MONETT, MO – May 4, 2008 – Brian Birkhofer still doesn’t have an official name for the new car he built with Jimmy and Chris Mars.
But the Muscatine, Iowa, standout can certainly call the machine a winner after rolling to a flag-to-flag victory in Sunday night’s 40-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main at Monett Speedway.
Birkhofer, 36, started from the pole position and was never seriously challenged en route to the $7,100 win, which came in the first-ever WoO LMS event at Randy Mooneyham’s three-eighths-mile oval. It was his fifth career triumph on the tour but first since July 25, 2006, at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, where he finished 18th in the previous night’s WoO LMS show after blowing a tire while running fifth.
“I’m pretty pumped about this car now,” said Birkhofer, who won in his fifth start of 2008 behind the wheel of the Daufeldt Construction/J&J Steel No. 15b that he designed with the Mars brothers. “We started on the pole so it’s not like we drove through the field, but a win’s a win – and against these guys, nothing comes easy.”
Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark., raced closest to Birkhofer, running in second place from lap eight to the finish. But the GRT house car driver, who started fourth, was unable to threaten Birkhofer on several restarts and crossed the finish line about two seconds behind the winner.
Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., finished third in the Gypsum Express Rocket, followed by Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., in the gottarace.com Rocket and 16th-starter Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., in the Lester Buildings Rocket.
Birkhofer actually didn’t realize that he was able to build a comfortable edge on Wallace after each of the race’s restarts.
“I figured Wendell was close,” said Birkhofer. “I really thought he was on my back bumper pushing me around there, so I just tried not to make any mistakes and stay on the bottom.
“After the first restart my tires felt like I didn’t cut (groove) ‘em up enough, so I was really nervous. I was just trying to drive straight and hit the traction off the corners so when I got the car turned it didn’t bind up.”
Birkhofer ended up victorious in his first career visit to Monett, a venerable 38-year-old track known as the ‘Grand Old Lady.’ He felt right at home as soon as he eyeballed the facility.
“It’s got some long straightaways and tight corners – kinda like I grew up (racing) on, only a little shorter than I like,” said Birkhofer, a product of the long, fast half-miles near his home in the Hawkeye State.
“(Scott) Bloomquist (the 2004 WoO LMS champion) always told me he had such a good record (of winning) the first time he rolled into a track,” added the driver known as ‘Birky.’ “I don’t have a record like his, but I am proud of what I have accomplished.”
Wallace’s runner-up finish bettered his fourth-place run the previous night at Lebanon I-44. It was worth a cool $4,100, including the $500 WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who’s never won a tour A-Main and isn’t ranked among the top-12 in the current points standings.
Fuller, meanwhile, scored a season’s-best finish after starting sixth. The 2007 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year was in dire need of a strong run to staunch his early-season struggles and he got it.
“I never would’ve thought a third would make me feel so good,” said a relieved Fuller, who slid inside Lanigan for third on a lap-35 restart and challenged Wallace in the closing circuits. “I thought we were good enough to get second.”
Lanigan also registered his top finish of the season after starting fifth. He had rung up six top-10 finishes in the first eight events of 2008 but couldn’t break into the top five until visiting Monett.
“We needed a good run like this,” said Lanigan, who made a bid to pass Wallace early before fading slightly.
The 46-year-old Frank turned in the most stirring drive of the night, charging from outside the top 10 to fifth over the final 13 laps. He said his car seemed to come on after he absorbed a hit in the left-rear corner from Vic Coffey of Leicester, N.Y., who spun in turn one after the contact on lap 27.
Five caution flags slowed the A-Main.
WoO LMS points leader Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., failed to finish after cutting a right-rear tire while running fourth on lap 27, and defending WoO LMS champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., managed only an 11th-place finish after a slip over the turn-four berm during his heat forced him to use a provisional starting spot.
Finishing in positions 6-10 was Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who lost fifth to Frank on the final lap; Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., who made a late charge; Darren Miller of Chadwick, Ill.; Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis.; and Rick Eckert of York, Pa.
Forty cars were signed in for the event.
Richards recorded his first fast time of the 2008 WoO LMS season, turning a new-track-record lap of 15.711 seconds during time trials.
Heat winners were Richards, Moyer, Birkhofer and Brady Smith. The B-Mains were captured by Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., and MARS regular Will Vaught of Crane, Mo.
The WoO LMS will be idle this weekend and then return to action with a three-race swing through the Midwest, visiting Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park on May 16; Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway on May 17; and Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway on May 18.
