Tyler County Speedway
Hillbilly-winning Owens eyes another World 100
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com chief writer
MIDDLEBOURNE, W.Va. (Aug. 31) — So Jimmy Owens, what did you think of your first trip to Tyler County Speedway, a bullring with a reputation for high-speed action? "It's a tight little track. I barely did see the checkered flag there. ... It's a great, great place. Great fans. The fans are awesome and everybody's awesome here," Owens said. | Hillbilly 100 notebook | Slideshow
Oh, and the pay isn't bad, either.
The Newport, Tenn., driver took command of the 40th annual Hillbilly 100 following a lap-40 restart and raced to a whopping $40,000 victory for his second Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory in his last three starts. In addition to a recent World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory in Bulls Gap, Tenn., that gives him three victories in his last three feature starts (he failed to make two other features), Owens cemented himself as one of the hottest drivers in Dirt Late Model racing heading into the prestigious World 100 on Sept. 5-6 at Eldora Speedway, a race that catapulted the victorious Owens into the elite level of Dirt Late Model racers last year. "Hopefully, we can bring it home again," Owens said in victory lane.
Owens started 12th at Tyler County and worked his way into the top five by the 20th lap. He worked his way into second by lap 38 but was more than a straightaway behind the trail-blazing Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., before a caution for Corey Conley's flat tire bunched the field.
On the restart, Dohm stuck with the low groove that had carried him to his big lead after he took the point from Scott James on lap 13, but the rubber strip that was developing higher in the racing groove helped Owens sweep around Dohm on the restart and take command.
"I was glad to see the caution," Owens said. "Tim was on the bottom and the top was cleaning up pretty good. Our tires were working real good on the high side. We were just able to bring it home."
The final 60 laps, slowed by one more caution on lap 52 when Steve Casebolt pulled up on the backstretch, weren't entirely worry-free for Owens. The top three of Owens, Dohm and 23rd-starting Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla. — the Lucas Oil Series points leader who needed a provisional to get into the 26-car starting field — broke away from the pack by lap 60 but faced bouts with slower cars.
Dohm, who picked softer tires that were wearing out faster than the rubber used by Owens, thought he might be able to use his lower groove one more time to regain the lead.
"I was on the bottom and real good when I got into the lead and took off," Dohm said. "I didn't know whether to go to the top or not (on the lap-40 restart), but then when he went by me, I knew it was taking some rubber, so I got back up in behind him."
With the top three running virtually nose-to-tail as the race entered the late stages, some difficulty amid lapped traffic offered Dohm a chance to regain the lead. He dove to the bottom in turn one on lap 76, sliding up in front of Owens in turn two. But Owens quickly turned back under Dohm and pulled back into the lead on the backstretch while Dohm, losing some momentum, ended up falling to third behind Pearson.
"I probably just should've followed him. I got by him once, and he got back by me," Dohm said. "I figured if we got back in lapped cars I maybe could hit that bottom one more time and make it work, but I messed up and Earl got by me. I don't know. We still ran good. They knew we were here. We led a while."
Like Dohm, Pearson had softer tires on and knew that finding a way past Owens would require a mistake by the leader.
"Jimmy Owens did a heckuva job and he found the rubber early," said Pearson, who found the same groove while battling James for third. "I knew that top as getting blacker and blacker and faster and faster. I knew if hadn't had anything left, we were going to have to get right in line with those guys, and they'd have to make a mistake to get by. Like Dohm did. He tried a slide job and it didn't quite work out, and that's how we got by him. (Owens) just didn't make a mistake, that's all it was."
Pearson completed his 23rd-to-second run while Dohm settled for third in a bid for his biggest career victory. Rick Williams of Beckley, W.Va., also used softer rubber, saving it until the last half of the race to rally into fourth from his 19th starting spot while Darren Miller of Milledgeville, Ill., who started ninth, made some late-race moves to get into fifth. James ran among the top three the first half of the race but ended up seventh to continue a streak since late May that hasn't seen him crack the top five.
Owens was glad his decision to make his first trip to Tyler County paid off, especially after he didn't crack the starting lineup of the previous night's event at Portsmouth, Ohio. "The car was good all night, the crew and everybody worked their tails off," Owens said. "We weren't too good last night. We didn't really mess with the car because we really had it set up for this track. We got here and timed in pretty good, the heat race was pretty good and then I thought, 'Well, the track's going to keep blowing off, and maybe we'll just get better.' "
Notes: Owens drove a Bloomquist Race Car with a Cornett powerplant and sponsorship from Reece Monument and Gantte Appraisals. ... He has 13 victories overall in 2008, four shy of his impressive 2007 campaign. ... His chassis designer, Scott Bloomquist, failed again in his bid to win one of the few major events that eluded him. Bloomquist (and two other drivers) lost his regular time trial position because of a tire violation, and the single qualifying lap he took left him in the sixth row of a heat race and he never recovered. He finished one spot out of transferring in a consolation race. ... An overflowing crowd watched the action as fans sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the grandstands, stood in every other available spot and even sat on three flatbed trailers hauled into the infield as auxiliary grandstands. ... None of the five cautions were for anything serious. The first start attempt was called back, then a lap-three yellow appeared when third-starting Terry Casey and Jared Hawkins got together entering turn three (Hawkins retired). ... A lap-40 yellow appeared when Corey Conley stopped low on the backstretch with a flat tire, and another yellow came out on the next restart attempt when Joe Loudin and Freddy Smith spun in turn one. .... The final yellow appeared for Casebolt on lap 52. ... The Hillbilly 100, among the longest-running Dirt Late Model races in the country, paid its richest purse at $125,000. For many years it paid $10,000-to-win before being raised to $25,000 by 2000. The $40,000 winner's share is a race record. ... The race originated at nearby Pennsboro (W.Va.) Speedway but has been run at Tyler County since 1999.
