Lucas Oil Speedway
Owens gets threepeat at Lucas Oil's Show-Me 100
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
WHEATLAND, Mo. (May 25) — Jimmy Owens showed 'em one more time.
Winning his third straight crown jewel at Lucas Oil Speedway, Owens took the lead from polesitter Scott Bloomquist on the 11th lap and cruised to a $30,000 victory in the 21st annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 presented by Protect the Harvest.com. | Complete Show-Me 100 coverage
The outcome was never seriously in doubt for the 41-year-old driver from Newport, Tenn., who captured Thursday’s preliminary feature for additional $5,000 and now has an incredible streak of six victories in his last seven feature starts at the 3/8-mile oval.
“You know it’s an awesome feeling being your first time ... the third time is even better,” said Owens, who matched Scott Bloomquist’s streak of three in a row from 2003-’05 when the event was held at West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway. “I’ve gotta thank (car owner) Mike Reece and (crew chief) Chris Fox and my whole crew, the souvenir guys, the fans for staying and cheering us on, and just Lucas Oil for having such a great facility. It’s just awesome. It doesn’t get any better than what it does tonight.”
A flurry of contenders rallied from deep in the field — besides the fourth-starting Owens, everyone else in the top five rallied from the sixth row or further back — but no one could keep up with the winner, the two-time and reigning Lucas Oil Series champion. Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, who rallied from 12th for his best-ever crown jewel finish, took a shot at Owens on the final restart with nine laps remaining, but the frontrunner quickly pulled away for his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory of the season.
Simpson settled for second while 20th-starting Dennis Erb Jr., of Carpentersville, Ill., was third at the Show-Me for the second straight year. Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., came from 22nd to finish fourth and 24th-starting Chad Simpson of Mount Vernon, Iowa, the runner-up’s older brother, rounded out the top five.
The biggest scare for Owens came early when outside front-row starting Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., got out of shape on the first lap, triggering a scramble that send the winner’s No. 20 spinning in turn two. But his body damage was minor, and by the 11th lap he was slipping past polesitter Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and setting sail.
“I was real worried about it,” said Owens of the first-lap melee that required a complete restart. “We went in there and the track was a little slimy. I actually thought we were going to be able to hit wheel-to-wheel and both of us would come out good, but whenever we did, it turned me around backwards.”
Owens was pointing the right direction soon enough, dispatching of Bloomquist and a few laps later threading the needle between two lapped cars to build a cushion of three slower cars between his No. 20 and his pursuers. Repeated cautions — 10 in all, including one for a TV camera that fell onto the track near the flagstand — provided several restarts, but never could anyone make a serious run at the winner.
Throughout 100 laps, the winner’s biggest worry was a tricky spot on the north end of the track that sent competitors lurching toward the wall occasionally.
“That hole down there in (turns) three and four, I really felt like was my friend — as long as me and it got along real good,” Owens joked in victory lane. “Every once in a while I could get out of my rhythm there and it’d start being mean to me, but I’d talk to it going down the back straightaway and get her dialed back in ... it was just awesome.”
Bloomquist was behind Owens on virtually every restart, but when the sixth-running Tyler Reddick spun in turn two to draw a lap-91 caution, Simpson and Erb lined up behind him, leaving Owens to wonder if they might provide a little heat.
“I knew I was pulling Scott a little bit, but I didn’t know if I was pulling them,” Owens said. “So when I seen them up on the board, I was a little more worried.”
Simpson, 29, hope to make Owens as worried as possible by pressuring him on what turned out to be the final restart of the 100-lapper.
“I gave it my all,” Simpson said. “I dove in there on the bottom of 'em, but he knew what he had to do. He’s a smart racer. He cut it down and got the moisture stripe off of (turn) two there. From there on it was kind of over. I was just holding on to what I had. ... He doesn’t mess up very often, but I was giving it my all. Those last nine laps, I ran it as hard as I did the whole race.”
Erb tried to get a high-side run to sweep around Simpson and take a shot at Bloomquist, but Simpson closed the door on the backstretch and the 40-year-old driver was third once again after rallying from deep in the field.
“We were going to give it everything we had. I had a real good run out there, and (Simpson) used all the racetrack, what he needed to do, and we tagged the wall a little bit up there,” Erb said. “We had a real good run.”
Bloomquist ran second most of the way, but lost the spot to Simpson on lap 82 and ducked into the pits on the final caution. He finished ninth.
The most serious of the 10 cautions were for the first-lap scramble that then on lap 62 when 16th-starting Jeremy Payne, making a return to the Late Model division in Bryan Rowland’s car, smacked the turn-one wall while running fifth. Also, on lap 31, Tim Isenberg spun in turn three, collecting Steve Shaver with Jared Landers and Jerry Lierly getting a piece of it. Shaver got the worst of it and retired along with Isenberg.
Notes: Owens drives a Cornett-powered Bloomquist Race Car sponsored by Reece Monument, Gantte Appraisals, Red Line Oil, Hypercoil, Sunoco Race Fuels, FK Rod Ends and Midwest Sheet Metal. ... Owens has lost just once at Wheatland — in July 2011, to Bloomquist — since mid-2010, and he’s won three of the four Show-Me 100s held at Lucas Oil Speedway. ... When the race was at West Plains, Mo., Owens had just one top-five finish in two starts. ... Steve Francis ran among the top five most of the way but ended up sixth. ... Thirteen of 32 starters finished on the lead lap. ... Nineteen were running at the finish. ... Outside front-row starter Don O’Neal retired with a flat tire on lap 63 and fell 135 points behind Owens in the title chase. ... Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon, Mo., making his third straight Show-Me start, was the top-finishing home-state driver in eighth. ... Next up for the Lucas Oil Series is May 31 action at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway and a June 1 event at Florence (Ky.) Speedway, the Ralph Latham Memorial. Both pay $10,000-to-win.