UDTRA (Cedar Lake) Eckert $141,000


Team Owner
Jun 12, 2002
North East, TN
NEW RICHMOND, WI - Rick Eckert of York, PA earned the richest one-day payoff in the history of the United Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar Series by winning the USA Nationals Sunday afternoon at Cedar Lake Speedway and pocketing the top prize of $141,000 driving the Cameron Car Corner/Raye Vest Rocket/Cornett Taurus.

Eckert won the $100,000 Great Northern Challenge Bonus money for winning three of the five race series, $40,000 for the USA Nationals top prize, and a $1,000 Bonus from Muddslinger Magazine. The Defending UDTRA Champion also won the Masters 75 at Cedar Lake Speedway on June 22, and the GNC event in Denison, IA on June 25.

"I'm really glad they decided to reschedule that rainout show of the Great Northern Challenge here for the USA Nationals," Eckert said. "I got into the running for the bonus late in the game after winning the Masters and then winning in Denison, Iowa a few days later."

Eckert made the winning pass on lap 93 of the 100-lap race when 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA slipped in oil after a restart in turn two, which opened the door for Eckert, who also slipped in the same oil a couple of laps later, but held on for the win.

"I saw all of that oil in turns one and two during the caution period, and just kind of looked for all of the clean dirt I could find down on the bottom," Eckert said. "When Dale slipped up in turn two, I tried to get as far to the inside as I could to keep from hitting him. Then a couple of laps later, I slipped in the same spot as Dale did, and I was lucky he didn't get back by me."

McDowell came home in the second spot driving the Larry Shaw Race Cars Rocket/Custom Grand Prix, and looked to be on his way to winning his second straight USA Nationals. McDowell had a 1/2-straightaway lead over Eckert before the debris and oil slick caution flag on lap 93.

"We didn't get the oil slick worked in as well as I would have liked, and I just slipped up in turn two," McDowell said. "A couple of laps later, Rick slipped in the oil, but I couldn't take advantage of it."

Steve Francis of Ashland, KY finished third in the Valvoline/Mopar Parts Rocket/Stanton Intrepid. Eckert now holds a 138 point lead over Francis in the UDTRA Championship battle. McDowell moved up to the third spot in the points chase, 32 points behind Francis."

"It might be a little too early to start thinking about points," Francis said, " but I do know at this point in the season last year, I was behind by over 140 points, and I still came back and lost the championship by one point, so anything is possible."

Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA took the fourth spot after starting 14th in the Daufeldt Transport Mastersbilt/Pro Power Grand Prix. Fast qualifier Dan Schlieper of Pewaukee, WI was fifth in the Pro Power Racing Engines GRT/Pro Power Monte Carlo.

Schlieper out qualified the 42 entrants on Friday night with a lap around the 1/3-mile clay oval in 14.294 seconds for an average speed of 83.951 miles per hour.

John Anderson of Omaha, NE finished sixth in the Tender Heart Treasures GRT/Hatfield Grand Prix, and was the Lucas Oil Rookie of the Race. The 1996 UDTRA Champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN was seventh in the Christenberry Trucking and Farms Warrior/Custom Monte Carlo.

Shannon Babb of Decatur, IL finished eighth in the Car City Company Mastersbilt/Pro Power Monte Carlo after starting 18th, and ninth went to Rick Aukland of Zanesville, OH in the Ostrom Painting and Sandblasting Rocket/Malcuit Grand Prix.

Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL rounded out the top ten in the Lucas Oil/Dunn-Benson Ford Rocket/Eatmon Taurus after the apparent tenth-place finisher Matt Miller of Waterville, OH failed the post-race technical inspection with his McCullough Motorsports Rocket/Russell Baker Grand Prix.

Shane Tankersley of Morganton, GA was the Advance Auto Parts Hard Charger of the Race after taking a provisional, starting 24th, and finishing 13th in the Tankersley Motorsports Rocket/Custom Grand Prix.

After a Saturday night rainout that saw three inches of rain in the area, the Bob Cook-led Cedar Lake Speedway track crew had the racing surface ready to hot lap by 12 noon on Sunday. Cook and his crew even worked the track before the main event to give the fans a better show.

Under cloudy skies, the field took the green flag, but polesitter Brent Larson of Rosemont, MN was ticketed with jumping the start in his OCI Mastersbilt/Pro Power Monte Carlo. Larson was penalized one row for the restart, and that put Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN on the pole along side Eckert.

Bloomquist put his Miller Brothers Coal Warrior/Custom Taurus on the point after the restart, followed by McDowell, Eckert, Randle Chupp of Mooresville, NC, and Larson. On lap two, Darren Miller of Chadwick, IL moved his NAPA Auto Parts Mastersbilt/Pro Power Monte Carlo past Larson and into the fifth spot. Francis passed Larson on lap four to take the sixth spot.

Bloomquist and McDowell were working lapped traffic by lap seven, and McDowell began looking inside Bloomquist to challenge for the lead on lap 13. Eckert moved up to challenge McDowell for second spot in lapped traffic on lap 16. Eckert drove around the outside of McDowell coming off the fourth turn to take the position.

The preferred groove early in the race was around the top, but the cushion was starting to wear thin up against the wall by lap 20. Eckert closed up on Bloomquist and was looking to the inside as they entered turn three on lap 23.

Eckert drove off the bottom of the fourth turn, made contact with Bloomquist, but took the lead coming down the frontstretch. Bloomquist tried to throw a slider on Eckert getting into turn one, but couldn't make the move work.