Hillbilly 100: (1) Jimmy Owens, (2) Earl Pearson Jr., (3) Tim Dohm, (4) Rick Williams, (5) Darren Miller, (6) Bart Hartman, (7) Scott James, (8) Brian Shirley, (9) Mike Balzano, (10) Donnie Moran, (11) Steve Shaver, (12) Steve Wilmoth, (13) Joe Loudin, (14) Paul Wilmoth Jr., (15) Doug Horton, (16) Terry Casey, (17) Rick Aukland, (18) Steve Casebolt, (19) Corey Conley, (20) Freddy Smith, (21) Booper Bare, (22) Sonny Conley, (23) Josh McGuire, (24) Butch McGill, (25) Richard Frazier, (26) Jared Hawkins. Fast qualifier (among 85 cars): Dohm, 12.713 seconds. Heat race winners: Dohm, Frazier, Shirley, James, Hartman, Casey. Consolation winners: Williams, Bare, Aukland. Provisional starters: Loudin, Pearson, Casebolt, McGill, Conley.
Rick Williams, Booper Bare and Rick Aukland won consolation races as only the winner of the events transferred to the feature. Scott Bloomquist rallied from seventh in the first race but fell short in trying to overtake Williams.
First consolation: Rick Williams, Scott Bloomquist, Jeep Van Wormer, Dan Schlieper, Dan Shrigley, Chuck Harper, Roy Roush, Greg Buckland, Jeff Burdette, Larry Kingseed, Butch McGill, Scott Irvin, Joe Loudin, Dave Hackathorn, Paul Baker, Brad Neat, Chad Todd, Denver Gibson.
Second consolation: Booper Bare, Keith Barbara, Jason Fitzgerald, Billy Drake, Steve Lucas, Sonny Conley, Dusty Hamrick, Bobby Hill, John Mason, Freddie Carpenter, Jason Witherite, Nick Corbitt, Marshall Wilbin, Dwight Henry, Glynn Booth, Tyler Carpenter, Robbie Bostic, Donnie Dotson, Rod Gibson.
Third consolation: Rick Aukland, Earl Pearson Jr., Eddie Carrier Jr., Davey Johnson, Steve Casebolt, Chris Garnes, Tim Senic, Charlie George Jr., Joel Prosser, Wayne Chinn, Greggie Oliver, Zack Dohm, Justin Rattliff, Josh Coffman, Steve Weigle, Don Conley, Ron Clevenger, Jim Quaigg, Doug Eaton, Rickey Conley.
Outside front-row starter Terry Casey got a good start and firmly held the lead all the way in a row where the top three edged away from the pack. Polesitter Mike Balzano had his hands full with Jimmy Owens midway through the race, and Owens slipped underneath to grab the spot. Owens nearly caught Casey at the finish before settling for second while Balzano got the third and final transfer spot. Last year's Hillbilly 100 winner, Eddie Carrier Jr., held fourth midway through the race but slipped to fifth behind Rick Aukland.
Finish: Terry Casey, Jimmy Owens, Mike Balzano, Rick Aukland, Eddie Carrier Jr., Tim Senic, Charlie George Jr., Joel Prosser, Steve Weigle, Greggie Oliver, Rickey Conley, Anthony Huber, Don Conley, Josh Coffman.
Bart Hartman dueled with fellow front-row starter Steve Shaver the first half of the race, but Shaver got scarily high exiting turn two, allowing Hartman to grab a lead he'd never give up. Shaver, who caught back up after a caution, continued in the ultrahigh groove but settled for second ahead of Steve Wilmoth, who fought off Earl Pearson Jr. for the third and final transfer spot. Jim Quaigg spun between turns three and four on the sixth lap and collected the third-running Wilmoth, who got his spot back because the caution had already appeared.
Finish: Bart Hartman, Steve Shaver, Steve Wilmoth, Earl Pearson Jr., Davey Johnson, Chris Garnes, Steve Casebolt, Wayne Chinn, Justin Rattliff, Zack Dohm, Doug Eaton, Ron Clevengers, Jim Quaigg. Scratched: Michael England.
