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TAMPA, FL (February 12, 2005)- In an incredible drive to the front Don O’Neal of Martinsville, IN came from 25th position to win the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event on Saturday Night at the East Bay Raceway Park as the 29th Annual Winternationals ended for the Late Models.  The 40 year old driver earned $12,000 for his victory as he became the first repeat winner of the week with his 11th career win at East Bay tying him with Billy Moyer on the all-time win list.  O’Neal would start 20th in the race, stop for a flat tire on lap 14 , pit and then return to the race restarting in 25th place and passed race leader, Steve Francis on lap 70.  O’Neal drove his C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo powered by a Jay Dickens Racing Engines to victory lane with sponsorship assistance from A-1 Auto Salvage, Living Room Center, O’Neal Wood Products, All Star Performance, Hoosier Racing Tires, Ken Schrader Racing and Fast Graphix.  Donnie Moran of Dresden, OH started 21stand finished second in the PBM Performance Products, SMS Racing Engines, MasterSbilt Monte Carlo with third place going to Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA in the Daufeldt Transport, Pro Power Engines, MasterSbilt Ford Taurus.  The fourth place finisher was Steve Francis of Ashland, KY in the Valvoline, Gary Stanton Racing Engines, Rocket Dodge Intrepid R/T and rounding out the top five was Rick Eckert of York, PA in the Raye Vest Excavating, Cornett Racing Engines, Rocket Ford Taurus.  A total of 93 cars were on hand for the Saturday finale of the Lucas Oil NARA DirtCar Series as 140 different drivers raced with the series during the week.

The 75 lap race got off to a roaring start with Billy Moyer and Scott Bloomquist occupying the front row as the two Hall of Famers roared off at the drop of the green flag as Bloomquist would gain the lead heading into turn number one.  Bloomquist then opened up a two to three car length advantage over Moyer, who was running in second place.  A torrid pace was being set by the drivers before a lap four caution for a flat tire on Scott James’ stalled car slowed the action.  When the race resumed it was still Bloomquist holding the lead with Moyer, Brian Birkhofer, Steve Francis and Jimmy Mars in the top five.  A yellow for Shannon Babb on lap seven again would bring a double file restart,  The race for third would change on lap 10 when Francis went by Birkhofer for third place.  On the restarts Bloomquist would get away from Moyer, but now Francis and Moyer would go at it with contact on a restart shuffling both cars back a few spots.  A yellow on lap 12 for R.J. Conley slowed the action again.  Two more laps in the record books would get recorded before O’Neal stopped with a flat tire as he would go pitside for a tire change rejoining the field in the 25thposition.  The race would then see a stretch of solid green flag racing with Jimmy Mars now up to second place just ahead of Francis.  Francis would race Mars into the turns and pass him on lap 21 and bring Birkhofer along with him.  Francis then would start to challenge Bloomquist for the lead by the 25th lap.  Francis was putting the heat on Bloomquist and went around him for the lead on lap 30.  When Bloomquist fell to second he would run three more laps until he slowed dramatically on the back stretch and head to the infield.  Birkhofer would go to second with Mars, Rick Eckert and Shannon Babb now in the top five.  A yellow for Rick Aukland, who lost a wheel on the front stretch in lap 36 would slow the heated action.  The race would go three more laps green until Matt Miller came to a halt in turn four necessitating another caution flag.  With 35 laps to go Francis would hold the lead with Birkhofer running in second, Mars was third with O’Neal charging from the tail to go to fourth with Babb in fifth.  Both O’Neal and Babb had made their way into the top five after pitting for flat tires.  O’Neal would get by Mars for third on lap 48 and Babb would get by Mars a lap later.

With 25 laps remaining it was still Francis showing the way with Birkhofer in second followed by O’Neal, Babb and Mars.  A yellow for Brady Smith on lap 53 would slow Francis only momentarily as on the restarts Francis would pull away from his competition.  O’Neal would set sail moving to second on lap 54 overhauling Birkhofer for second place.  O’Neal had begun to show smoke from out of the number 71 for the last several laps, but he kept his foot in as he and Babb would race side by side for second place as Babb slid by O’Neal for second briefly for two laps.  O’Neal would regain the spot a lap later on the 67th circuit.  O’Neal then really put the pressure on Francis for the lead and despite his smoking racer which had dropped a cylinder he was still one of the fastest cars on the track.  O’Neal made his move for the lead sliding in front of Francis in turn number four on lap 70 as he would pass him for the lead.  O’Neal then would cap off an exciting race as he would go on to take the victory leading the last five laps of the race.  Moran made it to second from 21st passing Francis with four laps to go as Birkhofer would also get by Francis in the latter stages of the race to finish third.  Francis wound up fourth with Rick Eckert scored for fifth.

Completing the top were Dan Schlieper, Eddie Carrier, Jr., R.J. Conley, Shannon Babb and Earl Pearson, Jr.

In preliminary events Matt Miller was the fast timer with a lap of 15.007 seconds.  The six heat races were taken by Francis, Birkhofer, Butch McGill, Dennis Erb, Jr., Scott Bloomquist and Billy Moyer.  The first B-Main went to Earl Pearson, Jr. with the second B-Main going to Don O’Neal.  The other B-Main winners who advanced to the 75 lap feature were Donnie Moran and Jason Montgomery.

