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World of Outlaws Late Model Series Event Preview: ‘Illini 100’ (Read 3818 times)
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World of Outlaws Late Model Series Event Preview: ‘Illini 100’
04/04/13 at 2:28pm
 
Contact: Kevin Kovac
World of Outlaws Late Model Series PR Director
kkovac@dirtcar.com
________________________________________

Practice Night Kicks Off Chase For $20,000 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Illini 100 Prize At Farmer City Raceway
Perennial Illini 100 Contenders Babb, Birkhofer & Richards Among Drivers On Hand To Search For Speed



FARMER CITY, IL – April 4, 2013 – The chase for the $20,000 Illini 100 champion’s prize began on Thursday night at Farmer City Raceway.

A total of 29 dirt Late Model drivers participated in an open practice session to kick off the blockbuster World of Outlaws Late Model Series weekend, which features Ohlins Shocks Time Trials and heat races on Friday night (April 5) and Last Chance Showdowns and the 100-lap A-Main on Saturday evening (April 6).

Among Thursday night’s hot-lappers were all three former winners of the Illini 100 – Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark. (2008, ‘10), Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga. (’09) and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis. (’12) – and more than two dozen other racers hoping to join them on the event’s victory list.

The group of drivers aspiring to Illini 100 glory included Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, and two-time WoO LMS titlist Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., three perennial event contenders who possess the best career performance records in the Land of Lincoln’s richest dirt Late Model race.

No entrant in this weekend’s action craves a triumph in the Illini 100 more than Babb, a two-time race runner-up and the only driver to finish among the top five in all four editions of the event. He was nipped at the finish line in heartbreaking fashion by Moyer in 2008 and ’10 and placed fifth in ’09 and third in ’12.

Babb, 39, admitted after his practice laps around the quarter-mile oval that he has plenty of room for improvement, but he was certainly upbeat about the weekend to come.

“It feels good to get back here and race,” said Babb, who spent his formative years in the dirt Late Model division competition regularly at Farmer City. “This is a racetrack I could race at every night of the week. I love this place, so it would be a blast to be the first driver from Illinois to win this race.

“We’ll have some work to do tomorrow,” he continued. “Tonight was some of the first laps the track’s had on it all year and it was pretty brutal, pretty hard to hold on to. I don’t think it’ll be like this tomorrow, so instead of changing a bunch of stuff and chasing it all night, I think we’ll wait till they work on the track again and we’ll work on our car too.”

Birkhofer, 41, is just one stroke of misfortune – his run-in with a turn-four rut that knocked him from the lead midway through the inaugural Illini 100 in ’08 – from owning four career top-five finishes and perhaps even a victory. Aside from his 20th-place finish in ’08, he’s run second (’09), fourth (’10) and fifth (’12).
The well-known Hawkeye State star didn’t end Thursday night’s practice session with a warm, fuzzy feeling about his chances for breaking into Victory Lane, however.

“Right now, I couldn’t be any further from trying to win this one,” conceded Birkhofer. “What we do nowadays, our car’s not really keen on these (rough) conditions (which prevailed on Thursday). We gotta step back a little and make some changes.

“Hopefully they’ll make the track a little better tomorrow – which I think they will because, I mean, there was snow on the ground here a week ago, so it’s gonna take a little bit to get slickened off – and we’ll make our car a little better too.”

The 25-year-old Richards, meanwhile, noted that Thursday’s hot laps were run on a quarter-mile oval that was “pretty intense” but pronounced his evening a success.

“We tried some things, and the longer the night went, the better we got,” said Richards, who enters this weekend’s program leading the WoO LMS points standings. “We’re not exactly where we wanna be, but we had a positive test. We learned a lot and now I feel better starting tomorrow versus if we didn’t have practice tonight.”

With Illini 100 finishes of third (’09), sixth (’08 and ’12) and 10th (’10), Richards joins Babb as the only drivers with top-10 finishes in all four events. But he wants a win on his resume.

