Trackside Now: 2008 Early BIRd - Saturday, Feb. 23rd
Ken McFarland Sets Fast Time For Sunday's Race
2008 Early BIRd
Featuring 125-Lap SLM Race
February 23rd-24th
Birmingham Int'l Raceway
Birmingham, AL
Saturday 7:00pm CT (8:00pm ET) - The track is silent here at Birmingham International Raceway as all of the action has concluded. 

Tomorrow the pit gates open at 10:00am with the driver's meeting at 11:45am.  The National Anthem will be sung at 12:55pm with the racing action to follow.

That is all for us today at BIR.  Trackside Now will be back tomorrow for the Early Bird 125.

Saturday 6:50pm CT (7:50pm ET) - There may only be 14 Super Late Model cars on hand for Sunday's Early Bird 125, but that doesn't matter to Ken McFarland, who set fastest time Saturday afternoon.

"It was close," said McFarland.  "Even though some guys that normally are here aren't, it will be a good race tomorrow."

Josh Hamner, who will start third on the grid, just .003 slower than McFarland, is excited for tomorrow's race.

"I had the wrong gear in the car for qualifying," said Hamner.  "Tomorrow it will be good."

Saturday 5:55pm CT (6:55pm ET) - Word has come from post-qualifying tech that all Super Late Model cars have passed, setting the field for the race.

One shakeup has occured though as Ken McFarland has chosen to start from the outside line.  Here at BIR, the pole setter can choose whether he or she starts on the inside or outside.  Since the groove here is on the outside lane, many choose to flip-flop with the traditional outside pole-setter.

Saturday 5:53pm CT (6:53pm ET) - In the Open Wheel Modifieds, Roger Wood has set fast time out of the five cars that are here.

Saturday 5:45pm CT (6:45pm ET) - The Open Wheel Modifieds are on the track right now for their qualifying session, which will be followed by qualifying races for the other local divisions.

We are heading down to the pit area once there is a break in the action to get post-qualifying reaction.

Saturday 5:40pm CT (6:40pm ET) - Ken McFarland put his foot to the floor, capturing the pole position for the Early Bird 125.  Dennis Reno, Jr. and Josh Hamner tied in time, just three thousandths of a second slower than McFarland.  Reno will get the outside starting spot due to qualifying before Hamner.

Josh Belter's crew is working on his car and has elected to not qualify, but he will race tomorrow.

Here is the qualifying results and the starting order for tomorrow's Early Bird 125 Super Late Model race:

1st ) #14 - Ken McFarland (20.01)
2nd ) #x2 - Dennis Reno, Jr. (20.013)
3rd ) #38 - Josh Hamner (20.013)
4th ) #82 - Donnie Wilson (20.046)
5th ) #4 - Chris Whorton (20.052)
6th ) #41 - Gary Nix (20.144)
7th ) #91 - Heath Hindman (20.314)
8th ) #49 - Jeff Fultz (20.34)
9th ) #29 - Andy Antinoro (20.389)
10th ) #3 - Chris Serio (20.424)
11th ) #89 - Lee Hansard (20.491)
12th ) #145 - Billy Melvin (20.695)
13th ) #11 - Clint Folsom (21.264)
14th ) #16 - Josh Belter (no time)

Saturday 5:15pm CT (6:15pm ET) - Due to the cold weather, officials will give each driver a "dead lap" during qualifying, which is one lap after their normal warmup lap prior to their two laps on the clock to get heat in the tires.

Saturday 5:10pm CT (6:10pm ET) - The driver's meeting has concluded.  Up next is the Super Late Model qualifying.  Each driver will get two laps.  We will have the results once it has been completed.

Saturday 4:55pm CT (5:55pm ET) - In the final session of practice, Chris Whorton unofficially turned the fastest time at 20.317 seconds.  Dennis Reno, who was fastest in the first half, was second fastest at 20.365. 

Saturday 4:55pm CT (5:55pm ET) - Heath Hindman had a left front shock break during his practice session, but it has been changed and he is ready to go in qualifying.

Saturday 4:45pm CT (5:45pm ET) - The report from the Josh Hamner crew is that he broke a right front steel hub during practice.  The team discovered it after Hamner went back out on the track following an adjustment and the car was shaking violently.  He was able to get the car slowed down and into the pits to make the change, thus the reason why he went out and made a few laps after scheduled practice concluded.

Saturday 3:15pm CT (4:15pm ET) - Before the local divisions hit the track for their practice, Josh Hamner was allowed to take a few laps around the track in his car after making some sort of change.  We will follow up with Hamner to find out why they needed the extra few laps.

During Hamner's extra-time laps, Clint Folsom drove his #11 car on the track and tried to sneak in a few extra moments of practice.  Officials were about to black flag him off the track when he spun his car coming off turn four.  It looked close, but it appeared he just missed backing his car into the outside wall by a few inches.

