La SALLE, IL (August 6, 2007)-Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN laid his eyes on La Salle Speedway for the very first time on Monday Night and he definitely liked what he saw as the 35-year-old driver notched his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory of the season taking the SPEED Channel taped “Illinois Valley Challenge” earning $10,000 for the win leading all 50 laps. It marked the sixth appearance at La Salle Speedway for the Lucas Oil Series and Owens became the sixth different driver to enter victory circle at the track. Scott James finished second followed by Darren Miller, Wendell Wallace and Tim McCreadie.
James and Owens would start from the front row after the redraw for the four heat race winners was complete. Owens would immediately shoot into the lead at the drop of the green flag with James, Dennis Erb, Jr., Darren Miller and McCreadie running in the top five spots with one lapped scored.
Owens who took an immediate liking to the quarter-mile high banked oval showed his pleasure by opening up a seven car lead length lead over James in the early laps as Darren Miller would race past Erb taking over the third slot on lap two as the Chadwick, IL driver was making his first start in an event since Mid-June as he had sat out the last two months due to a thyroid condition. Miller who nipped Wallace on the final lap of the first heat of the night was now glued to the bumper of James’ car in a bid to overtake him for the second position.
With Owens on cruise control it was only a matter of time before he would start to pick up the tail end of the field. By the 11th lap he had done so as James, Miller, Erb and Wallace were hoping that this would slow Owens as they were attempting to close ground on the four-time UMP Modified Champion.
Owens would put three cars between himself and James as James was fending off all challenges from Miller in a close battle for second. Owens’ big lead would go away with the first caution of the race on lap 20 as Garrett Durrett came to a halt on the back stretch.
Not only did the first yellow of the race allow the field to restart right behind him on the green restart, but all lapped cars would go the rear allowing James and Miller a good vantage point on the restart.
With a clear track in front of him and the competition now breathing down his neck Owens would show that his growing experience in dirt late models would start to pay off as he would again pull away from the torrid race for second on the restart. Owens would begin to open up another good sized lead over the field as there was some very good racing for second place on back.
At the halfway mark (25 laps) Owens was in control of the race with James, Miller, Wallace and McCreadie the top five runners as Owens was quickly making his way into some more lapped traffic.
James was starting to get away from Miller as Miller would have Wallace all over him in the contested race for third. The heated action on a hot night would be slowed for the second and final time for a slowing Ryan Dauber on lap 36.
With 14 laps to go Owens again would have the field on his rear bumper as the Delaware double file restart would provide a trading paint moment for several drivers as there was some bumping inside the top ten that saw some spots gained and lost.
But up front Owens was just not going to be denied on this night as he would smoothly follow his same running line lap after lap until the finish where he would win by a comfortable margin. James would finish a solid second and close to within 100 points of Earl Pearson, Jr. in the race for the 2007 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship. Pearson who ran as high as eighth in the field fell back to 12th at the finish after a rough final restart that saw him lose some spots.
Miller would take the third place money with Wallace, the ’07 Show-Me 100 winner finishing a close fourth followed the McCreadie the 2006 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Champion.
In the Lucas Oil victory lane Owens was highly complimentary of the track he was racing at for the very first time in his career. “We were fortunate enough to get a good draw for the feature,” said Owens who now equals Pearson with four series wins this year. “It’s first time we’ve ever run here, I really like this place, the car was good all night,” said the soft spoken driver who has raced a modified and a late model at several tracks across the country. “The car was just super tonight, I want to thank my car owner Mike Reece of Tazewell, TN and of course Scott (Bloomquist) and Bloomquist Race Cars we really had the car dialed in tonight.
James, who recorded his fourth second place finish of the season in Lucas Oil Series competition, continues his drive to overtake Pearson in the chase for the ’07 series title. “It was really nice to get a good point night, we said before the race we just need to take care of business and we feel we have a good shot at the championship, Earl obviously knows how to close out a points deal and myself and (Steve) Casebolt are still relatively new at it, but we feel we can give him a run in the remaining races,” commented the 35-year-old second generation driver afterwards. “It’s what the second time this season I’ve finished second to Owens, he has run really well in some of our races and he had a better car tonight, so I congratulate him for the win.”
Miller, who was running in his first event since June 16 while out battling a thyroid condition that took a month for the doctors to find out exactly what was wrong with him finished third to Owens and James said it felt good to be back in a race car after the layoff. “It was definitely good to be back racing, the car was really good all night, it was good to be competitive after being off for that long, we had a good solid run, I felt like we had a good shot at winning, but Jimmy and Scott were just a little better than us tonight.”
Completing the top ten were Don O’Neal, Matt Miller, Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars and Jeep VanWormer.
In preliminary action Wendell Wallace was the LifeLong Locks Fast Qualifier with a lap of 14.355 seconds among the 36 entrants on hand. Darren Miller, Jimmy Owens, Dennis Erb, Jr. and Scott James won the Hawk Brake and Quarter Master Heat races. The Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno and Penske Shocks B-Mains were taken by Steve Casebolt and Donnie Moran. The Edelbrock Hard Charger of the Race was Dan Schlieper, who advanced nine positions during the 50 lap main event.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Monday Night, August 6, 2007
La Salle Speedway-La Salle, IL
LifeLong Locks Fast Qualifier: Wendell Wallace 14.355 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Darren Miller, Wendell Wallace, Don O’Neal, Jeep VanWormer, Damon Eller, Billy Moyer, Jason McBride, Kerry Hansen, Steve Morgan
Quarter Master Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Jimmy Owens, Tim McCreadie, Earl Pearson, Jr., Brian Birkhofer, Steve Casebolt, Garrett Durrett, Mike Provenzano, George Scheffler, Tony Izzo, Jr.
Hawk Brake Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Dennis Erb, Jr., Terry English, Matt Miller, Billy Drake, Freddy Smith, Mike Mataragas, Steve Dimmick, Scott Schmitt, Brian Claudnic
Quarter Master Fourth Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Scott James, Ryan Dauber, Jimmy mars, Justin Rattliff, Donnie Moran, Shawn Toczek, Dan Schlieper, Aaron Ricketts
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Steve Casebolt, Garrett Durrett, Damon Eller, Kerry Hansen, George Scheffler, Jason McBride, Mike Provenzano, Billy Moyer, Tony Izzo, Jr., Steve Morgan
Penske Shocks Second B-Main (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Donnie Moran, Freddy Smith, Dan Schlieper, Shawn Toczek, Aaron Ricketts, Mike Mataragas, Scott Schmitt, Steve Dimmick
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series “Illinois Valley Challenge” Feature Finish (50 Laps): Jimmy Owens, Scott James, Darren Miller, Wendell Wallace, Tim McCreadie, Don O’Neal, Matt Miller, Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars, Jeep VanWormer, Dennis Erb, Jr., Earl Pearson, Jr., Dan Schlieper, Terry English, Donnie Moran, Justin Rattliff, Billy Drake, Ryan Dauber, Steve Casebolt, Freddy Smith, Mike Mataragas, Damon Eller, Billy Moyer, Garrett Durrett
Yellow Flags: 2
Lap Leaders: Jimmy Owens 1-50
Edelbrock Hard Charger of the Race: Dan Schlieper (Started 22nd and Finished 13th-Advanced 9 Positions)
K&N Clean Pass of the Race:
Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Scott James
COMP Cams Rookie of the Race: Justin Rattliff
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Billy Moyer and Mike Mataragas
Time of Race: 20 Minutes