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East Bay Raceway Park

Avoiding repeat of initial mistake, Neat rules at East Bay

February 11, 2011, 4:09 pm
By Joshua Joiner
DirtonDirt.com staff writer
Brad Neat takes the checkers. (thesportswire.net)
Brad Neat takes the checkers. (thesportswire.net)

GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 11) — After losing the lead on lap 32 of Friday night’s Dart Winternationals by Magnaflow feature at East Bay Raceway Park, Brad Neat figured his chance at winning was over.

Neat controlled the first half of the 50-lap Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event, but he let Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., slip by while the two raced through slower traffic. | Complete Speedweeks coverage

Fortunately for Neat, Marlar’s right-rear tire went flat under a lap-34 caution, handing the lead back to the 31-year-old driver from Dunnville, Ky. Neat made the most of his second opportunity, leading the remainder of the race to take home a $10,000 payday.

“The only way we were gonna have another shot was to catch him in lapped traffic like he did me,” Neat said. “It was just so hard to pass out there. ... It was lucky for me that he had a flat because it was gonna be tough to get back around him.”

After pulling ahead of the pole-starting Marlar on the start of the race, Neat appeared to be in complete control at the halfway point. He had built nearly a straightaway lead, but saw it quickly disappear after catching the tail of the field.

Feeling the pressure from Marlar on a locked-down racing surface, Neat made an ill-advised attempt to pass the slower car of Dan Schlieper on the outside. His car didn’t stick in the higher groove and Marlar drove by for the lead.

But Marlar’s time at the front didn’t last long. The track was dry and hard from hosting Monday’s postponed feature earlier in the day, and wear from the abrasive surface caused Marlar’s tire to go flat two laps later.

“I hate it for (Marlar),” Neat said of the flat tire. “He’s a good friend of mine, but that happens and it worked out good for me.”

Neat still had some work to do even after regaining the lead. He was able to pull away from second-running Jimmy Owens when the race resumed, until traffic once again came into play. Neat reached the lapped car of Eric Wells with 10 laps remaining, allowing Owens of Newport Tenn., to quickly close to his back bumper.

But Neat had learned his lesson earlier in the race and never left the bottom of the racetrack. After a number of failed attempts to get under Neat, Owens gave the high side a try, but experienced the same result that Neat had found earlier in the race.

“I think I seen Jimmy drive in there above me once and I thought, 'Buddy you can’t do that cause I tried it so many times,’ ” Neat said of Owens’s attempt. “There at the end I though I’m just gonna keep it in the bottom and if they’re gonna pass me, they’re gonna have to pass me on the top.”

But Owens couldn’t pass Neat on the top and after a series of late cautions gave him clear racetrack, Neat was able to pull away to the finish and claim his first East Bay victory.

“We’re tickled to death,” Neat said of his and his crew’s reaction to the victory. “We’ve always been horrible at this racetrack, but here this week the race car’s been great. I can’t thank my guys enough, they’ve worked really hard, and I’m just the lucky one that gets to drive.”

Owens knew that Neat had a better car, but he thought he might have had a shot at winning if Neat had made another mistake.

“Brad really had the car to beat,” Owens said. “We kind of sat back there and rode around and just waited on everybody to get to traffic before we pushed the issue. The biggest deal was him getting behind someone and him maybe trying the outside. But he made that mistake once and didn’t do it again.”

After Neat pulled away in the closing laps, Owens had to contend with a late charge from Tim Dohm. The Cross Lanes, W.Va., driver pulled alongside Owens on lap 47, but a flat right-rear tire sent him spinning.

Dohm made contact with Owens when he spun and nearly took him out as well. But Owens was able to continue on, and scored the runner-up finish.

“It’s great,” Owens said of the solid run in the fourth of six Winternationals events this week at East Bay. “We’ve got two races down here and if we can get two more top fives I’ll be happy.”

It wasn’t so great for Marlar, who saw a possible victory turn into a 23rd-place finish. With is car wearing out tires all week at East Bay, Marlar knew tire wear would come into play on the abrasive track surface. He felt the tire going flat even before the caution, which ironically was caused by his teammate Eric Wells's flat tire.

"I felt it before the caution,” Marlar said. “I was just praying that I was wrong."

Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., advanced from his eighth starting position to finish third while Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., finished fourth. Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., finished fifth. Tim McCreadie came from his 18th starting spot to finish sixth in his second start of the week.

