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IT'S TIME TO RACE!!
February 9, 2003
Eckert Wins East Bay Winternationals
TAMPA, FL - Defending and two-time Xtreme DirtCar Series Champion Rick Eckert of York, PA changed to the right tires at the right time to win the 100-lap finale of the East Bay Winternationals Saturday night for the Xtreme DirtCar Series at East Bay Raceway Park.

It was Eckert's second win in the first three XDCS events of the season driving the Raye Vest Rocket/Cornett Taurus. Eckert earned $21,500 during the three-race EBRP swing.

"Early in the race I was running with a big pack of cars and running both the high and low grooves," Eckert said. "I'd run up high and gain a few spots, and then I'd try the bottom and loose a few spots. I knew early in the race that I needed a caution flag to pit for harder tires."

Eckert got that opportunity, and it worked to his advantage. Eckert took the lead on lap 66 and led the rest of the way. Every car that finished the race pitted for tires at least once in an event that had more tire changes than lead changes, and both were many.

Steve Francis of Ashland, KY had a rough night and failed to transfer to the main event through heat and consolation race action. Francis had to take a provisional and start 25th, but came on strong in the main event to finish second in the Valvoline/Mopar Parts Rocket/Stanton Intrepid. Francis was the Advance Auto Parts Hard Charger of the Race.

Randle Chupp of Mooresville, NC was another of the many drivers that came from deep in the starting field to post a high finish. Chupp started his Biscotti's Restaurant and Winery/Park Ohio Rocket/Race Tech Grand Prix in the 21st spot, led the race for 20 laps, and finished third.

Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA was fourth in the Seubert Calf Ranches Mastersbilt/Pro Power Grand Prix, and 1999 XDCS Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA came from the 24th starting spot to finish fifth in the J&J Steel Rocket by Shaw/Custom Grand Prix. Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI started 20th in his unsponsored Mastersbilt/Pro Power Monte Carlo and finished sixth.

Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL led the first five laps of the race and finished seventh in the Lucas Oil/Dunn-Benson Ford Rocket/Eatmon Taurus. Another race leader, Don O'Neal of Martinsville, IN led for 15 laps and brought the Petroff Towing Rayburn/Pro Power Monte Carlo home in the eighth spot.

Terry English finished ninth in the C.J. Rayburn Race Cars Rayburn/Runyon Monte Carlo, and Dan Schlieper of Pewaukee, WI debuted a new Miller Brothers Coal Warrior/Pro Power Monte Carlo to round out the top ten after leading the race for 25 laps.

At the start of the race, polesitter Donnie Moran of Dresden, OH raced the outside front row starter Pearson side-by-side for the first two laps, with Pearson grabbing the point outright on lap three. O'Neal drove around the outside of Moran's QPI Tools Dirt Ripper Mastersbilt/Malcuit Monte Carlo for the second spot on lap four, and then passed Pearson for the lead on lap six.

O'Neal was in lapped traffic by lap 15, and Schlieper moved up to second on lap 16 to pressure O'Neal for the lead on the outside. Pearson dove under Schlieper to retake the second spot on lap 17, and then challenged O'Neal for the front spot. Pearson passed O'Neal for the lead on lap 19, but a caution flag negated the pass.

Rod Conley of Wheelersburg, OH spun his Conley Trucking Rocket/Draime Monte Carlo in turn two to bring out the caution flag, which put O'Neal back in front of Pearson for the double-file restart in front of the SPEED Channel cameras. During the caution flag, Chupp was the first driver to pit for tires, as the track started to take rubber on the inside groove.

Behind O'Neal and Pearson on the restart was Schlieper, Moran, Rob Blair in the Bossard-Crawford Rocket/Draime Monte Carlo, Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC in the Goodson Farms Mastersbilt/Cornett Taurus, Mike Balzano of Parkersburg, WV in the Eddie's Auto Parts Rocket/Russell Baker Monte Carlo, English, Birkhofer, and McDowell.

