Dirt Track at Charlotte
Lowe's: Bloomquist leads all 50 laps, wins opener
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com chief writer
CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 31) — The first feature at this year's Vault World Finals looked an awful lot like last year's opener. Hall of Fame driver Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., was back in victory lane at the Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway for a World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory worth $10,000 at the 4/10-mile oval.
The polesitting Bloomquist's flag-to-flag, 50-lap victory in the season's final weekend on the WoO circuit is his track-leading fifth at the dirt track across U.S. 29 from one of NASCAR's most famous ovals. Sixth-starting Dale McDowell of Rossville, Ga., finished second, but he couldn't keep up with Bloomquist, who crossed the finish line more than a half-straightaway ahead in a dominating performance.
Fourth-starting Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., who fell back as far as eighth, rallied back to finish third while 20th-starting Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., finished fourth after challenging Babb in the final laps. Matt Miller of Waterville, Ohio, who started outside the front row, was fifth.
Fast qualifier Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who started seventh, appeared to have the best chance to catch Bloomquist with a mid-race charge, but he was trailing by more than a dozen lengths on lap 43 when Owens slowed with his No. 20's broken rear end.
The race was slowed by six cautions. Josh McGuire slowed to draw a lap-11 yellow; Shane Clanton slowed on lap 23 (after running among the top five early); Davey Johnson spun in turn four on the lap-23 restart; Bob Gordon slowed on lap 24; and Johnson slowed again on lap 35. Owens brought out the final caution when he departed on lap 43.
Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., clinched the WoO championship with his 11th-place finish. Last year's WoO champion Steve Francis had transmission problems and wasn't able to start the race.
World of Outlaws @ Lowe's: (1) Scott Bloomquist, (2) Dale McDowell, (3) Shannon Babb, (4) Tim McCreadie, (5) Matt Miller, (6) Ricky Elliott, (7) Steve Shaver, (8) Earl Pearson Jr., (9) Donnie Moran, (10) Josh Richards, (11) Darrell Lanigan, (12) Chub Frank, (13) Jonathan Davenport, (14) Tim Fuller, (15) Mike Balzano, (16) Jeff Rine, (17) Rick Eckert, (18) Tommy Kerr, (19) Jackie Boggs, (20) Bob Gordon, (21) Jimmy Owens, (22) Don O'Neal, (23) Clint Smith, (24) Davey Johnson, (25) Shane Clanton, (26) Jeff Smith, (27) Josh McGuire, (28) Steve Francis. Fast qualifier (among 78 cars): Owens, 14.825 seconds. Heat race winners: Bloomquist, McDowell, Miller, Clanton, Babb, Moran. Consolation winners: Shaver, McCreadie, C. Smith. Provisional starters: Lanigan, Frank, Eckert, Gordon.
10:36 p.m.: Owens out with broken rear end
Second-running Jimmy Owens slowed on lap 43 and pulled to the pits with a broken rear end. Scott Bloomquist will lead Dale McDowell, Matt Miller, Shannon Babb and 20th-starting Tim McCreadie back to green.
10:34 p.m.: Bloomquist looks strong on lap 40
With 10 laps remaining, Scott Bloomquist has reasserted himself and leads Jimmy Owens by a dozen car lengths. Third is Dale McDowell with Matt Miller a distant fourth and Shannon Babb back up to fifth.
10:30 p.m. Owens catching Bloomquist before yellow
Davey Johnson slowed to bring out a lap-35 caution. Before that, second-running Jimmy Owens was cutting into Scott Bloomquist's half-straightaway lead. Owens will start single-file behind Bloomquist with Dale McDowell, Matt Miller and Earl Pearson Jr. holding the top five spots. The rest of the top 10: Steve Shaver (a consolation winner), Ricky Elliott, Shannon Babb, Josh Richards and Tim McCreadie.
