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Knoxville Raceway

Blog-style updates of Friday at Knoxville

September 30, 2011, 6:25 pm
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor

KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Sept. 30) — Home-state favorite Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine kept a pair of challengers at bay in the second half of Friday's semi feature at Knoxville Raceway for a $7,000 victory on the second night of the eighth annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals.

Birkhofer, who won the inaugural event in 2004, started third and took the lead from Jason Rauen of Farley, Iowa, on the third lap and wasn't challenged the rest of the 25-lapper.

Third-row starters Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., swapped the second spot several times and drew within a dozen lengths of Birkhofer amid traffic with five laps remaining, but Birkhofer put it in another gear and drew away to win by a half-straightaway at the half-mile oval.

Lanigan was second with Vaught third. Eighth-starting Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Rauen rounded out the top five.

The race's lone caution appeared on the second lap when Jared Landers got into the turn-three wall, breaking his rear spoiler; he retired.

Friday semifeature: (1) Brian Birkhofer, (2) Darrell Lanigan, (3) Will Vaught, (4) Scott Bloomquist, (5) Jason Rauen, (6) Billy Moyer, (7) Bub McCool, (8) Tim McCreadie, (9) Don O'Neal, (10) Mike Marlar. Fast qualifier (among 62 cars): Bloomquist, 17.805 seconds. Heat race winners: Rauen, Chris Simpson, Chad Simpson, Heckenast, Birkhofer. C-main winner: Earl Pearson. B-main winner: Babb.

Blog-style reports of Friday's action:

B-main

Polesitter Shannon Babb led all the way, holding off challenges from fifth-starting Billy Moyer to capture the B-main. Moyer transferred to the main event along with seventh-starting Jimmy Mars while Don O'Neal made a last-lap pass of Steve Francis for the final transfer spot. Scott James started 10th and ran as high as fourth before slipping to sixth at the finish. The only caution appeared on the fifth lap when Jason Feger got into a frontstretch tire barrier when he tried to pull to the infield in turn four.

Finish: Shannon Babb, Billy Moyer, Jimmy Mars, Don O'Neal, Steve Francis, Scott James, Kent Robinson, Andy Eckrich, Brady Smith, Mike Fryer, Ray Cook, John Duty, Tyler Reddick, Denny Eckrich, Tim Lance, Brian Harris, Darrel DeFrance, Chris Spieker, Billy Moyer Jr., Earl Paerson Jr., Steve Casebolt, Jason Feger, Brad Neat.

B-main lineup

Row 1: Shannon Babb, Don O'Neal
Row 2: Kent Robinson, Denny Eckrich
Row 3: Billy Moyer, Steve Francis
Row 4: Jimmy Mars, Brian Harris
Row 5: Andy Eckrich, Scott James
Row 6: Dave Eckrich, Brady Smith
Row 7: Mike Fryer, Jason Feger
Row 8: Ray Cook, Steve Casebolt
Row 9: John Duty, Brad Neat
Row 10: Tim Lance, Darrel DeFrance
Row 11: Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Reddick
Row 12: Billy Moyer Jr., Chris Spieker

Mid-event notebook

Iowans Rob Moss and Jason Rauen are on the front row of the main event. Check out audio interviews with each. ... C-main front row starters Jimmy Owens and Austin Hubbard both scratched. Hubbard's team is swapping motors after breaking a rod. ... Iowa drivers won four of five heat races. ... Earl Pearson Jr. won the C-main. ... Shannon Babb and Don O'Neal start on the front row of the B-main.

C-Main finish: Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Reddick, Billy Moyer Jr., Chris Spieker, Eric Wells, Tyler Bruening, Jay Johnson, Mike Wallace, Scott Lewis, Chad Chenoweth, Curt Schroeder, Paul Glendenning, Alonzo Grosse, Matt Furman, Kevin Sather, Junior Coover, Charlie McKenna, Al Humphrey. Scratched: Austin Hubbard, Jimmy Owens, Jill George, Jeremiah Hurst.

Fifth heat

Ninth-starting Brian Birkhofer brought the home-state crowd alive with a high-side move on a lap-five restart that carried him past polesitter Rich Bell to lead the seventh lap. Birkhofer cruised the rest of the way in the 12-lapper while 10th-starting Jared Landers couldn't duplicate the high-side move on Bell in the closing laps. Bell, Landers and Jack Sullivan got the other three transfer spots. The night's only heat-race cautions appeared in the heat with the yellow flag waving three times. Jay Johnson stopped in turn four with a flat left-front tire, Billy Moyer Jr. slowed after getting into the guardrail in turns three and four on the fifth lap and Paul Glendenning spun off turn two on the eighth lap.

Finish: Brian Birkhofer, Rich Bell, Jared Landers, Jack Sullivan, Andy Eckrich, Steve Francis, Ray Cook, Darrel DeFrance, Paul Glendenning, Alonzo Grosse, Billy Moyer Jr., Jay Johnson. Scratched: Jeremiah Hurst.