Results of WoO Late Model Series at Monett Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (1) Brian Birkhofer/40 $7,150
2. (4) Wendell Wallace/40 $4,100
3. (6) Tim Fuller/40 $2,000
4. (5) Darrell Lanigan/40 $1,700
5. (16) Chub Frank/40 $1,500
6. (9) Jimmy Owens/40 $1,300
7. (14) Shannon Babb/40 $1,200
8. (11) Darren Miller/40 $1,100
9. (8) Brady Smith/40 $1,000
10. (12) Rick Eckert/40 $900
11. (23) Steve Francis/40 $850
12. (18) Will Vaught/40 $800
13. (17) Clint Smith/40 $750
14. (25) Al Purkey/40 $740
15. (3) Brian Shirley/40 $710
16. (10) Shane Clanton/40 $680
17. (26) Jeremy Payne/40 $650
18. (20) Vic Coffey/40 $880
19. (21) Jimmy Mars/40 $620
20. (2) Josh Richards/40 $610
21. (19) Terry Phillips/35 $600
22. (15) John Blankenship/34 $600
23. (22) Jesse Stovall/34 $600
24. (7) Billy Moyer/30 $600
25. (24) Bill Frye/22 $600
26. (13) Terry Casey/18 $600
Yellow Flags: 5 (Laps 8, 10, 27, 27, 35)
Lap Leaders: Birkhofer (1-40)
Provisional Starters: Francis, Purkey (WoO); Frye, Payne (MARS)
Rookie of the Race: Vic Coffey ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Wendell Wallace ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Jeff Roby (Birkhofer)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award (half-off tire warmers): Birkhofer
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 15.711
2. 3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL 15.742
3. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 15.750
4. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.765
5. 42-Terry Casey/New London, WI 15.885
6. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 15.961
7. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 16.095
8. 2s-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 16.102
9. 20-Jimmy Owens/Newport, TN 16.227
10. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 16.243
11. 2A-John Anderson/Omaha, NE 16.247
12. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 16.250
13. 28M-Jimmy Mars/Menomonie, WI 16.279
14. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 16.294
15. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 16.314
16. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 16.342
17. 88-Wendell Wallace/Batesville, AR 16.346
18. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 16.362
19. 32d-Darren Miller/Chadwick, IL 16.375
20. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 16.394
21. 14L-Brad Looney/Republic, MO 16.401
22. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 16.509
23. 18s-Jack Sullivan/Greenbrier, AR 16.512
24. 74-Jeremy Payne/Springfield, MO 16.512
25. 75-Terry Phillips/Springfield, MO 16.676
26. 6-Alan Vaughn/Belton, MO 16.688
27. 1V-Will Vaught/Crane, MO 16.740
28. 00-Jesse Stovall/Galena, MO 16.807
29. 15T-David Turner/Adrian, MO 16.893
30. 66W-Justin Wells/Aurora, MO 16.923
31. 42M-Brandon McCormick/Lebanon, MO 17.064
32. 8K-Rusty Dukes/Fair Grove, MO 17.096
33. 14Jr.-Steve Rushin/Poplar Bluff, MO 17.150
34. 33-Al Purkey/Coffeyville, KS 17.151
35. 01-Chris Jones/Neelyville, MO 17.185
36. 16-Dusty Johnston/Flippan, AR 17.246
37. 66-Bill Frye/Greenbrier, AR 17.381
38. 99-Larry Jones/Eldorado Springs, MO 18.279
39. 3-Michael Collins/Carter Lake, IA N/T
40. 55-Ken Essary/Cape Fair, MO N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Richards, Wallace, Owens, Casey, Mars, Phillips, Rushin, Turner, Looney, Frye
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Moyer, Shirley, Clanton, Babb, C. Smith, Wells, Francis, Vaughn, Purkey, L. Jones
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Birkhofer, Fuller, D. Miller, Blankenship, Vaught, Sullivan, Anderson, McCormick, C. Jones (DNS) Collins
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): B. Smith, Lanigan, Eckert, Frank, Coffey, Dukes, Stovall, Johnston, Payne (DNS) Essary)
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): C. Smith, Phillips, Mars, Francis, Turner, Purkey, Vaughn, L. Jones, Looney, Wells, Frye, Rushin
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Vaught, Coffey, Stovall, Anderson, Sullivan, Payne, McCormick, Dukes, C. Jones (DNS) Collins, Johnston
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of May 4 – 9 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Billy Moyer 4-6-6-$70,420-1181 (-0)
2. (tie) Rick Eckert 0-3-7-$24,050-1171 (-10)
2. (tie) Steve Francis 1-5-7-$71,550-1171 (-10)
4. Darrell Lanigan 0-1-7-$16,950-1157 (-24)
5. Chub Frank 0-3-5-$19,180-1147 (-34)
6. (tie) Shannon Babb 1-4-6-$37,000-1143 (-38)
6. (tie) Josh Richards 1-4-6-$33,760-1143 (-38)
8. Clint Smith 0-3-3-$14,410-1107 (-74)
9. Shane Clanton 0-3-3-$16,430-1083 (-98)
10. Tim Fuller 0-1-2-$10,190-1053 (-128)
11. Brian Shirley 0-0-2-$9,080-1019 (-162)
12. John Blankenship 0-0-2-$12,160-1017 (-164)
13. Vic Coffey 0-0-1-$8,350-823 (-358)
14. (tie) Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$2,260-589 (-592)
14. (tie) Danny Johnson 0-0-0-$2,650-589 (-592)
LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.
To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.
Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail [email protected]
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including Advance Auto Parts – the official auto parts store of the WoO LMS – and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Chicken Hawk Racing, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Eibach Springs, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts and Qwikliner.