For the second time in three years, Brian Birkhofer was the winner of the SuperClean Diamond Nationals on Saturday Night at Lucas Oil Speedway. Birkhofer took the lead on the fifth lap and never looked back in taking the $30,000 first place prize money. The event was co-sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and O’Reilly MLRA Late Model Series. Dale McDowell, who went to a backup car and started 29th, managed to finish second followed by 27th starting Billy Moyer finishing third. Jimmy Mars who started 12th finished fourth and Steve Casebolt crossed the line in fifth place.
Defending race winner Shannon Babb and David Breazeale started on the front row of the 75-lap event with Babb taking the lead on the opening lap. The race began with two green flag laps until a multi-car wreck in turn four eliminated Terry Casey and James Ward who were among the victims as their nights came to an end with only two laps in the books.
On the restart Babb held the top spot with Birkhofer running in second after he had started in third. Brad Neat and Breazeale would go two-wide for third with Casebolt running fifth. Birkhofer then challenged Babb for the lead, overhauling him on lap five to take away the top spot. The two crossed the start-finish line side-by-side for lap six with Birkhofer officially scored the race leader.
Neat then made a move coming off of turn two on Babb, but the two made contact with Babb suffering left front suspension damage. He also brushed the backstretch wall as Babb lost several spots in the running order.
Babb brought out the second caution of race as he stopped on the track with eight laps in the books. On the restart, Birkhofer lead the field to the green with Neat in second followed by Earl Pearson Jr., Casebolt, and Wendell Wallace who made his first appearance in the top five.
Birkhofer was now setting a blistering pace as he started to pick up the tail end of the field by lap 12; starting to put lapped cars between himself and Neat. Will Vaught moved into the top five, dislodging Wallace from the fifth spot.
Birkhofer continued to build his lead in traffic over Neat and Pearson. By the 20th circuit he had several lapped cars as a cushion from Pearson who was starting to give Neat a battle for second. With 25 laps scored, it was still Birkhofer holding a good size lead over Neat, Pearson, Casebolt and Vaught.
The top five remained the same until Mars closed the gap on the frontrunners, nabbing the fifth spot by lap 29 just as caution came out for a stopped Wallace in turn number four. On the Delaware double-file restart, Birkhofer held the lead with Pearson and Neat racing side-by-side for two laps with; Neat finally relinquishing the second position to Pearson.
Birkhofer built a huge lead on the restart, opening up a several-car-length lead as the cars neared the half-way mark of the event. A four-car battle ensued for second between Pearson, Neat, Casebolt, and Mars. Mars moved by Casebolt to take fourth as he was on the move a lap later passing Neat for third.
With 30 laps to go, Birkhofer was on cruise control dominating the race as he built what appeared to be an insurmountable lead over the field. With 51 laps complete Scott James, who was the last car on the lead lap suffered a flat tire bringing out caution number four. The action was short this time; with only two more green flag laps before the fifth and final caution for Will Vaught, who did a 360 in the middle of the backstretch after receiving contact from another car, ending his night.
On the final restart, Birkhofer made quick work of the final 17 laps as he quickly established a significant lead over Mars who took the second spot on the restart with Casebolt, McDowell and Moyer in the hunt for a top five finish.
Both McDowell and Moyer had gone to backup cars for the race and towards the end they were hoping for a caution so they could have had a chance at Birkhofer. Mars held onto second place until McDowell overtook him with less than five laps remaining in the race. Moyer then took his turn, passing Mars for the third position a lap later.
Birkhofer then went on to pick-up his second SuperClean Diamond Nationals in three years as he went on for a convincing win becoming the ninth different Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series winner in eleven races this season.
In the Sunoco Race Fuels Road to Wheatland Victory Lane, Birkhofer was in victory for the third time in his career at Lucas Oil Speedway backing up his Diamond Nationals win in 2007. “I don’t know what is about this place, but we’ve won a lot of money here, I want to thank Forrest Lucas, all the Lucas Oil officials and everyone involved here, it’s great place to race and I’m just tickled to death to win this race again,” said the 37-year old as the fans gathered in victory lane.
“Hats off to the track crew, after the rain yesterday they did a good job, there was a soft spot in one, they tried their best to work on it and it turned out to be a good race, the MB Custom Chassis and the Pro Power Engine is just performing flawlessly right now, we are looking forward to having a really good year.”
1 (3) 15B Brian Birkhofer
2 (19) 17m Dale McDowell
3 (27) 21 Billy Moyer
4 (12) 28m Jimmy Mars
5 (4) c9 Steve Casebolt
6 (10) 44 Earl Pearson, Jr.
7 (25) 0 Scott Bloomquist
8 (29) 83 Scott James
9 (22) 3s Brian Shirley
10 (5) 41N Brad Neat
11 (13) 23 John Blankenship
12 (18) 20 Jimmy Owens
13 (20) 75 Bart Hartman
14 (11) 81c Kevin Cole
15 (17) 5 Eric Jacobsen
16 (16) 00 Freddy Smith
17 (28) 99T Eric Turner
18 (14) 53 Ray Cook
19 (21) 93 Ray Moore
20 (2) 54 David Breazeale
21 (7) 1v Will Vaught
22 (24) 22 Alan Vaughn
23 (9) 7 Matt Miller
24 (8) 88 Wendell Wallace
25 (23) 55c Chad Mahder
26 (26) 33 Al Purkey
27 (1) 18 Shannon Babb
28 (15) w3 James Ward
29 (6) 42T Terry Casey