VERNON, NY (July 30, 2009) - Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC roared into the race lead on the 19th lap and then he went on for convincing victory in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series first ever visit to Utica-Rome Speedway on Thursday Night. Cook took home $10,000 for himself and car owners Danny Dishman and Ronald Ivey for his 2nd Lucas Oil Series win of 2009. Eric Jacobsen of Seacliffe Beach, CA had his best career series finish by coming home in second followed by John Blankenship of Williamson, WV; Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN; and Dan Stone of Thompson, PA.
Dale McDowell and Earl Pearson Jr. started on the front row of the 50 lapper. Pearson quickly grabbed the lead on the start of the race as he led the opening circuit. McDowell, Jimmy Owens, Cook, and Blankenship were the top five in the running order early on.
Owens then moved past McDowell for second on lap five as the first caution of the race came out for Steve Cummings who slowed in turn four. On the restart, Pearson was out in front followed by Owens, Cook, Jacobsen and McDowell. On the restart Pearson held his position in front as Owens was challenged by Cook for second when the second caution flew for Mike Knight on lap 13.
On the restart Cook, who started fifth on the grid, moved past Owens without a challenge. Blankenship also got a good restart as he moved into third place as Owens started to slip back in the running order. Current series points leader, Scott Bloomquist, moved into the top five for the first time with 17 laps scored.
Cook then made a pass on Pearson, taking the lead with 19 in the books, as the battle for second went on between Pearson, Jacobsen and Blankenship. The trio battled three-wide for second. The third caution came out for Steve Casebolt’s flat tire with 22 scored. Two laps later, Freddy Smith’s mount slowed on the frontstretch bringing out the caution once more.
On the restart, Cook remained strong out in front as the tussle for second continued. Jacobsen climbed to second ahead of Blankenship and Pearson. The fifth and final caution came out for a slowing Austin Hubbard. Hubbard was running in sixth place, but a broken rear end in his race car ended his night as he went pit-side.
On the final restart of the race, Cook led the Delaware double-file restart to the line for the green. Cook quickly opened up the lead over Jacobsen, stretching it to as much as ten car lengths with 15 laps remaining in the race. Blankenship, Bloomquist, and Dan Stone held their spots accordingly with equal distance between themselves.
With ten laps to go, Cook still remained the car to beat, riding the rim of the race track. Cook’s high wire act continued on for the remainder of the race. He went on to take his third career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win with his victory. If the event would have been one lap more, he would not have managed the victory. Cook’s oil pump belt broke after taking the checkered flag.
In the Lucas Oil Victory Lane, Cook ended a streak of frustrating finishes as he moved back into sixth place in the Lucas Oil Championship Point’s Standings. “We are certainly glad to be back in victory lane, I want to thank the Lord for a good, safe race. I don’t think we could’ve made it another lap, we leaked oil all the way to and from the scale, so we will have a busy day tomorrow to go through to make sure it’s ok. We found out we had a broken oil pump belt and the red light was on,” said the 37-year-old racer in front of an appreciative crowd gathered on the frontstretch.
“I want to thank my car owners Danny Dishman and Ronald Ivey, we just decided it was time to turn around our season, it had been so good up until a month ago, but we changed some things on the car and it was real fast tonight. I just about slipped over the bank in turn two a couple of times, I want to thank the promoters here for a really racy track, they worked on it during the break, I thought it might throw all of us a curve ball for the feature, I went softer on the tires and it paid off. The MasterSbilt Chassis, American Racer Tires and Race Engine Design motor all performed well tonight and thanks to all the fans for coming out tonight, hopefully the series will be back here next year, we had fun tonight.”
Cook’s number 53 machine is also sponsored by Hicks and Ingle Company General Contracting, A+ Moving and Storage Company, Performance Rod and Custom, VP Racing Fuels, PPM Racing Products, Real Racing Wheels, K&N Filters, GW Performance and Integra Racing Shocks.
Jacobsen was extremely happy with second as he concluded the most successful night of his Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series career. He also set fast time for the first time at a Lucas Oil Series race. “The changes we’ve made on the car have really turned around our season, to finish second with these guys is tremendous, the Bloomquist car was really hooked up tonight, the other changes we’ve made going with a Custom Race Engine and American Racer Tires has really paid off and we were so close to getting that first win, I think he (Cook) broke after taking the checkered so one more lap we might have had it, but congratulations to him he ran a great race and deserved the win,” said Jacobsen who also receives sponsorship from VP Race Fuels.