Notes: Neat’s Cornett-powered MasterSbilt is sponsored by Red Buck Cigars, Lucas Oil Products and Performance Rod and Custom. ... The win is Neat’s fifth Lucas Oil Series victory. His last came at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway on June 4, 2010. ... Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., rallied from 18th to finish sixth. ... Ray Cook earned the race’s hard charger award. After using a provisional to start 24th, Cook, of Brasstown, N.C. advanced 14 positions to finish 10th. ... The race was the nightcap of a Friday doubleheader at East Bay. Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., won the day’s first race, which was a $5,000-to-win event that was postponed from Monday due to rain. ... Another doubleheader is on tap for Saturday at East Bay. Thursday’s rained out event will begin with hot laps at 11 a.m. That full program will include a $10,000-to-win feature. Saturday’s regularly scheduled Winternationals finale will begin with hot laps at 5 p.m. The 75-lap feature pays $12,000 to the winner. ... After Friday’s doubleheader produced a dry, one-laned racing surface, track crews begin digging up the East Bay surface immediately following Friday night’s feature in hopes of producing a better surface Saturday.

Finish: (1) Brad Neat, (2) Jimmy Owens, (3) Dennis Erb Jr., (4) Josh Richards, (5) Don O’Neal, (6) Tim McCreadie, (7) Scott Bloomquist, (8) Donnie Moran, (9) Billy Moyer Jr., (10) Ray Cook, (11) Earl Pearson Jr., (12) Eddie Carrier Jr., (13) Jared Landers, (14) David Breazeale, (15) Eric Jacobsen, (16) Jason Feger, (17) Tyler Reddick, (18) Eric Wells, (19) Austin Hubbard, (20) Tim Dohm, (21) Rick Eckert, (22) Dan Schlieper, (23) Mike Marlar, (24) Vic Coffey, (25) Davey Johnson, (26) Tim Isenberg. Fast qualifier (among 66 cars): Marlar, 14.677. Heat race winners: Marlar, Wells, Dohm, Neat, Owens, Richards. Consolation winners: Moran, Moyer Jr. Provisional starters: Pearson, Cook, Isenberg, Johnson.

Mid-race notes

Concerns among drivers that East Bay's abrasive surface would cause flat tires during heat race action were not a factor in the preliminary races. The track was extremely locked-down after being raced on all day, and while it didn't promote very much passing, it didn't cause any flat tires. ... Eric Wells is starting right behind pole sitting teammate Mike Marlar in the main event, but he semi-jokingly said that doesn't mean they might not mix it up. "We're teammates in the pits," wells said with a smile. "This ain't NASCAR." ... The "2" on the No. 20 of fourth-starting Jimmy Owens's car is caved in from previous contact on the track. "Aerodynamics," Owens wisecracked when the spot was pointed out. "Or a dent, whatever you want to call it." ... While three drivers from each consolation race transferred into the feature during events earlier in the week, only the top two drivers in each consolation race earned starting spots for tonight's race. Because the race is a Lucas Oil Series points event, the other two starting spots are provisionals based on the final 2010 Lucas Oil Series standings. Earl Pearson Jr. and Ray Cook are the provisional recipients. ... Tim Isenberg and Davey Johnson also earned provisionals for being the two fastest qualifiers not to make the feature. ... Steve Casebolt will use a Lucas Oil Series emergency provisional to start the feature from the 27th position.

Second consolation race

Billy Moyer Jr. claimed the lead on the start of the second consolation race and led every lap for the victory. Eric Jacobsen held off multiple challenges from Davey Johnson to finish second and transfer to the feature. The race was littered with cautions, including a six-car pileup that was caused when Tim Fuller and Tim Isenberg got together while battling in the top five.

Finish (cars running at checkers): Billy Moyer Jr., Eric Jacobsen, Davey Johnson, Travis Varnadore, Brandon Thirlby, Joe Denby, Russ Adams, Chad Hollenbeck, Jason McBride, Danny Mitchell, Mark Andersen, Doug Blashe, Bob Geiger.

First consolation race

Donnie Moran took the lead on the start of the first consolation race and pulled away from the field for a convincing victory. Vic Coffey held off a hard-charging Billy Moyer to finish in the second and final transfer position. Moyer, who won the day's first feature, pulled alongside Coffey a number of times, but fell short of making the feature.