“We’ve always run well here, but we haven’t been able to capitalize on anything in the feature to get a win,” said Richards. “This has always been a fun racetrack for me, but it’s also one that always eluded me. Hopefully we can finally get our car right and get a win here.”

The Illini 100 weekend also includes a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win UMP Modified show (heat races on Friday, B-Mains and A-Main on Saturday) and competition for Farmer City’s weekly support classes. The DIRTcar UMP Street Stocks and Hornets will run complete programs on Friday, and the Street Stocks will return on Saturday to battle in another regular racing card.

Pit gates are scheduled to open at 12 noon and the spectator gates at 1 p.m. on Friday with hot laps set to start at 6:30 p.m. and qualifying to immediately follow. Both the pit and spectator gates will be unlocked at 12 noon on Saturday with hot laps starting at 5 p.m.
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Shirley Begins ’13 Quest For Big-Money Victory This Weekend
Reply #1 - 04/04/13 at 2:56pm
 
Contact: Kevin Kovac
World of Outlaws Late Model Series PR Director
kkovac@dirtcar.com
________________________________________

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Event Preview: ‘Illini 100’ This Weekend At Farmer City Raceway
National Tour Roars Back Into Action With Fifth Running Of $20,000-To-Win Spectacular At Tough Quarter-Mile Oval

FARMER CITY, IL – April 3, 2013 – If there’s one thing fans can expect from the fifth running of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Illini 100 this weekend (April 5-6) at Farmer City Raceway, it’s a close, down-to-the-wire finish.

That’s the history of the $20,000-to-win event, which has annually thrilled fans with races for the win that have remained in doubt until the final lap around the high-banked, quarter-mile clay oval.
Consider the endings of the past four Illini 100 spectaculars:

* Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., captured the inaugural Illini 100 in 2008 after nosing out Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., for the lead coming to the white flag and then beating his protégé to the finish line by less than a half car length. The wild race featured eight lead changes among five drivers and boasts the shortest margin of victory in the event’s short existence.

* Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., dogged Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, relentlessly in 2009 before finally surging into the lead with just six laps remaining, propelling him to a dramatic triumph. The Southerner remains the only WoO LMS regular to win the Illini 100.

* It was Moyer vs. Babb Part II in 2010, when Moyer outdueled Babb to become the first two-time winner of the Illini 100. Moyer assumed command on lap 72 when Babb slipped high and never looked back, repelling Babb’s late-race bids to win by just a slightly larger margin than two years earlier.

* After the 2011 edition of the race – scheduled to be held at LaSalle Speedway – was canceled due to poor weather, the Illini 100 returned to Farmer City last year and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., emerged triumphant. He held off the furious challenges of Union, Ky.’s Darrell Lanigan, who crossed the finish line a mere 0.308 of a second behind Mars.

EYE ON THE PRIZE: No driver craves victory in the Illini 100 more than the 39-year-old Babb, a local product who has come agonizingly close to capturing his home state’s namesake race.

Babb, who has turned countless laps on the Farmer City bullring during his distinguished career, stands as the only racer with a top-five finish in all four of the 100-lappers. In addition to his pair of runner-up finishes to Moyer in 2008 and ’10, he placed fifth in ’09 and was third last year.

Babb’s burning desire to win the Illini 100 has been evident in the on-the-edge, wall-rubbing style he’s flashed throughout the previous four events. His second-place finishes were especially memorable: in ’08 he charged from a last-row starting spot (he was penalized to the rear for changing two tires after entering the staging area) to the lead only to be nipped by Moyer, and in ’10 he tossed his familiar No. 18 around the track with wild abandon in a bid to regain the top spot from Moyer in the closing stages.

