Owens slips back early, rallies for Fonda victory
By James EssexLucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
FONDA, N.Y. (July 27) — Outside front-row starter Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., overtook polesitter Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., with 11 laps remaining at Fonda Speedway to capture the first-ever Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at the half-mile oval. | Slideshow
Despite dropping out of the top five early in the race, Owens earned $10,000 for his seventh series victory, tying Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., for top honors on the tour as he pulled away late in the 50-lap feature. Home-state driver Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., rallied from eighth to finish second followed by O’Neal, series points leader Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y.
“Man, I didn’t know at the start if we picked the right tires or not," the 38-year-old Owens said. "We dropped back to sixth after starting on the front row, but I have to thank Vic Coffey for showing me that outside line. I was able to get the momentum I needed up there and once we caught up to O’Neal and passed him, the car was awesome.”
O’Neal, looking for his first series victory since February's Florida Speedweeks, bolted to the lead at the outset and fought off challenges from Decker and Dale McDowell of Rossville, Ga., early in the race. But Owens found his winning groove and worked around O’Neal on the 40th lap.
Coffey put on a late charge, taking second from O’Neal with four laps remaining while O’Neal was able to fend off Bloomquist in the final laps. Pearson and McDowell ended up sixth and seventh as the series opened a three-race swing in the Northeast.
Notes: Owens drives a Bloomquist Race Car powered by a Cornett engine and sponsored by Reece Monument, Gantte Appraisals and Red Line Oil. ... Owens has 20 career series victories and two in a row. ... Fonda hosted its first Late Model race in 28 years. ... Steve Casebolt earned PBM-Erson Cams Hard Charger honors with his 23rd-to-11th run. ... The series remains in New York for its second visit to Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, N.Y., on Thursday for a $10,000-to-win event. ... Ray Cook won last year’s visit to Utica-Rome.
Lucas Oil @ Fonda: (1) Jimmy Owens, (2) Vic Coffey, (3) Don O’Neal, (4) Scott Bloomquist, (5) Billy Decker, (6) Earl Pearson Jr., (7) Dale McDowell, (8) Ray Cook, (9) Dan Stone, (10) John Blankenship, (11) Steve Casebolt, (12) Tim Isenberg, (13) Brad Neat, (14) Eric Wells, (15) Jon Rohacevich, (16) Dale Caswell, (17) Tyler Reddick, (18) Larry Wight, (19) Dave Zona, (20) Justin Wright, (21) Dan Schlieper, (22) Chris Wall, (23) James Cornell. Fast qualifier (among 23 cars): O’Neal, 18.427 seconds. Heat race winners: O’Neal, Owens, Decker. Consolation winner: Caswell.