Fourth heat

Polesitter Frank Heckenast Jr. led flag to flag in the fourth heat, staying comfortably ahead of fellow front-row starter John Blankenship all the way as the groove settled down into the lower part of the oval. Nick Marolf valiantly held onto the third spot, holding off challenges from fifth-row starters Mike Marlar and Don O'Neal. Marlar first took a crack at Marolf, then lost the fourth spot to O'Neal. O'Neal tried to get past Marolf, but ended up losing the fourth and final transfer spot to Marlar coming off the final corner in the caution-free affair.

Finish: Frank Heckenast Jr., John Blankenship, Nick Marolf, Mike Marlar, Don O'Neal, Billy Moyer, Jason Feger, Eric Wells, Brian Harris, Tyler Bruening, Chad Chenoweth, Jill George.

Third heat

Fourh-starting Chad Simpson made an outside pass of polesitter Kerry Hansen on the fifth of 12 laps and led the rest of the way, stretching his margin to more than a half-straightaway at the checkers. Hansen held off other challengers, though, securing the second spot from an onslaught by ninth-starting Will Vaught late in the race. Brian Shirley got the fourth and final transfer spot as the third straight heat went off without a caution. Earl Pearson Jr.'s car was pushed off the track during parade laps after losing fire.

Finish: Chad Simpson, Kerry Hansen, Will Vaught, Brian Shirley, Denny Eckrich, Shannon Babb, John Duty, Brad Neat, Kevin Sather, Chris Spieker, Scott Lewis. Scratched: Earl Pearson Jr.

Second heat

Polesitter Chris Simpson built a straightaway lead and staved off a late rally by ninth-starting Darrell Lanigan for a victory in the caution-free prelim. Bub McCool was third and Rob Moss in fourth while Austin Hubbard, who started 10th, ran as high as fifth in his smoking car before slowing on the final lap.

Finish: Chris Simpson, Darrell Lanigan, Bub McCool, Rob Moss, Dave Eckrich, Tim Lance, Mike Fryer, Kent Robinson, Mike Wallace. Austin Hubbard, Junior Coover. Scratched: Matt Furman.

First heat

Sixth-starting Jason Rauen overtook Tim McCreadie midway through the 12-lapper and grabbed a victory in the night's first prelim. McCreadie stayed closed to Rauen but couldn't regain the point while 10th-starting Scott Bloomquist edged Dan Schlieper for third at the start-finish line.

Finish: Jason Rauen, Tim McCreadie, Scott Bloomquist, Dan Schlieper, Scott James, Jimmy Mars, Steve Casebolt, Brady Smith, Tyler Reddick, Jimmy Owens, Al Humphrey, Charlie McKenna, Curt Schroeder.

Heat race lineups

First heat
Row 1: Dan Schlieper, Tim McCreadie
Row 2: Steve Casebolt, Brady Smith
Row 3: Scott James, Jason Rauen
Row 4: Jimmy Mars, Tyler Reddick
Row 5: Jimmy Owens, Scott Bloomquist
Row 6: Al Humphrey, Charlie McKenna
Row 7: Curt Schroeder
Second heat
Row 1: Chris Simpson, Bub McCool
Row 2: Mike Wallace, Mike Fryer
Row 3: Dave Eckrich, Rob Moss
Row 4: Matt Furman, Kent Robinson
Row 5: Darrell Lanigan, Austin Hubbard
Row 6: Tim Lance, Junior Coover
Row 7: Alonzo Grosse
Third heat
Row 1: Kerry Hansen, Brad Neat
Row 2: John Duty, Chad Simpson
Row 3: Earl Pearson Jr., Brian Shirley
Row 4: Kevin Sather, Denny Eckrich
Row 5: Will Vaught, Shannon Babb
Row 6: Chris Spieker, Scott Lewis
Fourth heat
Row 1: Frank Heckenast Jr., John Blankenship
Row 2: Nick Marolf, Jason Feger
Row 3: Tyler Bruening, Eric Wells
Row 4: Brian Harris, Billy Moyer
Row 5: Mike Marlar, Don O'Neal
Row 6: Jill George, Chad Chenoweth
Fifth heat
Row 1: Rich Bell, Jack Sullivan
Row 2: Paul Glendenning, Ray Cook
Row 3: Jay Johnson, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 4: Andy Eckrich, Steve Francis
Row 5: Brian Birkhofer, Jared Landers
Row 6: Darrel DeFrance, Jeremiah Hurst

Qualifying

Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., set fast time for the second straight night at Knoxville Raceway, topping 62 qualifiers in the second round of the eighth annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals.

