BIRKHOFER EARNS $50,000 IN 42ND ANNUAL WORLD 100 WIN
Exciting Victory Marks Globe #2 As He Holds Off Bloomquist One More Time
ROSSBURG, OH (Sept. 8) — Brian Birkhofer can get used to punching the clock at these rates.
The Muscatine, Iowa driver successfully held off Scott Bloomquist on three restarts during the final nine laps to capture Saturday’s 42nd annual World 100 and $50,000 at Eldora Speedway. And he got the job done in 58.31 seconds to make for a healthy hourly wage.
It was Birkhofer’s second World 100 championship; having also captured the 2002 version of the most celebrated event annually for dirt Late Models..
Birkhofer had inherited the lead on lap 35 when race leader Don O’Neal suddenly darted into the pit area with mechanical issues. O’Neal’s big for glory was a short one, as he had just wrestled the lead from pole sitter Chad Simpson a lap earlier. After starting 8th on the grid, Birkhofer was on a mission and quickly established a nearly insurmountable lead. But Bloomquist gave it a shot, with some help via the yellow flags.
The cautions erased Birkhofer’s lead, which he had stretched to nearly half a lap with 24-laps remaining. Bloomquist started reeling the leader in and was making noticeable gains with 15 circuits to go. Then the cautions came for multiple minor incidents. Birkhofer held off the field with restarts with nine laps to go and a pair of back-to-back cautions with seven laps remaining.
“Side-by-side restarts throw a wrinkle in it,” Birkhofer said of having to hold off Bloomquist, a three-time World 100 winner. “Usually the leader kind of gets his spot. Here you have to kind of dictate … make one mistake and he’s beside you and takes the lead. The crowd is walking away hopefully thinking they saw an awesome race and the place will be packed again next year. That’s all that matters.”
The win was reminiscent of Birkhofer’s victory in 2002, when he passed Bloomquist in the final turn for the victory. For Bloomquist, it was his eighth runner-up finish in the classic event.
Unlike many of the fans that flocked into Eldora for one of the largest crowds in the history of the World 100, Birkhofer nearly skipped this one. He felt that he needed to get a little better as a driver at Eldora before tackling another major race on the famed .500-mile clay oval.
“When Earl (Baltes) had the track it’d get slow to 18-19 seconds. It was kinda slow and real finesse,” Birkhofer said. “Now it’s get your elbows up (and get on the wheel). It’s just a different style of racing. With me growing up in Iowa, I had to do a lot of finesse ‘cause the places got slick and they’re flat. I guess this will bring me back a couple more years.”
Bloomquist, Brad Neat (from 23rd), Darrell Lanigan and Jason Feger finished among the top five. Steve Francis, Brandon Sheppard (from 30th), Eddie Carrier Jr., Shannon Babb and Michael Chilton rounded out the top 10.
“Man, I don’t know,” Neat said about being able to catch either Birkhofer or Bloomquist. “Birkhofer was pretty dang good there at the end. Scott was good, too. It was a privilege to be able to run with those guys. I don’t know, I’m just glad to run where we were … if we’d had a shot, I don’t think so. Those guys are pretty good.” Neat had turned in one of the most impressive drives of the day that was made even longer following Friday’s washout. The Dunnville, KY driver had to use a qualifying feature to lock in a spot in the heat race. His finishing position in that race lined him up in a B-Feature; with that race producing a spot in the coveted World 100.
The win — Birkhofer’s sixth this season – meant as much as that victory in 2002.
“I almost had a tear in my eye when I pulled up (to celebrate),” he said. “The race track is different than it was 10 years ago. It’s definitely faster. I’ve had to kind of bring my level up. … How I used to approach this place, I would wait for 20 laps to go. Now you hustle the whole time. It’s all about racing hard.”
Simpson and Tyler Reddick, the youngest driver to qualify for the feature at 16-years-old, started on the front row as a pair of first-time participants. Reddick led the first couple laps before Simpson took the lead. Simpson eventually finished 17th and Reddick 24th. There were seven first-time drivers qualifiers advancing through the 123 entrants into the World 100; Simpson, Reddick, Chilton, J.R. Hotovy, Billy Moyer Jr., Ryan Unzicker and Andrew Reaume. Reaume was also the first Canadian to qualify.
Eldora Speedway returns to action with the 31st Four Crown Nationals on Sept. 21-22. The World of OutlawsSprints and UMP Modifieds run Friday night with USAC taking center stage Saturday with their Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown divisions. Tickets for the Four Crown, the UMP DIRTcar National Championships for Late Models and Modifieds (Oct. 5 & 6) and other remaining events are available through the speedway box office (937) 338-3815 or online 24 hours a day at www.eldoraspeedway.com. Fans can also like Eldora Speedway at Facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway and follow on Twitter: @EldoraSpeedway.