Batesville Motor Speedway
Blankenship's Batesville triumph worth $20,000
LOCUST GROVE, Ark. (May 18) — John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., raced to his richest career victory Saturday at Batesville Motor Speedway in the Bad Boy 98 for his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the season and fifth of his career.
The sixth-starting Blankenship tracked outside front-row starter and race-long leader Dennis Erb Jr. much of the race, slipping past briefly on lap 61 before taking over for good on lap 68 when Erb pulled his smoking machine to the pits. | Prelims | Video | Slideshow
"I have to thank all of my crew, (crew chief) Tom Buckingham and everyone else. This is the biggest win we have ever had,” said Blankenship, who built comfortable leads in the race’s late stages. “That was quite a race for the lead between Dennis and me, and then I saw smoke out of his car and I knew he was in trouble. This Rocket Chassis car has been good all year long, we have been knocking on the door for a big win like this since last year, and tonight it finally happened.”
Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., advanced five positions to finish second while third-starting Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., was third at the high-banked 3/8-mile oval. Hometown driver Billy Moyer, who started 16th, and two-time and reigning series champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who started 17th rounded out the top five.
Owens edged into the series points lead over Don O’Neal, who settled for eighth after a mid-race pit stop. Hometown driver Wendell Wallace ran among the leaders the first half of the race, but a flat tire ended his race on lap 42.
Erb appeared to be the driver to beat the first half of the race, but smoke bellowed from under his No. 28 on the backstretch after he led 67 laps, forcing him to the turn-one exit for the pits. Blankenship ran unchallenged the rest of the way.
"The track was really racy tonight,” Blankenship said. “Wendell was really good there early on until he had that flat; once he went out, we were able to stay close to Dennis with the caution flags.”
Smith, winner of the previous series race at La Salle, Ill., simply couldn’t keep up late in the race.
"Congrats to John on the win. He was gone there at the end. I couldn't see him on the track anymore,” Smith said. “Our car was tight early on, but as the race wore on, we got a whole lot better. Hey, this has been a solid two weeks for us.”
The most serious of six cautions came on the 14th lap when Jared Landers, Scott Bloomquist, Jesse Stovall, Jerry Lierly and Timothy Culp were among cars tangled up in turn three; Culp and Stovall were among drivers done for the night.
Blankenship wasn’t the only big winner. Each of the feature starters were paired with lucky fans, and Jesse Love left the track with a 2013 Kia Soul by virtue of his pairing with Blankenship. He posed with Blankenship and his new ride in victory lane.
Notes: Blankenship's Rocket Chassis is powered by a Cornett Engine and sponsored by Coal World’s Energy, Todd Case Trucking, Fast Lane, VP Race Fuels, Bear Cove Village and Integra Racing Shocks. ... The race was sponsored by Bad Boy Moyers and Mark Martin Kia sponsored the fan prize. ... Scott Bloomquist’s 23rd-to-sixth run gave him the Optima Batteries Hard Charger honors; he pitted on lap 14 after being involved in the turn-three pileup. ... Blankenship’s only previous victory in 2013 came in Spring Nationals action at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn. ... He notched three Lucas Oil victories last season, the most recent on Oct. 7 at Rome (Ga.) Speedway. ... Fourteen of 25 starters were running at the finish. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature lineup: David Breazeale, Brandon Smith, Robert Baker, Stacy Taylor, Jay Brunson, Shawn Knuckles, Braden Mitchell, Brian Ritchie, Jeff Floyd, Kyle Beard, Terry Phillips, B.J. Robinson, Brian Birkhofer, Keith Craft and Austin Rettig. ... Next up for the Lucas Oil Series is the $30,000-to-win Show-Me 100 presented by Protect the Harvest, the event’s 21st running set for May 24-25 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo.
Bad Boy 98: (1) John Blankenship, (2) Brady Smith, (3) Steve Francis, (4) Billy Moyer, (5) Jimmy Owens, (6) Scott Bloomquist, (7) Earl Pearson Jr., (8) Don O'Neal, (9) Eric Jacobsen, (10) Jack Sullivan, (11) Jared Landers, (12) Tyler Reddick, (13) A.J. Diemel, (14) Billy Moyer Jr., (15) Dennis Erb Jr., (16) Chris Wall, (17) Mark Whitener, (18) Wendell Wallace, (19) Eddie Carrier Jr., (20) Chris Simpson, (21) Jesse Stovall, (22) Jimmy Mars, (23) Timothy Culp, (24) Bobby Pierce, (25) Jerry Lierly. Fast qualifier (among 40 cars): Pearson, 13.697 seconds. Heat race winners: Pearson, Francis, Erb, Wallace. Consolation winners: Owens, Moyer Jr. Provisional starters: Bloomquist, Pierce, Lierly.