On the restart, Schlieper utilized his outside restart position to his advantage, as he sailed up alongside O'Neal in the first turn. The two raced side-by-side for two laps before Schlieper took the lead on lap 20. That lead change was also negated when Kelly Boen of Denver, CO hit the front straightaway wall and hit the flagstand.

That brought out the red flag, but neither Boen, nor EBRP flagman Julian Mullis were injured. The same couldn't be said for Boen's Road Runner Fabrication Larry Shaw/Dickens Grand Prix or the flagstand. Boen's car left on the wrecker, and the track welder had to come out during the red flag to repair the flagstand.

It was during the red flag period with the car stopped on the backstretch that Eckert and several other drivers plotted their strategy.

"We were all sitting there on the backstretch during the red flag talking to each other when I heard that Chupp took on harder tires during the last caution," Eckert said. "I told Francis and Korte if Chupp drove by us on his new tires when we back to green, and I was in front of them, I told them to spin me out to bring out the caution flag so we could pit for harder tires."

On the restart, Pearson raced along side O'Neal to battle for the lead, but it was Schlieper who dove under both of them in turn four to take the lead on lap 20. Schlieper was then able to pull away while Pearson and O'Neal swapped the second spot back and forth for several laps. Behind the lead trio, Moran held fourth and Cook was fifth.

Behind the top five, positions sixth through 14th were being exchanged like gifts the day after Christmas. This went on for 15 laps, and Chupp was the big mover in this pack, bolting up to the sixth spot. Just as was outlined in the red flag summit meeting, Korte was the one that spun out in turn two on lap 45 to bring out the caution flag.

McDowell, Eckert, Francis, and Birkhofer all pitted for the harder compound tires during the caution period. Schlieper led Pearson, O'Neal, Moran, Chupp, Mars, Balzano, and Cook back to the green flag. Chupp stepped to the outside on the restart and went around the four cars in front of him to challenge for the lead.

Chupp took the lead from Schlieper on lap 46, while Balzano moved up to the third spot. O'Neal faded on the restart, and spun in turn two to bring out the caution flag on lap 49. This time it was Mars, Pearson, Cook, Moran, and O'Neal coming to the pits for harder compound tires. Chupp led Schlieper, Balzano, Francis, and Eckert down for the restart.

In one lap, Eckert bolted from fifth to second, and Francis moved up to the third spot on lap 52. Both Schlieper and Balzano were fading. Balzano spun in turn four on lap 56 to bring out a caution. This time, it was Schlieper, Balzano, and the top ten car of Jackie Boggs of Grayson, KY in the McDonalds Swartz/T&H Monte Carlo that pitted for tires.

By this point in the race, the outside groove was gone, and everyone pretty much committed to run in the rubber in the faster bottom groove of the track. For the safety of the drivers, XDCS officials exercised their option to forego the double-file restarts. Chupp led Eckert, Francis, Birkhofer, McDowell, Mars, Cook, O'Neal, Pearson and English down for the restart.

Everyone ran single file for the next ten laps, but Eckert began to look inside Chupp on lap 65, and then found enough room to drive under him on the next lap to take the lead. Eckert was not challenged the rest of the way, and Chupp was passed by Francis for the second spot on lap 99.

The win gives Eckert a four-point lead over Mars in the XDCS point standings going into the next XDCS event, a 75-lap $15,000-to-win event on March 15 at Thunder Valley Speedway in Glenmora, LA.

The surprise Ringers Gloves Fast Qualifier among the 69 entrants was Jason Montgomery of Jackson, OH who broke Francis' three-year-old track record of 14.198 seconds. Montgomery drove his Montgomery Fabrication Rocket/Cropper Grand Prix around the 1/3-mile clay oval in 14.151 seconds for an average speed of 84.800 miles per hour. Montgomery failed to transfer to the main event.

