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Cedar Lake Speedway

Birkhofer wins at Cedar Lake after Vaught's DQ

June 19, 2010, 7:04 pm
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com chief writer
Brian Birkhofer holds second at Cedar Lake. (jdphotosports.photoreflect.com)
Brian Birkhofer holds second at Cedar Lake. (jdphotosports.photoreflect.com)

NEW RICHMOND, Wis. (June 19) — Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, inherited Saturday's UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory at Cedar Lake Speedway after apparent flag-to-flag winner Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., was 13 pounds below the 2,300-pound minimum.

The polesitting Vaught led all 40 laps of the fourth leg of the 29-race series, but after going through a victory lane celebration, he was disqualified moments later in a decision never announced to departing fans.

Birkhofer’s $10,000 victory ended the three-race win streak of Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., who lost power on the 10th lap with a broken powerplant while running ninth.

"I don't really want the trophy. I'll take that extra five-grand, though," Birkhofer said. "Will Vaught drove a good race. He had the best car."

Vaught was in firm control most of the race, but the front-row starting Birkhofer turned up the heat with 10 laps remaining, nearly pulling alongside. But after a lap-32 caution, Vaught led comfortably the rest of the way and officials sent him to victory lane before postrace weigh-in. Vaught didn't want to comment after his disqualification.

Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., was moved up to second in the final rundown followed by Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., and Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill. Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio, rounded out the top five in the 40-lap feature.

Sixth-starting Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., ran as high as third and challenged Birkhofer for second on lap 32, but he slowed with engine problems on lap 38.

Cautions appeared on lap 10 (Moyer's engine), lap 11 (Bub McCool's turn-two spin), lap 32 (for a slowing Jimmy Mars) and lap 38 (Babb).

Vaught's disqualification robbed him of his richest career victory and his second career Summernationals victory. His first Summernationals victory came June 18, 2008, at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill.

Masters: (1) Brian Birkhofer, (2) Brian Shirley, (3) Ryan Unzicker, (4) Jason Feger, (5) Matt Miller, (6) Pat Doar, (7) Dennis Erb Jr., (8) Brady Smith, (9) Chad Simpson, (10) Bub McCool, (11) Jack Sullivan, (12) Shannon Babb, (13) Jimmy Mars, (14) Chris Simpson, (15) Mike Nutzmann, (16) Adam Hensel, (17) Eric Pember, (18) Rodney Melvin, (19) Billy Moyer, (20) Brandon Sheppard. Disqualified: Will Vaught. Fast qualifier (among 44 cars): Vaught, 13.044 seconds. Heat race winners: Vaught, Birkhofer, Shirley, Hensel. C-Main winners: Nutzmann, Richie Hedrick. B-Main winner: Chad Simpson. Provisional starters: Sullivan, Sheppard, Nutzmann.

Corrections: Fixes Birkhofer sted Vaught as winner; fixes Brandon Sheppard as 20th-place finisher (driving Bret Sievert's car).

B-Main

Polesitter Chad Simpson led all the way to win the B-Main, and he'll transfer to the feature along with runner-up Eric Pember.

B-Main finish: Chad Simpson, Eric Pember, Jeep Van Wormer, Jack Sullivan, Lance Matthees, Brandon Sheppard, Wendell Wallace, Mark Voigt, Billy Moyer Jr., Richie Hedrick, Brandon Thirlby, Mike Nutzmann, Jeff Keeney, Zach Johnson, Jason Utter, Jason McBride.

First C-Main: Mike Nutzmann, Jason Utter, Mike Fryer, Bret Sievert, Lee Thomason, Andrew McKay. Scratched: Keith Foss, Ron Klein.

Second C-Main: Richie Hedrick, Jason McBride, Donny Walden, Jim Moon, Pete Parker. Scratched: Bryan Wennen, Jon Rogers, Kenny Mann.

