Native son Moyer wins Knoxville's first round
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Sept. 27) — Iowa native Billy Moyer slid under protege Shannon Babb in turn four on the eighth lap and led the rest of the 25-lapper on the opening night of the Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals.
Moyer, who had nearly a straightaway lead by the halfway point at the track where he swept all three features in 2010, earned $7,000 for the victory on the first of three nights of action. Another preliminary night is scheduled for Friday with the $40,000-to-win finale set for Saturday night, the lineup based on prelminary finishes. | Complete Knoxville coverage
Moyer, the Hall of Famer who has raced most of his career out of Batesville, Ark., will surely be among the top contenders Saturday after his dominating performance as he ran unchallenged the final 15 laps in taking the checkers at the half-mile sprint car stronghold.
Far behind Moyer, a tight battle for second raged over the final 10 laps with the high-running Babb turning back challenges from the No. 15s of Steve Francis and Brian Birkhofer to keep the runner-up spot.
The sixth-starting Francis got third with fellow third-row starter Birkhofer in fourth. Jimmy Mars rounded out the top five finishers.
Outside front-row Tyler Reddick jumped out to the early lead, swinging around polesitter Denny Eckrich exiting turn four on the first lap. Babb and Moyer took up the chase, getting past Eckrich and stalking the leader before Babb slid underneath Reddick on the sixth lap to grab the lead.
But after the race’s lone caution flew on the sixth lap when Austin Hubbard rolled to a stop in turn four, Moyer quickly went to work on Babb and took command.
Thursday semifeature: (1) Billy Moyer, (2) Shannon Babb, (3) Steve Francis, (4) Brian Birkhofer, (5) Jimmy Mars, (6) Scott Bloomquist, (7) Brady Smith, (8) Brian Shirley, (9) Denny Eckrich, (10) Tyler Reddick, (11) Bub McCool, (12) Kent Robinson, (13) Terry Casey, (14) Jason Feger, (15) Morgan Bagley, (16) John Blankenship, (17) Terry Phillips, (18) Tim Isenberg, (19) Ray Guss Jr., (20) Austin Hubbard, (21) Mike Fryer, (22) Jesse Stovall, (23) Matt Furman, (24) Chris Simpson. Fast qualifier (among 80 cars): Bloomquist, 17.277 seconds. Heat race winners: Birkhofer, Stovall, Mars, Moyer, Reddick. D-main winner: Earl Pearson Jr. C-main winner: Frank Heckenast Jr. B-main winner: B. Smith.
Outside front-row starter Brady Smith led all the way in the B-Main, topping polesitter Jason Feger. Chris Simpson and Terry Phillips joined them in transferring to the main event in a four-car breakaway. Donnie Moran, Eric Well and Jimmy Owens were next in the running order in the prelim slowed by a single caution.
Finish: Brady Smith, Jason Feger, Chris Simpson, Terry Phillips, Donnie Moran, Eric Wells, Jimmy Owens, Mark Burgtorf, Tim McCreadie, Frank Heckenast Jr., Don O’Neal, Jason Rauen, Bobby Pierce, Jonathan Davenport, John Anderson, Billy Moyer Jr., Jared Landers, Dennis Erb Jr., J.R. Hotovy, Tim Lance, Chase Junghans, Mike Marlar, Ryan Unzicker, Rob Moss.
Top four to B-Main: Frank Heckenast Jr., Jared Landers, Bobby Pierce, Tim McCreadie, Will Vaught, Mike Spatola, Charlie McKenna, Rich Bell, Jeff Larson, Lance Mathees, Jake Meier, Dave Eckrich, Brian Diede, Steve Lance Jr., John Mason, Junior Coover, Chris Spieker, Rick Wendling, Mike Wallace, Duane Treadwell, Kevin Sather, Walker Arthur, Ray Moore, Earl Pearson Jr.
John Blankenship lost a heat race victory dealing with lapped traffic, but he was trying to play it conservative in the 12-lapper. “This is just a preliminary night. I didn’t want to junk our stuff,” he said. ... Chad Simpson was undone by heat race woes; he broke a rod in his powerplant to end his night. ... Nick Marolf lost a cylinder in the heat race but was able to run the D-Main. ... Will Vaught’s team scrambled to make fuel pump repairs before his consolation. ... Jimmy Mars edged Bub McCool on the last lap of his heat race. “I passed ‘em, and they they had that caution and that just screwed me up,” Mars said. "He took my line away and I had to try some other lines out there.” ... Kent Robinson came from 10th to fourth in his heat race to transfer to the feature. “Now I’ve just gotta stay on top of it and make the right decisions to go good in the feature.” ... Matt Furman found himself on the pole position for the first heat after the 10-car inversion, but he drove a solid race in finishing second to Brian Birkhofer. He had trouble handling the car, though. “It felt like it — or there needs to be a better driver behind the wheel. It was a handful, quite a handful,” said the Iowa native who now lives in Columbus, Ohio. "To get it around the bottom, I knew I had to hold tight, and I was going to make them work to go around the outside of me."