Of course, Babb isn’t the only home-grown Land of Lincoln driver who figures to be a contender this weekend. Other Illinois standouts expected to compete include defending DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals and national Late Model champion Brian Shirley of Chatham, who finished a career-best seventh in last year’s Illini 100; WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin (DNQ in ’08 and ’09, 21st in ’10, 22nd in ’12); Bloomington residents Jason Feger (finishes of eighth, sixth and 11th in past three 100s) and Eric Smith (18th in ’09, three DNQs); ’12 DIRTcar UMP national points runner-up Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, who has started three of the four Illini 100s but hasn’t finished better than 13 th; 2011 DIRTcar UMP national titlist Ryan Unzicker of El Paso (25th in ’09, DNQ in ’10 and ’12); Frankie Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park (10th place finish last year in his only Illini 100 appearance); Mike Spatola of Manhattan (DNQ in ’12); Derek Chandler of Pontiac (24 th in ’10, DNQ in ’09 and ’12); and Daren Friedman of Forrest (three career DNQs).

ILLINI VETERANS: Eight drivers have taken the green flag in all four previous Illini 100 A-Mains, including Babb, Birkhofer and six current WoO LMS regulars: Lanigan, Clanton, points leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., Rick Eckert of York, Pa., Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.

Richards, who turned 25 on March 22, owns the best performance record of the World of Outlaws travelers. With runs of third (’09), sixth (’08 and ’12) and 10th (’10), he joins Babb as the only other driver with a top-10 finish in every Illini 100.

Clanton is the lone WoO LMS regular to reach Victory Lane, but he’s struggled in his other three starts. He finished 11th in ’08, eighth in ’10 and 19th in ’12.

Lanigan, the defending WoO LMS champion, enjoyed by far his best Illini 100 outing last year with a runner-up finish. Previously he placed eighth (’08), seventh (’09) and 17th (’10).

Eckert’s career-best run is a fourth last year, Frank topped out with a ninth in ’09 and Smith’s best was a 12th in ’09.

WoO LMS follower Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., has entered every Illini 100 (top finish of 11th in ’09), but he didn’t start last year’s A-Main after failing to qualify and not having an emergency provisional available to gain entry to the field. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., is another WoO LMS regular with three Illini 100 A-Main starts, including finishes of third in ’10 and fourth in ’08; he didn’t compete in ’09 while recovering from a back injury suffered earlier that year in a crash during the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

MORE OUTLAWS: New WoO LMS travelers who will make first-ever appearances at the Illini 100 weekend include Scott James of Bright, Ind., who is coming off his first victory with the Warrior Chassis house car team in Saturday night’s Spring 50 at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky., and Rookie of the Year aspirants Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, and Dillon Wood of New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., the 2012 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year, will return to the Illini 100 for the second consecutive year (he finished 28 th last season), while rookie candidate Brandon Sheppard will gun for success at one of his hometracks. Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., the 2011 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year, said he’s currently “undecided” if he will enter this weekend’s action after getting off to a slow start in February.

HIGH-PROFILE CHALLENGERS: Two nationally-known stars who will undoubtedly be in the pre-race conversation are Birkhofer and Mars, who both have solid performance records in the Illini 100.

Mars, of course, is the defending champion of the Illini 100. He also has finishes of fourth (’09) and 12th (’10) to his credit; he did not compete in the inaugural event.

Birkhofer, meanwhile, has an Illini 100 history that ranks him as a good bet to break into Victory Lane. He was the only driver to lead at least one lap in the first three 100s – and if not for an unfortunate break that left him with a 20th-place finish in ’08 (he caught a rut in turn four and spun into the wall while leading), he might have a top-five finish in every event. He finished second in ’09, fourth in ’10 and fifth in ’12.

Birkhofer will enter this weekend’s action with momentum on his side after winning Saturday night’s DIRTcar UMP/American Late Model Series ‘Thaw Brawl’ at LaSalle Speedway.

ITCHING TO RACE: Thanks to the weather-related postponement of the March 22-24 WoO LMS tripleheader in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, this weekend’s Illini 100 will mark the national tour’s first action since its season-opening eight-race burst of competition concluded on Feb. 23 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.

