Brian Birkhofer at Tri-City Speedway. (R.J.
Lucas Oil Series: Birkhofer
Bags Battle at the Beach
PONTOON BEACH, Ill. – Juky 15. Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa took the lead on lap
eight and went on to capture the Inaugural “Battle at the Beach” on Friday. Series champion Scott
Bloomquist also saw his three-race win streak end with a second place showing ahead of tenth starting Billy
Don O’Neal grabbed the lead at the start of the race and led the first seven circuits before Birkhofer
took over the point. For most of the early action in the main event, there were four cars battling for the
lead. Bloomquist moved into the runner-up spot on lap 12. The only caution of the race flew three laps
later for Dale McDowell.
Scott Bloomquist was able to run down second, but couldn't run down a fast Birkhofer
in late-race traffic. (R.J. Brown)
On the restart, Birkhofer maintained his lead as Shirley moved into the second spot around Bloomquist, by
using the high side of the race track. Birkhofer started to pick-up the tail of the field by lap 25,
allowing both Shirley and Bloomquist to cut into his lead. Bloomquist maneuvered by Shirley in the battle for
second, regaining the spot on lap 26. The top three then pulled away from the rest of the pack and with 40
laps down were ahead of the tight race for fourth between Owens and Moyer.
As the race wore on, Birkhofer continued to show a good-sized advantage over Bloomquist, who had finally
shed Shirley with 40 to go. For most of the race, Birkhofer had to contend with heavy
traffic. Bloomquist finally began to close the gap with ten laps to go. Birkhofer was able to clear a
couple of cars that were battling in front of him and distanced himself from Bloomquist as he went on to
capture his 13th career LOLMDS victory.
Birkhofer with promoters Tammy and Kevin Gundaker at Tri-City Speedway. (R.J.
In Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the second time this season, the 39-year-old Birkhofer was
complementary to several people. “It’s been a tough year in some aspects for us, we haven’t run all that much,
we were here a few weeks ago and the wheel came off before the start of the race, we’ve tried to patch together
a crew here lately, and I have Brian Daugherty of Integra Shocks here tonight helping. It feels good to win
here at Kevin’s (Gundaker) track, to beat Scott and Billy, I mean what can you say about either of them that
hasn’t already been said?”
“O’Neal started off real strong, we ran side-by-side there for a while, until I was finally able to clear
him. The traffic was difficult, especially there at the end when it got slick. My car wasn’t getting
through the turns like I wanted, but we had enough of a distance apparently there at the end to get the win,”
With his second place finish, Bloomquist in his Hawkeye Trucking, Roush-Yates, Bloomquist Race Cars Ford
took over the series points from Owens by 20 points.
July 15th - “Battle at the Beach 100” at
1) Brian Birkhofer,
2) Scott Bloomquist, 3) Billy Moyer, 4) Brian Shirley, 5) Jimmy Owens, 6) Don O'Neal, 7) Steve
Francis, 8) Tyler Reddick, 9) Randy Korte, 10) Earl Pearson, Jr., 11) John Blankenship, 12) Chris
Simpson, 13) Eric Wells, 14) Bub McCool, 15) Dale McDowell, 16) Brad Neat (prov.), 17) Ray Cook,
18) Frank Heckenast, Jr. (prov.), 19) Chad Zobrist, 20) Dewayne Kiefer (prov.), 21) Jared Landers,
22) Tim Isenberg, 23) Jason Feger, 24) Wendell Wallace (prov.), 25) Billy Laycock (prov.), 26)
Steve Casebolt, 27) Rodney Melvin
Fast Time (37 entries): Bloomquist (16.132); Heat
winners: Bloomquist, Birkhofer, O'Neal, Pearson; B-main winners: Cook, Melvin
Jeff Bylsma photo