10:26 p.m.: And another caution
Bob Gordon, two laps down, slows on lap 24 for another yellow. Scott Bloomquist leads Dale McDowell, Jimmy Owens, Earl Pearson Jr. and Matt Miller on the restart.
10:23 p.m.: Another quick caution
Davey Johnson, who was running 10th, spun in turn four on the lap-23 restart. Everyone was able to avoid the Tracy Seymour-owned No. 17. Making a key move on the restart was Earl Pearson Jr., who took fourth from Matt Miller.
10:18 p.m.: Lap-23 caution for Clanton
Shane Clanton slowed on the 23rd lap to draw a caution flag with Scott Bloomquist leading by a half-straightaway over Dale McDowell as the frontrunners maneuvered through lapped traffic. The rundown: Bloomquist, McDowell, Jimmy Owens, Matt Miller, Earl Pearson Jr. and 11th-starting Ricky Elliott. Seventh is Tim Fuller followed by Shannon Babb, Steve Shaver, Davey Johnson, Josh Richards (who slipped up on the last restart), Donnie Moran (fading), Don O'Neal and Tim McCreadie. Further back: Jonathan Davenport, Jeff Rine, Darrell Lanigan and more.
10:16 p.m.: Owens up to fourth
Jimmy Owens went from sixth to fourth on the lap-11 restart, but leader Scott Bloomquist looks strong and has rebuilt a half-straightaway lead on Dale McDowell after 15 laps. Matt Miller is third.
10:11 p.m.: Bloomquist begins lapping cars
Leader Scott Bloomquist is lapping backmarkers at lap eight and leads Matt Miller by more than a half-straightaway. Dale McDowell is right on Miller with Shane Clanton further back in fourth. The first caution appears on the 11th lap as 12th-starting Josh McGuire slows to a stop in turn four. The running order: Scott Bloomquist, Matt Miller, Dale McDowell, Shane Clanton, Donnie Moran, Jimmy Owens, Shannon Babb, Tim Fuller, Earl Pearson Jr., Ricky Elliott, Josh Richards and Don O'Neal. Behind them: Davey Johnson, Steve Shaver, Tim McCreadie, Darrell Lanigan, Jeff Rine, Jonathan Davenport, Mike Balzano, Tommy Kerr, Chub Frank, Clint Smith, Rick Eckert, Jeff Smith, Jackie Boggs, Josh McGuire.
10:10 p.m.: Bloomquist leads early
Polesitter Scott Bloomquist is out to a 10-length lead after three laps ahead of Matt Miller, Shane Clanton, Dale McDowell, Donnie Moran, Shannon Babb and fast qualifier Jimmy Owens. By virtue of starting the race, Darrell Lanigan has clinched the WoO championship.
10:07 p.m.: Clint Smith in backup car
After suffering engine problems in his heat and consolation race, Clint Smith went to his backup car for the feature. He's dropped to the tail for the start.
10:02 p.m.: Feature field on the track
Scott Bloomquist and Matt Miller are leading the 28-car field around the track behind the Lowe's pace track. Drivers will be facing a racetrack with different characteristics at each end. In turns one and two, the track is mostly smooth up to within 10 feet of the wall with little or no cushion. In turns three and four, a higher cushion has built up a couple of car-widths from the wall. Crew chief consultant Ronnie Stuckey of Stuckey Enterprises, assisting Miller's Moring Motorsports entry at Lowe's, said some drivers might opt to run the high groove in turns one and two, then switch to the low groove in turns three and four.
9:56 p.m.: Provisional starters
Series provisionals for the Late Model feature are Darrell Laniganand Chub Frank. Rick Eckert is the fastest qualifier not already in the race and Bob Gordon got a track provisional as an early entry.
9:50 p.m.: Tatnell wins sprint feature
Brooke Tatnell won the WoO sprint car feature over Donny Schatz, Terry McCarl, Steve Kinser and Cody Darrah. The Late Models haven't lined up yet.