The 12-lap heat races were won by Balzano, O'Neal, Blair, Pearson, Schlieper and Moran. The 6-lap Action Performance Dash for the heat race winners was won by Moran followed by Pearson, O'Neal, Blair, Schlieper and Balzano. Boggs, Mars and Chupp won the three 15-lap Consolation Races.

Saturday night's XDCS event at EBRP can bee seen on SPEED Channel on March 6 at 11 p.m. ET.

OFFICIAL RESULTS OF ROUND 3 AT EAST BAY RACEWAY PARK IN TAMPA, FL ON 2/8/03:

POS STRT CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN CAR LAPS $ WON
1. 10 24 Rick Eckert York, PA Ford 100 $15,850
2. 25 m15 Steve Francis Ashland, KY Dodge 100 $8,250
3. 21 114 Randle Chupp Mooresville, NC Pont. 100 $4,000
4. 9 15b Brian Birkhofer Muscatine, IA Pont. 100 $3,000
5. 24 17m Dale McDowell Rossville, GA Pont. 100 $2,600
6. 20 28m Jimmy Mars Elk Mound, WI Chev. 100 $2,400
7. 2 1 Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville, FL Ford 100 $2,200
8. 3 71o Don O'Neal Martinsville, IN Chev. 100 $1,400
9. 11 96 Terry English Benton, KY Chev. 100 $1,200
10. 5 s9 Dan Schlieper Pewaukee, WI Chev. 100 $1,100
11. 7 53 Ray Cook Brasstown, NC Ford 100 $1,675
12. 1 99 Donnie Moran Dresden, OH Chev. 100 $1,050
13. 6 E1 Mike Balzano Parkersburg, WV Chev. 99 $1,025
14. 12 0 Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg, TN Ford 99 $1,000
15. 18 88 Wendell Wallace Batesville, AR Ford 99 $1,000
16. 17 55 Jeep Van Wormer Picconning, MI Chev. 99 $1,000
17. 15 71r Rod Conley Wheelersburg, OH Chev. 97 $1,000
18. 16 7 Matt Miller (R) Waterville, OH Pont. 97 $1,000
19. 4 w11 Rob Blair Titusville, PA Chev. 97 $1,000
20. 8 0s Steve Shaver Parkersburg, WV Chev. 96 $1,000
21. 26 201 Billy Ogle Jr. Knoxville, TN Chev. 81 $1,750
22. 14 71 Delmas Conley Wheelersburg, OH Chev. 80 $1,000
23. 19 4b Jackie Boggs Grayson, KY Chev. 67 $1,000
24. 23 00k Randy Korte Highland, IL Pont. 67 $1,600
25. 13 07 Kelly Boen Denver, CO Pont. 19 $1,000
26. 22 19 Davey Johnson Greensburg, PA Pont. 18 $1,000

ENTRIES: 69

PROVISIONALS: Francis and Ogle (2)

LEAD CHANGES: Four Among Five Drivers

LAP LEADERS: Pearson, 1-5; O'Neal, 6-20; Schlieper, 21-45; Chupp, 46-65; Eckert, 66-100

LAPS LED: Eckert, 35; Schlieper, 25; Chupp, 20; O'Neal, 15; Pearson, 5

ADVANCE AUTO PARTS HARD CHARGER: Francis (started 25th and finished 2nd)

LUCAS OIL ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Miller

RINGERS GLOVES FAST QUALIFIER: Jason Montgomery, 14.151 seconds, 84.800 miles per hour (NEW TRACK RECORD - Old Track Record, Steve Francis, Feb. 2000, 14.198 second, 84.519 miles per hour)

CAUTIONS: 7

RED FLAG: 1

XTREME SHOOTOUT INVITEES: Chupp, O'Neal, Schlieper, Cook, Balzano, and Shaver (Promoter's Choice)

QUALIFYING:

POS CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN CHASSIS ENGINE 1ST LAP 2ND LAP TIME SPEED
1 21m Jason Montgomery Jackson, OH Rocket Cropper 14.498 14.151 14.151 84.800
2 71o Don O'Neal Martinsville, IN Rayburn Pro Power 14.592 14.417 14.417 83.235
3 w11 Rob Blair Titusville, PA Rocket Draime 14.441 14.533 14.441 83.097
4 1 Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville, FL Rocket Eatmon 14.634 14.467 14.467 82.947
5 s9 Dan Schlieper Pewaukee, WI Rayburn Pro Power 14.707 14.489 14.489 82.821
6 99 Donnie Moran Dresden, OH Mastersbilt Malcuit 14.633 14.498 14.498 82.770
7 E1 Mike Balzano Parkersburg, WV Rocket Russell Baker 14.646 14.509 14.509 82.707
8 71c R.J. Conley Wheelersburg, OH Rocket Draime 14.589 14.533 14.533 82.571
9 71r Rod Conley Wheelersburg, OH Rocket Draime 14.559 14.694 14.559 82.423
10 7 Matt Miller (R) Waterville, OH Rocket Russell Baker 14.604 14.625 14.604 82.169
11 24m Jeremy Miller Gettysburg, PA Rocket Hatfield 14.751 14.615 14.615 82.107
12 0 Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg, TN Warrior Custom 15.038 14.634 14.634 82.001
13 M15 Steve Francis Ashland, KY Rocket Stanton 14.760 14.641 14.641 81.962
14 0s Steve Shaver Parkersburg, WV Rocket Malcuit 14.703 14.649 14.649 81.917
15 00 Freddy Smith Knoxville, TN Warrior Gaerte 14.843 14.653 14.653 81.894
16 24 Rick Eckert York, PA Rocket Cornett 14.740 14.669 14.669 81.805
17 96 Terry English Benton, KY Rayburn Runyon 14.732 14.673 14.673 81.783
18 6T Tim Dohm Charleston, WV Rocket Draime 15.089 14.677 14.677 81.761
19 53 Ray Cook Brasstown, NC Mastersbilt Cornett 14.805 14.684 14.684 81.722
20 12 Rick Aukland Zanesville, OH Rocket Malcuit 14.903 14.690 14.690 81.688
21 15b Brian Birkhofer Muscatine, IA Mastersbilt Pro Power 14.697 14.759 14.697 81.649
22 11p Kenny Pettyjohn Millsboro, DE Rocket SMS 14.700 14.823 14.700 81.633
23 1* Chub Frank Sugar Grove, PA Rocket Draime 14.706 14.706 14.706 81.599
24 21 Billy Moyer Batesville, AR Rayburn Dickens 14.807 14.710 14.710 81.577
25 07 Kelly Boen Denver, CO Larry Shaw Dickens 14.816 14.725 14.725 81.494
26 39 Tim McCreadie Watertown, NY Rocket CC Performance 14.773 14.736 14.736 81.433
27 1u Matt Urban Northeast, PA Rocket Custom 15.001 14.753 14.753 81.339
28 00k Randy Korte Highland, IL Rocket Race Tech 14.878 14.754 14.754 81.334
29 55 Jeep Van Wormer Picconning, MI Warrior Chevy 14.772 14.810 14.772 81.235
30 88 Wendell Wallace Batesville, AR GRT Craft 14.844 14.772 14.772 81.235
31 4b Jackie Boggs Grayson, KY Swartz T&H 14.954 14.773 14.773 81.229
32 83 Scott James Lawrenceburg, IN Lazer Dargie 14.780 15.240 14.780 81.191
33 18 Shannon Babb Decatur, IL Rayburn Dickens 14.807 15.180 14.807 81.043
34 28w Thomas Ware Cynthiana, KY Rocket Cornett 14.900 14.814 14.814 81.004
