Dream: No denying Bloomquist his 5th win
By Kevin Kovac and Todd Turner
ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 7) — Now Scott Bloomquist has one for the thumb. The Mooresburg, Tenn., superstar registered a record fifth career victory in the Dream XIV at Eldora Speedway, turning back a late bid by Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, to pocket the race’s $100,000 top prize, UMP DirtCar's biggest single-race paycheck in 2008. | Slideshow
Bloomquist, 44, was never headed after charging forward from the ninth starting spot to take the lead from Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., on lap 24 of the 100-lapper. He drove a new Miller Bros. Coal-sponsored Team Zero car that he built in his shop.
“This event has big very good to me,” said Bloomquist, who previously won the Dream in 1995, 2000, '04 and '06. “We’ve won five, but there’s probably three others that we should have had. We work really hard to come to come to this race. Following the Prelude (to the Dream) and the attention that got — that makes this an even bigger event to win. It’s right up there, definitely one of the bigger highlights of my career.”
The triumph brought Bloomquist a sense of redemption for the heartbreaking loss he suffered at the hands of Birkhofer in the 2002 World 100 at Eldora. Birkhofer, who slipped by Bloomquist on the final lap to steal a victory in that event six years ago, settled for the $20,000 runner-up money in his Mars-Birkhofer machine, just over a second behind Bloomquist.
Clanton, who led laps 4-23 after starting sixth, slipped back to finish a distant third in a brand-new RSD Enterprises Rocket, and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., came from the 13th starting spot to challenge Clanton late in the distance before placing fourth in the Reece Monuments Bloomquist chassis.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who surged off his front-row starting spot to lead laps 1-3, completed the top five in the Valvoline Rocket No. 39. His car was fielded by defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who failed to qualify for the feature in Dale Beitler’s No. 19 after suffering a blown right-rear tire with two laps remaining in his heat.
Of course, with the race running caution-free from lap 36 to the finish, Bloomquist was blissfully unaware that an exact repeat of 2002 was possible. His mind was simply on staying in front, not on his closest pursuer.
“I didn’t know Brian was in second, so I didn’t really think about it,” Bloomquist said. “But you never not think about getting caught in traffic or getting passed close to the end. You just gotta keep your poise and worry about what’s in front rather than what’s behind you.”
Bloomquist took care of the competition ahead of him with relative ease. He cracked the top five by lap 11, then shot by Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., and McCreadie to reach second on a lap-17 restart before running down Clanton. The fast move to the front was by design.
“I saw that Jimmy (Owens) had come through real quick,” said Bloomquist, who used a powerplant built by Vic Hill. “I didn’t want to mess up and let him get in front of me and then have us be the same speed, so I’d have a hard time getting back by him. That’s really the answer to why I pushed it early. I wanted to be sure and not give him an opportunity to get in front of me.”
Clanton, who set fast time in Friday night’s 122-car qualifying session with a lap of 16.580 seconds and raced to a Saturday heat win from the fifth starting spot, proved to be no match for Bloomquist.
“After how quick we (caught) him, there was no doubt in my mind that we were gonna pass him,” Bloomquist said of Clanton. “We had got such a good run on him at both ends, it was just a matter of time. We could’ve got him even sooner than we did, but I wanted to take my time and be sure.”
Clanton, 32, missed the setup on his No. 25. “I was a little too free,” said Clanton, who earned $10,000 for a career-best Dream finish of third. “At the beginning of the race (the car) turned too good and had too much traction. It wasn’t pushing not one bit, so I knew I was in trouble. I thought to myself, ‘If I can get out (to a lead) as far as I can get and it goes green-to-checkered, maybe they won’t catch us.’ But that didn’t happen.”
It was left to Birkhofer, 36, to keep Bloomquist honest. Birkhofer — who had a long way to go to even reach the feature event after starting 13th in a 20-car heat races — reached second place on lap 62 and managed to close within a car length of Bloomquist several times over the final 10 laps.
“I wanted to make him at least a little bit nervous,” smiled Birkhofer, who dove underneath Bloomquist through turns and two but couldn’t make a move stick. “Maybe with three (laps) to go I thought I might have a chance at him (in traffic), but he could just turn it on. I’m just happy that we were fortunate to make the race. I learned a lot about my race car tonight.”
