Notebook: news 97-04-30

DirtNews Digest Your Online News Source for Late Model Dirt Track Racing "Get Some Dirt On Your Computer!" Todd Turner, editor Email address: Web site: ...

Notebook: news 97-04-30

DirtNews Digest Your Online News Source for Late Model Dirt Track Racing "Get Some Dirt On Your Computer!" Todd Turner, editor

Email address: Web site: =================================== CONTENTS: DirtNews Digest notebook (April 30) SCOTT BLOOMQUIST: Tennessee driver splits with car builder Barry Wright TONY STEWART: Driver enjoys adding dirt late models to busy schedule AROUND THE TRACK: DND's birthday, Aukland with Rayburn, other notes =================================== SCOTT BLOOMQUIST SPLITS WITH CAR BUILDER

Driver Scott Bloomquist and car-builder Barry Wright, among the most successful dirt late model combinations of the 1990s, have split -- at least for the time being. Although Bloomquist has driven Wright-built cars to two Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series Championships and victories in the The Dream and Show-Me 100 in the the past three years, a lackluster start in 1997 has him looking at other options.

"We've preached on preparation all winter and spring," Bloomquist said in a press release. "But this is the first year that I've gone to the racetrack and not made a starting position somewhere in the field. It's time we sat down and evaluated where we are and determine what our next step should be -- either together or separately."

Bloomquist has a pair of $10,000 victories at tracks near his eastern Tennessee home in 1997, but he twice failed to qualify for features at STARS-sanctioned events at Florida Speedweeks, and on April 19 missed advancing to a feature event at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway for the first time since 1988.

"We've had several very good years," said Barry Wright, who is based in Cowpens, S.C. "Now I guess it's time to stay home and take car of my car-building and powder-coating businesses."

A press release said the split may be temporary, but Bloomquist's availability will certainly cause a skirmish among other car builders to land the talented driver, one of dirt late model racing's most popular personalities. ------------------------------------------------------------- STEWART ENJOYS YET ANOTHER FORM OF RACING

Tony Stewart will race just about any type of car. And with his recent success in C.J. Rayburn's dirt late model, the Indy Racing League and NASCAR Busch Grand National driver has proven he's not content just to be a famous name on the track. He's out there to win.

Stewart, the 1995 USAC champion in sprints, midgets and Silver Crown cars, finished second in his 1997 dirt late model debut in the Hoosier Dirt Classic at Brownstown, Ind., and followed that with a 10th-place showing at the Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series event at Brownstown.

Switching to dirt late models -- even after zipping down the straightaways at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at more than 200 mph earlier in the day -- isn't a problem, Stewart said.

"It's just another race car," said of the 2,300-pound, 700-horsepower dirt late models. "It's got four wheels and three pedals and a steering wheel just like everything else I climb in now. So, you just gotta find out what it likes and what it doesn't like and adapt to it. I've run enough stuff. I'm going to run 10 different divisions of cars this year, and you just get used to going back and forth between different cars. So it's not something that's a big adjustment for you."

While many drivers in racing's elite divisions don't look back to short-track racing, the 25-year-old Stewart said no sponsors or car owners are going to keep him from gaining more and more experience behind any steering wheel. He drives Indy cars owned by John Menard, and will drive selected races for Bobby Labonte on the Busch Grand National series this year before going full time for a Joe Gibbs-owned team in 1998.

"Nobody's going to be upset if I go run (dirt late models). The teams I'm associated with the Indy car and the (Busch Grand National) stock car, they understand I got where I am by running at places like Brownstown and driving late models and driving sprint cars. They aren't going to hold me back on that."

Of course, Stewart is now a hot property for dirt late model teams. Whispers in the pits having him driving backup cars for some of the best teams at this year's big-purse events. We'll probably just have to see who Stewart shows up at the track with.

"We're just trying to get as many of them scheduled in as I can," Stewart said. "I don't know what the schedules are and really I don't know what my schedule is for the races that I've got working on right now. We'll just wait and see." ------------------------------------------------------------- AROUND THE TRACK ....

DIRTNEWS DIGEST TURNS 2 YEARS OLD: DirtNews Digest, the only email publication covering dirt late model racing, turned 2 years old this week. DND, which started with 19 subscribers and had about 340 subscribers last year at this time, now has nearly 1,500 subscribers on board.

