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Birkhofer Will Try To Continue His Davenport Speedway
Superiority In World of Outlaws Late Model Series Special On Quarter-Mile Oval
Tour Returns To Iowa’s Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds Facility For First Time Since 2004 On Wed., May 9
by: Kevin Kovac
DAVENPORT, IA – May 3, 2007 – Brian Birkhofer knows how to get around
Davenport Speedway’s big half-mile clay oval.
But can he also give his local fans something to cheer about when the action shifts to the facility’s inner quarter-mile track?
That’s the question everyone is asking as the days count down to Wed., May 9, when the World of Outlaws Late Model Series will visit Davenport to contest the biggest race ever run on the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds’ smaller layout.
Birkhofer, a 35-year-old national dirt Late Model star whose Muscatine, Iowa, residence is just a 25-minute drive from Davenport Speedway, has an exemplary record in specials held on the long, fast half-mile. He’s won at least one touring series event at Davenport in each of the last five seasons, including two in 2006 and the track’s only previous WoO LMS race on Aug. 10, 2004.
The quarter-mile oval, however, is a different story for Birkhofer. He has almost no history racing on the Davenport bullring.
“I ran the quarter-mile once back in ’91,” said Birkhofer, who remembers pulling off a win that day. “I’ll be in the same boat as everyone else (on May 9), just trying to figure the place out.”
Indeed, Birky’s recent ‘hometrack’ advantage at Davenport will be mitigated by speedway promoter Bob Wagener’s decision to give fans a rare major dirt Late Model event on the quarter-mile oval, which has long been reserved for weekly racing while special shows ran on the half-mile. The 50-lap WoO LMS A-Main will pay $10,000 to win from a purse of nearly $50,000.
“I’d like to see (the WoO LMS race) on the big track, but you can’t have everything you want,” smiled Birkhofer. “I think it’ll be a good show on the quarter.”
Birkhofer is understandably excited to compete at Davenport, since a large contingent of his family members, friends and fans will turn out to see him race close to home.
The fulltime professional racer will perform in front of the partisan Davenport crowd as an ‘Outlaw,’ if you will. He’ll enter the event ranked 10th in the 2007 point standings of the WoO LMS, a 50-plus-date, 23-state tour that he’s trying to follow this season for the first time in his career using both his own Daufeldt Transport/J&J Steel car and a western Pennsylvania-based machine (for East Coast events) owned by Daugherty Motorsports.
“I want to run good for my fans around home,” said Birkhofer, who owns four career WoO LMS victories. “But that’s just more pressure on you as a racer, because now there’s two things on your mind – running in front of so many people you know, and trying to be competitive against some of the best drivers in the business.”
Birkhofer hopes some home-cooking helps him get his racing “dial” turned in the right direction after a slow start to the 2007 season.
“I’ve been having my share of struggles,” he said. “We’re making progress, but we should be running better than we have been.
“A lot of my problem is that my self-confidence isn’t very high right now. I gotta get back my self-confidence and then I think we’ll be all right.”
There’s obviously no better place for Birky to do that than at Davenport.
Birkhofer will face plenty of competition on May 9 from his fellow WoO LMS standouts, including co-points leaders Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.; Rick Eckert of York, Pa.; Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who won a Hav-A-Tampa/UDTRA Series event on Davenport’s half-mile in 2000; 19-year-old sensation Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.; ’06 WoO LMS points runner-up Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga.; talented tour newcomer Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C.; Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky.; 2006 Rookie of the Year Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va.; ’07 rookie contenders Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., and Adam Hensel of Barron, Wis.; and John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va.
A strong group of regional and local racers are expected to enter the mid-week event, including 2006 Knoxville Late Model Nationals champ Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill.; Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill.; Darren Miller of Milledgeville, Ill.; Jimmy Mars of Menomonee, Wis.; Terry Casey of New London, Wis.; and Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis. Three-time WoO LMS champion Billy Moyer, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, who now lives in Batesville, Ark., also has the race tentatively marked on his schedule.
Pit gates are scheduled to open at 4:30 p.m. and spectator gates will be unlocked at 5 p.m. Hot laps are set for 6 p.m. and qualifying will follow at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets for the program, which also includes a 25-lap feature for the V-8 Modifieds paying $750 to win, are $25 for adults and $10 for children 7-12. Pit passes will be $35.
For more information, visit www.drttrak.com or call 563-652-5302 (promoter Bob Wagener) or 563-326-5338 (race day).
The Davenport event kicks off the five-race, five-state WoO LMS ‘Monster Midwest Tour,’ which will continue on to Charter Raceway Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., on Sat., May 12; Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway on Sun., May 13; Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway on Wed., May 16; and I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich., on Fri., May 18.
More info on the WoO LMS is available by logging on to www.worldofoutlaws.com