Race Summary  Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series  Saturday Night, February 12, 2005 East Bay Raceway Park

Fast Time:  Matt Miller  15.007 seconds

First Heat:  1) Steve Francis  2) Jimmy Mars  3) R.J. Conley  4) Matt Miller  5) Dan Stone  6) Don O’Neal  7) Victor Lee  8) Greggie Oliver  9) Jackie Boggs  10) Jason Smith  11) Mike Mataragas  12) Chris Conley  13) Johnny Chastain  14) Kristin Flory  15) Michael Jackson  16) Tom Turner

Second Heat:  1) Brian Birkhofer  2) Davey Johnson  3) Eddie Carrier, Jr.  4) Michael England  5) Rod Conley  6) John Mason  7) Brian Shirley  8)  Roger Crouse  9) Sonny Conley  10) Anthony White  11) Matt Hubbard  12) Rick Sowders  13) Evan Herrell  14) Terry Casey  15) Shannon Babb

Third Heat:  1) Butch McGill  2) Rick Eckert  3) Terry English  4) Billy Drake  5) Earl Pearson, Jr.  6) Shane Tankersley  7) Jayme Zidar  8) Robbie Blair  9)  Keith Nosbisch  10) Ray Cook  11) Garrett Durrett  12) Greg Johnson  13) Steve Radich  14) Steve Hillard  15) Mike Hammerle

Fourth Heat:  1) Dennis Erb, Jr.  2) Steve Shaver  3) Tim McCreadie  4) Donnie Moran  5) Eric Jacobsen  6) Mark Voigt  7) Freddy Smith  8) Roy Deese, Jr.  9) Rohn Moon  10) Dave Hess, Jr.  11) Josh Manning  12) Brent Robinson  13) Jon Krogstad  14) Tim Dohm

Fifth Heat:  1) Scott Bloomquist  2) Rick Aukland  3) Darren Miller  4) Corey Conley  5) Josh Richards  6) Scott James  7) Randy Korte  8)  Delmas Conley  9)  Wes Steidinger  10) Ronnie DeHaven, Jr.  11) Pat Doar  12) Jason Flory  13) Randy Lucas  14) John VanDenBerg

Sixth Heat:  1) Billy Moyer  2) Brady Smith  3) Dan Schlieper  4) Jason Montgomery  5) Anthony Rushing  6) Shane Clanton  7) Ricky Elliott  8) Trent Follmer  9) Mike Benedum  10) Bill Cunningham  11) Russ Scheffler  12) Wayne Johnson  13) Jeff Gress  14) Ronnie Smith

First B-Main:  1) Earl Pearson, Jr.  2) Matt Miller  3) Keith Nosbisch  4) Rod Conley  5) Sonny Conley  6) Evan Herrell  7) Mike Mataragas  8) Michael Jackson  9) Rick Sowders  10) Steve Radich  11) Victor Lee  12) Greggie Oliver  13) Shane Tankerseley  14) Tom Turner  15) Ray Cook  16) Michael England  17) Roger Crouse

Second B-Main:  1) Don O’Neal  2) John Mason  3) Brian Shirley  4) Jackie Boggs  5) Jayme Zidar  6)  Garrett Durrett  7) Anthony White  8) Johnny Chastain  9)  Matt Hubbard  10) Kristin Flory  11) Mike Hammerle  12) Greg Johnson  13) Billy Drake  14) Dan Stone

Third B-Main:  1) Donnie Moran  2) Josh Richards   3) Anthony Rushing  4) Corey Conley  5) Delmas Conley  6) Wes Steidinger  7) Brent Robinson  8) Ronnie Smith  9)  Randy Lucas  10) Shane Clanton  11) Josh Manning  12) Jeff Gress  13) Jason Flory  14) Freddy Smith

Fourth B-Main:  1) Jason Montgomery   2) Scott James  3) Trent Follmer  4) Tim Dohm  5)  Eric Jacobsen  6)  Rohn Moon  7) Russ Scheffler  8) Dave Hess, Jr.  9)  Pat Doar  10) Wayne Johnson  11) Randy Korte  12) Ricky Elliott  13) Mark Voigt  14) Jon Krogstad

Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series A-Main (75 Laps):  1) Don O’Neal  2) Donnie Moran  3) Brian BIrkhofer  4) Steve Francis  5) Rick Eckert  6) Dan Schlieper  7)  Eddie Carrier, Jr.  8) R.J. Conley  9) Shannon Babb 10) Earl Pearson, Jr.  11) Jimmy Mars  12) Dennis Erb, Jr.  13) Tim McCreadie  14) Scott Bloomquist  15) Davey Johnson  16) Steve Shaver  17) Terry English  18) Brady Smith  19) Darren Miller  20) Matt Miller  21) Rick Aukland  22) Jason Montgomery  23) Shane Clanton  24) Billy Moyer  25) Butch McGill  26) Scott James

Race Statistics Entries:  93 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals:  Matt Miller and Shannon Babb R.A.C.E. Provisionals:  Shane Clanton and Scott James Lap Leaders:  Bloomquist 1-29, Francis 30-69, O’Neal 70-75 PPM Racing Products Hard Charger of the Race:  O’Neal (advanced 19 positions)

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