TAMPA, FL (February 5, 2009) – Setting a rapid pace after taking over the lead, 20-year-old Josh Richards of Shinnston, WV dominated the last half of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event on Thursday Night at East Bay Raceway Park winning his first career LOLMDS event and his first ever at the home of the DART Winternationals. Richards held almost a half a lap lead over second place finisher Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR at the finish. Moyer who continued an impressive week with a win and now two second place finishes. Matt Miller of Waterville, OH placed third followed by Dennis Erb, Jr. of Carpentersville, IL and Mike Marlar of Winfield, TN.
Terry Casey, last year’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series “Rookie of the Year” grabbed the lead at the start of the 40lap $10,000 to win event, which marked the third night of the 33rd Annual DART Winternationals. Casey, who started on the pole, opened up a six-car length lead by the third lap as he set a blistering pace around the 1/3 mile oval. Matt Miller, the opening night winner back on Tuesday tried to stay with Casey as he was receiving heavy pressure from Richards, who started fifth.
Richards went to the high-side of the track and made it stick as he took Tim Dohm with him, costing Miller two spots in the running order. Casey saw his lead quickly dissipate as Richards closed on him in matter of just a few laps once he took over the second spot.
Richards and Casey battled through traffic swapping the lead back and forth as Miller, Dohm and Marlar maintained the top five spots with ten laps in the record books. In heavy traffic Casey re-took the point as he sliced between two lapped cars to dislodge Richards from the top of the leader board. The two top runners came together, battling for the same piece of real estate in turn one with Casey on the worst end of it, as he would spin and stop on the race track to bring out the first caution flag of the event.
On the restart, Richards held the point with Miller now in second as he lined up side-by-side on the Delaware double-file restart alongside 11th place starter Billy Moyer. Richards had a blistering restart as Moyer cleared Miller for second place with 17 laps scored. In the lead, Richards sprinted out to a six-car length advantage putting healthy distance between himself and Moyer at the half-way mark of the race.
Richards kept the hammer down as he moved to a straightaway lead with 15 laps to go, clicking off laps in rapid fashion. Richards encountered some heavy traffic by lap 27 and then had to contend with Earl Pearson Jr. and Dale McDowell who were having a side-by-side race for position, trying to protect themselves from going a lap down.
It took Richards a about three laps before he was finally able to shake himself of those two drivers and with ten laps to go Richards had somewhat of a clear path around the track as he was pounding the cushion with the right rear Hoosier tire. Richards’ domination was evident as even in heavy traffic with five laps to go as he nearly had a half-a-lap lead over the field.
Meanwhile Moyer had gained a good bit of distance between his car and third place running Miller as Erb and Marlar were running a quiet but steady race themselves, maintaining a top five pace, but they were several car lengths behind Richards, who was not letting off the gas. Richards then negotiated traffic with very little issues as he went on the win his first career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event by a large margin.
Standing in Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the first time in his career Richards first commented on the incident between himself and Terry Casey. “I want to apologize to the 42 car, I just wanted to keep turning and he slid up; we’ve been trying to win here for a few years and it feels good to get that first Lucas Oil win,” said Richards who is driving a car owned by fellow West Virginian Ernie Davis.
“We went with the right tire choice tonight, the same as last night, but unfortunately we had the flat tire last night and it cost us a possible win […] it was bumpy out there and I had to get up on the wheel tonight and I want to thank Ernie for giving me this chance to driver his car and thanks to Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Tires and Integra Shocks for their help,” said Richards who has Ernie D’s Enterprises, LLC and Tim Fraker Signs on the side of the Rocket Monte Carlo SS with Cornett power under the hood.
With his second place finish, Moyer still leads the DART Winternationals point’s race heading in the final three races of the week in his J&J Steel, Clements Racing Engines, Moyer Victory Circle Monte Carlo SS. Miller continued his strong week as well finishing third in the Moring Motorsports, MDI Environmental, and Rocket Corvette. Completing the top five, marking their best finishes of the week included Erb in the Thomason Express, Rhyne Competition Engines, C.J. Rayburn Impala SS and Marlar in the Mary Lu Stephens owned, Estes Racing Engines, C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo SS.
Completing the top ten were Rick Eckert, 20th starting Dan Schlieper who earned the PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race, Terry English, Ricky Arms and 22nd starting Clint Smith.
In preliminary action, Tim Dohm was the PRC Fast Qualifier for the second time this week among the 75 entrants. The heat race winners were Terry Casey, Matt Miller, Josh Richards, Tim Dohm, Donnie Moran and Jimmy Owens. The B-mains went to Ray Cook, Dan Schlieper, Eric Wells and Clint Smith. Don O’Neal took the win in the PRC Strawberry Dash to earn a starting spot in the A-main.
Racing will continue with a day/night doubleheader full of action for the 33rd Annual DART Winternationals at East Bay on Friday with the rainout make-up from Monday to be run, starting with hot laps at 11:00 AM with time trials to follow. There will be heat races, B-mains and the $5,000 to win to win for the daytime activities with the $10,000 to win evening show for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series kicking off at 5:00pm with hot laps, to start the nighttime portion of the race program.