Fourth heat

Polesitter Adam Hensel survived a turn-four miscue midway through the race, pulling back away from fellow front-row starter Jimmy Mars the rest of the way for a victory. Hensel slipped high on the fifth lap but gathered up his car to complete the victory. Mars, meanwhile, had his hands full with Rodney Melvin, who ended up third. Brady Smith got the fourth and final transfer spot over Jack Sullivan, while Wendell Wallace continued to struggled, finishing far behind. The race was red-flagged on the first start when Jon Rogers barrel-rolled out of turn two and down the backstretch. Rogers, making his debut at Cedar Lake, wasn't injured. Jeff Keeney suffered some apparent spoiler damage in the incident and ended up a lap down while Richie Hedrick pulled pitside midway through the race.

Finish: Adam Hensel, Jimmy Mars, Rodney Melvin, Brady Smith, Jack Sullivan, Wendell Wallace, Jeff Keeney, Richie Hedrick, Bryan Wennen, Jon Rogers. Scratched: Kenny Mann.

Third heat

Outside front-row starter Brian Shirley outraced polesitter Pat Doar on the first lap and cruised to a 10-lap victory on a race where virtually everyone ran the high side on a fast track. Shirley took the checkers a half-straight ahead of Doar while third-starting Billy Moyer, last night's feature winner, was right on Doar's tail most of the way. Matt Miller was fourth as the top four broke away from the field. Fourth-starting Jeep Van Wormer nearly lost it in turn two on the first lap, but a near-scramble on the backstretch was avoided and Van Wormer settled into fifth for the distance. Jim Moon pulled to the infield midway through the caution-free prelim.

Finish: Brian Shirley, Pat Doar, Billy Moyer, Matt Miller, Brandon Sheppard, Jeep Van Wormer, Brandon Thirlby, Donny Walden, Pete Parker, Jason McBride, Jim Moon.

Second heat

Polesitter Will Vaught stole the high line from fellow front-row starter Shannon Babb going into turn one on the first lap and held the lead all the way. Babb turned up the heat on the final lap, nosing up against Vaught's rear deck at the white flag, but he couldn't find a way past. Bub McCool was further back in third in the 10-lap prelim, just ahead of Jason Feger, who won an early race duel between No. 25 cars for the fourth and final transfer spot over Chad Simpson. Everyone else was more than a half-track behind Vaught in the caution-free race.

Finish: Will Vaught, Shannon Babb, Bub McCool, Jason Feger, Chad Simpson, Lance Matthees, Billy Moyer Jr., Keith Foss, Mike Fryer, Andrew McKay, Jason Utter.

First heat

Outside front-row starter Brian Birkhofer got the jump on polesitter Ryan Unzicked and pulled away throughout for a half-straightaway victory. Second-row starters Dennis Erb Jr. and Chris Simpson got the third and fourth spots on a fast track that was watered just before the 10-lapper. Eric Pember, fourth in Friday's feature, was fifth and will head to the B-Main.

Finish: Brian Birkhofer, Ryan Unzicker, Dennis Erb Jr., Chris Simpson, Eric Pember, Zach Johnson, Mark Voigt, Mike Nutzmann, Bret Sievert, Lee Thomason, Ron Klein.

Qualifying

Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., lowered the Cedar Lake Speedway record Saturday with a 13.044-second lap for the fourth round of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals. Crane, lowering the mark set by hometown driver Pat Doar the previous night, will start on the pole of the second heat race at the 3/8-mile oval. | Complete Summernationals coverage

Other heat race polesitters after group qualifying: Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill.; Adam Hensel of Barron, Wis.; and Doar, who was just seven-thousandths off Friday’s time.

The top four finishers from each of four heat races transfer to the main event. Two C-Mains will send two cars apiece to the B-Main, which will transfer two cars to the main event. Three provisional starters round out the 21-car field for the $10,000-to-win finale on Masters weekend.

The 29-race Summernationals, a month-long tour which covers eight states, is enjoying a rare doubleheader weekend at one track.