9:06 p.m.: Clint Smith wins third consy
Despite smoking the entire 12-lap distance, front-row starter Clint Smith won the final consolation race to transfer to the feature event. Unrelated Jeff Smith went from fifth to second shortly after a lap-four restart to get the second and final transfer spot while Ricky Weeks, the original polesitter who was penalized for jumping the first start, ended up third.
Third consolation finish: Clint Smith, Jeff Smith, Ricky Weeks, Chad Ruhlman, Vic Coffey, Dan Stone, Tim Allen, Joe Isabell, Jordan Bland, Gregg Satterlee, Curt Spalding, John Winge, Danny Johnson, G.R. Smith, Austin Dillon. Scratched: Wes Burton, Darrell Lanigan, Jeremy Faircloth.
9:02 p.m.: Can Clint Smith's No. 44 survive?
Clint Smith is leading the third consolation after four laps (there's a caution for Austin Dillon's spin), but his car is smoking badly. "We probably burned a piston," a crew member said before the consolation, "but we're going to leave it in." Smith's car also showed smoke in finishing fourth in his heat. Behind Smith in the consolation is Gregg Satterlee, Danny Johnson, Ricky Weeks and Jeff Smith.
8:58 p.m.: Weeks on pole for third consy
Ricky Weeks and Clint Smith are on the front row for the third consolation, which will require a second start after Smith didn't fire at the intiial green. It caused a scramble but it appears everyone will be able to restart. Officials penalized Weeks for jumping the start, putting Jeff Smith on the pole alongside unrelated Clint Smith.
8:56 p.m.: McCreadie wins second consolation
Tim McCreadie cruised to victory in the second consolation race while Jackie Boggs outdueled polesitter Chub Frank for the second and final transfer spot. Boggs got ahead of Frank on a lap-four restart, but when Frank struggled exiting turn four on the final lap, Frank pulled alongside and nearly caught him. Chris Madden made a stirring rally from the tail to finish fourth in the 12-lapper.
Second consolation finish: Tim McCreadie, Jackie Boggs, Chub Frank, Chris Madden, Jeremy Miller, Justin Rattliff, Rob McLaughlin, Eric Jacobsen, Austin Hubbard, Chris Ferguson, Chad Ruhlman, Mike Knight, Justin Labonte, Rick Whaley, Norman Short Jr., Randy Korte, Bob Gordon.
8:48 p.m.: Frank on pole of second consolation
Chub Frank is on the pole of the second consolation with Tim McCreadie to his outside. T-Mac got the jump and led early over Frank, Jackie Boggs and Austin Hubbard. A lap-four caution appeared when Rick Whaley spun between turns three and four, collecting Bob Gordon. McCreadie leads Frank, Boggs, Justin Rattliff, Jeremy Miller, Randy Korte, Austin Hubbard, Eric Jacobsen, Rob McLaughlin, Jerry Bowersock, Justin Labonte, Chris Madden, Chris Ferguson, Norman Short Jr., Mike Knight and Whaley. There will be a double-file restart.
8:46 p.m.: Shaver wins first consolation
Steve Shaver pulled away from Tommy Kerr over the final stretch of the 12-lapper for a victory. They both transferred to the main event while Brian Shirley was left out in finishing third.
First consolation finish: Steve Shaver, Tommy Kerr, Brian Shirley, Dan Schlieper, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jared Miley, Chuck Harper, Tony Izzo Jr., Chesley Dixon, Dean Bowen, Jeff Isabell Jr., Jill George, Bruce Hall, Jeep Van Wormer, Eric Wells, Michael England, Rick Eckert, Wayne Chinn.