35 17m Dale McDowell Rossville, GA Rocket Custom 14.823 14.840 14.823 80.955
36 114 Randle Chupp Mooresville, NC Rocket Race Tech 14.876 14.828 14.828 80.928
37 19 Davey Johnson Greensburg, PA Mastersbilt Malcuit 14.841 14.937 14.841 80.857
38 71 Delmas Conley Wheelersburg, OH Rocket Draime 14.846 16.735 14.846 80.830
39 28 Dennis Erb Jr. Carpentersville, IL Rayburn Hedrick 15.042 14.864 14.864 80.732
40 32r Roger Crouse Plant City, FL Rocket Sullivan 14.966 14.891 14.891 80.586
41 11o Jimmy Owens Newport, TN Rayburn Rayburn 14.904 15.002 14.904 80.515
42 80 Troy Kuyoth (R) Stratford, WI Rocket Pro Power 15.778 14.961 14.961 80.209
43 02 Keith Nosbisch Valrico, FL Rocket ZRE 15.697 14.976 14.976 80.128
44 19h Mike Hawley Paint Lick, KY Rayburn Pro Power 14.995 15.113 14.995 80.027
45 32c Vic Coffey Leicester, NY Rocket CC Performance 15.046 15.005 15.00 79.973
46 75 Bart Hartman Zanesville, OH Rocket Russell Baker 16.471 15.025 15.02 79.867
47 1s Audie Swartz Memford, OH Swartz Cropper 15.029 NT 15.029 79.846
48 72 John Mason Millersburg, OH Rocket Malcuit 15.049 15.060 15.049 79.740
49 05 Roy Deese Jr. Laurel, MD Rocket Leggett 15.055 15.201 15.055 79.708
50 70 Jeff Choquette West Palm Beach, FL Rocket Progressive 53.158 15.06715.067 79.644
51 28m Jimmy Mars Elk Mound, WI Mastersbilt Pro Power 15.072 NT 15.07279.618
52 201 Billy Ogle Jr. (R) Knoxville, TN GRT Gaerte 15.448 15.116 15.116 79.386
53 21d Dan Stone Thompson, PA Burnheizel Rhodes 15.117 15.131 15.117 79.381
54 D65 Dwight Falcon Baton Rouge, LA Rayburn Marty's Auto. 15.374 15.117 15.117 79.381
55 56m Rohn Moon Greenwood, IN Rayburn Clements 15.627 15.118 15.118 79.376
56 T31 Shane Tankersley Morgonton, GA Rocket Race Tech 15.156 15.132 15.132 79.302
57 9z Jayme Zidar Greenfield, WI GRT Pro Power 15.372 15.139 15.139 79.265
58 3 Steve Smith Powell, TN Rayburn Draime 15.357 15.147 15.147 79.224
59 59 Bill Cunningham Jefferson, OH GRT Draime 15.186 15.185 15.185 79.025
60 11 Bobby Wolter Jr. (R) Lexington, KY Rayburn Bullock 15.898 15.237 15.237 78.756
61 70r Anthony Rushing Kosciusko, MS Rocket Dickens 15.370 15.269 15.269 78.591
62 J0 J.O. Nobles Nahunta, GA Warrior Custom 51.892 15.458 15.458 77.630
63 42 Marshall Austin Dover, FL Rayburn Nelson Bros. 15.496 17.966 15.496 77.439
64 21L Ivedent Lloyd Ocala, FL GRT Clements 16.530 15.535 15.535 77.245
65 24p David McCoy Franklin, NC GRT Clements 15.548 15.748 15.548 77.180
66 64 Ryan Dauber Tonica, IL GRT Sabbota 15.628 16.400 15.628 76.785
67 00H Chuck Harper Beverly, WV Rayburn Clements 15.725 15.726 15.725 76.312
68 4 Danny McGlothlin Somerset, KY Swartz T&H 15.851 15.951 15.851 75.705
69 1cj C.J. Rayburn Whiteland, IN Rayburn Rayburn NT NT NT NT

