WEST LIBERTY, Iowa (Oct. 14, 2000) Steve Boley captured the final O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series, NASCAR Touring race of the 2000 season Saturday night at West Liberty Raceway, and with it clinched his first title in NASCAR's only dirt track...
WEST LIBERTY, Iowa (Oct. 14, 2000) Steve Boley captured the final O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series, NASCAR Touring race of the 2000 season Saturday night at West Liberty Raceway, and with it clinched his first title in NASCAR's only dirt track touring division.
Boley, driver of the Ron Alpen Ford, won the rescheduled Liberty 100 presented by Heuer Construction on the half-mile West Liberty oval, which is located in his hometown. By just starting in the Liberty 100, Boley garnered enough points to win his first O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series championship.
Had Boley finished 26th - dead last - in the race, he still would have ended up with 2,967. That would have beaten the 2,939 points Joe Kosiski, who trailed Boley in points going into the race, would have ended up with had he won the event.
But a win was not in the cards for Kosiski, of Omaha, Neb. He had a difficult night and finished 23rd. And Boley wasn't content just to start the race to win the crown. He was on hand to compete, and that's just what he did. Boley moved steadily forward from his ninth-place starting position to win his 10th O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series race this season.
"Just winning the points championship in this O'Reilly Series is one heck of an accomplishment," said Boley. "But who would have thought of 10 wins? That's unheard of."
No other O'Reilly driver has captured 10 events in a single season in the series that began in 1985. Steve Kosiski of Papillion, Neb., came closest to that mark when he won nine of 18 races held in 1992.
Denny Eckrich of Coralville, Iowa, won the Bud Pole Award and paced the feature for the green flag, with Joe Kosiski sitting beside him in the first row. Eckrich then led the first 20 laps before Gary Webb of Blue Grass, Iowa, who started third, got by and led laps 21-34. Boley grabbed the lead on the 35th circuit and held on through lap 79, when Eckrich mounted a strong final challenge.
Eckrich led laps 80 and 81 by a slim margin before Boley got back around and paced laps 82-100. Following Boley, in order, under the checkers were Eckrich; defending series champion Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill.; Webb; and Rick Wendling of Hazleton, Iowa.
Boley thanked his parents, friends, crew and sponsors in Victory Lane after the race.
"We came here to finish our business, and thank God we did," he said. "My car would come and go early in the race. Then I think it started locking up a little bit on the high side, so that helped, and I'm just glad for tonight - it's great!"
Boley also spoke of Eckrich's strong run to regain the lead in the final laps.
"Denny had a heck of a car, and he came on strong," Boley said. "But the lapped cars kind of helped me, and I got my second wind."
Winners of qualifying heats on Friday were Eckrich; Steve Johnson of Camanche, Iowa; Guss and Steve Kosiski.
O'Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series drivers will be honored for their accomplishments at a Sunday, Dec. 3, awards banquet at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Trailing Boley and Joe Kosiski in the point standings unofficially are Webb, 2,715; Steve Kosiski, 2,352; Dave Eckrich, 2,336; Guss Jr., 2,292; Bob Dominacki, 2,180; Ed Kosiski, 2,110; Steve Ihm, 2,052; and John Hampel, 2,044.
The Muscatine County Fair Board promoted the West Liberty 100-lapper, which took place on the final night of two nights of racing at the track. Former employees of Frieden Inc. joined O'Reilly officials in directing the events. Forty-two drivers signed in. The race, which was originally set for Sept. 22 and 23, was rescheduled after being postponed by inclement weather.