8:41 p.m.: Van Wormer triggers scramble
Fourth-running Jeep Van Wormer spun between turns one and two on the 10th lap of the first consolation, causing a scramble that included perhaps a half-dozen cars, most of them back in the pack. Michael England's car got into the wall and required towing. Steve Shaver leads the consolation followed by Tommy Kerr, Brian Shirley and Dan Schlieper, who lost the fourth spot to Van Wormer on the prevous restart. Fifth is Eddie Carrier Jr. followed by Jared Miley, Chuck Harper, Tony Izzo Jr., Chesley Dixon, Dean Bowen and Jill George (who switched to a backup car)
8:40 p.m.: Matt Miller's heat strategy
Matt Miller, starting outside polesitter Jimmy Owens in the first heat, used a soft left-rear tire to jump ahead of Owens and capture the heat victory. Miller counted on the softer rubber to fire early. "Obviously it's important to get off to a good start here," Miller said. He'll have the same starting spot in the feature, but with 50 laps in store, won't be able to go too soft on tires. Even in the 10-lap heat his left-rear was giving up in the later laps.
8:36 p.m.: Eckert has flat leading consolation
Rick Eckert, who started outside the front row in the first consolation. was smoothly leading when he pulled up in turn three on the eighth lap. Eckert's right rear tire was flat as he headed pitside after drawing a caution. Steve Shaver inherits the lead but he's been getting plenty of heat from Tommy Kerr. Brian Shirley runs third after eight laps followed by Dan Schlieper and Jeep Van Wormer.
8:33 p.m.: Lanigan's woe
A bad fuel regulator knocked WoO points leader Darrell Lanigan out of the second spot in the fifth heat race. His team made repairs and he's scheduled to start in the third consolation race, although he's guaranteed a feature starting spot through a series provisional.
8:32 p.m.: Madden's repairs
Chris Madden's team thrashed to make repairs on his No. 44; he's scheduled to start near the rear of the second consolation race. The team had to make major repairs on his car's rear spoiler and deck, along with extensive repairs of the right-front hub and related suspension. Madden himself did most of the work on the right front.
8:30 p.m.: Consolations starting
The first of three consolation races are on the track with Steve Shaver and Rick Eckert on the front row. The top two finishers from each of the consolation races will get starting spots in the 50-lap feature.
8:26 p.m.: Bloomquist draws pole
As the sixth heat winner, Scott Bloomquist drew the last of six pills to set the first three rows for the feature. Turns out he didn't have to draw at all. The No. 1 pill was the only one left after Matt Miller (second), Donnie Moran (fifth), Shane Clanton (third), Shannon Babb (fourth) and Dale McDowell (sixth) drew pills. "It's all or nothing," WoO's Tim Christman told McDowell before his draw. "Awww," McDowell said after drawing the No. 6.
7:53 p.m.: Bloomquist wins sixth heat
Scott Bloomquist outdueled polesitter and fellow front-row starter Josh McGuire the first two laps and cruised the rest of the way. Bloomquist had a straightaway lead when a caution for Tim Allen's wall-banging spin on the eighth lap slowed the action. McGuire sewed up the second spot while the battle for third was tight in the final laps between Jonathan Davenport and Clint Smith, who's No. 44 was showing smoke. Smith got inside Davenport exiting turn four on the final lap and pulled alongside but couldn't make the pass.
Sixth heat finish: Scott Bloomquist, Josh McGuire, Jonathan Davenport, Clint Smith, Gregg Satterlee, Jordan Bland, Austin Dillon, Vic Coffey, Joe Isabell, Wes Burton, Tim Allen. Scratched: Jeremy Faircloth.
7:46 p.m.: McDowell wins fifth heat
Dale McDowell started outside the front row and led every lap of the fifth heat. Third-starting Ricky Elliott got second while Jeff Rine slipped past Ricky Weeks at the white flag for the third and final transfer spot. Weeks tried to answer Rine's move exiting turn two on the final lap, but Rine slid in front of Weeks at the top of the backstretch as they made brief contact. Polesitter Darrell Lanigan ran second most of the way but slowed on the seventh lap to draw a caution, then headed for the pits.
Fifth heat finish: Dale McDowell, Ricky Elliott, Jeff Rine, Ricky Weeks, Jeff Smith, Danny Johnson, Jerry Bowersock, Dan Stone, John Winge, G.R. Smith, Curt Spalding, Darrell Lanigan.
