Neat's Hagerstown run pays with richest victory
By James EssexLucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (Aug. 1) — Polesitter Brad Neat of Dunnville, Ky., led all 50 laps Saturday in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway to earn $10,000 and the biggest victory of his career. The 29-year-old Neat fought off challenges from Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., en route to his second series victory of 2009. | Slideshow
Pearson, Neat's traveling mate and a four-time series champion, finished a close second followed by Owens at the half-mile oval. Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., was fourth and Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., rounded out the top five.
"Those guys (Pearson and Owens), they are just a great group of guys, and to beat them is special," said Neat, who piloted a 2-race-old MasterSbilt Race Car. "They are two of the best in the business."
Neat and Pearson made up the front row with Neat building a comfortable lead before entering traffic on the 15th lap. Owens took second from Pearson on the 19th lap and a lap-23 caution slowed the action when Jack Pencil's car was heavily damaged with hard contact with the turn-three guardrail.
On the restart, another yellow quickly appeared when series points leader Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., ended up sideways off turn four after contact with at least one car.
After that second and final yellow, Owens kept the heat on Neat with Pearson keeping touch with the leaders.
Neat edged away a bit as Pearson pressured Owens, and Pearson took the second spot with three laps remaining. Neat's lead was cut to a car length at the white flag, but he held on to complete the flag-to-flag victory.
Notes: Neat's MasterSbilt Race Car has a Cornett Racing Engine and sponsorship from Red Buck Cigars, T&T Energy, NWN Distributing, Tarter and Roberts Insurance, B&B Motorsports, Tri-County Wood, Tarter Gate, Hoosier Tires and Begley Properties. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature: Nick Dickson, J.T. Spence, Les Hare, Jamie Lathroum, Devin Friese, Roy Deese Jr., Freddy Smith, Jeremy Miller, Dan Stone, Marvin Winters, Frankie Plessinger, Tommy Armel, Walker Arthur and Booper Bare. ... Next up for the series is one of the season's richest races with the $50,000-to-win North-South 100 at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky., on Aug. 7-8.
Lucas Oil @ Hagerstown: (1) Brad Neat, (2) Earl Pearson Jr., (3) Jimmy Owens, (4) Steve Francis, (5) Jason Covert, (6) Austin Hubbard, (7) Ronnie DeHaven Jr., (8) Rick Eckert, (9) Josh Richards, (10) Steve Casebolt, (11) Don O'Neal, (12) Ray Cook, (13) D.J. Myers, (14) John Blankenship, (15) Dale McDowell, (16) Scott Bloomquist, (17) Jim Yoder, (18) Eric Jacobsen, (19) David Breazeale, (20) Gary Stuhler, (21) Roy Deese Jr., (22) Jack Pencil, (23) Tyler Armstrong, (24) Dan Schlieper, (25) Kirk Ryan Jr., (26) Vic Coffey. Fast qualifier (among 47 cars): Pearson, 18.249 seconds. Heat race winners: Neat, Owens, Pearson, Francis. Consolation winners: Blankenship, Stuhler. Provisional starters: Jacobsen, Schlieper, Breazeale.