Finish: Donnie Moran, Vic Coffey, Billy Moyer, Chris Wall, Dale McDowell, Bub McCool, Dillan White, Michael Chilton, Steve Casebolt, Jack Nosbisch Jr., Justin Rattliff, Dan Stone, D.J. Wells, Chad Valone, Leon Henderson, Jim O'Hara, Bobby Pierce, Steve Francis, Wendell Wallace, Ray Cook. Scratched: John Blankenship, Earl Pearson Jr., Skylar Marlar, Duane Harbaugh.

Consolation race lineups

First consolation
Row 1: Donnie Moran, Vic Coffey
Row 2: Billy Moyer, Steve Francis
Row 3: Dillan White, Ray Cook
Row 4: Chris Wall, Dan Stone
Row 5: Bub McCool, Dale McDowell
Row 6: Bobby Pierce, John Blankenship
Row 7: Michael Chilton, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 8: Justin Rattliff, D.J. Wells
Row 9: Chad Valone, Steve Casebolt
Row 10: Jack Nosbisch Jr., Leon Henderson
Row 11: Wendell Wallace, Jim O'Hara
Row 12: Skylar Marlar, Duane Harbaugh
Second consolation
Row 1: Eric Jacobsen, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 2: Tim Fuller, Davey Johnson
Row 3: Tim Isenberg, Jared Hawkins
Row 4: Frank Heckenast Jr., Brent Robinson
Row 5: Ricky Weiss, Jason McBride
Row 6: Brian Birkhofer, Scott James
Row 7: Joe Denby, Brandon Thirlby
Row 8: Travis Varnadore, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 9: Danny Mitchell, Mark Andersen
Row 10: John Gardner, Bob Gardner
Row 11: Russ Adams, Doug Blashe

Row 12: Bob Geiger, Wayne Chinn

Sixth heat

Josh Richards held off a first-lap challenge from Jared Landers and went on to lead every lap to win the sixth heat race. Landers ran a close second, while teammates Tim McCreadie and Tim Fuller battled for the third and final transfer spot. Fuller looked under McCreadie a number of times, but McCreadie held the position at the finish to transfer to his first feature of the week. The race was slowed by one caution when Russ Adams spun on lap 8.

Finish: Josh Richards, Jared Landers, Tim McCreadie, Tim Fuller, Jared Hawkins, Ricky Weiss, Chad Stapleton, Travis Varnadore, Mark Andersen, Russ Adams, Wayne Chinn.

Fifth heat

Jimmy Owens took the lead from the outside of the front row on the start of the fifth heat and led every lap for the victory. Don O'Neal ran second after starting from the pole. Scott Bloomquist passed Billy Moyer Jr. mideway through the race and claimed the third and final transfer position.

Finish: Jimmy Owens, Don O'Neal, Scott Bloomquist, Billy Moyer Jr., Tim Isenberg, Brent Robinson, Brian Birkhofer, Brandon Thirlby, Danny Mitchell, Bob Gieger, Bob Gardner.

Fourth heat

Brad Neat outdueld Dennis Erb Jr. in a race-long battle to win the fourth heat race. Neat and Erb went three-wide with polesitter Austin Hubbard on the first lap of the race, with the two drivers clearing the 18-year-old driver just passed the flagstand. Erb pressured Neat the whole race, but had to settle for the runner-up finish. Hubbard finished third.

Finish: Brad Neat, Dennis Erb Jr., Austin Hubbard, Eric Jacobsen, Davey Johnson, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jason McBride, Joe Denby, Chad Hollenbeck, John Gardner. Scratched: Doug Blashe.

Third heat

Tim Dohm started from the pole of the third heat and led every for the victory. Rick Eckert ran a close second with Dan Schlieper claiming the third and final transfer position. Billy Moyer, winner of Friday's first feature, finished fourth and will have to run a consy in order to transfer to the feature.

Finish: Tim Dohm, Rick Eckert, Dan Schlieper, Billy Moyer, Ray Cook, Bub McCool, John Blankenship, Justin Rattliff, Steve Casebolt. Scratched: Wendell Wallace, Duane Harbaugh.

Second heat

Eric Wells beat polesitter Tyler Reddick to turn one on the start of the second heat race and led every lap for the victory. Reddick, the 15-year-old driver who won his first Super Late Model feature Wednesday night, trailed Wells the entire distance to finish second. Eddie Carrier Jr. finished third.

