UNION, KY (May 31, 2008) – Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN wins the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series 22nd Annual Ralph Latham Memorial on Saturday Night at Florence Speedway. The “Newport Nightmare” earned $10,000 for his first LOLMDS win of the season and becomes the 12th different winner in 17 races this year. Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, WV finished second followed by Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA, Earl Pearson Jr of Jacksonville, FL and Rick Combs of Bethel, OH.
The race was action packed from start to finish as O’Neal and Owens would battle for the top spot from the start. O’Neal had stretched his lead to over a car length in just five short laps. Owens quickly made up ground on O’Neal as the two picked up the tail end of the field.
With heavy traffic in front of the duo, they would see Lanigan close the gap. Lanigan ran into trouble on lap 18 when he got too close to the burm on the inside of turns three and four trying to pass Owens on the inside, causing severe damage to the left front suspension of his car. The yellow flag would come out for the first time in the race for debris and at the same time Lanigan would slow on the backstretch and his night ended on the back of a wrecker.
On the restart, O’Neal, still in the lead, with Owens holding down second and a new threat as Carrier was close behind in third. O’Neal would set sail building a quick lead over Owens, who was now having to contend with Carrier to keep his runner-up slot.
At the halfway mark O’Neal looked to be unbeatable holding off all challenges that Owens had thrown at him. More lapped traffic would await O’Neal as Owens and Carrier closed down the advantage that he held. Jerry Rice advanced several position late in the race, only to slow and pull out, spoiling a possible late race bid for a top five finish.
Carrier would then overtake Owens for second making a nifty move and with 35 laps in the books it was O’Neal, Carrier, Owens, Combs and Birkhofer in the top five positions as those drivers had moved to the very top of the track against the outside wall. With ten laps to go Owens would hunt down Carrier racing past him as he was attempting to set up a showdown in the final laps.
With 44 laps scored O’Neal would exit turn four in the lead but suddenly O’Neal slowed and made a hard left turn into the infield as oil pump issues forced him from the race as he was headed to the five laps to go signal by the flagman. Owens who was right behind O’Neal when this occurred would now inherit the lead and have a clear track in front of him for the final five circuits.
Owens, reigning World 100 and North-South 100 winner would remain unchallenged as he sped on for the victory in the Mike Reece owned/Reece Monument Company/Gantte Appraisals/VP Racing Fuels/PRC/Red Line Oil/Wear Development/Mike’s Mini Late Models/Alwee Trucking Company/Cornett Engines sponsored Bloomquist Race Cars Ford Fusion.
Standing in Lucas Oil Victory Lane, the 36-year-old driver captured his seventh career series win on Saturday Night at Florence commented, “that was a real good show there, O’Neal got out in front and then Eddie Carrier (Jr.) got by me and I raced him hard we touched there on the backstretch I thought I was clear, but I got into him a little bit and I apologize for that, the deal with Lanigan I don’t really know what happened there I came down a little and he was there.” Owens who took over the top spot with six laps to go said he couldn’t say what happened to O’Neal’s car. “I didn’t see anything come off of it nor did it appear he was leaking anything, he had a real good car and we were gaining on him so fast there when he pulled out I guess we were just in the right place at the right time.”
Owens was also highly complementary of the Florence Speedway track crew led by Preston Sandlin. “The track was just super, you could run anywhere on it, I was a little worried there starting in the daytime, but it worked out real well and thanks to everyone here for giving us a racy track,” Owens said.
Carrier Jr. in the Carl Grover Motorsports/Engines Inc. /Rocket Ford Fusion finished second, followed by Birkhofer in his J&J Steel/Pro Power Engines/Mars-Birkhofer Monte Carlo SS. Pearson with his fourth place finish now holds a 55 points advantage over Steve Casebolt, who finished sixth. Pearson was in the Bobby Labonte Racing/Larry Wallace Engines/MasterSbilt Dodge Charger as he crossed the finish line ahead of Rick Combs who ran in the top five the entire distance. Combs was wheeling the Speedweasels/Cropper Racing Engines/Rocket Monte Carlo SS.
Completing the top ten were Steve Casebolt, John Gill, Josh Williams, Brad Neat and Wayne Chinn.