For more information on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, visit the series website at www.lucasdirt.com or call the series office at (951) 532-2503.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Race Summary Thursday Night, February 5, 2009 East Bay Raceway Park – Gibsonton, FL
PRC Fast Time: Tim Dohm/14.477 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Terry Casey, Mike Marlar, Freddy Smith, Ray Cook, Dan Schlieper, Russ King, Don O’Neal, Tyler Reddick, Danny Mitchell, John Blankenship, Eddie Carrier Jr., JR Hotovy, Scott Bloomquist – DNS
Hawk Brake Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Matt Miller, Terry English, Dan Stone, Steve Shaver, Steve Casebolt, Shanon Buckingham, Wayne Chinn, Mike Walker, Tommy Weder, Tommy Kerr, Victor Lee, Jordan Bland – DNS
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Josh Richards, Billy Moyer, Scott James, Tim Isenberg, Tim Fuller, Jeep VanWormer, Earl Pearson Jr., Dillan White, Steve Francis, Shon Flanary, Butch Strait, Justin Rattliff
Tiger Rear Ends Fourth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Tim Dohm, Dennis Erb Jr., Rick Eckert, John Mason, Davey Johnson, Scott Slay, AJ Kirkpatrick, David Breazeale, Brandon Thirlby, Russ Adams, Brad Neat, Mike Collins, Darren Miller
AFCO Racing Products Fifth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Donnie Moran, Ricky Arms, Brady Smith, Jayme Zidar, Eric Wells, Jason McBride, Bart Hartman, Chad Madher, Rusty Schlenk, Brad Eitniear, Adam Ferri, Travis Varnadore, Chris Wall
AFCO Racing Products Sixth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Jimmy Owens, Eric Jacobsen, Dale McDowell, Josh McGuire, Clint Smith, Tyler Ivey, Chris Shannon, Tyler Bruening, Jeff Beyers, Mark Andersen, Bob Geiger, Mark Pettyjohn
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps-Winner Advances): Ray Cook, Jeep VanWormer, Dillan White, Victor Lee, Victor Lee, Shon Flanary, Tim Isenberg, Tyler Reddick, Russ King, John Blankenship, JR Hotovy, Justin Rattliff, Steve Casebolt, Wayne Chinn, Tommy Weder – DNS
Wiles Drive Shafts Second B-Main (12 Laps-Winner Advances): Dan Schlieper, Don O’Neal, Tommy Kerr, Steve Francis, Danny Mitchell, Mike Walker, Steve Shaver, Tim Fuller, Earl Pearson Jr., Butch Strait, Shanon Buckingham – DNS, Eddie Carrier Jr. – DNS, Jordan Bland – DNS, Scott Bloomquist – DNS
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno Third B-Main (12 Laps-Winner Advances): Eric Wells, John Mason, Tyler Ivey, Mark Pettyjohn, Tyler Bruening, Russ Adams, Rusty Schlenk, Josh McGuire, Chris Wall, Mike Collins, Scott Slay, David Breazeale, Adam Ferri, Bart Hartman, Mark Andersen
Wiles Drive Shafts Fourth B-Main (12 Laps-Winner Advances): Clint Smith, Chris Shannon, AJ Kirkpatrick, Jayme Zidar, Jeff Beyers, Chad Mahder, Brad Eitniear, Brandon Thirlby, Travis Varnadore, Bob Geiger, Brad Neat, Jason McBride, Davey Johnson, Darren Miller – DNS
PRC Strawberry Dash (9 Laps – Winner Advances): Don O’Neal, Jayme Zidar, Mike Collins, Chris Wall, Steve Francis, Brandon Thirlby, Brad Eitniear, Russ Adams, Bob Geiger
33rd Annual Dart Winternationals Night 3 Feature Finish (40 Laps):
Josh Richards, Billy Moyer, Matt Miller, Dennis Erb, Jr., Mike Marlar, Rick Eckert, Dan Schlieper, Terry English, Ricky Arms, Clint Smith, Brady Smith, Earl Pearson, Jr., Eric Jacobsen, Donnie Moran, Dale McDowell, Tim Dohm, Eric Wells, Ray Cook, Scott James, Don O'Neal, Terry Casey, Jimmy Owens, Bart Hartman, Dan Stone, Freddy Smith
Finish. Car Number Driver Name (Starting Spot) Laps
Entries: 75 Caution Flags: 2 Lap Leaders: Terry Casey 1-6, Josh Richards 7-10, Casey 11, Richards 12-40 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Earl Pearson Jr., Bart Hartman PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Dan Schlieper (Started 18th and finished 7th – advanced 13 positions) Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Mike Marlar K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: Dennis Erb Jr. Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: none Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Heather Lyne Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Cornett Racing Engines Time of the Race: 21 minutes
33rd Annual Dart Winternationals Points Standings
1. Billy Moyer 710
2. Matt Miller 630
3. Josh Richards 600
4. Rick Eckert 590
5. Jimmy Owens 565
6. Dan Schlieper 520
6. Donnie Moran 520
8. Steve Francis 515
8. Brady Smith 515
10. Dennis Erb Jr. 510