Muskingum County Crowd Cheers Owens
ZANESVILLE, Ohio — Jimmy Owens sped to his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the season on Thursday night at Muskingum County Speedway after taking the lead for good on lap 18.
Owens withstood a caution flag with nine laps to go and motored away from the field to take the win in the Creno’s 50 in front the standing-room-only crowd.
Owens becomes the 10th different driver in 10 appearances by the LOLMDS to win at Muskingum County since 2005. Rick Eckert had his best LOLMDS finish of the season, taking second, followed by series point’s leader, Don O’Neal, Eddie Carrier Jr., and the previous night’s winner at Roaring Knob, Earl Pearson Jr.
“It feels great to be back in victory lane. We have had some tough luck lately,” Owens said. “We had a good finish last night (at Roaring Knob), but before that, we didn’t have the finishes we wanted for a few weeks. The crew did a great job getting the car ready tonight. I could run anywhere on the track tonight, high, low, in the middle, it didn’t matter.”
O’Neal led the first 17 circuits of the race after starting from the pole. O’Neal and Owens ran many laps side by side. Owens was finally able to clear O’Neal in traffic on lap 18 and from then on he went unchallenged for the win. Eckert moved past O’Neal on lap 23, but could never get close enough to seriously challenge Owens for the win.
“He had the best car tonight,” said Eckert. “We worked on our car all day after last night’s run. Right from the start tonight the car was so much better. I felt real comfortable with it tonight. It’s great to be back here in front of this big crowd. That last restart the only chance I had was that he (Owens) would make a mistake, but he’s too good to do that. We are happy to run second and we will be at Portsmouth tomorrow night hoping to gain one more spot.”
After the race O’Neal still sits atop the points standings summed up his third-place finish.
“We got off to a good start in the feature,” O’Neal said. “I was setting a pretty good pace out there. But then here comes Jimmy, and once he got past me it was pretty much over. Then Eckert got a run on me and I couldn’t hold him off. Overall it was a good points night for us.”
Don O’Neal set the overall Miller Welders Fast Time (Group A) amongst the 33 entrants, with a lap of 15.593 seconds.
Jimmy Owens, Rick Eckert, Don O’Neal, Eddie Carrier Jr., Earl Pearson Jr., Davey Johnson, Devin Moran, Tim Dohm, Mike Benedum, Jared Landers, Dennis Erb Jr., John Blankenship, Shane McLoughlin, Michael Davis, Jason Papich, Doug Drown, Ryan Markham, Todd Brennan, Matt Irey, Steve Francis, Jason Hughes, Jared Hawkins, Scott Bloomquist, Rocky Owens, Steve Prince, Ronnie Mayle.