The 41-day lull between Volusia’s final checkered flag and Friday night’s scheduled start of qualifying at Farmer City would represent the second-longest post-Florida layoff for the WoO LMS since its reincarnation in 2004 under the World Racing Group. The longest break came in 2005 when there were 48 days between Volusia and an April 8 event at The Rock/Allegany County Speedway in Cumberland, Md.

ILLINI 100 SCHEDULE: In addition to two nights of WoO LMS action, the Illini 100 weekend will also include a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win UMP Modified show (heat races on Fri., April 5, B-Mains and A-Main on Sat., April 6) and competition for Farmer City’s weekly support classes. The DIRTcar UMP Street Stocks and Hornets will run complete programs on Friday, and the Street Stocks will return on Saturday to battle in another regular racing card.

The pit gates are scheduled to open at 12 noon and the spectator gates at 1 p.m. on Friday with hot laps set to start at 6:30 p.m. and qualifying to immediately follow. Both the pit and spectator gates will be unlocked at 12 noon on Saturday with hot laps starting at 5 p.m.

An open practice session will be held on Thursday evening, April 4, beginning at 6 o’clock. Gates will open at 4 p.m.

TICKET INFORMATION: On-line and phone ticket sales for reserved seat Illini 100 weekend ticket packages will conclude at 5 p.m. ET on Wed., April 3, and then all remaining tickets will be general admission.

Advance-sale reserved seat ticket packages for both nights of Illini 100 competition cost $40 for adults and $20 for children 12-and-under. Fans can make their Illini 100 ticket purchases through Wednesday on-line at www.worldofoutlaws.com/tickets or by calling the event hotline at 877-395-8606.

Advance-sale ticket packages purchased this week will be held for pick-up at the track’s Will-Call window, which will open at 5 p.m. on Thursday and 11:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Two-day general admission tickets cost $40 for adults and $20 for children 12-and-under. Single-day general admission tickets will be priced at $15 (Friday) and $35 (Saturday) for adults and $5 (Friday) and $15 (Saturday) for children 12-and-under.

Pit passes, meanwhile, are priced at $30 on Friday and $40 on Saturday with a two-day band available for $65. DIRTcar UMP members receive a $5 discount on a two-day pit admission package.

Pit passes will be $25 for Thursday’s practice night, but Thursday’s pit admission can be included in an $85 three-day band ($5 discount for DIRTcar UMP members).

To check on availability of the limited number of $75 drive-in parking spots along the fence ringing turns one and two, fans can log on to www.worldofoutlaws.com/tickets or call 877-395-8606.

More information on Farmer City Raceway is available by logging on to www.farmercityracing.com.

For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.

Fans can also follow the WoO LMS on Twitter at Twitter.com/WoOLateModels and Facebook at Facebook.com/WorldofOutlaws .
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Re: World of Outlaws Late Model Series Event Preview: ‘Illini 100’
Reply #2 - 04/05/13 at 2:31am
 
Contact: Kevin Kovac
World of Outlaws Late Model Series PR Director
kkovac@dirtcar.com | 704-254-7929

Shirley Begins ’13 Quest For Big-Money Victory In This Weekend’s $20,000-To-Win Illini 100 At Farmer City Raceway
Reigning DIRTcar UMP King Seeks To Become First Illinois Driver To Capture Quarter-Mile Oval's Huge World of Outlaws Late Model Series Event

FARMER CITY, IL – April 3, 2013 – Brian Shirley has his sights set on big dirt Late Model prizes in 2013 – starting this weekend.

Contending for victory in the sport’s richest and most prestigious races is the stated goal for the defending DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals and weekly series Late Model champion, who will get his first shot this season at a mega-money triumph when the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Illini 100 is contested for the fifth time on April 5-6 at Farmer City Raceway.

“We really want to focus on our program for the big shows this year,” said Shirley, a 32-year-old standout from Chatham, Ill., whose biggest career win to date was a $35,000 score in the 2006 Knoxville (Iowa) Late Model Nationals. “Last year we started up front in a lot of big races but couldn’t stay there. This year we have to make the right decisions to capitalize on those good starting spots and get solid finishes – and maybe even win one or two.