Finish: Eric Wells, Tyler Reddick, Eddie Carrier Jr., Vic Coffey, Dillan White, Dan Stone, Bobby Pierce, Earl Pearson Jr., Chad Valone, Leon Henderson, Skylar Marlar.

First heat

Polesitter Mike Marlar led every lap to win the first heat race, but the victory didn't come easily. Marlar had to hold off a hard-charging Jason Feger, who started fourth. Feger settled for second while David Breazeale passed Steve Francis on lap six and held of Donnie Moran late in the race to take the final transfer position.

Finish: Mike Marlar, Jason Feger, David Breazeale, Donnie Moran, Steve Francis, Chris Wall, Dale McDowell, Michael Chilton, D.J. Wells, Jack Nosbich Jr., Jim O'Hara.

Post-qualifying notes

Running two races in one day is catching up with East Bay as the racing surface began to pick up rubber even during the night's qualifying. Several drivers appealed to series and track officials asking for the track to be reworked before heat races, but track president Al Varnadore said there's no time. "It's already rubbered," Scott Bloomquist said, talking with Varnadore and several drivers near the turn-two gate as they examined the track. "There's no unrubbering it once it's rubbered." ... The track conditions, combined with series rules that requires drivers to use the same tires for time trials and heat race, has some drivers worried their soft tires won't survive heat races. The latest qualifiers nearly burned up their tires in just two qualifying laps, said Tim Isenberg, adding he expects to get six or seven laps out of the tires in a 10-lap heat. "There's going to be blowouts in the heat races," driver Steve Francis predicted. ... On the other hand, some drivers pointed out that allowing teams to change tires for heat races would merely ruin yet another set of tires. ... Dan Schlieper, Eric Jacobsen and Jason Feger were among the most outspoken drivers. "We came all the way down here," Feger said. "At least you can give us something to race on."

Qualifying

Topping a field of 66 drivers, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., set fast time during time trials for Friday night’s Dart Winternationals by Magnaflow event at East Bay Raceway Park.

Marlar, who won the 2010 Winternationals opener, turned a lap of 14.677 seconds at the third-mile oval. He'll start on the pole of the first of six heat races coming up. Unofficially the other heat race polesitters: Tyler Reddick of Corning, Ca.; Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va..; Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del..; Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind..; and Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.

The top three finishers from each heat race will transfer to the 30-lap main event. Two drivers from each of three consolation races also transfer to the main event. Rounding out the 26-car field are the two fastest qualifiers who failed to transfer through prelims.

The night’s 50-lap feature pays $10,000 to the winner and is the first points race for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Friday night’s race is the second of the day at the racetrack just outside of Tampa after Monday night’s rainout forced a doubleheader. Billy Moyer won the day’s first race, a 30-lap event that paid $5,000 to the winner.

Because of Thursday's rainout, East Bay has also scheduled a doubleheader for Saturday with the opener paying $10,000-to-win and nightcap paying $12,000 to the winner. It marks the first time in Winternationals history that four complete events will run in a 36-hour stretch.

Heat race lineups

First heat
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Steve Francis
Row 2: Donnie Moran, Jason Feger
Row 3: David Breazeale, Chris Wall
Row 4: Dale McDowell, D.J. Wells
Row 5: Michael Chilton, Jack Nosbisch Jr.
Row 6: Jim O'Hara
Second heat
Row 1: Tyler Reddick, Eric Wells
Row 2: Eddie Carrier Jr., Bobby Pierce
Row 3: Dillan White, Vic Coffey
Row 4: Dan Stone, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 5: Chad Valone, Skylar Marlar
Row 6: Leon Henderson
Third heat
Row 1: Tim Dohm, Rick Eckert
Row 2: Dan Schlieper, Ray Cook
Row 3: Billy Moyer, John Blankenship
Row 4: Bub McCool, Justin Rattliff
Row 5: Wendell Wallace, Steve Casebolt
Row 6: Duane Harbaugh
Fourth heat
Row 1: Austin Hubbard, Brad Neat
Row 2: Tim Isenberg, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Brian Birkhofer, Scott Bloomquist
Row 4: Brent Robinson, Danny Mitchell
Row 5: Brandon Thirlby, Robert Geiger
Row 6: Bob Gardner
Fifth heat
Row 1: Don O'Neal, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Tim Isenberg, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Brian Birkhofer, Scott Bloomquist
Row 4: Brent Robinson, Danny Mitchell
Row 5: Brandon Thirlby, Bob Geiger
Row 6: Bob Gardner
Sixth heat
Row 1: Josh Richards, Jared Landers
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Tim Fuller
Row 3: Jared Hawkins, Scott James
Row 4: Ricky Weiss, Russ Adams
Row 5: Mark Andersen, Travis Varnadore
Row 6: Wayne Chinn

