GA (October 13) -- WOW!! What a way to end the United Dirt Track
Racing Association season, the season long battle between
Pennsylvania's Rick Eckert and Kentucky's Steve Francis came down to
the final race and a single point. When the $54,000 to-win, 100-lap
race was complete, Georgia's Dale McDowell captured his second UDTRA
event of the season and the season long points battle was settled.
Rick Eckert, who entered the final event 27 markers in front of Steve
Francis, won the 2001 championship, completing one of the most
exciting UDTRA seasons on record.
The two-day event began with
qualifying on Friday as 73 cars attempted to make the field for the
100-lap Dixie Shootout at Dixie Speedway, as Hoosier-shod drivers
posted the eight fastest times. Scott Bloomquist set fast time of
14.072 seconds (91.824 mph) around the high banked 3/8-mile oval.
Billy Ogle Jr., Dale McDowell, Shannon Babb, Rick Eckert, Bob Pierce,
Brian Birkhofer and Wayne Echols were second through eighth quickest.
were six heat races in which the top three finishers would transfer
into the feature event. Scott Bloomquist won the first 15-lap heat
race while Billy Ogle Jr., Dale McDowell, Randy Korte, Rick Eckert and
Bob Pierce each won their respective heats. Not only were all six
races won by teams using Hoosier tires, but fully 17 of the 18
transfers were on USA-made Hoosier tires.
races ended in a Hoosier 1-2-3 finish, as well. Clayton Christenberry
and Steve Francis each won their respective consolation races.
26-car field was set for the 100-lap main event. The green flag had
Scott Bloomquist jumping out to the early lead from his pole position.
Bloomquist maintained his lead through lap 90, before Dale McDowell
passed the defending UDTRA champion coming off turn two. McDowell held
on for the win, the second of the season for the 1999 series champion.
Scott Bloomquist came home second, earning him $20,000, followed by
the Hoosier-shod rides of Billy Moyer, Steve Francis, Dan Schlieper,
Billy Ogle Jr., Marshall Green, Don O'Neal, Dennis Erb Jr., Rick
Eckert, Randy Korte, Mike Gault, Clayton Christenberry, Wendell
Wallace and Bob Pierce as Team Hoosier swept the top 15 finishing
During the race, the top two in points coming into the
event were going in opposite directions. Steve Francis started in 20th
and had charged through the field to finish in fourth place, while
points leader, Eckert, who started fifth, snapped a left rear axle on
lap 94 and began to drift back, just how far back would ultimately
determine who would champion the 2001 UDTRA season. Eckert would
finish in tenth, the first driver one lap down.
With only 27
points separating the two, everyone knew the final tally would be
close. In fact, it could not have been closer. Despite the hard
charging effort of Francis and his advance through the field, Eckert
managed to hold off the Ashland, Kentucky driver by the slimmest of
margins, a single point.
UDTRA officials spent Sunday night double
checking the season point totals for the two to make sure the champion
was the correct one. After all the tabulating and re-tabulating, it
wasn't until the end of the 43rd and final race of the season that a
champion would be crowned. The final tally had Eckert winning the
championship with 6535 points and Steve Francis taking runner-up
honors with 6534 points.
Hoosier Racing Tire Corp. is once again
proud to be the tire of choice by the United Dirt Track Racing
Association champion, Rick Eckert. Congratulations to Rick and the
entire Raye Vest Rocket/Cornett Mustang #24 team from Hoosier Racing
All told, the final standings would have Team
Hoosier capturing the top five positions in the season long points
chase. Finishing in third place, behind, Eckert and Francis was Scott
Bloomquist. Dale McDowell and Wendell Wallace completed the top five
sweep for the USA-made Hoosier tire brand.
Hoosier Racing Tire Corp.
extends it's appreciation to all the teams, drivers and fans of the
UDTRA series who made this year so enjoyable. We look forward to
another season of fun and excitement in the upcoming 2002 season.