Pre-race notes

The track record was broken two consecutive nights; before this weekend, Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., held the record with a lap from 2006. ... One driver was a no-show from Friday’s racing (Jim Bruggeman) while two new drivers joined Saturday’s action: Jon Rogers of German Valley, Ill., and Kenny Mann of South St. Paul Park, Minn. ... Mann was piloting a vintage Late Model that hadn’t hit the track since the Cedar Lake season finale in 1987 when he rallied from the tail for a victory; he parked the car because the track changed engine rules the next season, outlawing open-competition engines. ... Brandon Thirlby of Traverse City, Mich., hopes to make his first 2010 Summernationals feature Saturday after discovering problems with his No. m14’s right-rear shock. “I knew it was running flat all week,” Thirlby said. “We finally figured it out.” The team made repairs on the shock for Saturday’s action. ... Zach Johnson, whose heavily damage the front end of his No. 73 in a first-lap accident Friday, made repairs to his car. Parts of the bodywork were borrowed from Jason Feger’s team and he borrowed a radiator from Mike Nutzmann. ... Besides bending a spindle in Friday’s feature, runner-up Shannon Babb also said he struggled with power steering issues the longer the 40-lapper went on. His team double-checked the power steering system and lubed the steering rack, hoping things are better Saturday. ... Wendell Wallace brought out a backup No. 88, a car he last ran Memorial Day weekend at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. ... Jeep Van Wormer, who suffer heavy damage to the right front of his car in the same wreck with Johnson, worked with his crew until 4 a.m. making repairs. Is it fixed? “We’ll know tonight,” he said. Van Wormer posted a solid qualifying lap, fourth best in his group.

Time trials (unofficial)

(Heat race lineups start straightup by qualifying)
First group
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 13.284
Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa, 13.358
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 13.366
Chris Simpson (32), Marion, Iowa, 13.377
Eric Pember (90x), Pittsville, Wis., 13.423
Ron Klein (12k), Sherrill, Iowa, 13.498
Mark Voigt (30), Marine, Ill., 13.501
Zach Johnson (73), Kensington, Minn., 13.532
Bret Sievert (5s), New Berlin, Wis., 13.608
Mike Nutzmann (2), New Richmond, Wis., 13.822
Lee Thomason (53), Marion, Ill., 13.941
Second group
Will Vaught (1), Crane, Mo., 13.044
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 13.197
Bub McCool (57j), Vicksburg, Miss., 13.249
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 13.300
Chad Simpson (32), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 13.355
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 13.472
Lance Matthees (90), Winona, Minn., 13.547
Andrew McKay (71), Edina, Minn., 13.676
Mike Fryer (5m), Freeport, Ill., 14.341
Keith Foss (95), Winona, Minn., 14.342
Jason Utter (31), Columbus Junction, Iowa, 14.381
Third group
Pat Doar (11), New Richmond, Wis., 13.140
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 13.288
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 13.308
Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 13.309
Matt Miller (7), Waterville, Ohio, 13.355
Brandon Thirlby (m14), Traverse City, Mich., 13.622
Pete Parker (10), Kaukauna, Wis., 13.815
Donny Walden (1w), Towanda, Ill., 13.883
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 14.040
Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 14.233
Jim Moon (1m), Zionsville, Ind., 15.097
Fourth group
Adam Hensel (44), Barron, Wis., 13.321
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 13.474
Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 13.515
Rodney Melvin (27), Benton, Ill., 13.593
Jack Sullivan (1), Greenbrier, Ark., 13.771
Richie Hedrick (0), Urbana, Ill., 13.872
Wendell Wallace (88), Batesville, Ark., 13.956
Jon Rogers (61), German Valley, Ill., 14.188
Bryan Wennen (40), Lindstrom, Minn., 14.208
Jeff Keeney (61), River Falls, Wis., 15.093
Kenny Mann (m2), South St. Paul Park, Minn., no time

Feature lineup

Row 1: Vaught, Birkhofer
Row 2: Shirley, Hensel
Row 3: Unzicker, Babb
Row 4: Doar, Mars
Row 5: Erb, McCool
Row 6: Moyer, Melvin
Row 7: Chris Simpson, Feger
Row 8: Miller, B. Smith
Row 9: Chad Simpson, Pember
Row 10: Sullivan, Sheppard
Row 11: Nutzmann
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