Time trails (unofficial)

First group

  1. Mike Marlar (36), Winfield, Tenn., 14.677
  2. Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 14.829
  3. Tim Dohm (6T), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 15.134
  4. Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.199
  5. Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 15.202
  6. Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., 15.251
  7. Donnie Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 15.259
  8. Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 15.27
  9. Dan Schlieper (s9), Oak Creek, Wis., 15.27
  10. Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 15.29
  11. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.298
  12. Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 15.301
  13. David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 15.356
  14. Dillan White (54), Crofton, Ky., 15.364
  15. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.365
  16. Chris Wall (71w), Springfield, La., 15.366
  17. Vic Coffey (32c), Caledonia, N.Y., 15.399
  18. John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 15.413
  19. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.483
  20. Dan Stone (21d), Thompson, Pa., 15.492
  21. Bub McCool (57j), Vicksburg, Miss., 15.519
  22. D.J. Wells (11), Wooton, Ky., 15.523
  23. Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.531
  24. Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 15.561
  25. Michael Chilton (97), Salvisa, Ky., 15.576
  26. Chad Valone (2v), Warren, Pa., 15.603
  27. Wendell Wallace (88), Batesville, Ark., 15.621
  28. Jack Nosbisch Jr. (01), Riverview, Fla., 15.704
  29. Skylar Marlar (257), Winfield, Tenn., 15.717
  30. Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 15.823
  31. Jim O'Hara (44), Moscow, Pa., 16.189
  32. Leon Henderson (10), Laurel, Miss., 16.243
  33. Duane Harbaugh (87), Hedgesville, W.Va., no time

Second group

  1. Austin Hubbard (19), Seaford, Del., 14.843
  2. Don O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 14.864
  3. Josh Richards (25), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.051
  4. Brad Neat (41), Dunnville, Ky., 15.054
  5. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.063
  6. Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 15.101
  7. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.13
  8. Tim Isenberg (9T), Marshfield, Wis., 15.134
  9. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.138
  10. Davey Johnson (47), Greensburg, Pa., 15.157
  11. Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.161
  12. Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y., 15.201
  13. Eric Jacobsen (5), Seacliff Beach, Calif., 15.248
  14. Brian Birkhofer (23), Muscatine, Iowa, 15.265
  15. Jared Hawkins (37), Fairmont, W.Va., 15.280
  16. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 15.297
  17. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.415
  18. Scott James (32), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 15.451
  19. Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 15.462
  20. Brent Robinson (3), Smithfield, Va., 15.479
  21. Ricky Weiss (7), St. Francois Xavier, Manitoba, 15.645
  22. Joe Denby (27), Tullahoma, Tenn., 15.652
  23. Danny Mitchell (18D), Clarksburg, W.Va., 15.765
  24. Russ Adams (74), Princeville, Ill., 15.794
  25. Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 15.876
  26. Brandon Thirlby (m14), Traverse City, Mich., 15.891
  27. Mark Andersen (85), Blanchard, Mich., 15.956
  28. Doug Blashe (1), Marion, Wis., 15.971
  29. Bob Geiger (38), Laurel, Del., 15.972
  30. Travis Varnadore (1cj), Dover, Fla., 15.993
  31. John Gardner (38G), Peoria, Ill., 16.269
  32. Bob Gardner (4G), Peoria, Ill., 16.643
  33. Wayne Chinn (15), Bradford, Ohio, 16.790

Feature lineup

Row 1: M. Marlar, Neat
Row 2: E. Wells, Owens
Row 3: Dohm, Richards
Row 4: Feger, Erb
Row 5: Reddick, O'Neal
Row 6: Eckert, Landers
Row 7: Breazeale, Hubbard
Row 8: Carrier, Bloomquist
Row 9: Schlieper, McCreadie
Row 10: Moran, Moyer Jr.
Row 11: Coffey, Jacobsen
Row 12:
Pearson, Cook
Row 13:
Johnson, Isenberg
Row 14:
Casebolt
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