Polesitter Scott James jumped out to the early lead and cruised to an easy victory. Fourth-starting Freddy Smith made a strong backstretch move on the first lap and got up to second, but front-row starter Corey Conley fought hard for that spot the rest of the way. They battled side by side the last few laps with the higher-running Smith getting the spot, while Conley got the third and final transfer spot. Fourth-finishing Keith Barbara never got into the mix in the caution-free prelim.
Finish: Scott James, Freddy Smith, Corey Conley, Keith Barbara, Jason Fitzgerald, Bobby Hill, Sonny Conley, Donnie Dotson, Jason Witherite, Rod Gibson, Robbie Bostic, Dwight Henry, Glynn Booth. Scratched: Brad Hutson.
Polesitter Brian Shirley beat fellow Illinois driver Darren Miller into the first turn and held on the rest of the way. The top two ran away from the rest of the field with Doug Horton, last year's third-place finisher in the 100-lapper, rallying from the eighth spot to take the third position from Booper Bare midway through the race. Bare settled for fourth while Steve Lucas, who challenged for third early, was fifth ahead of Billy Drake. Tyler Carpenter's turn-three spin forced a complete restart when he failed to complete the first lap. The second start was also scrubbed when Nick Corbitt spun in turn three, collecting Kris Southern and Freddie Carpenter. A lap-three caution appeared when Marshall Wiblin spun in turn four.
Finish: Brian Shirley, Darren Miller, Doug Horton, Booper Bare, Steve Lucas, Billy Drake, Dusty Hamrick, John Mason, Nick Corbitt, Freddie Carpenter, Tyler Carpenter, Marshall Wiblin, Kris Southern, Joe Ramey.
Taking advantage of a surprising starting spot in the front row, local driver Richard Frazier led all 10 laps for a victory, holding off a determined charge from Jared Hawkins in the final laps. Hawkins settled for second after working the low groove most of the race while Josh McGuire was a close third. Polesitter Dan Schlieper battled for a transfer spot most of the race but spun between turns three and four on the seventh lap to draw one of six cautions. The first two start attempts were called back and officials penalized outside front-row starter Josh McGuire, dropping him to outside the second row for the official start. Greg Buckland slowed to bring out a lap-two caution and Denver Gibson spun in turn four on the third lap. Gibson spun again in turn two on the eighth lap with a flat tire and was sent off the track.
Finish: Richard Frazier, Jared Hawkins, Josh Mcguire, Scott Irvin, Dan Shrigley, Larry Kingseed, Dan Schlieper, Roy Roush, Jeff Burdette, Denver Gibson, Chad Todd, Dave Hackathorn, Greg Buckland. Scratched: Gary Knollinger.
Dohm jumped into the lead from outside the front row and led all 10 laps, lapping a few competitors along the way. Polesitter Donnie Moran was second with Paul Wilmoth Jr. third as the top three were on the same straightaway. Joe Loudin was fourth and will start on the pole of a consolation race. Scott Bloomquist, who started 11th after getting just a single qualifying lap, rallied to finish seventh. Butch McGill and Jackie Boggs ran deep in the pack and got together as they crossed the finish line out of control, but other drivers were able to avoid them in the caution-free event.
Finish: Tim Dohm, Donnie Moran, Paul Wilmoth Jr., Joe Loudin, Rick Williams, Jeep Van Wormer, Scott Bloomquist, Brad Neat, Chuck Harper, Butch McGill, Jackie Boggs, Paul Baker, Mark Banal, Lance Elson, Dan Morrison.
Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., was the fastest among 85 total qualifiers at the quarter-mile oval. Dohm spun a "2" on the series inversion wheel, meaning he and the other five top group qualifiers started outside the front row of their heat races. The other fast qualifiers per group: Josh McGuire of Grayson, Ky. (the previous night's Lucas Oil winner at Portsmouth, Ohio); Darren Miller of Milledgeville, Ill. (three weeks ago the winner of the $50,000 North-South 100 at Florence, Ky.); Corey Conley of Wellsburg, W.Va.; and leading series rookie Terry Casey of New London, Wis.
Scott Bloomquist, Steve Casebolt and Tim Hutson were all penalized at pre-qualifying tire technical inspection and received a single lap of qualifying at the conclusion of time trials. ... The 40th edition of the race career the highest purse in history at $125,000 with $40,000 to the winner. ... Dan Schlieper was driving a Wild Chassis he debuted the previous night at Portsmouth, Ohio. ... Davey Johnson was in the Tracy Seymour-owned No. 17 previously driven this season by Jared Hawkins and Mike Marlar. Greggie Oliver also fielded a Seymour machine, which is sponsored by T&R Logging. ... The track brought three flatbed trailers into the infield to use as overflow seating. More than 100 fans took the track up on the offer. The only catch? Once they were escorted to the flatbeds, they had to stay put the remainder of the night. ... Fans were packed tightly in the track's regular grandstands as the race drew an overflowing crowd.
Time trials (unofficial)
Editor's note: Because of limited Internet access, DirtonDirt.com doesn't expect to make another report until after the completion of the feature event.