bart Hartman, Brian Shirley, Jason Utter, Joel Callahan, Jason Rauen, Jeff Larson, Marty Scheckel, Darin Duffy, George Scheffler, Wayne Chinn
Tiger Rear Ends Fourth Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Dan Schlieper, Scott James, Billy Drake, Kerry Hansen, Chris Simpson, Denny Eckrich, Jeremy Grady, Mike Mataragas, Jill George, Earl Pearson Jr.
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Brian Harris, John Mason, Curt Martin, Dave Eckrich, Justin Rattliff, Chad Simpson, Freddy Smith, Ron Klein, Pete Parker – DNS, Andrew McKay – DNS, Terry Casey – DNS, Alonzo Grosse - DNS
Quarter Master Second B-Main (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Jason Rauen, Chris Simpson, Jeff Larson, Wayne Chinn, Denny Eckrich, Jeremy Grady, Mike Mataragas, Jill George, Marty Schecker, Darin Duffy – DNS, George Scheffler – DNS, Earl Pearson Jr. - DNS
Banner Valley Hauling 50 Feature Finish (50 Laps): Brian Birkhofer, Brian Shirley, Dennis Erb Jr., Billy Drake, Steve Casebolt, Brady Smith, Darren Miller, Chris Simpson, Earl Pearson Jr., Brian Harris, Curt Martin, Matt Miller, Dan Schlieper, Scott James, Bart Hartman, John Mason, Jason Rauen, Justin Rattliff, Kerry Hansen, Billy Moyer, Jeff Larson, Jason Utter, Andy Eckrich, Joel Callahan
Race Statistics Entries: 40 Caution Flags: 7 Lap Leaders: Hartman 1, Moyer 2, Hartman 3-5, Moyer 6-21, Shirley 22-29, Birkhofer 30-50 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Earl Pearson Jr., Justin Rattliff PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Earl Pearson Jr. (Started 23rd and finished 9th-advanced 14 positions) Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Brian Birkhofer K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: Billy Drake Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: None ASI Racewear Lucky 7 Award: Darren Miller Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Heather Lyne (Dennis Erb Jr.) Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Pro Power Racing Engines Time of the Race: 40 minutes
Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship Points Standings 1) Steve Casebolt (Richmond, IN) 1880 2) Earl Pearson Jr. (Jacksonville, FL) 1860 3) Justin Rattliff (Campbellsville, KY) 1715 4) Bart Hartman (Zanesville, OH) 1675 5) Terry Casey (New London, WI) 1620 6) Dan Schlieper (Sullivan, WI) 1615 7) Scott James (Lawrenceburg, IN) 1585 8) Billy Drake (Bloomington, IL) 1540 9) Wayne Chinn (Bradford, OH) 1330 10) Donnie Moran (Dresden, OH) 1290 Quarter Master Rookie of the Year Points Standings 1) Terry Casey (New London, WI) 1620 2) Wayne Chinn (Bradford, OH) 1330 3) John Blankenship (Williamson, WV) 520 4) Eric Jacobsen (Seacliffe Beach, CA) 75 5) Tony Knowles (Tyrone, GA) 75