BIRKHOFER WINS O'REILLY AUTO PARTS 50 AT DUBUQUE FAIRGROUNDS
Muscatine driver takes lead as Boley and Miller battle for top spot
DUBUQUE, IOWA (April 20, 2001) While point leader Steve Boley and Darren Miller were fighting tooth and nail for the lead in the final laps of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 50 here tonight at Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway, Brian Birkhofer was watching from third place, waiting for an opportunity. He found it in the final laps and scooted around the leaders to win the second O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series, NASCAR Touring race of the 2001 season.
The two fastest cars were racing each other, and there was a little slide job here and a little slide job there, said Birkhofer, driver of a Pontiac Grand Prix. I saw them fighting, and I thought, 'they aren't even going to think about me on the top (groove).' I figured if I could get there I was going to win the race. We just kind of fell into it. Hey, I'm happy. We finally got a win, said Birkhofer. I didn't want to get one like this. (At least) those guys (Boley and Miller) finished. It was sweet, though.
Boley, of West Liberty, Iowa, winner of the season-opening O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series race on April 8 in Davenport, Iowa, started outside Birkhofer in the front row but took the immediate lead. He was pursued the first half of the race by Kyle Berck of Marquette, Neb., and Birkhofer, of Muscatine, Iowa. On the 29th circuit, Miller, of Chadwick, Ill., took second, and Birkhofer remained in third.
In the final laps, Miller challenged Boley. They dueled side by side and there was contact, with Miller grabbing the lead at the start-finish line on the 44th circuit. Boley was back in front for the 45th lap with Miller leading laps 46 and 47.
Birkhofer made his move on the 48th lap, taking the lead and winning the race. Boley and Miller followed Birkhofer under the checkers in that order. But NASCAR officials penalized Boley one finishing position for what they said was overly aggressive driving in the final laps of the race.
Fourth and fifth places, respectively, went to Berck and Steve Ihm of Hazel Green, Wis.
Denny Eckrich of Coralville, Iowa, won the Bud Pole Award and, because of the usual invert, started sixth in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 50. But he lost his driveshaft early in the event and had to retire.
Winners of qualifying heats were Brian Harris of Davenport, Iowa; Boley; Denny Eckrich; and Dave Eckrich of Coralville, Iowa. Joe Kosiski of Omaha, Neb., won the consolation race. The drivers the O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series, NASCAR's only dirt track touring series, prepare now for a three-night, three-race Memorial Day weekend swing. They'll be in Denison, Iowa, on Friday, May 25; Corning, Iowa, on Saturday, May 26; and Greenwood, Neb., on Sunday, May 27.
O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series Race Report
First Qualifying Heat:
Second Qualifying Heat:
Third Qualifying Heat:
Fourth Qualifying Heat:
Bud Pole Award:
O'Reilly Auto Parts 50-lap feature:
1. 15b Brian Birkhofer Muscatine
1. 22 Jeff Valentine Dubuque