latemodelamerica.com - May 13 - 34 Raceway
LateModelAmerica.com by Sam Holbrooks

 
 
Birkhofer VL1 - 34 Raceway Lucas Oil Series winner 
After struggling to find his legs during the early season, Muscatine, Iowa's Brian Birkhofer found his comfort zone at 34 Raceway and scored a popular home state win in Lucas Oil Series action at 34 Raceway Friday. It was his first trophy of the season. (Mike Ruefer) 
 
Lucas Oil Series: Birkhofer Ignites Partisan Crowd With 34 Raceway Win 
 
James Essex
 
BURLINGTON, Ia.  – May 13. With his home state fans on their feet and cheering, Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Ia. ended the four-race win streak of Scott Bloomquist and captured the 50-lap $10,000 to win Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event on Friday at 34 Raceway. Bloomquist rebounded from a poor start to finish second, but was several car lengths behind the winner. 
 Brad Neat - Chris Simpson - John Blankenship
After leading the first lap, a fading Brad Neat is sandwiched by #32 Chris Simpson and #23 John Blankenship, who both put in strong showings of sixth and fifth, respectively. (Mike Ruefer) 
 
Steve Francis - Brian Birkhofer at 34 Raceway Lucas Oil Series
Debuting his news MasterSbilt race car, Steve Francis was able to pace a couple of laps before fourth starting Birkhofer drove his #15 into the lead and claimed his first win of the season at 34 Raceway. (Rick Schwallie)
 
“Man, to win this race in front of my home state crowd is just awesome. I know they had to be cold up there, and to win for Johnny Johnson, he put so much into this place, it’s a great facility, I just can’t say enough for what that man did for me and the sport of late model racing,” said the 39-year-old Birkhofer, who was joined by his sons Cruz and Creed in Victory Lane. 

Brad Neat outgunned fellow Kentuckian Steve Francis to take the lead at the start. Francis, who was debuting a new MasterSbilt Race Car vaulted to the point a lap later. Francis held the top spot for two circuits, when Birkhofer, who had started fourth, eased into the lead. 
 
Jimmy Owens - Scott Bloomquist - 34 Raceway Lucas Oil Late Model Series
Scott Bloomquist races outside of #20 Jimmy Owens before advancing to second, one position shy of achieving a stunning five-race win streak on the Lucas tour. (Mike Ruefer)

Ray Cook doing some tire prep before the main event at 34 Raceway. (Rick Schwallie)
Birkhofer’s stay at the top of the scoring pylon was short-lived as Francis blasted back by to regain the lead on lap seven. The first of two caution flags came out for Billy Moyer, who spun in turn two. The second came out for Tyler Reddick on the backstretch on lap 23. 

After the caution for Moyer, Francis looked solid as he built a seven-to-eight car length advantage over Birkhofer with 15 laps scored. Birkhofer made up quite a bit of ground in a short period of time, cutting Francis’ lead to a car length by lap 21, a lap later he was around Francis to take the lead for good.    
 
Birkhofer then pulled out to a straightaway lead over Francis with 20 laps remaining and a few laps later he had picked up the tail end of the field to begin lapping cars for the first time in the race. Bloomquist powered by Francis in the top groove on lap 34, but by then Birkhofer was well out in front. Bloomquist cut the lead down as the two took the white flag, but Birkhofer held a several car lengths lead at the finish.
  Ray Cook - Don O'Neal - 34 Raceway Lucas Oil Late Model Series
Don O'Neal struggled to a mid-pack finish at 34 Raceway, while #53 Ray Cook made an early exit. (Rick Schwallie)

“Thanks to all my sponsors, we had a great car tonight. Anytime you beat that Zero car you’ve done something. I have so much respect for him. I didn’t know if I could catch Francis there for a while, but our car came into it. I am down on crew help here lately, but thanks to everyone who pitched in tonight.". 

It was Birkhofer’s 12th career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory came aboard his J&J Steel, Zens Flooring, ASi Racewear, VP Fuels, Pro Power Engines, MB Customs Chevrolet.
 
Mike Marlar - Eric Wells - Jeep Van Wormer
Michigan's Jeep Van Wormer joined the Lucas Oil troops at 34 Raceway. Van Wormer races a non-finishing Eric Wells (#18) and #36 Mike Marlar, who advanced to ninth place. (Mike Ruefer) 
 
May 13 - Lucas Oil Series - 34 Raceway
1) Brian Birkhofer, 2) Scott Bloomquist, 3) Steve Francis, 4) Jimmy Owens, 5) John Blankenship, 6) Chris Simpson, 7) Shannon Babb, 8) Brad Neat, 9) Mike Marlar, 10) Scott James, 11) Bub McCool, 12) Jason Feger, 14) Chris Wall (prov.), 15) Dennis Erb, Jr. (prov.), 16) Don O'Neal, 17) Jared Landers, 17) Jeep Van Wormer, 18) Dale McDowell, 19) Earl Pearson, Jr., 20) Darren Miller, 21) Ray Cook, 22) Chad Simpson, 23) Eric Wells, 24) Tyler Reddick (prov.), 25) Frank Heckenast, Jr., 26) Billy Moyer

Fast Time (37 entries): Francis (14.954 seconds); Heat winners: Francis, Bloomquist, Neat, Birkhofer. B-main winners: McDowell, Landers.

Mike Ruefer photo

 

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