KNOXVILLE RACEWAY - Knoxville, Iowa - October 14, 2004 Stacker2 Xtreme DirtCar National Finals Knoxville, Iowa - October 14 - Darren Miller of Chadwick, Illinois won the Thursday night preliminary feature event of the inaugural Stacker2 Xtreme...
KNOXVILLE RACEWAY - Knoxville, Iowa - October 14, 2004
Stacker2 Xtreme DirtCar National Finals
Knoxville, Iowa - October 14 - Darren Miller of Chadwick, Illinois won the Thursday night preliminary feature event of the inaugural Stacker2 Xtreme DirtCar Nationals at Knoxville Raceway Thursday night. Miller, a regular on the Xtreme National Tour led all thirty laps of the event.
For Miller, the win did not come easily as he had company throughout the fifteen-mile race on this historic half-mile dirt oval. He took the immediate lead at the drop of the green flag but was pressed right off the bat by Brian Birkhofer, a fellow Xtreme National competitor from Muscatine, Iowa and a fellow front row starter of this event. Birkhofer jumped the cushion in turn four on the initial lap allowing Miller to take lap one.
This early portion of the race saw Birkhofer with his hands full as Earl Pearson, Jr. of Jacksonville, Florida challenged him for the runner-up spot lap after lap. Pearson, the newly crowned series champ seemed to put the nose of his car under Birkhofer on every turn. That hotly contested battle allowed Miller to briefly pull away from those two.
Lap four saw the first of four caution flags as Jeep Van Wormer, a Pineconning, Michigan Xtremer, strike the fence between turns three and four after jumping the cushion. He did not restart.
On the restart, Miller again took command but Pearson, who had been third, fell to fifth and had to begin to work his way back to the front. This again allowed Miller to slowly march away from his nearest competitor, Birkhofer. By lap ten he had managed a near-fifteen car length advantage.
As Miller enjoyed some breathing room, Pearson had again worked his way to third and again proceeded to give Birkhofer fits. The runner-up spot exchanged hands on lap nine as that tour of the track fell to Pearson. Lap ten went to Birkhofer.
The yellow flag came out on the next circuit as Chris Spieker stopped up against the Knoxville tall fence near the pit gate in turn four. He did not restart.
When the race resumed, Miller again was in command. Pearson put on a driving exhibition as he rode the low route around the Knoxville oval with this strategy paying off on lap twelve when he finally took the runner-up spot for good at this juncture of the race. Birkhofer stayed close though as he tried without success to regain that coveted spot.
With Pearson on the bottom and Miller about half way up on the track riding the cushion, an exciting fight broke out for the lead. Miller was never able to pull away nor was Pearson able to put any distance between himself and Birkhofer. Those three drivers roared around the track with each man hell bent to take the checkered flag first.
Just as Miller was heading into lap traffic at the ten-mile mark, the caution flag flew for Brian Harris who was stalled on the track and slowing the field.
The resumption of the race saw Pearson give Miller his greatest fight of the night. On the lap 21 restart Pearson actually took the lead through turns one and two with his low line on the track. Miller, who seemed to have the engine to come off the turns with amazing force all night, again grabbed the top spot as they ran down the back chute. It seemed that Pearson was not about to allow Miller to get away this time.
While the top two fought it out for the lead, it was Burkhofer who had a battle on his hands as a poor restart saw him drop to about mid-pack. After running so strongly for most of the race he had now fallen out of contention. Lap twenty-five found the hapless Burkhofer stopped on the track, bringing out the final yellow of the night. It was apparent when he came into the work area that he was concerned about his tires, as if sheet metal had created a problem.
On the final restart, Miller who had taken the high line on previous restarts, dove low in turn four and succeeded in cutting off Pearson who had decided that line was his. The two came together momentarily which allowed Matt Miller of Arlington, Ohio to grab the runner-up position. With just six laps to go, it was like a trophy dash run to the finish.
Darren Miller again resumed the lead with Matt Miller in tow. Pearson followed in third while Ray Cook of Brasstown, North Carolina trailed in fourth.
