TAMPA, FL (February 3, 2009)- Taking over the lead on lap 23, Matt Miller of Waterville, OH pulled away in the last seven laps to take the victory on the first night of the 33rd Annual DART Winternationals for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series on Tuesday Night. Piloting a four-year old Rocket Chassis, Miller started sixth on the grid and fell just inside the top ten early in the race before regrouping to take the win. Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR finished second followed by Scott James of Lawrenceburg, IN, 20th starting Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN and Steve Francis of Ashland, KY.
The $5,000 to win 30-lapper got underway with Tim Dohm taking the lead and Dennis Erb, Jr., Moyer, James and Francis in tow. Moyer climbed to the second spot passing Erb on lap two for the position, as Dohm continued to hold the point. The first caution of the race would come out on lap four for Victor Lee, which was followed up by another caution for sixth-place running Tyler Ivey.
On the restart Dohm was still looking solid with Moyer, Erb, James and Francis holding the top five positions. The third caution would fly on lap seven for last year’s LOLMDS Rookie of the Year Terry Casey. Dennis Erb Jr. was the victim of yet another yellow flag right after Casey’s caution.
The race then gained momentum as the drivers settled down as Dohm continued to hold onto the lead over a hard-charging Moyer. With ten laps finally recorded Dohm held a two-car length advantage over Moyer, who came into the race with 18 career wins at the Tampa-area facility. Dan Schlieper then started to pick up the pace as he climbed into the fourth spot as the cars were rapidly approaching the half-way mark of the race.
Moyer then started to turn up the heat on Dohm as he started to hound the 48-year old former Motocross racer. With the crossed flags indicating the halfway point on lap 15 Dohm continued to set the pace over the cars of James, Schlieper and a fast-moving Matt Miller.
Miller was able to overhaul Schlieper for fourth on lap 19 just as the fifth caution of the race appeared for Lee. Jordan Bland then suffered damage to his car on the ensuing restart and he would go off the track on the back of the wrecker ending the PRC Strawberry Dash winner’s hopes for a good finish.
On the restart Dohm was again looking like the car to beat as the restart work to Miller’s advantage as he stormed around James and Moyer to nab the second slot with 22 laps complete. Miller’s choice of a harder tire was starting to pay off handsomely as his ascent to second place was just a short step to taking over the lead.
On lap 23 Miller swung out wide heading into turn four as Dohm came up the track just enough where the two drivers touched as Dohm went spinning which brought out the seventh and final caution of the race. Miller was now the new leader as Dohm’s night ended as he went pitside after leading the first 22 laps of the race.
Miller’s surge to the front paid off as he was untouchable in the final seven laps as his car was literally a rocketship which carried him to victory lane for his sixth career win on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series tour and his third career at East Bay as the 2008 Eldora Speedway Track Champion brought the Larry Moring Motorsports number 7 home in first place. The Rocket Corvette that Miller drives has a Clements Engines under the hood and is sponsored by Freeport Recycling Center, MDI Environmental, PRC and Sunoco Race Fuels.
In the Lucas Oil victory lane, Miller emerged from his winning race car which used to be driven by Steve Francis when he drove for Moring Motorsports. “All the other guys went soft on the left rear and we went harder and it really worked out well, I didn’t know at the start because we started to go backwards and I was a little worried, but it all came together and the car was just super, I hate it for Tim, he’s a good guy, but he slid up in front of me and we got together,” said the 37-year old racer who commented on the incident with Dohm.
“It was about lap five where we really started to get going and we had to pass a lot of good cars to get to the front, I want to thank Larry Moring for giving me this opportunity to drive his car and all the crew did a great job tonight and it’s just good to be back in victory lane anywhere.”
Moyer, who was a three-time East Bay DART Winternationals winner last year finished cross the line in second in his Banner Valley Hauling, Clements Engines, Moyer Victory Circle Chassis; James had a strong run taking third in the Scott Riggs Motorsports, Powell Motorsports, Rocket GTO. Completing the top five were Owens who earned the PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race as he started 20th and worked his way through the pack crossing the stripe in fourth in the Mike Reece, Reece Monument Company, Bloomquist Ford Fusion and eight-time East Bay winner Steve Francis took the Beitler Enterprises, Reliable Painting, Rocket Chassis GTO to the pay window as he finished out the top five.
The rest of the top ten were Dan Schlieper, 18th starting Wayne Chinn, 16th starting Jeep VanWormer, Eric Jacobsen and 21st starter Rick Eckert.