Birkhofer had to rally after timing 75th-fastest, which left him with a starting spot deep in a heat race. He ultimately transferred by winning the B-Main.
While Birkhofer got the attention of the large crowd late in the distance, Bloomquist was confident that he had the race under control. “The line I was running wasn’t a line where you were gonna drive right by me,” Bloomquist said. “I would’ve seen you before you ever passed me — catching and passing were too different things.”
The race was slowed by just two caution flags (on lap 17 for the slow car of Whitehouse, Ohio’s Matt Miller and lap 36 for nosepiece damage to the car driven by Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga.) and one red flag (a lap-10 rollover in turn two by R.J. Conley of Wheelersburg, Ohio, who was uninjured).
Pearson finished sixth and polesitter Shannon Buckingham of Morristown, Tenn., who drove a Bloomquist Race Car, was the last driver on the lead lap at the finish in seventh.
Dream XIV (official finish)
1. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn, Bloomquist, $100,000
2. Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa, Mars-Birkhofer, $20,000
3. Shane Clanton (25), Locust Grove, Ga., Rocket, $10,000
4. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Bloomquist, $6,000
5. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Rocket, $5,000
6. Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., MasterSbilt, $4,000
7. Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., Bloomquist, $3,500
8. Steve Shaver (30), Vienna, W.Va., Rocket, $3,000
9. Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., Rocket, $2,500
10. Bart Hartman (75), Zanesville, Ohio, Rocket, $2,200
11. Audie McWilliams (10), Walton, Ky., Rocket, $2,000
12. Wendell Wallace (88), Batesville, Ark., GRT, $1,900
13. Eric Jacobsen (5), Santa Cruz, Calif., Bloomquist, $1,800
14. Rodney Combs (5), Fort Myers, Fla., Rocket, $1,750
15. Mike Marlar (78), Winfield, Tenn., Rayburn, $1,725
16. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., Victory Circle, $1,700
17. Shawn Toczek (55), Hebron, Ind., Warrior, $1,675
18. John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., Bloomquist, $1,650
19. Don O'Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., Rayburn, $1,625
20. Dale McDowell (3), Rossville, Ga., GRT., $1,600
21. Aaron Scott (1), Newark, Ohio, Rocket, $1,575
22. Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y., Rocket, $1,550
23. Matt Miller (7), Whitehouse, Ohio, Rocket, $1,525
24. R.J. Conley (71c), Wheelersburg, Ohio, Rocket, $1,500
Fast qualifier (among 122 cars): Clanton, 16.580 seconds
Heat race winners: Buckingham, McCreadie, Blankenship, Pearson, Toczek, Clanton
Consolation winners: Birkhofer, Donnie Moran
Provisional starters: Moyer, Jacobsen
Blog-style updates of Saturday's action:
11:46 (Dream complete): Bloomquist hangs on
Scott Bloomquist, holding off a final charge from Brian Birkhofer, won by five lengths to become the first five-time winner of the $100,000-to-win Dream at Eldora Speedway.
11:43 (lap 92): Race tightens up again
Brian Birkhofer is within six lengths of leader Scott Bloomquist, the closest he's been all race. Bloomquist is trying to lap Chub Frank, Eric Jacobsen and Steve Shaver as Birkhofer draws yet closer.
11:41 (lap 85): Bloomquist safely ahead
Brian Birkhofer is closing a bit as Scott Bloomquist deals with lapped traffic. Shane Clanton is still a distant third. It appears to be a two-car race.
11:38 (lap 75): Bloomquist edges away
With clear track, Scott Bloomquist is edging away from Brian Birkhofer, leading by three-quarters of a straightaway. Clanton is the same distance back in third with Jimmy Owens fourth. Early leader Tim McCreadie holds fifth.
11:37 (lap 70): Recap of running order
Bloomquist, (half straight) Birkhofer, Clanton, Owens, McCreadie, Pearson, Buckingham, Shaver, Frank, Hartman, McWilliams, Marlar, Wallace, Jacobsen, Combs. (Moyer pulled into the pits on the 65th lap).
11:35 (lap 62): Birkhofer to second
Brian Birkhofer, who started 21st, is up to second and less than a half-straight behind Scott Bloomquist. It's shaping up to be a rematch of the 2002 World 100, when Birkhofer nipped Bloomquist on the final lap.
