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UNION, KY (June 4, 2005)- Don O'Neal of Martinsville, IN came from his seventh starting position and got by race leader Earl Pearson, Jr. with just three laps remaining to win the 19th Annual "Ralph Latham Memorial" race for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series on Saturday Night, June 4 at the Florence Speedway. O'Neal earned $10,000 for his win which was his third this season for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series as he became the 15th different driver to win in 19 "Ralph Latham Memorial" races and he is the third Hoosier State driver to win this event in the last three years.  O'Neal was driving the A1 Auto Salvage/Living Room Centers/O'Neal Wood Products/All-Star Performance/Fast Graphix/Well Pict Berries/Ken Schrader Racing/Hoosier Tires/MasterSbilt Monte Carlo.  Earl Pearson, Jr. of Jacksonville, FL was second by one car length in the Carlton and Kemp Lamm owned/Lucas Oil/Rocket Ford Taurus.  Right behind O'Neal and Pearson at the finish was third place runner, Matt Miller of Waterville, OH in the Dirt Shop, Inc/McCullough Industries/Rocket Grand Prix.  15th starting Scott James of Lawrenceburg, IN was gaining rapidly on the frontrunners when the checkered fell in the Powell Motorsports/Baylor Trucking/Rocket Grand Prix as he would come in fourth with Bart Hartman of Zanesville, OH nabbing fifth in the Urgent Cash/Cornett Engines/Rocket Grand Prix.  A total of 64 cars were on hand for the 19th annual event.

It would be Earl Pearson, Jr. grabbing the lead at the start of the 50 lap main event on the well prepared half-mile oval with Brad Neat going to second.  Matt Miller showed his strength early going by Neat for second a lap further into the race.  Pearson and Miller then started to pull away from the stout field of 25 starters with O'Neal on the prowl from his seventh starting slot up to fourth to challenge Neat passing the young KY driver for third on lap five.  The race was moving along at a quick pace with two and three wide racing commonplace throughout the field.  Donnie Moran would be the first car out of the race heading pitside on lap nine.  Up front it was Pearson, Miller and O'Neal now in a three way race for the lead as O'Neal had rapidly caught up to them.  Neat was settled in fourth with Bart Hartman in fifth at the 15 lap mark.  At this point the frontrunners had picked up the back of the field tightening things up even further in the battle for the lead.  Heavy traffic was playing a role in the race as Pearson, Miller and O'Neal were all right together on the race track.  All three would slice and dice through traffic with Miller and O’Neal putting the heat on Pearson for the top spot.  A car on the move at the juncture was Scott James.  James had started in the 15th spot and with his experience at Florence Speedway starting to show he would race his way around Neat and Hartman for take fourth on lap 25, the halfway mark of the race, trying very hard to put himself in a position to chase down the leaders.

With 25 to go Pearson, Miller and O'Neal were putting on quite a show for the fans using every bit of the race track to try and gain an advantage over the other.  O'Neal would finally slide by Miller coming off turn four on lap 31 to take over second and with Pearson right in front of him he saw an opportunity to take over the lead and win this race.  Pearson and O'Neal then would set up a 15 lap showdown for the ages going door to door several times throughout the later half of the race.  It seemed like Pearson would have the strength down the straightaways and O'Neal would handle a touch better in the corners.  While those two were duking it out for the lead, Miller was still in the hunt keeping his car right there to take a stab at the leaders in the final laps.  James was really starting to track down the leaders and after being more than a half a lap down in the early part of the race, James was now on the same straightaway as the top three runners, but he was running out of laps.

With five to go the crowd was on its feet as Pearson and O'Neal kept battling to see who would come out victorious in this hard fought race.  Miller lurked in third waiting for any opportunity he could find to steal with way away from Pearson or O'Neal.  O'Neal was diving into the turns trying to slide by Pearson coming off of those turns and finally on lap 48 coming off of turn two O'Neal went wide forcing Pearson to lift and O'Neal would take the lead, but Pearson fought back heading into three going to the outside of O'Neal and pulling even with him, but off of four O'Neal would now show the way with two to go.  Pearson was valiant in his return volley as he would stay within one car length of O'Neal to the finish as Pearson's last lap pass on the outside failed to materialize falling just one length short.  Miller was right on Pearson at the finish and James had closed to the bumper of Miller as the race concluded.  The appreciative crowd gave all four drivers a standing ovation after the race to say they enjoyed the racing that went on between those men.

