TAMPA, FL (February 4, 2008) - It was all Don O’Neal on the opening night of the 2008 DART Machinery East Bay Winternationals for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series as the veteran driver led all 30 laps to record his 12th career win at the Tampa area facility. It was O’Neal’s first win for his new car owners Jeff and Eddie Harrod as the 43 –year-old earned $5,000 for the win. There was a fabulous finish for second as Dennis Erb, Jr. got by Matt Miller on the final lap to take the runner-up slot. Miller was third followed by Justin Rattliff and Shannon Babb.
O’Neal who earlier had captured the fifth heat race drew the pole starting position for the feature with Canadian Dave Tyrchniewicz, who was making his East Bay debut starting alongside. A multi car incident on the opening lap would negate the first start. The second time around to start the race would see O’Neal jump to the lead with Rattliff and Erb hot on his heels. With two laps in the books Tim McCreadie would slow bringing the caution back out.
With O’Neal showing the way two more scored laps would take place before the third caution for several cars who had gotten together on the front stretch would slow the action for several minutes as cars headed to the pits for repair and driver Randy Korte was checked out in turn one after being contacted from the back. Korte was complaining of some dizziness as the medical crew checked him out.
With the track now clear the green would once again reappear, but it only took one lap before the pesky caution would come back out for Damon Eller who had the nosepiece of his car fold up underneath his ride coming off of turn four as he would slide to a stop on the front stretch.
As the drivers waited patiently for the removal of Eller’s car from the track chief starter Julian Mullis would wave the green to restart the race as O’Neal would bolt away from Rattliff and Erb who were battling nip and tuck for the second spot. Donnie Moran would go to the topside of the racetrack and start to make some passing moves as he went to third around Erb on lap five.
Moran’s foray into fourth would last for two circuits as Erb fought back past him to regain the position as Steve Francis and Tim Dohm were likewise going back and forth in the race for fifth as those two exchanged the fifth spot twice in a three lap span.
Francis would then gain another position as he went by Moran on lap nine but on the same lap Francis would spin in turn four bringing out the sixth caution of the race as Francis would restart on the tail on the quickly depleting field.
The stage would then be set for the rest of the race as the drivers finally settled down and the rest of the race would go caution free. This was good news for O’Neal who from the get go had the car to beat and with his experience at East Bay it was going to be hard to beat him on this the opening night of six straight nights for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series 2008 campaign.
With ten laps in the books O’Neal was comfortably in front with a tight race for the rest of the top five between the youngster Rattliff, Erb, Moran and Dohm. Dohm who one year ago this week scored his first ever win at East Bay picked up another spot as he roared by Moran on lap 14.
Matt Miller then started to get hooked up in the last half of the race as the former Eldora Dream winner entered the top five for the first time at the 15 lap mark using the groove that Moran had started the race doing. With no more cautions awaiting the competitors O’Neal was settled into his rhythm swiftly and smoothly making his way around the track and with no traffic to contend with O’Neal was clicking off laps in a quick fashion.
With O’Neal racing unchallenged most eyes turned to the race for second with the ’07 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Year Justin Rattliff doing a great job in the second spot fighting off all challenges from Erb. Miller then stormed by Dohm on lap 24 and with six laps remaining he was far from done. Miller then hauled the mail around Erb with four to go to put his car into third and a circuit later he was by Rattliff for second in a solid move.
Rattliff had run in the second position from the drop of the green until Miller’s move dropped him to third, but on the last lap Erb absolutely put the hammer down and what looked like at least to be a sure fourth place finish for him became a runner-up finish as he went past first Rattliff and then Miller heading to the checkers to thrill the crowd that saw five cars battling for whom was going to finish to O’Neal.
Shannon Babb’s journey into a top five finish was a quiet one without much fanfare as he pitted once to change a tire and he charged through the field to pick up a top five result. Babb’s run earned him the Allstar Performance Performer of the Race.
Completing the top ten were Tim Dohm, Billy Moyer, Tim McCreadie, Donnie Moran and Eddie Carrier, Jr.
In victory lane O’Neal felt right at home at East Bay because it was the 12th time he had won there. “Starting out on Monday with a win, feels real good so hopefully we’ve set the tone for the rest of the week and the year, the car was super good on the bottom and I moved up there a little bit on the track towards the end and the car worked good there as well,” as O’Neal also won his tenth career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event.
“I want to thank my car owners Jeff and Eddie Harrod, we ran about three or four races towards the end of last year with them and I’m happy to get this first win with them here at East Bay and my dad’s here (Marvin) as well. Man I can’t thank C.J. Rayburn enough, he’s done so much for me and Jay Dickens, what can you say about the motors he has, it’s been a while since I’ve won a race, man it feels good.”
O’Neal’s number 71 ride is sponsored by Harrod Farms, Perry’s Auto Sales, Central Painting, Valvoline, Budda Bert Transmissions and Colston Paving.
Erb who was coming off a sensational 2007 racing season grabbed runner-up honors in his Thomason Transportation/Rhyne Competition Engines/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo. Miller was third in the Larry Moring Motorsports/MDI Environmental/Rocket Chassis #7 entry with Rattliff coming home fourth in the James Rattliff/Torco Race Fuels/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo SS with Babb in the Clint Bowyer Racing/Chevrolet/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo SS completing the top five
Tim Dohm set fast time in the PRC Time Trials with a lap of 14.504 second among the 73 entrants on hand.
