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NOW THAT'S HOW TO END A SEASON!
MCDOWELL CAPTURES LAST UDTRA RACE 
ECKERT WINS CHAMPIONSHIP BY ONE POINT!

10-15-2001

UDTRA Champion, Rick Eckert saving his tires! (photo courtesy of UDTRA.com)WOODSTOCK, 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.

There 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. 

Both consolation races ended in a Hoosier 1-2-3 finish, as well. Clayton Christenberry and Steve Francis each won their respective consolation races.

The 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 positions.

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 Tire Corp. 

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.

    

      

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