Saturday 3:05pm CT (4:05pm ET) - Jeff Fultz will be driving the #49 car, usually driven by Stanley Smith.  Fultz said he was planning on bringing his car but the #49 team called him and asked if he could drive their car for them this weekend. 

Saturday 3:00pm CT (4:00pm ET) - Super Late Model practice has concluded.  The track does not have electronic scoring, so we may not be able to get speeds during the practice session.  We do know in the first half of practice, Mark McFarland and Dennis Reno set the pace with some of the fastest laps on the clock.

The local class practice will be up next, followed by the driver's meeting at 4:45pm and qualifying, which is set to kick off at 5:15pm for the Super Late Models.

Saturday 2:50pm CT (3:50pm ET) - The track facility has implemented a new radio system this year.  Anyone on the track grounds can tune their FM radio to 89.7 and listen to the announcers.  This will be used all weekend (and for all future events) for the race broadcast as well as the standard announcements throughout the day to the teams over the public address system.

Saturday 2:45pm CT (3:45pm ET) - We have been told from the track personnel that the football field will be removed starting next week.  It is being removed to make room for a pit road they are adding here at the track.  This is just one of many renovations happening here at BIR (click here for more).

Saturday 1:45pm CT (2:45pm ET) - A disappointing 14 total Super Late Models are here at BIR for the 125-lap event.  We have canvassed the drivers and no one knows why there aren't more drivers here.  Dennis Reno said he was disgusted over the lack of support from some of the local racers who have not shown up to support BIR.

The current driver roster for the SLMs:
#3 Chris Serio
#4 Chris Whorton
#11 Clint Folsom
#14 Ken McFarland
#16 Josh Belter
#29 Andy Antinoro
#38 Josh Hamner
#41 Gary Nix
#49 Jeff Fultz
#82 Donnie Wilson
#89 Lee Hansard
#91 Heath Hindman
#145 Billy Melvin
#x2 Dennis Reno, Jr.

Five of the drivers here are past champions of the facility (Serio, Folsom, Antinoro, McFarland and Reno).  Notably missing are Johnny Brazier and Augie Grill

Saturday 12:45pm CT (1:45pm ET) - The Super Late Model teams are currently rolling their cars through the tech line prior to the start of the on-track action today.  We are going to head down to the pit area prior to the practice session and chat with the drivers and teams that did make it here.  We will be back after practice with the driver roster of who made the trip for the 125-lap Super Late Model race.

Saturday 12:15pm CT (1:15pm ET) - One driver missing from this year's Early BIRd 125 weekend in Michael Pope.  Friday Speed51.com confirmed with Pope that he was considering running it this year, but the team found an unexpected leak in the head of their new motor and couldn't make the trip.

Saturday 12:00pm CT (1:00pm ET) - Good morning from the famous Birmingham International Raceway in Birmingham, Alabama for the 2008 Early BIRd racing events. It is a cold morning here where the temperature is sitting at 39 degrees, but with the cloud cover and breeze it feels much colder.  The temperature is supposed to reach the 50 degree mark, but right now that might be wishful thinking.

Last year, the Georgia Asphalt Series (GAS) was a part of the Early BIRd weekend, but not this year.  That may have hurt the attendance overall for the Super Late Model field as only 13 drivers have made their way to the track, one hour prior to the start of their two-hour practice session.  Last year 19 total cars competed in the Super Late Model portion of the event with 23 drivers racing in the GAS race.

There are also very few local division racers here at this time, but they are not expected to make their way to the track for another few hours as their practice session doesn’t begin until 3:00pm.

Along with the 125-lap Super Late Model event there will be other divisions racing here, including a 30-lap Open Wheel Modified race, a 30-lap Limited Sportsman race, a 30-lap Mini Modified race, a 20-lap Renegade race and a 20-lap Mini Stock (Buzzz) race. 

Today's schedule is as follows:

10:00am - Pit gates open
1:00pm - SLM practice starts
3:00pm - Local practice / grandstands open
4:30pm - Qualifying : SLM (2 laps) and SM (1 lap)
followed by qualifying races (LS, MM, REN & MS)

All features will be on Sunday.

NOTE: Birmingham International Raceway is located in the Central Time Zone.  All updates will be based off local track time.

The pit area seems a bit vacant this year.
The football field here at BIR will be torn out completely in the near future to make room for a new pit road.
Clint Folsom shaking down his car in practice.
Jeff Fultz is driving Stanley Smith's car here at BIR this weekend.
Dennis Reno, Jr. might not know why so few showed up to race, but that isn't stopping him from getting strapped in and running this weekend at BIR.
Josh Hamner prepares to get in his car for practice.
Ken McFarland is always considered a favorite when the Super Late Models head to Birmingham.
A cold Ken McFarland is happy after taking the pole position for the Early Bird 125 Super Late Model event.
There are multiple classes of support divisions here for the Early Bird weekend.