PONTOON BEACH, IL (July 17, 2009) - Don O’Neal of Martinsville, IN powered himself to victory in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series sanctioned Budweiser 50 on Friday Night at Tri-City Speedway. He earned $10,000 for his second series win in the last three events. Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, GA finished second followed by Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, IL; 11th starting Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA; and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, WI.
Babb and Billy Moyer started on the front row of the 50 lap main event. Moyer led the first lap over Babb. Babb then took over the point a lap later and motored to a half a lap lead at the start-finish line to score lap number two. O’Neal, who started third held his spot followed by McDowell and Erb.
Babb held a two-car length advantage over Moyer as the two combatants were dicing it out for the lead on a track that had seen its share of rain over the last week. As Babb and Moyer battled for the point, O’Neal held steady in third and was receiving a challenge from McDowell.
With ten laps in the books, the first caution for debris came out. With the field bunched up for a restart, the top five in the running order were Babb, Moyer, O’Neal, McDowell, and the rim-riding Jason Feger who came from the tenth starting spot to fifth in the first ten circuits.
On the restart Babb still held the point, with O’Neal getting around Moyer to take over second. Moyer then slowed with a flat tire on lap 14 bringing out the second caution of the race. Moyer pitted and returned to the race on the tail end of the field.
On the restart Babb’s lead was taken away by O’Neal who grabbed the lead on lap 15. O’Neal and Babb then put on quite a show racing for the lead as the two encountered heavy traffic. Babb re-took the lead on lap 19 after running high up against the wall.
Babb moved out to a three car length lead over O’Neal as traffic continued to play a major role in the race as Babb’s lead went away on an ill-fated lap 28. He suffered a right rear flat just as he crossed the start-finish line as he slowed heading into turn number one bringing out the third caution of the race.
With Babb going pitside, O’Neal was back in the lead with 22 laps remaining. McDowell was up to second for the restart with Feger in third followed by Erb. Jimmy Mars maintained fifth spot on the restart.
O’Neal had no problems on the restart. Only three laps into the run, Brad Neat slowed and stopped in turn one. The flat for the Dunnville, KY racer marked the fourth and final caution of the race. The single file restart saw O’Neal open up a quick two car length over McDowell as the torrid race for third continued on between Feger, Erb and Mars.
With ten laps to go, O’Neal’s lead looked safe. Erb was able to clear Feger to get to third, still in sight of the second place running McDowell. O’Neal saw McDowell and Erb cut his lead down in the final five circuits as he drove a little more conservative, saving his equipment for the final run. He withstood a final lap charge from both McDowell and Erb to take his 12th career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event.
In the Lucas Oil Victory Lane, O’Neal did an interview with Dave Argabright of SPEED Channel who was on hand to tape the race he was thankful to hold on in the final laps. “I can’t thank my crew enough, this was a brand new car, first time we’ve had it on the track and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome, me and Babb had a good clean race out there until he had the flat and to hold on out there with the way the track was, I know they did the best they could with the track and with all the rain it was definitely choppy but we survived,” said the 45-year -old racer who last week celebrated his birthday by winning the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at North Alabama Speedway.
“I really like this new track they have over here and we’ve run good everytime we’ve been here, I have to thank Tader Masters, Kirk Loudy from Envy Suspensions, Superior Cleaning out of Iowa, Jay Dickens Racing Engines and everyone on the Racing United Marketing Team for the win,” as he was joined in victory lane by his sons Houston and Hudson. O’Neal’s number 71 car also receives sponsorship from Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Racing Tires, Hanzo Logistics and Jeff and Buddy Massengill.
McDowell who with his second place finish at Tri-City moved back into second place in the championship points standings in the Clint Bowyer Racing/Cheerios/Warrior Race Cars Impala SS. “Oh yes we’ll take second place, congratulations to Don for his good run, it was a good finish for us and helps us in points, that’s our goal to win the championship and we just keep inching up there ever so slightly,” said the former World 100 winner as he is within 230 points of Scott Bloomquist, who finished ninth.
Erb coming off his third straight Summernationals title was happy with third against a tough field of cars. “To run third with these guys that great, we had a really good race with Feger out there we ran I don’t know how many laps side-by-side and there at the end we closed on McDowell, but we just ran out of laps,” said the 2009 DART Winternationals champion who drove his Thomason Express/Rhyne Competition Racing Engines/C.J. Rayburn Impala SS.
Birkhofer was fourth in his S&S Concrete/Pro Power Engines/MB Custom Chassis followed by the other MB Custom Chassis in the field driven by Mars.
Completing the top ten were Jason Feger of Bloomington, IL, 14th starting Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR, Randy Korte of Highland, IL, Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN and Rick Eckert of York, PA.
In preliminary events Shannon Babb was the PRC Fast Qualifier with a lap of 15.242 seconds among the 46 entrants on hand. Heat races were won by Shannon Babb, Don O’Neal, Billy Moyer and Dale McDowell. The B-Mains were taken by Rick Eckert and Eric Turner. Jimmy Owens claimed the PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race.