Top four to C-Main: Earl Pearson Jr., Will Vaught, Tim McCreadie, Jeff Larson, John Duty, Darrel DeFrance, Tyler Bruening, Jay Johnson, Curt Schroeder, Chad Chenoweath, Dustin Walker, Alonzo Grosse, Nick Marolf, Jill George, Skip Frey, Scott Lewis, Chad Simpson, Jason Utter, Paul Glendenning, Andy Eckrich.
(15 laps; top four to main event)
Row 1: Jason Feger, Brady Smith
Row 2: Chris Simpson, Rob Moss
Row 3: Mark Burgtorf, Donnie Moran
Row 4: Tim Lance, Eric Wells
Row 5: Ryan Unzicker, Terry Phillips
Row 6: Jimmy Owens, Jonathan Davenport
Row 7: Dennis Erb Jr., Jason Rauen
Row 8: Mike Marlar, Don O'Neal
Row 9: Billy Moyer Jr., John Anderson
Row 10: Chase Junghans, J.R. Hotovy
Row 11: C-Main transfers
Row 12: C-Main transfers
(15 laps; top four to B-Main)
Row 1: Jared Landers, Lance Matthees
Row 2: Chris Spieker, Steve Lance
Row 3: Dave Eckrich, Bobby Pierce
Row 4: Rich Bell, Mike Spatola
Row 5: Jake Meier, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 6: Rick Wendling, Charlie McKenna
Row 7: Walker Arthur, Kevin Sather
Row 8: Duane Treadwell, Mike Wallace
Row 9: John Mason, Ray Moore
Row 10: Junior Coover, Brian Diede
(15 laps; top four to C-Main)
Row 1: Darrel DeFrance, Curt Schroeder
Row 2: Jeff Larson, Chad Simpson
Row 3: Skip Frey, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 4: Alonzo Grosse, Dustin Walker
Row 5: Jason Utter, John Duty
Row 6: Scott Lewis, Nick Marolf
Row 7: Jay Johnson, Tim McCreadie
Row 8: Paul Glendenning, Jill George
Row 9: Andy Eckrich, Tyler Bruening
Row 10: Will Vaught, Chad Chenoweth
Seventh-starting Tyler Reddick went around Mike Fryer for a midway pass for the lead, then held on for a victory in the final heat race. FIfth-starting Denny Eckrich kept Reddick within his sites and made a late charge to get close, but couldn't make the pass in settling for second. Polesitter Tim Isenberg was third followed by Fryer, the final driver transferring to the main event. Mark Burgtorf nearly got around Fryer heading to the checkers but couldn't find a way past in the caution-free prelim.
Finish: Tyler Reddick, Denny Eckrich, Tim Isenberg, Mike Fryer, Mark Burgtorf, Terry Phillips, Mike Marlar, J.R. Hotovy, Dave Eckrich, Frank Heckenast Jr., Duane Treadwell, Brian Diede, Skip Frey, John Duty, Paul Glendenning, Chad Chenoweth.
Seventh-starting Billy Moyer, up to third by a third-lap yellow, swept around leader Ray Guss Jr. on the restart and cruised to victory in the fourth heat. Brian Shirley also dispatched of Guss and ran a distant second to Moyer the rest of the way. Guss fought off challenges from Rob Moss to hold on to third while Moss lost the final transfer spot to 10th-starting Kent Robinson on the last lap. Moss was fifth and 12th-starting Ryan Unzicker sixth. Will Vaught slowed on the third lap to draw the first of two yellows. Chad Simpson dropped out midway through the race for another caution.
Finish: Billy Moyer, Brian Shirley, Ray Guss Jr., Kent Robinson, Rob Moss, Ryan Unzicker, Jason Rauen, Chase Junghans, Steve Lance Jr., Jake Meier, Kevin Sather, Junior Coover, Chad Simpson, Jason Utter, Tim McCreadie, Will Vaught.
Working Bub McCool most of the race, Jimmy Mars made the winning pass exiting turn four on the final lap to capture the third heat. McCool finished a close second to transfer to the main event along with polesitter Morgan Bagley and Steve Francis, who rallied from his 10th starting spot. Chris Simpson came from 11th to finish fifth. Tyler Bruening spun off turn four on the third lap to draw the prelim's lone caution. Jay Johnson started outside the front row, but he fell from contention on the first lap when he scraped the guardrail in turns three and four.
Finish: Jimmy Mars, Bub McCool, Morgan Bagley, Steve Francis, Chris Simpson, Eric Wells, Dennis Erb Jr., John Anderson, Chris Spieker, Mike Spatola, Walker Arthur, Ray Moore, Jeff Larson, Dustin Walker, Jay Johnson, Tyler Bruening.