7:42 p.m.: Provisional for Lanigan?
Polesitter Darrell Lanigan slowed while running second late in the fifth heat race, and the WoO points leader, virtually assured of a series championship, may have to rely on a provisional to start Friday's feature. Starting Friday's feature guarantees Lanigan the title. Dale McDowell leads the fifth heat after seven laps followed by Ricky Elliott and Ricky Weeks.
7:36 p.m.: Babb wins fourth heat
Shannon Babb overtook polesitter and race-long leader Josh Richards on the sixth lap and pulled away for an easy victory. Babb crossed the finish line more than a half-straightaway ahead of Richards. In an exciting battle for third over the final laps, Mike Balzano outdueled Tim McCreadie for the final transfer spot, just edging ahead of McCreadie exiting turn four. Three cautions slowed the action, most importantly for Chris Madden's problems on the first two laps that knocked him out of the race as he nearly spun then got into the backstretch wall.
Fourth heat finish: Shannon Babb, Josh Richards, Mike Balzano, Tim McCreadie, Jackie Boggs, Randy Korte, Rick Whaley, Bob Gordon, Mike Knight, Chris Ferguson, Chad Ruhlman, Chris Madden.
7:32 p.m.: Knight into wall
Mike Knight and Chris Ferguson got together between turns three and four on the sixth lap of the fourth heat. Knight appeared to get the worst of it as he stopped against the wall. Both were able to pull away; Knight rejoined the race while Ferguson retired. Shannon Babb had just taken the lead from polesitter Josh Richards before the caution appeared.
7:29 p.m.: Damage for Ruhlman
Chad Ruhlman was running in the third transfer spot when he slowed with right-rear damage on the third lap. Polesitter Josh Richards leads the heat followed by Tim McCreadie, Shannon Babb, Mike Balzano and Chris Ferguson.
7:27 p.m.: Tough times for Madden
Repeating Wednesday's victory will be tough for Chris Madden. He tried to dive under Josh Richards to take the lead in turn three on the first lap of the fourth heat, and he nearly lost control, dropping back to fifth. Then on the backstretch on the second lap, Madden slapped the wall and then got sucked into the concrete a few more times, sliding to a stop near the turn-three track exit. It appeared his steering was damaged as he slid to a stop. Madden's No. 44 was towed off the track. Will Madden hang around or head to East Alabama Motor Speedway? The Gray Court, S.C., driver said he plans on running in Sunday's National 100 in Phenix City, Ala., where he won $30,000 last year.
7:23 p.m.: Clanton wins third heat
Shane Clanton started outside the front row and led all 10 laps for a caution-free victory over polesitter Earl Pearson Jr. in the third heat. Those two pulled away from the rest of the field, including third-finishing Davey Johnson. Chub Frank, who started fifth, ended in that position further back. Jeremy Miller started third but got out of shape in turn two on the first lap and never recovered. Jeff Isabell Sr., running deep in the pack, got into the turn-three wall on the final lap; his car was pushed off the track.
Third heat finish: Shane Clanton, Earl Pearson Jr., Davey Johnson, Chub Frank, Jeremy Miller, Austin Hubbard, Justin Rattliff, Eric Jacobsen, Rob McLaughlin, Justin Labonte, Norman Short Jr., Jeff Isabell Sr.
7:19 p.m.: Moran wins second heat
Third-starting Donnie Moran, winner last year's World Finals finale, slipped under polesitter Don O'Neal on the seventh lap to take command and race to victory. O'Neal got too high exiting turn two following Moran's pass and Tim Fuller was able to drop O'Neal to third. Rick Eckert, who started outside the front row, gave O'Neal a run the last few laps, but O'Neal held on for the third transfer spot. The race was slowed by two cautions. Jeff Isabell Jr. and Jill George got together in turn four on the second lap, and Dean Bowen slapped the turn-three wall on the restart.