Bloomquist, the night's first qualifier, toured the half-mile oval with a 17.805-second lap that earns him 200 points in Knoxville's unique system of preliminaries that sets the starting lineup for Saturday's $40,000-to-win main event on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Friday's action, which includes heat races, consies and a $7,000-to-win semifeature, is the second two complete programs that will set Saturday's 30-car starting field.

With the 10-car heat race inversion, Bloomquist will start outside the fifth row in the first heat race.

Pre-race notes

Dale McDowell's hauler pulled out of the pits earlier this afternoon when he received word that his mother's health was failing, series director Ritchie Lewis said. About a half-hour down the road McDowell got the call that Renva Dover had passed away. Team owner Clint Bowyer sent a plane to Burlington, Iowa, to pick up McDowell so he could get home more quickly. McDowell finished 10th in Thursday's semifeature ... Another driver who competed Thursday who has scratched for the weekend is Jason Utter of Columbus Junction, Iowa. Utter bent the upper framerail on his car in a hard crash in a Thursday night heat race, and his right arm was still sore from the accident. ... Don't miss DirtonDirt.com's complete Knoxville coverage. ... The track is also providing live video of Friday's action. ... Also check out audio clips of pitside interviews Friday at Knoxville.

Friday's time trial order

Driver (car no.), hometown
  1. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 17.805
  2. Austin Hubbard (19), Seaford, Del., 17.986
  3. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 18.175
  4. Don O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 18.204
  5. Jared Landers (777), Welcome, N.C., 18.227
  6. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 18.281
  7. Darrell Lanigan (1), Union, Ky., 18.286
  8. Will Vaught (1), Crane, Mo., 18.288
  9. Mike Marlar (5B), Winfield, Tenn., 18.315
  10. Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa, 18.348
  11. Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 18.379
  12. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., 18.428
  13. Denny Eckrich (50), Tiffin, Iowa, 18.439
  14. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 18.459
  15. Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 18.500
  16. Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 18.538
  17. Matt Furman (51), Iowa City, Iowa, 18.545
  18. Kevin Sather (3), Ankeny, Iowa, 18.548
  19. Brian Harris (27H), Davenport, Iowa, 18.565
  20. Andy Eckrich (56), Iowa City, Iowa, 18.573
  21. Jason Rauen (98), Farley, Iowa, 18.585
  22. Rob Moss (1m), Iowa City, Iowa, 18.588
  23. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 18.606
  24. Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 18.702
  25. Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 18.723
  26. Scott James (81), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 18.727
  27. Dave Eckrich (58), Oxford, Iowa, 18.746
  28. Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 18.802
  29. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 18.832
  30. Jay Johnson (93), West Burlington, Iowa, 18.844
  31. Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 18.856
  32. Mike Fryer (5m), Freeport, Ill., 18.871
  33. Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 18.937
  34. Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 18.940
  35. Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 18.944
  36. Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 18.947
  37. Mike Wallace (8), Carter Lake, Iowa, 18.970
  38. John Duty (5) Portland, Ore., 18.995
  39. Nick Marolf (33), Moscow, Iowa, 19.010
  40. Paul Glendenning (33G), Mount Ayr, Iowa, 19.016
  41. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 19.036
  42. Bub McCool (57j), Vicksburg, Miss., 19.048
  43. Brad Neat (41), Dunnville, Ky., 19.111
  44. John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 19.114
  45. Jack Sullivan (1), Greenbrier, Ark., 19.134
  46. Dan Schlieper (9), Oak Creek, Wis., 19.148
  47. Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 19.164
  48. Kerry Hansen (25H), Spencer, Wis., 19.229
  49. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 19.240
  50. Rich Bell (21B), Sheffield, Ill., 19.313
  51. Al Humphrey (6) Giltner, Neb., 19.351
  52. Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 19.381
  53. Chris Spieker (56x), Massena, Iowa, 19.428
  54. Jill George (22), Cedar Falls, Iowa, 19.429
  55. Darrel DeFrance (99D), Marshalltown, Iowa, 19.507
  56. Charlie McKenna (22m), Clear Lake, Iowa, 19.522
  57. Junior Coover (10), Norfolk, Neb., 19.704
  58. Scott Lewis (99), Henderson, Colo., 19.822
  59. Chad Chenoweth (7c), Huron, S.D., 19.849
  60. Jeremiah Hurst (15H), Dubuque, Iowa, 20.296
  61. Curt Schroeder (15c), Ames, Iowa, 21.195
  62. Alonzo Grosse (44zo), Council Bluffs, Iowa, no time

Feature lineup

Row 1: Moss, Rauen
Row 2: Birkhofer, Marlar
Row 3: Vaught, Lanigan
Row 4: Landers, Bloomquist
Row 5: Shirley, Chad Simpson
Row 6: Marolf, McCreadie
Row 7: McCool, Blankenship
Row 8: Sullivan, Schlieper
Row 9: Chris Simpson, Hansen
Row 10: Heckenast, Bell
Row 11: Babb, Moyer Sr.
Row 12: Mars, O'Neal
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