Chupp brought out the first of five caution flags on lap 24 when he jumped the thin cushion in turn one, and slammed the wall, putting his Biscotti's Restaurant and Winery/Park Ohio Rocket/Draime Grand Prix up on its side. This set up a double-file restart in front of the SPEED Channel cameras.

McDowell went around the outside of Bloomquist to take the second spot on the restart, and brought Francis with him from the fifth spot. Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, TN stalled his Calhoun's Restaurant GRT/Clements Monte Carlo on the frontstretch for the next caution on lap 26, and Bloomquist gave up the fourth spot to pit for tires.

The double-file restart saw Francis race around the outside of McDowell for the second spot, and Schlieper climbed from fifth to fourth. The field stayed green for three more laps until Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI took a wild ride in turn one.

Mars jumped the cushion in turn one, climbed up on top of the wall, and his Jimmy Mars Racing Mastersbilt/Pro Power Monte Carlo flew out of the ballpark on its side, and landed on all four wheels outside the race track. Mars was uninjured. During the caution period, the sun began to peek out from the cloud cover, and began to change the racing surface.

McDowell made a move on the lap 30 restart, and passed Francis for the second spot. One lap later McDowell was running the middle groove, looking to the inside of Eckert, and then passed him for the lead on lap 32. By lap 37, McDowell was pulling away from Eckert, who now being challenged by Francis for second.

It appeared that Eckert's chances for the $100,000 bonus were going out the window on lap 38 when Francis passed him for the second spot. Pearson spun in turn two on lap 39 to bring out a caution flag, and the field lined up for a double-file restart. Eckert made quick work on the restart to move around Francis for second, as just about every driver headed to the inside of the race track.

The next 30 laps saw the field run nose-to-tail in the bottom groove, as McDowell had worked out to a 1/2-straightaway lead over Eckert, Francis, Birkhofer, and Schlieper. McDowell caught Pearson and Bloomquist on lap 75, and chose to ride behind the last two cars on the lead lap. It looked like McDowell had the field covered until lap 93.

Bloomquist ran over a piece of debris in turn one, which ripped a hole in his oil pan. With smoke bellowing from behind his car, the contents of his oil pan covered the racing groove in turns one and two. After several runs by the field through the oil to try and work it in, UDTRA officials waived off the double-file restart, and went to a single file restart due to the track conditions.

McDowell led Eckert into the first turn, but coming off turn two, McDowell slipped up a car-width, and Eckert drove underneath McDowell to take the lead. On lap 95, Eckert also slipped in the oil at the same spot McDowell did, but Eckert was able to hang on for the history-making $141,000 payday, and his sixth win of the season.

Larson, Eckert, Bloomquist, and McDowell won heat races on Friday night, with Larson taking the $100 JE Pistons Bonus and McDowell winning the $50 Scott Performance Wire Bonus. The 1997 UDTRA Champion Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR won the first of two 20-lap Polaris ATVs Consolation Races in the Petroff Towing/J&J Steel Rayburn/Dickens Taurus, and Babb won the second consy.

The next event for the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series will be on Tuesday night for the $10,000-to-win IITI Taylor Insulation 50 at West Liberty Raceway in West Liberty, IA. The pit gate opens at noon, with hot laps set for 6 p.m. and time trials scheduled for 6:45 p.m.

The next UDTRA Dirty Thursday will air August 29 at 11 p.m. ET with action from Crawford County Speedway in Denison, IA. For the complete UDTRA SPEED Channel schedule and a direct feedback link, visit the UDTRA web site at www.udtra.com.


1. 2 24 Rick Eckert York, PA Ford 100 $141,000
2. 4 17m Dale McDowell Rossville, GA Pont. 100 $15,050
3. 7 1 Steve Francis Ashland, KY Dodge 100 $8,000
4. 14 15b Brian Birkhofer Muscatine, IA Pont. 100 $6,000
5. 5 s9 Dan Schlieper Pewaukee, WI Chev. 100 $5,000
6. 15 1k John Anderson ® Omaha, NE Pont. 100 $4,000
7. 9 00 Freddy Smith Knoxville, TN Chev. 100 $3,500
8. 18 18 Shannon Babb Decatur, IL Chev. 100 $3,300
9. 12 12 Rick Aukland Zanesville, OH Pont. 100 $3,100
10. 10 1p Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville, FL Ford 100 $3,000
11. 11 27 Jerry Redetzke Eau Claire, WI Chev. 99 $2,900
12. 21 25 Kerry Hansen Spencer, WI Ford 98 $2,800
13. 24 T31 Shane Tankersley ® Morganton, GA Pont. 97 $2,850
14. 8 32d Darren Miller Chadwick, IL Chev. 92 $2,600
15. 3 0 Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg, TN Ford 91 $2,500
16. 22 10 Pete Parker Kaukauna, WI Pont. 73 $2,500
17. 20 h2 Duayne Hommel Newport, TN Chev. 57 $2,500
18. 1 8 Brent Larson Rosemont, MN Chev. 46 $2,600
19. 17 21 Billy Moyer Batesville, AR Ford 38 $2,500
20. 13 00k Randy Korte Highland, IL Pont. 34 $2,500
21. 19 28 Jimmy Mars Elk Mound, WI Chev. 31 $2,500
22. 23 201 Billy Ogle Jr. ® Knoxville, TN Chev. 25 $2,500
23. 6 114 Randle Chupp Mooresville, NC Pont. 23 $2,500
24. 16 7 Matt Miller Waterville, OH Pont. 0 $2,500

PROVISIONALS: Ogle (7) and Tankersley (10)
LEAD CHANGES: 3 Among 4 Drivers
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