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Scott Bloomquist takes Illinois Fall Nationals Crown.
by Darin Stewart
(Springfield Il) Through the years, not many races have avoided the Bloomquist Victory Tour. The 8th Annual Illinois Fall Nationals, presented by Turbo Blue Racing Fuels had that rare distinction, until Sunday afternoon. Bloomquist, who set fast time around the historic mile oval with a time of 29.230 won his heat race as well, and took home the $12,000 top-prize.
At the start of the feature, Bloomqusit quickly hopped into the lead in his Miller Brothers Coal/UV2/ Warrior, for the first few laps. On the fourth lap, Billy Moyer Jr., showed Bloomquist how to get it done, and apparently he learned, as he quickly regained the lead over Moyer, with Brian Birkhofer, and Dick Taylor in hot pursuit around the historic 1-mile oval. Following a brief caution on lap 4, Bloomquist proceeded to pull away from the pack. Back in the pack, mechanical failures were abound with favorites, Birkhofer, Ed Dixon, and Shannon Babb, all experiencing motor difficulties. Even second place finisher got into the act of showing smoke, as the Petroff Towing/ J&J Steel/ GRT showed some smoke entering the corners. Bloomquist by this time, was putting on a clinic of how to run the big track, and was lapping a majority of the field. At one point late int he race, the #0 car had nearly a straightaway on Moyer, and was gaining on the rest of the field to lap them. A late race caution put Moyer on the tail of Bloomquist, but it was not to be, as the Mooresburg Tennessee driver was not to be denied. The win, completed a sweep of the Illinois Dirt 1-Miles, as he also was victoriuos at the DuQuoin Magic Mile in June when the Hav-A-Tampa series invaded. " I really like these big tracks, and the speed involved with them. The track really requires you to drive smooth and straight, sort of like asphalt, and that fits my style. I saw Moyer go by early, and realized, that I needed to get back into a good rythym, and the car just was perfect today. My crew did their homework, and we were rewarded with a good win." said the elated Bloomquist in victory lane.
Bloomquist, who had raced here several years ago in an ARCA car, had never participated in the annual event. Following a late-night drive from West Plains Missouri on Saturday night, where he finished 4th to Billy Moyer, it was obvious Bloomquist meant business. After posting the fast time of the 38 late models, Bloomquist started 6th in the frirst heat, with his nemesis Billy Moyer Jr. just in front of him. On the second lap, Bloomquist made his move going into turn 4, on the outside of both Moyer, and Jerry Rice, and was never headed in earning the pole position. Following Bloomquist across the line were Moyer, Rice, Kevin Gundaker, and Terry English ( aboard the #25 that has been campaigned recently by Everett Bradham, and Bill Milikan). The second heat featured 1998 Illinois Fall Nationals Champion, Brian Birkhofer, doing his imitation of Bloomquist, by dominating the heat race. Following him to the checkered were, Dick Taylor, Al Atkinson, Bill Kretzel(?), and Joe Ross Jr. The third heat was also a run-away, as Steve Boley, fresh off his Yankee Dirt Classic victory 7 days ago, dominated the field for the win. Behind him at the stripe were, Ed Dixon, Randy McGraw, Shannon Babb( who started on the tail), and Jim Partipilo. Babb started on the tail due to blowing an engine in his 10-10-220 Rayburn in hotlaps, and not qualifying. Following a quick call back to Decatur, the back-up car was delivered just in time for the heat races.
Due to many mechanical difficulties, a decision was made to start anyone still running, resulting in a huge field of 30 plus cars in the final.
Official finish: Scott Bloomquist, Billy Moyer Jr., Kevin Gundaker, Ray Guss Jr., Gary Webb, Joe Ross Jr., Al Atkinson, Terry English, Steve Shepherd Jr., Jimmy Burwell, Bo Smith .
In the UMP Modified division 69 cars filled the pits, and Jeff Leka took the win over Kevin Gundaker, and Ray Guss Jr.