AUKLAND SWITCHES TO RAYBURN: Rick Aukland, who has been one of the top drivers for Bullitt chassis in recent years, has made the switch to C.J. Rayburn Race Cars. The Fargo, N.D., driver debuted a Rayburn-built car in the Spring 50 at Florence (Ky.) Speedway on Saturday, finishing 11th after having to pit while leading because of a fuel leak. "We built the car in about two days," Aukland said. "I thought we had everything tight, but the fuel line came loose. The car is a little different than I'm used to, but I'm sure I'll pick it up pretty quick." Aukland had four UMP Summernationals and three STARS victories last year, but has yet to find victory lane in a big-purse or sanctioned event in 1997. "He's a dominant driver," said car-builder and driver Rayburn. "I expect big things from him."

TO SHAVE OR NOT TO SHAVE: How do you like the goatee of Hav-A-Tampa point leader's Billy Moyer? It appears it might stay awhile longer, partly because of his recent hot streak of two consecutive Hav-A-Tampa victories. "I was going to shave it off if I didn't get good here a while back," Moyer said at Brownstown, Ind. "But I guess we won the race so I'll leave it on here for awhile." Is Moyer starting a trend? STARS driver Rick Eckert is also sporting the beginnings of a goatee.

BOLEY WINS DELAYED NASCAR OPENER: In an unreported event from the weekend, Steve Boley of Oxford, Iowa, won the delayed NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour opener at Davenport (Iowa) Speedway on Saturday night. Boley held off Johnny Johnson in a race originally scheduled for April 18. Bob Helm, Ray Guss Jr. and Joe Kosiski rounded out the top five finishers. Among other notable finishers, Gary Webb was eighth, Steve Kosiski was 18th and Brian Birkhofer, who damaged his car when he hit tire barrier while trying to gain the lead on the sixth lap, was 26th.

GILL WILL WORK ON STRENGTH: Indiana driver John Gill's work with a physical therapist is over, but he knows he has a ways to go before he's back to normal after his accident last November in an ARCA race at Atlanta that left him with serious arm injuries. "I'm not strength wise 100 percent," Gill said. "Time is about the only thing that can help it. Just keep exercising and lifting weights and trying to get better." Gill has had to adjust to driving with power steering, something he's not used to in dirt late model racing. "I never did ever like it much in the past but it's something I'm going to have to live with here for awhile until I get my strength back."

MORE WEB SITES: Ron Nielson Racing, with Dick Barton as the driver, is on the web at <> .... another new site is dedicated to Georgia driver Adam Scoggins at <> .... and Spoon River Speedway in Banner, Ill., is up at <> .... wanna see Billy Moyer's No. 21 race across your computer screen? Check out <>.

WEEKLY EVENT UPDATES: Defending track champion Patrick Duggan won the 40-lap feature at Atomic Speedway in Kingston, Tenn., on Friday .... Nathan Durboraw won his first race at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway on Saturday .... UMP points leader Randy Korte won Saturday night at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo. .... Gary Dalton set a track record of 12.94 seconds at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va., and went on to win the late model feature from the tail, where he was forced to start after failing to cross the scales following his heat race .... Mark Banal won his 17th career feature at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway on Saturday .... Brian Stinson held off Bill Hahn on Saturday at Flag City Motorsports Park in Findlay, Ohio .... H.E. Vineyard came from the tail twice to win at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., after Scott Sexton and the second-place finisher were both disqualified for being light at the scales .... among Illinois winners were Bill Clemmons (Kankakee) and Kevin Weaver (LaSalle).

OTHER ODDS AND ENDS: Hav-A-Tampa driver Dale McDowell debuted a Ford-powered GRT at Batesville, Ark., and drove it again at Brownstown, Ind. .... if you're scoring at home, the GVS Racing team has access to these cars: Three MasterSbilts, one GRT, two Rayburns and the new Larry Shaw-built car .... Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, has competed in every IMCA-sanctioned event in the 10-year existence of the Summer Series, which is currently sponsored by Deery Brothers .... the second-to-last UMP Summernational race will be at Iowa's Cresco Speedway rather than Crawford County Speedway .... rookie Bubba Schonewitz won his first-ever late model feature on March 29 at Suncoast Speedway in Pass Christian, Miss. .... Castrol Oil sponsors fan appreciation night at Hagerstown Speedway on May 10, when fans pay just $5 and see five divisions, including a 25-lap late model feature. ------------------------------------------------------------- CREDIT: Todd Turner <> of DirtNews Digest and Jeff Reynolds <>. -------------------------------------------------------------

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