Completing the top ten were Rick Aukland, Brad Neat, Wendell Wallace, Ray Cook and Jerry Rice.

In preliminary action at Florence, Don O'Neal was the Fast Qualifier at 16.421 seconds.  The Heat Races were won by Matt Miller, Davey Johnson, Earl Pearson, Jr., Bart Hartman, John Gill and Brad Neat.  The First B-Main went to Eddie Carrier, Jr. and the PBM Racing Products Second B-Main was won by Mike Balzano.

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will next be in action on June 17 and 18 at the Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, WI for a pair of $10,000 to win races.

Race Summary  Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series  Saturday Night, June 4, 2005  Florence Speedway-Union, KY

Fast Qualifier:  Don O'Neal 16.421 seconds

Heat #1:  Matt Miller, Don O'Neal, Ray Cook, Mike Marlar,, Keith Berner, John Mason, Tim Dohm, Barry Doss, Spensor Watson, David Spille, Donnie Moran

Heat #2:  Davey Johnson, Rick Aukland, Darrell Lanigan, Eddie Carrier, Jr., Josh Williams, Ted Nobbe, John Whitney, Bill Blair, Jr., Joe Rice, Scotty Earl

Heat #3:  Earl Pearson, Jr., R.J. Conley, Scott James, Terry English, Steve Hillard, Eric Myers, Steve Casebolt, Jr., Chris Combs, Devin Sebree, Michael England, Sandy Goddard

Heat #4:  Bart Hartman, Wendell Wallace, Jerry Rice, Dennis Erb, Jr., Jesse James Lay, Audie McWilliams, Brady Smith, Rick Combs, Rodney Combs, Larry Pickelheimer, Jr., Ronnie Douglas

Heat #5:  John Gill, Freddy Smith, Mike Jewell, Mike Balzano, Roger Williams, Rick Corbin, Mike Johnson, Kyle Scheer, Chad Smith, Adrian Nichols

Heat #6:  Brad Neat, Steve Landrum, Rod Conley, Tim Hitt, Dan Hoard, Bryan Barber, Aaron Hatton, Robert Hensley, Blake Chinn,, Anthony Adams

1st B-Main:  Eddie Carrier, Jr., Mike Marlar, Eric Myers, Terry English, Keith Berner, Steve Hillard, Ted Nobbe, Bill Blair, Jr., John Mason, Steve Casebolt, Jr., John Whitney, Joe Rice, Spensor Watson, Donnie Moran, Tim Dohm, Scotty Earl, Sandy Goddard, David Spille, Devin Sebree, Chris Combs, Michael England, Josh Williams, Barry Doss

2nd B-Main:  Mike Balzano, Dennis Erb, Jr., Jesse James Lay, Tim Hitt, Roger Williams, Rick Corbin, Audie McWilliams, Brady Smith, Dan Hoard, Bryan Barber, Rick Combs, Robert Hensley, Kyle Scheer, Mike Johnson, Blake Chinn, Adrian Nichols, Chad Smith, Anthony Adams, Ronnie Douglas, Larry Pickelheimer, Jr.

19th Annual "Ralph Latham Memorial" Main Event: (50 Laps):  Don O'Neal, Earl Pearson, Jr., Matt Miller, Scott James, Bart Hartman, Rick Aukland, Brad Neat, Wendell Wallace, Ray Cook, Jerry Rice, Davey Johnson, Freddy Smith, Mike Jewell, John Gill, Terry English, Eddie Carrier, Jr., R.J. Conley, Mike Balzano, Roger Williams, Rod Conley, Darrell Lanigan, Dennis Erb, Jr., Mike Marlar, Steve Landrum, Donnie Moran

Race Statistics: Entries:  64 Time of Race: 17 minutes Cautions:  0 Red Flags:  0 Lap Leaders:  Earl Pearson, Jr. 1-47, Don O'Neal 48-50 Weld Wheels Hard Charger of the Race:  Scott James (started 15th and finished 4th) Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Race:  Scott James Series Provisionals:  Terry English and Donnie Moran Track Provisional:  Roger Williams

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