11:34 (lap 60): Clanton lingering; Birky right there
Shane Clanton is edging a bit closer to Scott Bloomquist as they work slower cars (Billy Moyer, Eric Jacobsen and Wendell Wallace). He's within about eight lengths and Brian Birkhofer, after struggling to pass Tim, is up to third and closing on Clanton.
11:32 (lap 55): Recap of running order
Bloomquist, Clanton, McCreadie, Birkhofer, Owens, Pearson, Buckingham, Shaver, Frank, McWilliams, Hartman, Marlar, Jacobsen, Wallace, Moyer, (lapped), Combs.
11:31 (lap 50): Bloomquist leads at halfway
Cruising in the high groove on a slicked-off track, Scott Bloomquist holds a 10-length lead on Shane Clanton at the halfway point of the 100-lap Dream. Tim McCreadie is another half-straight back in third, just ahead of 21st-starting Brian Birkhofer, who lost momentum in a lap-44 move to try to overtake McCreadie. Jimmy Owens is further back in fifth, far ahead of sixth-running Earl Pearson Jr.
11:25 (lap 36): Caution for McDowell
With Scott Bloomquist leading by a full straightaway, the battle for second livened up with Tim McCreadie briefly taking over from Shane Clanton before a lap-36 yellow for a slowing Dale McDowell. Right in the mix is Jimmy Owens in fourth and Brian Birkhofer, who is up to fifth from the 21st starting spot. Wendell Wallace and Don O'Neal are pitting under caution. The running order: Bloomquist, Clanton, McCreadie, Owens, Birkhofer, Pearson, Buckingham, Frank and Marlar. Wallace returned but O'Neal got caught in the pits.
11:23 p.m. (lap 30): Bloomquist still in control
Scott Bloomquist is lapping Shawn Toczek and Rodney Combs on the 30th lap and holds a half-straight lead on Shane Clanton, Tim McCreadie is lurking in third with Jimmy Owens and Earl Pearson Jr. running side by side for fourth.
11:20 (lap 24): Bloomquist takes command
Scott Bloomquist dove under Shane Clanton entering turn three to take the lead after restarting fourth on lap 17. Tim McCreadie is third followed by Pearson, Owens and a charging Birkhofer.
11:17 (lap 17): Caution appears for Miller
Shane Clanton was again building a comfortable lead when a lap-17 caution appeared for Matt Miller, who stopped near the turn-four pit entrance. Miller apparently had gotten into the wall. With 17 laps complete, Clanton leads McCreadie, Pearson, Bloomquist, Owens, Buckingham, Wallace, O'Neal and 21st-starting Brian Birkhofer.
11:11 p.m. (lap 10): Safety crews right Conley's car
Safety crews have righted Conley's car and are towing it off the track. The yellow flag has returned; second-running Tim McCreadie is getting a push start. The running order: Clanton, McCreadie, Buckingham, Pearson, Wallace, Bloomquist, Owens, Blankenship, O'Neal, Miller, Frank, McWilliams, Fuller, Shaver, Marlar, Birkhofer, Scott, McDowell, Combs, Jacobsen, Hartman and Toczek, who started fifth. Moyer was a late returnee from the pits and is running just a straightaway ahead of Clanton on lap 12.
11:05 p.m. (lap 11): R.J. Conley rolls in turn two
A red flag appeared on the 11th lap when R.J. Conley rolled his No. 71c in turn two and ended up on its lid. Workers are attending to the car and Conley has climbed from the car. Shane Clanton had more than a half-straightaway lead on Tim McCreadie with Earl Pearson Jr., Shanon Buckingham and Wendell Wallace holding the top five spots. Scott Bloomquist was sixth followed by Jimmy Owens, John Blankenship, Don O'Neal and Matt Miller. Billy Moyer is in the pits with several crew members underneath the rear end with 10 laps complete.
11:03 p.m. (lap 4): Clanton leads McCreadie
Tim McCreadie jumped into the early lead, but fast qualifier Shane Clanton went out front with a turn-four pass on the third lap and is pulling away. McCreadie is second with Shanon Buckingham, Earl Pearson Jr. and John Blankenship in pursuit.