Taking third was Blankenship in the Coal America’s Energy/Custom Race Engines/Bloomquist Race Cars Monte Carlo SS with Bloomquist maintaining his points lead by coming home fourth in his Miller Brothers Coal/Sweet Mfg/Bloomquist Race Cars Monte Carlo SS and Stone ran a solid race in finishing fifth in his NEP Wireless/Cornett Racing Engines/Rocket Chassis Impala SS.
Completing the top ten were Don O’Neal of Martinsville, IN, Earl Pearson, Jr. of Jacksonville, FL, Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN, Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, GA and Brad Neat of Dunnville KY.
To find out more about the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, log on to www.lucasdirt.com or call the series office at (951) 532-2503.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt SeriesRace Summary Thursday Night, July 30th, 2009 Utica Rome Speedway – Vernon, NY
PRC Fast Time: Eric Jacobsen / 19.110 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 6 Advance): Dale McDowell, Don O’Neal, Eric Jacobsen, Freddy Smith, Jimmy Bernheisel, Austin Hubbard, David Zona, James Cornell, Aaron Jacobs
Hawk Brake Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 6 Advance): Earl Pearson Jr., Ray Cook, Scott Bloomquist, Vic Coffey, Mike Knight, David Breazeale, Steve Casebolt, Steve Cummings, Jon Rohacevich
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 6 Advance): Jimmy Owens, John Blankenship, Josh Richards, Daniel Stone, Dan Schlieper, Brad Neat, Rich Gardner, Dale Caswell
Feature Finish (50 Laps): Ray Cook, Eric Jacobsen, John Blankenship, Scott Bloomquist, Daniel Stone, Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Owens, Dale McDowell, Brad Neat, Rich Gardner, Jimmy Bernheisel, Josh Richards, David Breazeale, James Cornell, David Zona, Freddy Smith, Aaron Jacobs, Austin Hubbard, Dan Schlieper, Steve Casebolt, Jon Rohacevich, Mike Knight, Dale Caswell, Steve Cummings
Finish (Start) Car Number Driver Name
1. (5) #53 Ray Cook 2. (7) #5 Eric Jacobsen 3. (6) #23 John Blankenship 4. (8) #0 Scott Bloomquist 5. (12) #21D Daniel Stone 6. (4) #71 Don O’Neal 7. (2) #44 Earl Pearson Jr. 8. (3) #20 Jimmy Owens 9. (1) #17M Dale McDowell 10. (18) #41N Brad Neat 11. (21) #1 Rich Gardner 12. (13) #119 Jim Bernheisel 13. (9) #25 Josh Richards 14. (14) #54 David Breazeale 15. (22) #13B James Cornell 16. (19) #99z David Zona 17. (10) #00 Freddy Smith 18. (25) #16 Aaron Jacobs 19. (16) #11A Austin Hubbard 20. (15) #s9 Dan Schlieper 21. (17) #c9 Steve Casebolt 22. (23) #24J Jon Rohacevich 23. (11) #9K Mike Knight 24. (24) #R19 Dale Caswell 25. (20) #7 Steve Cummings
Entries: 26 Caution Flags: Lap 5 (Steve Cummings); Lap 13 (Mike Knight); Lap 22 (Steve Casebolt); Lap 24 (Freddy Smith); Lap 31 (Austin Hubbard) Lap Leaders: Earl Pearson Jr. (Laps 1-18); Ray Cook (Laps 19-50) Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: none PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Brad Neat (Started 18; Finshed 10; Advanced 8 positions) Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Ray Cook K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: John Blankenship Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: John Blankenship Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Race Engine Design Time of the Race: 34 minutes 44 seconds
2009 Championship Points Standings
1. Scott Bloomquist (Mooresburg, TN) 4765 2. Dale McDowell (Chickamauga, GA) 4520 3. Earl Pearson Jr. (Jacksonville, FL) 4510 4. Jimmy Owens (Newport, TN) 4475 5. Don O’Neal (Martinsville, IN) 4315 6. Ray Cook (Brasstown, NC) 4200 7. Steve Casebolt (Richmond, IN) 4120 8. Brad Neat (Dunnville, KY) 3810 9. Eric Jacobsen (Seacliffe Beach, CA) 3685 10. John Blankenship (Williamson, WV) 3520 11. Dan Schlieper (Sullivan, WI) 3445 12. David Breazeale (Four Corners, MS) 3225 13. Freddy Smith (Seymour, TN) 2925 16. Michael Walker (Franklin, TN) 2260
2009 Quarter Master Rookie of the Year Points Standings
1. John Blankenship (Williamson, WV) 3520 2. David Breazeale (Four Corners, MS) 3225 3. Michael Walker (Franklin, TN) 2260 4. Jeep VanWormer (Pinnconning, MI) 1590