The heat race winners were Donnie Moran, Dave Tychniewicz, Justin Rattliff, Dennis Erb, Jr., Don O’Neal and Steve Francis. The B-Main victors were Jared Hawkins, Randy Korte and Eddie Carrier, Jr. Clint Smith won the Strawberry Dash.
Racing will continue on Tuesday Night, February 5th for the 2008 version of the DART Machinery East Bay Winternationals with a $5,000 to win show. The event will be broadcast live via the Internet at www.racetalklive.com.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Monday Night, February 4, 2008
East Bay Raceway Park-Tampa, FL
PRC Fast Time: Tim Dohm 14.504 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 advance): Donnie Moran, Tim Dohm, Billy Drake, Damon Eller, Tim Fuller, Rick Eckert, Wayne Chinn, Dan Schlieper, Anthony White, Bryan Barber, Joe Isabell, Marshall Austin, Danny Johnson
Hawk Brake Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Dave Tyrchniewicz, Shannon Babb, Mike Marlar, Jared Hawkins, Josh Richards, Danny Mitchell, Doug Blashe, Jeep VanWormer, Shon Flanary, Ky Harper, Jim Borden
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Justin Rattliff, Terry Casey, Matt Miller, John Mason, Bryan Collins, Jackie Boggs, Tyler Boggs, Ronnie Lee Whitt, Austin Hubbard, Eric Wells, Rohn Moon
Tiger Rear ends Fourth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Dennis Erb, Jr., Eric Jacobsen, Vic Coffey, Doug Horton, Randy Korte, Chuck Harper, Steve Casebolt, Tim Lance, Kellen Chadwick, Jason McBride, Clint Smith
Hawk Brake Fifth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Don O’Neal, Billy Moyer, Tim McCreadie, Eddie Carrier, Jr., Terry English, Brian Shirley, Dan Stone, Scott Riggs, Jeff Beyers, D.J. Wells, Joe Denby, Russ Adams
Hawk Brake Sixth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Steve Francis, Scott James, Kevin Cole, Freddy Smith, Keith Nosbisch, Tyler Ivey, Peyton Taylor, J.R. Hotovy, Donald Beyers, Bob Geiger, Steve Shaver, Ray Cook
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Jared Hawkins, Damon Eller, Josh Richards, Rick Eckert, Dan Schlieper, Wayne Chinn, Joe Isabell, Bryan Barber, Marshall Austin, Doug Blashe, Danny Johnson, Jeep VanWormer, Anthony White, Jim Borden, Danny Mitchell, Shawn Flanary
Quarter Master Second B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Randy Korte, Chuck Harper, Doug Horton, Steve Casebolt, Eric Wells, Ronnie Lee Whitt, Tyler Boggs, Tim Lance, Jackie Boggs, Kellen Chadwick, John Mason, Austin Hubbard, Rohn Moon, Jason McBride, Clint Smith, Bryan Collins
Quarter Master Third B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Eddie Carrier, Jr., Terry English, Keith Nosbisch, Tyler Ivey, Dan Stone, Brian Shirley, Bob Geiger, D.J. Wells, J.R. Hotovy, Joe Denby, Ray Cook, Donald Beyers, Jeff Beyers, Russ Adams, Peyton Taylor, Freddy Smith,
PRC Strawberry Dash: (6 laps-Winner Advanced to Feature): Clint Smith, Rohn Moon, Steve Casebolt, J.R. Hotovy, Russ Adams, Jeep VanWormer
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series DART Machinery East Bay Winternationals Feature Finish: (30 Laps) Don O’Neal, Dennis Erb, Jr. Matt Miller, Justin Rattliff, Shannon Babb, Tim Dohm, Billy Moyer, Tim McCreadie, Donnie Moran, Eddie Carrier, Jr., Eric Jacobsen, Steve Francis, Clint Smith, Vic Coffey, Billy Drake, Dave Tyrchniewicz, Kevin Cole, Chuck Harper, Damon Eller, Mike Marlar, Randy Korte, Jared Hawkins, Terry English, Terry Casey, Scott James
Caution Flags: 6
Lap Leaders: Don O’Neal 1-30
PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Matt Miller (Started 15th and finished 3rd-Advanced 12 Position
Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Matt Miller
K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: Dennis Erb, Jr.
Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: Eric Jacobsen
ASI Racewear Lucky 7 Award – Billy Moyer
Integra Crew Chief of the Race – Tommy Grecco (Shannon Babb)
Time of Race: 33 Minutes
2008 DART Machinery Winternationals Points Standings (After 2/4/08)
1) Billy Moyer (Batesville, AR) 390
2) Steve Francis (Ashland, KY) 380
3) Dennis Erb, Jr. (Carpentersville, IL) 360
4) Donnie Moran (Dresden, OH) 360
5) Matt Miller (Waterville, OH) 345
6) Don O’Neal (Martinsville, IN) 335
7) Tim McCreadie (Watertown, NY) 330
8) Justin Rattliff (Campbellsville, KY) 330
9) Clint Smith (Senoia, GA) 315
10) Josh Richards Shinnston, WV) 305