Birky edges Van Wormer for Lawrenceburg victory
By James EssexLucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. (Aug. 28) — Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, got to the front just in time at Lawrenceburg Speedway. Taking over from race-long leader Jeep Van Wormer of Pinconning, Mich., with just two laps remaining, Birkhofer captured a 50-lapper for his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory of the season. | Slideshow
The low-running Birkhofer edged the high-running Van Wormer at the white flag, and Van Wormer jumped the turn-two cushion trying to regain the lead, allowing Birkhofer to sneak away with a $10,000 payday at the dazzling facility that has seen more than $4 million in renovations in recent years.
Van Wormer, looking for his first career Lucas Oil Series victory, settled for second with polesitter Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio, in third. Series points leader Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va., rounded out the top five at the 3/8-mile oval near Cincinnati, Ohio.
"I am not really use to running up the cushion as much as Jeep and Matt were," said the eighth-starting Birkhofer, who won three Lucas Oil events in a 16-day stretch in May. "Our car ran better on the bottom. There was enough moisture down there and we got good traction and I didn't think we could catch Jeep, but with two to go I was able to pull even with him."
At the outset of the 31-minute feature, Miller and Van Wormer started on the front row with Van Wormer taking command before a lap-one caution for Steve Casebolt's early departure. Van Wormer, Miller and hometown driver Scott James pulled away on the restart, but the seventh-starting Carrier got moving in the low groove, taking the third spot from James and then tracking down Van Wormer and Miller.
A lap-19 yellow bunched the field when Jimmy Owens and Terry Casey came to a halt in turn four, and Van Wormer got rolling again with Miller hot in his tire tracks. James fell by the wayside with a vibration on the 36th lap amid three cautions from laps 34-36 (the first for Eric Jacobsen, the last for Ray Cook's broken driveshaft).
With the final 14 laps running caution free, Birkhofer took second from Miller with an inside move on the 41st lap and began reeling in Van Wormer.
Birkhofer pulled alongside Van Wormer on the 48th lap, edging ahead at the white flag as the frontrunners ran door-to-door down the frontstretch. The last-lap showdown was over when Van Wormer slipped in turn two and Birkhofer capitalized for the victory.
Notes: Birkhofer's M-B Customs Chassis has a Pro Power Engine and sponsorship from ASI Racewear, J&J Steel, McDonald's of the Quad Cities and Daufeldt Transport. ... Five cautions slowed the action. ... Fast qualifier Brad Neat of Dunnville, Ky., finished 10th. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature: John Mason, John Gill, Freddy Smith, Shon Flanary, Josh McGuire, Justin Rattliff, Jerry Bowersock, Duane Chamberlain, Dillan White, D.J. Wells, Robby Hensley, David Webb and NHRA funny car champion Cruz Pedregon. ... Lucas Oil competitors completed the doubleheader weekend with a $10,000-to-win event Saturday at Bluegrass Speedway in Bardstown, Ky. Bardstown was a former home to the Dirt Track World Championship while Lawrenceburg will host the unsanctioned event for the first time in 2009. The $50,000-to-win event is scheduled for Oct. 16-17.
Lucas Oil @ Lawrenceburg: (1) Brian Birkhofer, (2) Jeep Van Wormer, (3) Matt Miller, (4) Scott Bloomquist, (5) Eddie Carrier Jr., (6) Earl Pearson Jr., (7) Dale McDowell, (8) Jimmy Owens, (9) Don O'Neal, (10) Brad Neat, (11) John Blankenship, (12) Eric Jacobsen, (13) Donnie Moran, (14) Zack Dohm, (15) Billy Moyer, (16) Ray Cook, (17) Scott James, (18) Brandon Kinzer, (19) Shannon Babb, (20) Terry Casey, (21) Dan Schlieper, (22) Mike Marlar, (23) Steve Casebolt, (24) Ricky Arms. Fast qualifier (among 44 cars): Neat, 14.098 seconds. Heat race winners: Miller, Bloomquist, Van Wormer, James. Consolation winners: Babb, McDowell. Provisional starters: Cook, Schlieper.