HEAT RACES: (12-Laps - Top 3 Finishers Transfer To Main Event):

1ST HEAT: 1. Balzano; 2. Cook; 3. Boen; 4. Montgomery; 5. Johnson; 6. Nosbisch; 7. Rushing; 8. Harper; 9. Moon; 10. Deese; 11. Francis; 12. Boggs.

2ND HEAT: 1. O'Neal; 2. Shaver; 3. D. Conley; 4. James; 5. Choquette; 6. Aukland; 7. McCreadie; 8. Hawley; 9. Tankersley; 10. Nobles; 11. R.J. Conley.

3RD HEAT: 1. Blair; 2. Birkhofer; 3. Rod Conley; 4. F. Smith; 5. Mars; 6. Erb; 7. Babb; 8. Urban; 9. Coffey; 10. Zidar; 11. McGlothlin; 12. Austin.

4TH HEAT: 1. Pearson; 2. Eckert; 3. M. Miller (R); 4. Pettyjohn; 5. Ware; 6. Hartman; 7. S. Smith; 8. Ogle; 9. Crouse; 10. Lloyd; 11. Korte.

5TH HEAT: 1. Schlieper; 2. English; 3. Van Wormer; 4. McDowell; 5. J. Miller; 6. Frank; 7. Stone; 8. Swartz; 9. Owens; 10. Cunningham; 11. McCoy.

6TH HEAT: 1. Moran; 2. Bloomquist; 3. Wallace; 4. Moyer; 5. Chupp; 6. Mason; 7. Kuyoth (R); 8. Dohm; 9. Falcon; 10. Dauber; 11. Wolter (R).

ACTION PERFORMANCE 6-LAP DASH: 1. Moran; 2. Pearson; 3. O'Neal; 4. Blair; 5. Schlieper; 6. Balzano.

CONSOLATION RACES (15 Laps - Top 2 Finishers Transfer To Main Event):

1ST CONSY: 1. Boggs; 2. Johnson; 3. R.J. Conley; 4. Deese; 5. Harper; 6. Nobles; 7. Nosbisch; 8. Hawley; 9. Tankersley; 10. Choquette; 11. Montgomery; 12. Francis; 13. Rushing; 14. James; 15. Aukland; 16. McCreadie (Disqualified From Event For Unsportsman-like Conduct).

2ND CONSY: 1. Mars; 2. Korte; 3. Erb; 4. Ogle; 5. Urban; 6. Austin; 7. F. Smith; 8. Coffey; 9. Zidar; 10. Pettyjohn; 11. Ware; 12. S. Smith; 13. Lloyd; 14. Babb; 15. Hartman; 16. Crouse.

3RD CONSY: 1. Chupp; 2. McDowell; 3. Moyer; 4. Frank; 5. J. Miller; 6. Stone; 7. Cunningham; 8. Owens; 9. Swartz; 10. Mason; 11. Wolter (R); 12. Falcon; 13. Kuyoth (R); 14. Dohm; 15. McCoy; 16. Dauber.

XDCS POINT STANDINGS THROUGH 2/8/03:

1. Rick Eckert - 489
2. Jimmy Mars - 485
3. Earl Pearson Jr. - 479
4. Donnie Moran - 451
4. Steve Francis - 451
6. Brian Birkhofer - 447
7. Don O'Neal - 385
8. Randle Chupp - 382
9. Terry English - 380
10. Rob Blair - 378
11. Dale McDowell - 375
12. Randy Korte - 362
13. Matt Miller (R) - 350
14. Rick Aukland - 348
15. Dan Schlieper - 343
16. Scott Bloomquist - 335
16. Mike Balzano - 335
18. Ray Cook - 334
19. Davey Johnson - 332
20. Chub Frank - 316

R - Denotes Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year Candidate


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