10:54 p.m.: Starters being announced
There's no pre-race drivers' meeting or formal driver introduction. Announcers are introducing the 24 starters and the cars have assembled on the infield starting grid.
10:50 p.m.: Rocket popular for feature
Of the 24 starters, 10 drivers are piloting Rocket Chassis. Bloomquist Race Cars has five entrants followed by GRT (2), MasterSbilt (2), Rayburn (2) and one apiece for Victory Circle, Warrior and Mars-Birkhofer.
10:40 p.m.: McDowell talks about last-lap pass
While Dale McDowell starting on the pole of the B-Main, it didn't look good for him when he fell back to fifth before the final restart, two laps from the finish. But McDowell got rolling on the backstretch, drove under Brady Smith in turn three and held on for the fourth and final transfer spot. "I was able to hold my breath and run through there wide open," McDowell told pit reporter Bret Emrick. McDowell is guesting in a No. 3 GRT Race Car normally driven by Austin Dillon, who along with his brother Ty, run Dirt Late Models as Richard Childress Racing development drivers. "I've been threatening to make Ty drive," McDowell said. "He's won four in a row in those Crate cars."
10:36 p.m.: Birkhofer wins B-Main
Taking the point from race-long leader Rodney Combs on the 12th lap, Brian Birkhofer led the rest of the 20-lap B-Main to secure a starting spot in the main event. The semi-retired Hall of Famer Combs, making just his second start of 2008, held on to finish second and give Frankfort, Ky.-based Harrod Farms, which also fields a car for Don O'Neal, its second entry in the main event. A tight Brady Smith-Dale McDowell battle for third saw both of them get overtaken by sixth-starting Bart Hartman on the 17th lap, and a lap-18 caution set up a green-white-checkered finish. Birkhofer, Combs and Hartman held their spots the final two laps, but McDowell summoned something extra on the backstretch on the final lap and got past Smith in turns three and four. Jeep Van Wormer. who started 16th, was up to seventh on the 18th lap when he tried to dodge a slowing Ryan Dauber and got into the backstretch wall. His No. 55 rolled to a stop and his car was towed off the track with rear end problems.
B-Main finish: Brian Birkhofer, Rodney Combs, Bart Hartman, Dale McDowell, Brady Smith, Jimmy Mars, John Gill, Chad Ruhlman, Chris Madden, Dennis Erb Jr., Eddie Carrier Jr., Rick Eckert, Justin Rattliff, Shannon Babb, Tyler Boggs, Vic Hill, Ryan Dauber, Jeep Van Wormer, Michael England, Jeremy Payne, John Mason, Donnie Moran, Matt Lux, Steve Casebolt.
10:10 p.m.: Birkhofer ready for B-Main
Brian Birkhofer is set to start third in the 20-lap B-Main. "We qualified so bad, I'm just glad to be in this position right now," the driver from Muscatine, Iowa, told pit reporter Bret Emrick. "Hopefully we're in the top four and in the show." Birkhofer started 13th in his heat race and broke into the top five in the final laps. On the last lap, he pulled a slide job on Steve Casebolt to grab the fourth position in the third heat. Birkhofer told Emrick the move "upset Casebolt a little bit." The top four finishers in the B-Main fill the 11th and 12th rows in the 24-car Dream feature lineup.
10:05 p.m.: Moran wins C-Main
Starting outside the front row, Donnie Moran led all the way in a 15-lapper that will send the top six finishers to the last three rows of the B-Main. Moran was never challenged and finished a half-straightaway ahead of Vic Hill. Polesitter Justin Rattliff was third with Ryan Dauber, 15th-starting Tyler Boggs and Matt Lux getting the other transfer spots. Jesse Stoval started fourth but got too high on the first lap and skittered backwards. Two cautions slowed the race, the first for an early spin by D.J. Wells, the second for debris on the fourth lap.
C-Main finish: Donnie Moran, Vic Hill, Justin Rattliff, Ryan Dauber, Tyler Boggs, Matt Lux, Frank Heckenast Jr., Clint Smith, Brian Shirley, Rusty Schlenk, Jason Keltner, Jesse Stovall, Ray Cook, Jackie Boggs, Jay Johnson, Jordan Bland, D.J. Wells, Casey Noonan, Jerry Bowersock, Casey Roberts, Andrew Reaume, Terry Casey, Larry Kingseed.