In preliminary action Tim Dohm was PRC Fast Qualifier with a lap of 14.908 seconds among the 69 entrants on hand. Heat race winners were Tim Dohm, Scott James, Steve Francis, Dennis Erb, Jr., Billy Moyer and Matt Miller. The consy victors were Eric Wells, Jimmy Owens and Rick Eckert. Jordan Bland took the PRC Strawberry Dash to earn a feature starting spot over Ray Cook, Mark Pettyjohn, Chad Mahder and Tyler Reddick.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will be back in action for night two of the 33rd Annual DART Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park on Tuesday Night for a $5,000 to win feature event. It was announced that Monday Night’s rained out program will be run on Friday preceding a $10,000 to win 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 SummaryTuesday Night, February 3, 2009 East Bay Raceway Park – Gibsonton, FL
PRC Fast Time: Tim Dohm/14.908 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Tim Dohm, Dan Schlieper, Victor Lee, Brady Smith, Eric Wells, Shon Flanary, Jason McBride, Jeff Beyers, John Mason, Tyler Reddick, Butch Strait, Scott Slay
Hawk Brake Second Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Scott James, Eric Jacobsen, Terry Casey, Tyler Bruening, Steve Shaver, Ricky Arms, Steve Casebolt, Dillan White, Shanon Buckingham, Brad Neat, JR Hotovy
AFCO Racing Products Third Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Steve Francis, Donnie Moran, Josh Richards, Jordan Bland, Clint Smith, John Blankenship, Eddie Carrier Jr., Chad Mahder, Mark Pettyjohn, Brandon Thirlby, Josh McGuire
Tiger Rear Ends Fourth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Ivey, Chris Wall, Jimmy Owens, Ray Cook, David Breazeale, Joe Loudin, Jayme Zidar, Justin Rattliff, Terry English, Dan Stone, Bob Geiger
AFCO Racing Products Fifth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Billy Moyer, Freddy Smith, Jeep VanWormer, Earl Pearson Jr., Mike Marlar, AJ Kirkpatrick, Jesse Stovall, Mike Collins, Mark Andersen, Danny Mitchell, Travis Varnadore
AFCO Racing Products Sixth Heat (10 Laps-Top 3 Advance): Matt Miller, Davey Johnson, Wayne Chinn, Rick Eckert, Don O’Neal, Tim Isenberg, Clint Bowyer, Tommy Weder, Joe Janowski, Russ Adams, Dale McDowell
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno First B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Eric Wells, Brady Smith, Ricky Arms, Steve Casebolt, Steve Shaver, Tyler Bruening, Brad Neat, Dillan White, Jason McBride, John Mason, Tyler Reddick, Jeff Beyers, Shon Flanary, JR Hotovy, Butch Strait, Shanon Buckingham – DNS, Scott Slay – DNS
Wiles Drive Shafts Second B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Jimmy Owens, Clint Smith, Ray Cook, Jordan Bland, Chad Madher, John Blankenship, Eddie Carrier Jr., David Breazeale, Mark Pettyjohn, Dan Stone, Terry English, Joe Loudin, Jayme Zidar, Brandon Thirlby, Bob Geiger, Josh McGuire, Justin Rattliff – DNS
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno Third B-Main (12 Laps-Top 2 Advance): Rick Eckert, Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Mike Marlar, Jesse Stovall, Tim Isenberg, Tommy Weder, Clint Bowyer, Mike Collins, Mark Andersen, AJ Kirkpatrick, Russ Adams, Travis Varnadore, Joe Janowski – DNS, Danny Mitchell – DNS, Dale McDowell – DNS
PRC Strawberry Dash (7 Laps – Winner Advances): Jordan Bland, Ray Cook, Mark Pettyjohn, Chad Madher, Tyler Reddick, Jeff Beyers, Dan Stone
33rd Annual Dart Winternationals Night 1 Feature Finish (30 Laps): Matt Miller, Billy Moyer, Scott James, Jimmy Owens, Steve Francis, Dan Schlieper, Wayne Chinn, Jeep VanWormer, Eric Jacobsen, Rick Eckert, Davey Johnson, Brady Smith, Josh Richards, Don O’Neal, Donnie Moran, Clint Smith, Dennis Erb Jr., Chris Wall, Eric Wells, Tim Dohm, Jordan Bland, Victor Lee, Freddy Smith, Tyler Ivey, Terry Casey
Entries: 69 Caution Flags: 7 Lap Leaders: Tim Dohm 1-22, Matt Miller 23-30 PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger of the Race: Jimmy Owens(Started 20th and finished 4th – advanced 16 positions) Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Wayne Chinn K&N Filters Clean Pass of the Race: Rick Eckert Quarter Master Rookie of the Race: Jeep VanWormer Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race: Chris Farmer & Justin Duckworth (Scott James) Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race: Clements Racing Engines Time of the Race: 30 minutes
33rd Annual Dart Winternationals Points Standings
1. Matt Miller 250
2. Billy Moyer 230
3. Scott James 220
4. Jimmy Owens 210
5. Steve Francis 205
6. Dan Schlieper 200
7. Wayne Chinn 195
8. Jeep VanWormer 190
9. Eric Jacobsen 185
10. Rick Eckert 180