And that's the way it would finish as D. Miller stormed across the finish line to take the $6,000 winner's check. Second through fourth remained the same as Denny Eckrich of Tiffin, Iowa grabbed fifth. Rounding out the top ten finishers were Justin Allgaier (Springfield, Illinois), Dennis Erb, Jr. (Carpentersville, Illinois), Scott James (Lawrenceburg, Indiana), Mike Johnson (Clovis, California) and Lance Matthees (Winona, Minnesota). Johnson came from the final row of the 24-car field after transferring out of the B Main.
98 cars from twenty-two states and one province of Canada went through qualifying time trials. Fourteen drivers broke the existing one-lap track record with Earl Pearson, Jr. dropping the mark to 18.401.
First Heat, 10 laps, No Time: 1. Jeep Van Wormer; 2. Earl Pearson, Jr.; 3. Delbert Smith; 4. Ed Nelson; 5. Larry Clawson; 6. Scott James; 7. Mike Johnson; 8. D.J. Troutman; 9. Bill Stettner; 10. Randall Chupp.
Second Heat, 10 laps, No Time: 1. Brian Harris; 2. Brenton Slocum; 3. Brian Birkhofer; 4. John Anderson; 5. Matt Taylor; 6. Jayme Zidar; 7. Rich Hanestad; 8. Darren Miller; 9. David Newquist; 10. Jason Wines.
Third Heat, 10 laps, No Time: 1. Denny Eckrich; 2. Dennis Erb; 3. Justin Allgaier; 4. Russ Scheffler; 5. Johnny Johnson; 6. Sonny Conley; 7. Rob Mayea; 8. Casey Vitale; 9. Gene Day; 10. Tom Darbyshire.
Fourth Heat, 10 laps, 3:26.5: 1. Dustin Mooneyham; 2. Tommy Elston; 3. Greg Johnson; 4. Ray Cook; 5. Darin Meierotto; 6. Mark Voight; 7. Eric Jacobsen; 8. Eddie Carrier, Jr.; 9. Gary Webb; 10. Jason Utter.
Fifth Heat, 10 laps, 3:24.9: 1. Matt Miller; 2. Billy Drake; 3. Bill Cunningham; 4. Chris Smyser; 5. Lance Matthees; 6. Chris Spieker; 7. Reid Millard; 8. Darrel DeFrance; 9. David Smith.
YJ Stinger Dash, 6 laps, No Time: 1. Darren Miller; 2. Brian Birkhofer; 3. Matt Miller; 4. Earl Pearson, Jr.; 5. Ray Cook; 6. Denny Eckrich.
C Main, 8 laps, 2:36.5: 1. Eddie Carrier, Jr.; 2. Chris Smyser; 3. Boone McLaughlin; 4. Dustin Mooneyham; 5. Sonny Conley; 6. Bill Stettner.
B Main, 15 laps, No Time: 1. Brian Harris; 2. Matt Taylor; 3. Mike Johnson; 4. Eddie Carrier, Jr.; 5. Tommy Elston; 6. Jason Utter; 7. Randall Chupp; 8. Gary Webb; 9. Delbert Smith; 10. Eric Jacobsen; 11. Chris Smyser; 12. Rich Hanestad; 13. Dustin Mooneyham; 14. Reid Millard; 15. David Smith; 16. Brenton Slocum; 17. Darin Meierotto; 18. Darrel DeFrance; 19. Rob Mayea; 20. Johnny Johnson; 21. Ed Nelson; 22. Russ Scheffler; 23. Bill Cunningham; 24. Gene Day did not start.
A Main, 30 laps No Time: 1. Darren Miller; 2. Matt Miller; 3. Earl Pearson, Jr.; 4. Ray Cook; 5. Denny Eckrich; 6. Justin Allgaier; 7. Dennis Erb; 8. Scott James; 9. Mike Johnson; 10. Lance Matthees; 11. Mark Voigt; 12. Eddie Carrier, Jr.; 13. Brian Birkhofer; 14. Matt Taylor; 15. John Anderson; 16. Jayme Zidar; 17. Greg Johnson; 18. Larry Clawson; 19. Tom Darbyshire; 20. Brian Harris; 21. Billy Drake; 22. D.J. Troutman; 23. Chris Spieker; 24. Jeep Van Wormer. Lap Leaders: D. Miller 1-30