9:47 p.m.: Statue takes victory lap
Earl and Berneice Baltes have climbed into the pace track and the new statue is being driven slowly around the track so all the fans can see it. The statue, made by sculpture artist Raymond Gibby, took seven months to complete.
9:42 p.m.: Race announced; statue unveiled
Every Sunday before the World 100, the track will run the Baltes Classic, track promoter Larry Kemp announced. Track owner Tony Stewart took the microphone and workers unveiled a statue that will stand at the track entrance. It's a bronze, life-like statue of Earl and Berneiece Baltes, both of them depicted with their hands waving. Stewart said it was created so everyone who comes to Eldora is "going to know who built this and made this place so special," Stewart said. "I never thought I'd see a day like this or a night like this," Earl Baltes said. "You're the greatest big bunch of fans in the whole world right here."
9:37 p.m.: Announcement coming soon
The red Eldora pace truck has pulled onto the frontstretch. There's a covered cylinder-like object in the truck bed covered by a tarp. Could it be a statue of former track owner Earl Baltes? Earl and Berneice Baltes, who owned the track 50 years before selling it to Tony Stewart, are heading for the frontstretch stage. Track promoter Larry Kemp is announcing them to cheers from the crowd.
9:22 p.m.: Five first-timers so far
Of the top 20 already locked into the 100-lap feature, five drivers are making their first Dream starts: Aaron Scott, Tim Fuller, John Blankenship, Shanon Buckingham and provisional starter Eric Jacobsen. Blankenship and Buckingham both won heat races.
9:08 p.m.: Consolation lineups
The B-Main lineup: Dale McDowell, Rodney Combs, Brian Birkhofer, Brady Smith, John Mason, Bart Hartman, Michael England, John Gill, Jimmy Mars, Chad Ruhlman, Shannon Babb, Chris Madden, Dennis Erb Jr., Rick Eckert, Steve Casebolt, Jeep Van Wormer, Jeremy Payne and Eddie Carrier Jr. Six cars will also transfer from the C-Main.
The C-Main lineup,: Justin Rattliff, Donnie Moran, Vic Hill, Jesse Stovall, Ryan Dauber, Rusty Schlenk, Matt Lux, Casey Roberts, Joe Armes, Jerry Bowersock, Casey Noonan, Jackie Boggs, Andrew Reaume, Frank Heckenast Jr., Tyler Boggs, Brian Shirley, Rocky Hodges, Clint Smith, D.J. Wells, Terry Casey, Jason Keltner, Jordan Bland, Jay Johnson, Ray Cook.
8:58 p.m.: Scott's 'crazy deal'
No driver transferred through a heat race from further back than Aaron Scott of Newark, Ohio, who rallied from his eighth starting spot to finish third in the fifth heat. Scott was seemingly out of contention as John Mason and Shannon Babb battled for the third spot, but a late caution put him in position to challenge. "It was a pretty crazy deal," Scott told pit announcer Bret Emrick. "I don't think if that caution had come out, we'd have had a chance at it." Scott is driving as a teammate to Tyler Boggs, who took over the full-time ride in the Shane and Jennifer Halcomb-owned No. 1 this season. Scott scaled back to part time after the birth of his first child.
8:53 p.m.: Announcement coming up
With heat races complete, track owner Tony Stewart will apparently make his scheduled announcement soon. The first 10 rows of the feature lineup is set (see box at right) with Shanon Buckingham and Tim McCreadie set for the front row.
8:52 p.m.: (sixth heat complete): Buckingham rules
Shanon Buckingham won an early lead-swapping duel with polesitter Audie McWilliams and rolled to a victory that gives him the pole position for the 100-lap feature. Buckingham finished a half-straightaway ahead of McWilliams while Steve Shaver was third after a tight battle with Chris Madden through the first half of the race. Madden and Shaver battled hard for third transfer spot with Shaver using a lapped car to slip under Madden entering turn three on the ninth lap, and Madden didn't have an answer. Madden ended up fifth behind fourth-finishing Bart Hartman and Eddie Carrier Jr. was sixth. A lap-10 caution appeared when Dale Groves Jr. blew a tire and got into the frontstretch wall; the only other caution was on the first attempted start when Jeff Beyers spun exiting turn four.
