Jimmy Owens Hits Paydirt At East Bay
GIBSONTON, Fla. – Jimmy Owens passed race leader Don O’Neal on lap 16 and went on the take the $7,000 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series main event at East Bay Raceway Park Saturday afternoon.
The race was originally scheduled for Thursday Night, but was rained out. The win marks the second victory at EBRP for the two-time and reigning Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion.
O’Neal and Dennis Erb Jr. battled it out for the first 15 laps, with Erb officially leading lap 9. Erb had a flat on lap 15, bringing out the first caution of the race. Owens, who started fifth passed O’Neal on the outside after the restart. Owens then led the rest of the race and picked up his second career win at East Bay and the 37th series win of his career. O’Neal came home in second, followed by Eric Jacobsen, John Blankenship, and Vic Coffey.
“For a day race, the track was really great. The crew went out and worked it after the rain delay and there were enough crumbs out there to give everybody traction for the first part of the race,” said the driver of the Mike Reece-owned, Reece Monument Company, Bloomquist Race Cars Ford. “From where we started, I figured that I needed to get to the front before the track took rubber. I saw Erb running up top and I don’t know what happened to him. John (Blankenship) and I had a really good race for second. I was finally able to clear him and was able to catch O’Neal and pass him for the lead.”
O’Neal was looking for his second straight win week, but came up just a car-length short.
“I left the door open in turn one and I knew I was in trouble,” O’Neal said. “Our car has really been great this week, I knew once Owens was in front it was going to be hard to pass him back. We will take second and work towards tonight’s race.”
Jacobsen recorded his second podium finish of the week with a solid third place.
“We have got this place figured out, but we just can’t seem to close the deal and get a win here. I haven’t run as much over the few years as these [Lucas Oil] guys. They race so much more than me, but the car feels good and maybe tonight we can end the week on a good note.”
In preliminary action, Jimmy Owens set the overall RedBuck Fast Time (Group A) amongst the 34 entrants, with a lap of 15.346 seconds. Dennis Erb Jr. set the fastest time in Group B with a time of 15.672 seconds. Don O’Neal, John Blankenship, Dennis Erb Jr., and Eric Jacobsen won their respective Heat Races. Jared Landers and Tyler Reddick won their respective B-Mains.
Leon Henderson was the PRC Strawberry Dash-Draw Winner, Henderson was drawn at random from a pool of eligible drivers due to rain delay and condensed format.