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 Saturday Night, July 18th, 2009 Budweiser 50 Tri-City Speedway – Pontoon Beach, IL
PRC Fast Time: Shannon Babb / 15.242 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Shannon Babb, Dennis Erb Jr., Steve Casebolt, Brad Neat, Rick Eckert, Ray Cook, Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Owens, John Blankenship, Chad Zobrist, Chris Fetter, Ron McQuerry
Hawk Brake Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Don O’Neal, Scott Bloomquist, Brian Birkhofer, Will Vaught, Randy Korte, Bub McCool, Dan Schlieper, Terry Casey, Billy Laycock, Dick Taylor, Jason Utter, John Mason
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Billy Moyer, Jmiiy Mars, Jason Feger, Wendell Wallace, Eric Jacobsen, David Breazeale, Billy Frye, Clint Smith, Mark Voigt, Brian Dively, Freddy Smith
Tiger Rear Ends Fourth Heat (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance): Dale McDowell, Michael Kloos, Brian Shirley, Rodney Melvin, Eric Turner, Alan Mondus, Ken Schrader, Michael Walker, Craig Smith, Dewayne Keifer, Tim Manville
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps- Top 3 Advance): Rick Eckert, Randy Korte, Bub McCool, Ray Cook, Dan Schlieper, Jimmy Owens, Billy Laycock, Jason Utter, John Blankenship, John Mason, Dick Taylor, Chris Fetter, Earl Pearson Jr., Chad Zobrist, Ron McQuerry, Terry Casey-DNS
Wiles Drive Shafts Second B-Main (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Eric Turner, Eric Jacobsen, Bill Frye, David Breazeale, Clint Smith, Alan Mondus, Kenny Schrader, Brian Dively, Dewayne Keifer, Michael Walker, Craig Smith, Freddy Smith, Mark Voigt, Tim Manville-DNS
Feature Finish (50 Laps): Don O’Neal, Dale McDowell, Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars, Jason Feger, Wendell Wallace, Randy Korte, Scott Bloomquist, Rick Eckert, Jimmy Owens, Steve Casebolt, Earl Pearson Jr., Bub McCool, Eric Jacobsen, Brad Neat, Will Vaught, Ray Cook, Rodney Melvin, Billy Moyer, Brian Shirley, Eric Turner, Shannon Babb, Chad Zobrist, Mark Voigt, Billy Laycock, Michael Kloos, Bill Frye
Finish (Start) Car Number Driver Name
1. (3) #71 Don O’Neal
2. (4) #17M Dale McDowell
3. (5) #38E Dennis Erb Jr.
4. (11) #15B Brian Birkhofer
5. (6) #28M Jimmy Mars
6. (10 #25 Jason Feger
7. (14) #B1 Wendell Wallace
8. (19) #00K Randy Korte
9. (7) #0 Scott Bloomquist
10. (17) #24 Rick Eckert
11. (24) #20 Jimmy Owens
12. (9) #c9 Steve Casebolt
13. (23) #44 Earl Pearson Jr.
14. (21) #57J Bub McCool
15. (20 #5 Eric Jacobsen
16. (13) #41N Brad Neat
17. (15) #1v Will Vaught
18. (26) #53 Ray Cook
19. (16) #27 Rodney Melvin
20. (2) #21 Billy Moyer
21. (12) #3s Brian Shirley
22. (18) #99T Eric Turner
23. (1) #18 Shannon Babb
24. (27) # 78 Chad Zobrist
25. (25) #30 Mark Voigt
26. (28) #82 Billy Laycock
27. (8) #6K Michael Kloos
28. (22) #66 Bill Frye
Caution Flags: Lap 10 (Debris); Lap 14 (Billy Moyer); Lap 28 (Shannon Babb); Lap 34 (Brad Neat)
Lap Leaders: Billy Moyer (Lap 1); Shannon Babb (Laps 2-14); Don O’Neal (Laps 15-18); Shannon Babb (19-28); Don O’Neal (29-50)
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Owens
Emergency Provisional: Ray Cook
PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Jimmy Owens
Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Dale McDowell
K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: Brian Birkhofer
Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: none
Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Jay Dickens Racing Engines
Time of the Race: 33 minutes 20 seconds
2009 Championship Points Standings
1. Scott Bloomquist (Mooresburg, TN) 4360 2. Dale McDowell (Chickamauga, GA) 4130 3. Earl Pearson Jr. (Jacksonville, FL) 4065 4. Jimmy Owens (Newport, TN) 4055 5. Don O’Neal (Martinsville, IN) 3940 6. Steve Casebolt (Richmond, IN) 3805 7. Ray Cook (Brasstown, NC) 3785 8. Brad Neat (Dunnville, KY) 3450 9. Eric Jacobsen (Seacliffe Beach, CA) 3275 10. Dan Schlieper (Sullivan, WI) 3175 11. John Blankenship (Williamson, WV) 3140 12. David Breazeale (Four Corners, MS) 2930 13. Josh McGuire (Grayson, KY) 2720 14. Freddy Smith (Seymour, TN) 2655 16. Michael Walker (Franklin, TN) 2130
2009 Quarter Master Rookie of the Year Points Standings
1. John Blankenship (Williamson, WV) 3140 2. David Breazeale (Four Corners, MS) 2930 3. Michael Walker (Franklin, TN) 2130
4. Jeep VanWormer (Pinnconning, MI) 1590