“Hopefully we can get things started right with the Illini. I’d love to be the guy to bring home a win for all the fans (at Farmer City) who are rooting for one of us Illinois boys to win it one of these years.”

No driver hailing from the Land of Lincoln has ever claimed the $20,000 first-place check for the Illini 100, the longest-running high-dollar, extra-distance dirt Late Model event in the state of Illinois. Coming off the best season of his decade-old dirt Late Model career, Shirley believes he can be the home-grown racer to make history at the quarter-mile oval.

“It would be something to hold your head high about,” said Shirley, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday with his wife and two daughters (age five and one) at his home about 75 miles southwest of Farmer City. “I think our team’s definitely capable of doing it. You don’t want to go into any race overconfident, but you gotta be confident that your stuff’s good enough to win.

“We just gotta get over there and see how things line up. After practice on Thursday and qualifying on Friday the cards will start falling where they fall to tell us how good we are, but I feel pretty good that we’ll have something for ‘em.”

Shirley struggled in the first three editions of the Illini 100, finishing 19th in 2008, failing to qualify in ’09 and placing 18th in ’10. Last year, however, the young star was a force to be reckoned with, turning the sixth-fastest qualifying lap among 53 entrants, winning a heat race and finishing a career-best seventh in the 100-lapper.

The problem Shirley had with his 2012 Illini performance, though, was that he started from the pole position and ran second for the race’s first 22 laps before fading from serious contention. He let a golden opportunity slip through his fingers.

“Last year was definitely our best Illini run but we know it could’ve been better,” said Shirley, who owns one career WoO LMS victory, in 2007 at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway. “We felt good at first, but we didn’t maintain it. We had the right tires on, but it was one of them deals with the way the car was set up. It was real good early but it kind of just faded away toward the end.

“I think what happened to us last year is something we can correct. When we ran that race it was the start of only our second year in a Pierce car so we still had a lot to learn about them, and I feel like since then we’ve learned a lot about how to make the car good for the whole race. As the (2012) season went on and we ran more big (extra-distance) shows, I think we learned more about how to finish off the night so we can be up there in the mix at the end of a race like the Illini.”

Regardless of his fate in the event, Shirley expects the Illini 100 to live up to its reputation for close-quarters, bullring racing and dramatic, down-to-the-wire finishes.

“I know a 100-lap race (at Farmer City) is always exciting,” said Shirley, who has made only three starts so far this season but already has a victory under his belt, on March 9 in the MARS DIRTcar Series Tuckassee Toilet Bowl Classic at Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway. “It’s a great place to have the Illini. It’s been a huge success the last few years and I have no doubt it’ll be one again this year.”

The blockbuster Illini weekend features Ohlins Shocks Time Trials and heat races on Fri., April 5, and Last Chance Showdowns and the 100-lap A-Main on Sat., April 6. Also on the schedule is a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win UMP Modified show (heat races on Friday, B-Mains and A-Main on Saturday) and competition for Farmer City’s weekly support classes. The DIRTcar UMP Street Stocks and Hornets will run complete programs on Friday, and the Street Stocks will return on Saturday to battle in another regular racing card.

The pit gates are scheduled to open at 12 noon and the spectator gates at 1 p.m. on Friday with hot laps set to start at 6:30 p.m. and qualifying to immediately follow. Both the pit and spectator gates will be unlocked at 12 noon on Saturday with hot laps starting at 5 p.m.

An open practice session will be held on Thursday evening, April 4, beginning at 6 o’clock. Gates will open at 4 p.m.

More information on Farmer City Raceway is available by logging on to www.farmercityracing.com.

For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.

Fans can also follow the WoO LMS on Twitter at Twitter.com/WoOLateModels and Facebook at Facebook.com/WorldofOutlaws
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