Second heat finish: Donnie Moran, Tim Fuller, Don O'Neal, Rick Eckert, Jeep Van Wormer, Brian Shirley, Wayne Chinn, Chesley Dixon, Chuck Harper, Dean Bowen, Jill George, Jeff Isabell Jr.
7:13 p.m.: A few strange faces
A few in the crowd wore their Halloween costumes to the track (for you Pittsburgh Steelers throwback fans, Mean Joe Greene is sitting in Row 3 just behind the grandstand). The stands are mostly full but not jampacked with several gaps in the lower parts of the grandstands.
7:11 p.m.: Bowen into wall in second heat
Dean Bowen got into the turn-three wall shortly after the lap-two restart. The running order: polesitter Don O'Neal, Donnie Moran, Rick Eckert, Tim Fuller, Jeep Van Wormer, Wayne Chinn, Brian Shirley, Chuck Harper and Chesley Dixon. It appears Bowen's race is over.
7:07 p.m.: Tangle draws heat-two caution
Jeff Isabell Jr. spun in turn four to draw a caution on the second lap of the second heat. Fellow last-row starter Jill George was collected and her No. 22 suffered nosepiece damage. Isabell headed for the pits. George's car is being towed off the track.
7:04 p.m.: Miller wins first heat
Matt Miller outran polesitter Jimmy Owens in a side-by-side duel the first lap and raced to victory in the first 10-lap heat. Owens was within a few car lengths at the finish in second while Steve Francis got the third and final transfer spot. Steve Shaver fought off Tommy Kerr for fourth. The lone caution appeared when Bruce Hall spun in turn four on the fourth lap.
First heat finish: Matt Miller, Jimmy Owens, Steve Francis, Steve Shaver, Tommy Kerr, Dan Schlieper, Jared Miley, Michael England, Eddie Carrier Jr., Eric Wells, Bruce Hall, Tony Izzo Jr.
7:01 p.m.: Caution in first heat
Bruce Hall spun inside turn four on the fourth lap of the first heat to draw a caution. Matt Miller, who started outside the front row, outdueled polesitter Jimmy Owens the first few laps and leads Owens, Steve Francis, Dan Schlieper, Steve Shaver, Tommy Kerr, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jared Miley, Michael England, Eric Wells and Hall. Tony Izzo Jr. pulled off the track during the caution.
6:58 p.m.: First heat goes green
Jimmy Owens leads the first Late Model heat race to green.
6:54 p.m.: Track conditions
The Lowe's surface doesn't appear to be quite as smooth as last night with some roughed-up spots in the corners, more in turns three and four than one and two. For now it doesn't appear like it would be anything that would hamper the racers and actually might make the racing a bit more interesting. The high-side cushion isn't too deep and is perhaps two car-widths away from the outside wall.
6:47 p.m.: Delay for sprint wreck
A backstretch tangle in the final WoO sprint heat ended with Craig Folmar's car briefly catching fire, drawing a red flag. Folmar was attended by track officials but didn't appear to be injured.
6:42 p.m.: Final sprint heat on the track
The fourth and final sprint heat is on the track and ready to roll. The starters for the first Late Model heat are lined up at the turn-one track entrance led by Jimmy Owens, the fastest qualifier for the event.
6:28 p.m.: Not quite so cool tonight
Last night was chilly at the track as Charlotte recorded a record-low 29 degrees overnight. Skies are clear and temperatures are warmer at about 64 degrees with heat races starting. Temperatures are likely to dip into the 40s overnight.
6:21 p.m.: Sprint heats under way
The first of four heat races for the WoO sprints are on the track.
6:10 p.m.: Hot laps wrap up
The sprint and Late Model practice sessions have wrapped up on the 4/10-mile oval. Pre-race ceremonies are next with sprint car heat races scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The sprint-Late Model order of events follows through the remainder of the night, with the Late Model 50-lap feature the final event.