In preliminary action at Florence R.J. Conley topped the 58 entrants in PRC Time Trials with a fast lap of 16.356 seconds. The heat races were won by Darrell Lanigan, Don O’Neal, Jimmy Owens, Rick Combs, Jerry Rice and Eddie Carrier Jr. The B-Mains were taken by Victor Lee and Robby Hensley.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will take next weekend off with the $2.9 million dollar season resuming June 12-14 at Duck River Speedway in Wheel, TN, North Georgia Speedway in Chatsworth, GA and Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, AL. For more information on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series you can visit www.lucasdirt.com or call the series office at (951) 532-2503.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Saturday Night, May 31, 2008
Florence Speedway—Union, Kentucky
PRC Fast Time: RJ Conley/16.365 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Darrell Lanigan, Brian Birkhofer, Steve Landrum, Mike Marlar, RJ Conley, Dan Schlieper, Michael England, Chris Combs, Josh McGuire, Mike Meyers – DNS
Hawk Brake Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Josh Williams, Victor Lee, Audie McWilliams, Kevin Claycomb, Mike Jewell, Scotty Earl, Dennis Roberson, Timmy Yeager
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Jimmy Owens, Brad Neat, Matt Miller, Damon Eller, Scott James, Terry Casey, Bill Blair Jr., Jason Whitaker, Chad Smith
Tiger Rear Ends Fourth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Rick Combs, Dustin Neat, Rodney Combs, Robby Hensley, Rick Corbin, Eric Wells, Jeff Alsip, Chad Stapleton, John Jackson, Jason Jameson – DNS,
Hawk Brake Fifth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Jerry Rice, John Gill, Steve Casebolt, Jesse Lay, Bart Hartman, David Spille, Joey Kramer, John Mason, Larry Pickleheimer Jr., Adrian Nichols
Hawk Brake Sixth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Eddie Carrier Jr., Rod Conley, Wayne Chinn, Freddy Smith, Billy Drake, Ed Behn, Justin Rattliff, Greg Johnson, Cody Mahoney
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Victor Lee, RJ Conley, Mike Marlar, Audie McWilliams, Scott James, Damon Eller, Dan Schlieper, Kevin Claycomb, Bill Blair Jr., Scotty Earl, Dennis Roberson, Josh McGuire, Chris Combs, Chad Smith, Michael England, Mike Meyers – DNS
Quarter Master Second B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Robby Hensley, Freddy Smith, Bart Hartman, David Spille, Jesse Lay, Billy Drake, Joey Kramer, Rick Corbin, Eric Wells, Ed Behn, Jeff Alsip, Justin Rattliff, Larry Pickleheimer Jr., Greg Johnson, John Mason, Adrian Nichols, Cody Mahoney, Chad Stapleton, John Jackson, Jason Jameson – DNS
22nd Annual Ralph Latham Memorial Feature Finish (50 Laps): Jimmy Owens, Eddie Carrier Jr., Brian Birkhofer, Earl Pearson Jr., Rick Combs, Steve Casebolt, John Gill, Josh Williams, Brad Neat, Wayne Chinn, Bart Hartman, Audie McWilliams, RJ Conley, Justin Rattliff, Freddy Smith, Robby Hensley, Victor Lee, Don O’Neal, Matt Miller, Jerry Rice, Dustin Neat, Steve Landrum, Rod Conley, Rodney Combs, Darrell Lanigan
Caution Flags: 2
Lap Leaders: Don O’Neal 1-44, Jimmy Owens 45-50
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Justin Rattliff, Bart Hartman
Florence Speedway Track Provisional: Audie McWilliams
PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Bart Hartman (Started 24th and finished 13th-advanced 11 positions)
Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Don O’Neal
K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: Steve Casebolt
Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: Wayne Chinn
ASI Racewear Lucky 7 Award: John Gill
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Randall Edwards (Earl Pearson Jr.)
Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Cornett Racing Engines
Time of the Race: 24 minutes
Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship Points Standings
1) Earl Pearson Jr. (Jacksonville, FL) 2470
2) Steve Casebolt (Richmond, IN) 2415
3) Bart Hartman (Zanesville, OH) 2225
4) Justin Rattliff (Campbellsville, KY) 2215
5) Scott James (Lawrenceburg, IN) 2110
5) Dan Schlieper (Sullivan, WI) 2110
7) Billy Drake (Bloomington, IL) 1950
8) Terry Casey (New London, WI) 1945
9) Wayne Chinn (Bradford, OH) 1800
10) Freddy Smith (Seymour, TN) 1635
Quarter Master Rookie of the Year Points Standings
1) Terry Casey (New London, WI) 1945
2) Wayne Chinn (Bradford, OH) 1800
3) John Blankenship (Williamson, WV) 520
4) Eric Jacobsen (Seacliffe Beach, CA) 75
5) Tony Knowles (Tyrone, GA) 75