Red-hot Owens wins Lucas Oil at Cleveland
By James EssexLucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
CLEVELAND, Tenn. (June 2) – Jimmy Owens didn’t wait very long before backing up the Show-Me 100 victory he scored over Memorial Day weekend. The Newport, Tenn., driver made the most of a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event in his home state Thursday night, racing to a $10,000 victory in the Race for a Cure for Juvenile Diabetes event at Cleveland Speedway. | Slideshow | Video
Owens, who earned $30,000 for the Show-Me 100 triumph at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., overtook Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C., for the lead on lap 34 and went unchallenged through the remainder of the 50-lap race to record his third series victory on the season and 24th of his career.
"We don't get to run around here much anymore," said the 39-year-old Owens, who has been dominant when competing at east Tennessee racetracks in 2011 with three special-event victories in the region prior to Thursday night. "It's great to win among the fans we have that traveled down here. The track was in excellent shape tonight, maybe the best track we've seen this year, hats off to Monty (Morrow) and his staff."
The pole-starting Owens led the first lap of the race as he and second-starting Cook came across the scoring line side-by-side. Cook took control of the race on the second lap and held the point until traffic negated his chance for a victory.
Cook got caught behind the slower car of Chris Brown of Spring, Texas on the high side and Owens dove underneath in turn four. The opportunistic Owens completed the pass as the two leaders completed lap 34. Cook never fully regained his momentum after losing the lead, as Owens pulled away to the victory.
Cook held off Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., in the closing laps to finish second while Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., finished behind Davenport in the fourth position. Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., finished fifth.
"I knew Ray had the preferred line on the start, but we caught up to him in traffic,” said Owens, who moved within 70 points of Bloomquist in the Lucas Oil standings with the victory. “When we did, we were able to get by him. I want to thank my car owner, Mike Reece; he couldn't be here tonight, because he's up in Canada. A big thanks to all my crew, it was a short week and they had the car prepared great,"
Two top-five runners fell out of contention during the late stages of the race. Third-running Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., had a flat tire to bring out a caution on lap 35 and rookie contender Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., fell from the fifth position after a tangle with Bloomquist on the ensuing restart.
The McCool-Bloomquist tangle began when Bloomquist made a bold pass on McCool, sliding up in front of him in turn two. McCool dove back underneath Bloomquist in the next corner, but the move resulted in him spinning in front of the field.
Notes: Owens drives a Bloomquist Race Car powered by a Cornett Racing Engine and sponsored by Reece Monument Company and Gantte Appraisals. ... The victory is Owens’s fourth of the season in the east Tennessee region. He previously scored a $5,000 and a $10,000 victory at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap and a $5,000 victory at Smoke Mountain Speedway in Maryville. ... The Lucas Oil Series remains in the Volunteer State for another $10,000-to-win event Friday night at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway, before moving to Florence Speedway in Union, Ky., Saturday night. ... Owens closed to within 70 points of Bloomquist in the Lucas Oil standings with his victory. ... Wih his 24th Lucas Oil Series victory, Owens moves into a tie with Ear Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., for second on the series all-time win list. ... Brad Neat of Dunnville, Ky., was the race’s hard charger, moving from 19th to seventh.
Lucas Oil @ Cleveland: (1) Jimmy Owens, (2) Ray Cook, (3) Jonathan Davenport, (4) Scott Bloomquist, (5) Clint Smith, (6) Jared Landers, (7) Brad Neat, (8) Billy Ogle Jr., (9) Earl Pearson Jr., (10) Don O’Neal, (11) Steve Francis, (12) David Payne, (13) Chris Wall, (14) John Blankenship, (15) Bub McCool, (16) Eric Wells, (17) Mike Marlar, (18) Frank Heckenast Jr., (19) Dale McDowell, (20) Eric Jacobsen, (21) Tyler Reddick, (22) Steve Casebolt, (23) Chris Brown, (24) William Thomas, (25) Dan Schlieper. Fast qualifier (among 31 cars): Owens, 13.50 seconds. Heat race winners: Owens, Landers, Cook, McCool. Consolation race winners: Wells, Payne. Provisional starters: Heckenast, Blankenship.