Cornbelt Clash: Birkhofer Sweep Opens "USA Nationals" at Cedar
by Ryan Clark
NEW RICHMOND, Wis. - Aug. 4. It's probably safe to say that Brian Birkhofer is ready for this weekend's
"USA Nationals" at Cedar Lake Speedway. As a tune-up for the $50,000-to-win show, Birkhofer swept his heat, fast
dash and the feature when the Dart Corn Belt Clash Late Model Series presented by Cen-Pe-Co Lubricants opened the
24th annual event.
Brian Birkhofer fired the first shot with a flag to flag win as the Cornbelt Clash
tour kicked off the USA Nationals weekend at Cedar Lake Speedway Thursday. (K.C.
After drawing the front row of the first heat, Birkhofer took the win to earn the pole position start in the
10-lap Fast Dash. He won that event, then drew a "2" at the scales to invert the first two finishers at the front
of the feature starting lineup. He started outside of Jimmy Mars in the $5,000-to-win 50-lapper.
Running the high side, Birkhofer made his way to the lead at the drop of the green with Mars in pursuit. Second
row starter Clint Smith ran third and Rick Eckert, who started inside of the third row, settled into fourth.
Contact between Billy Moyer and Vic Coffey slowed the action on lap seven, which allowed Eckert to restart on
the outside of Mars. When racing resumed, Eckert worked the high side around Mars to take second until Moyer came
to a stop on the back straightaway for the second and final caution on lap 10.
Birkhofer again took charge when the green flag waved as Mars made his way back under Eckert for second. Smith
continued in the fourth spot as Chris Simpson worked into the top five from his fourth row start.
The leader encountered backmarkers on the 19th circuit and then heavier lapped traffic just shy of the midway
point. Although this allowed Mars to keep Birkhofer in his sights, Birkhofer maintained a comfortable margin to
lead the event in its entirety to take his first career Corn Belt Clash win.
Mars ran second ahead of Eckert, Smith and Simpson. Series points leader Chad Simpson, who started in the fifth
row, made a late run to close on the leaders, but settled for sixth. He and Pat Doar, who finished seventh, ran
side-by-side throughout much of the feature until Simpson broke free late. Josh Richards made a nice run from an
18th place start to finish eighth. A.J. Diemel and Jared Landers, who started 20th, completed the top 10.
Aug. 4 - Cornbelt Clash at Cedar Lake Speedway
1) Brian Birkhofer, 2) Jimmy Mars, 3) Rick Eckert, 4) Clint Smith, 5)
Chris Simpson, 6) Chad Simpson, 7) Pat Doar, 8) Josh Richards, 9) A.J. Diemel, 10) Jared Landers, 11)
Tim McCreadie, 12) Brady Smith, 13) Tim Isenberg, 14) Brian Shirley, 15) Jason Rauen, 16) Ronny Lee
Hollingsworth, 17) Chub Frank, 19) Vic Coffey, 19) Jason Utter, 20) Andrew McKay, 21) Ray Moore, 22)
Jill George (prov.), 23) Dustin Hapka (prov.), 24) Mike Spatola, 25) Billy Moyer, 26) Steve
Heat winners (45 cars): Birkhofer; Utter; Doar; McCreadie; Smith; B-Feature winners:
|Mike Ruefer photo