Taking advantage of polesitter John Blankenship's trouble with the lapped car of Alonzo Grossse, Jesse Stovall took the lead on the ninth lap en route to winning the second heat. Blankenship was in control until he got too high between turns three and four while dealing with Grosse, and the third-starting Stovall swept underneath. Outside front-row starter Austin Hubbard also took advantage to get the second spot. Blankenship held on to third ahead of eighth-starting Shannon Babb, the final car transferring to the main event from the caution-free prelim.
Finish: Jesse Stovall, Austin Hubbard, John Blankenship, Shannon Babb, Brady Smith, Tim Lance, Jonathan Davenport, Billy Moyer Jr., Lance Matthees, Rich Bell, Charlie McKenna, John Mason, Curt Schroeder, Alonzo Grosse, Nick Marolf. Scratched: Andy Eckrich.
Eighth-starting Brian Birknofer went around fellow Iowa native and polesitter Matt Furman after a lap-10 restart and led the final two circuits. Furman held on to finish second ahead of 10th-starting Scott Bloomquist, while Terry Casey got the fourth and final transfer spot. Earl Pearson Jr. was battling Casey for second when he slowed, the rear of his car sagging as he headed for the pits. An early caution flew when Jill George backed in to the backstretch wall.
Finish: Brian Birkhofer, Matt Furman, Scott Bloomquist, Terry Casey, Jason Feger, Donnie Moran, Jimmy Owens, Don O'Neal, Bobby Pierce, Rick Wendling, Mike Wallace, Darrel DeFrance, Earl Pearson Jr., Jill George. Scratched: Scott Lewis.
Heat race lineups
Row 1: Matt Furman, Donnie Moran
Row 2: Terry Casey, Jason Feger
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 4: Jared Landers, Brian Birkhofer
Row 5: Jimmy Owens, Scott Bloomquist
Row 6: Don O’Neal, Darrel DeFrance
Row 7: Rick Wendling, Jill George
Row 8: Mike Wallace, Scott Lewis
Row 1: John Blankenship, Austin Hubbard
Row 2: Jesse Stovall, Tim Lance
Row 3: Billy Moyer Jr., Andy Eckrich
Row 4: Lance Matthees, Shannon Babb
Row 5: Brady Smith, Rich Bell
Row 6: Nick Marolf, Jonathan Davenport
Row 7: John Mason, Charlie McKenna
Row 8: Alonzo Grosse, Curt Schroeder
Row 1: Morgan Bagley, Jay Johnnson
Row 2: Bub McCool, Jimmy Mars
Row 3: Eric Wells, Ray Moore
Row 4: Mike Spatola, John Anderson
Row 5: Steve Francis, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 6: Chris Simpson, Chris Spieker
Row 7: Jeff Larson, Walker Arthur
Row 8: Dustin Walker, Tyler Bruening
Row 1: Ray Guss Jr., Kevin Sather
Row 2: Rob Moss, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Tim McCreadie, Jason Utter
Row 4: Billy Moyer, Will Vaught
Row 5: Chad Simpson, Kent Robinson
Row 6: Chase Junghans, Ryan Unzicker
Row 7: Jake Meier, Steve Lance Jr.
Row 8: Junior Coover, Jason Rauen
Row 1: Tim Isenberg, Dave Eckrich
Row 2: Mike Fryer, J.R. Hotovy
Row 3: Denny Eckrich, Duane Treadwell
Row 4: Tyler Reddick, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 5: Terry Phillips, Mike Marlar
Row 6: Mark Burgtorf, Paul Glendenning
Row 7: Chad Chenoweth, John Duty
Row 8: Brian Diede, Skip Frey
Two-time race winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., topped 80 qualifiers Thursday at Knoxville Raceway for the opening night of the ninth annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals.
Bloomquist, a two-time series champion, tripped the clock at 17.277 seconds at the half-mile oval on the first of two preliminary nights for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event.
Rich Bell of Sheffield, Ill., was the surprising second-quick qualifier (17.476) while Dennis Erb Jr., Kent Robinson and Mike Marlar rounded out the top five. They’ll start outside the fifth row in each of five heat races with the track’s 10-car inversion.
The first night of prelims will be capped by a $7,000-to-win semifeature. ... The 80 cars is the second most in the history of the race that limited entries to 66 cars from 2005-’11. ... The night’s action includes time trials, five heat races, a C-Main, B-Main and 25-lap A-Main. Drivers accrue points through Thursday’s action (and again Friday) that helps set the lineup for Saturday’s 100-lap feature. ... The top four finishers of heats transfer to the main, finishers 5-8 to the B-Main, the rest to the C-Main. ... Wondering about the format? Check out our format guide. ... Chris Simpson had problems in hot laps and slowed immediately in front of Jay Johnson, who suffered damage to the front of his car when he struck Simpson's machine. ... Chad Simpson's team had to make a mid-morning hauler switch. His regular hauler broke an axle as he pulled out of the driveway, so he borrowed one from fellow Iowa driver Mike Klinkkammer, swapping over his tires and some of his tools. ... Bobby Pierce is making his first Knoxville visit.