Sixth heat finish: Shanon Buckingham, Audie McWilliams, Steve Shaver, Bart Hartman, Chris Madden, Eddie Carrier Jr., Rusty Schlenk, Jackie Boggs, Clint Smith, Ray Cook, Brian Ruhlman, Jason Feger, Billy Faust, Shannon Thornsberry, Bill Williams, Tommy Kerr, Dale Groves Jr., Chris Conley, Jeff Beyers. Scratched: Delmas Conley.
8:40 p.m. (fifth heat complete): McCreadie wins
Polesitter Tim McCreadie went unchallenged in winning the fifth heat race, finishing comfortably ahead of runner-up Matt Miller. The third and final transfer spot was a tight battle between John Mason and Shannon Babb most of the way, but eighth-starting Aaron Scott snuck through to nab the position on a green-white-checkered restart. Mason, who restarted third on lap 13, settled for fourth ahead of Babb. Babb slid under Mason to take the third position on the eighth lap, but Babb slapped the wall exiting turn two, allowing Mason back ahead and damaging his car's rear spoiler. Babb never could seriously challenge again. Everyone else was out of contention, including Josh Richards, whose car was banged up on the first lap and throughout the race after contact with several cars. He pulled in on the 12th lap with a flat tire, the sheetmetal on the rear of his car peeled back as if someone had taken a can opener to it. A caution on the first start for Brad Neat getting into the third-turn wall, and a lap-14 caution for a slowing Wayne Chinn were the only slowdowns.
Fifth heat finish: Tim McCreadie, Matt Miller, Aaron Scott, John Mason, Shannon Babb, Jeremy Payne, Ryan Dauber, Casey Noonan, Jay Johnson, Larry Kingseed, Rick Rogers, Jared Hawkins, Wayne Chinn, Josh Richards, Rocky Owens, Brad Neat. Scratched: Mark Thrasher, Rocky Hodges, Doug Drown, Dillon Wood.
8:30 p.m.: (fifth heat, lap 1): Neat hits wall
A wild scramble in the third turn on the first lap — with Matt Miller, Shannon Babb and Brad Neat side-by-side-by-side — ended with Neat up against the turn-three wall. Josh Richards clipped Neat and got some body damage and headed for the pits. He plans to return for the restart. Neat's car is being towed off the track. It will be a complete restart with Tim McCreadie and John Mason again on the front row.
8:27 p.m.: (fourth heat complete): Blankenship rolls
Polesitter John Blankenship, fresh off his May 21 wedding in Las Vegas, dominated the fourth heat to make his first ever major-race lineup at Eldora. Wendell Wallace challenged Blankenship early, but the winner turned up the wick midway through the race and won by more than a full straightaway. Wallace got the second transfer spot with Chub Frank hot on his heels for the final transfer position. Early cautions appeared for third-starting Josh Williams and Ben Adkins, and Nick Marolf brought out a lap-seven caution with a turn-four spin.
Fourth heat finish: John Blankenship, Wendell Wallace, Chub Frank, Brady Smith, Chad Ruhlman, Jeep Van Wormer, Jessee Stovall, Jerry Bowersock, Brian Shirley, Jordan Bland, Ben Adkins, Brent Kreke, Mike Collins, Damon Eller, Tony Knowles, Nick Marolf, Brandon Perkins, Scott Daly, Josh Williams. Scratched: Justin Shaw
8:18 p.m. (fourth heat, lap 2): Two early cautions
Josh Williams, running third early, got into the turn-one wall to bring out the first caution, then Ben Adkins spun a lap after the restart for the second caution in the fourth heat race. Polesitter John Blankenship is out front followed by Wendell Wallace, Chub Frank, Brady Smith, Chad Ruhlman, Jordan Bland, Jesse Stovall and Damon Eller. Wallace tried a slide job on the first restart, but couldn't overtake Blankenship.
8:10 p.m. (third heat complete): Pearson tops Bloomquist
Starting outside the front row, Earl Pearson Jr. grabbed the early lead and fought off Scott Bloomquist through most of the race for the victory. Pearson ran mostly in the high groove while Bloomquist moved around looking for a faster line. It was a two-car race most of the way as polesitter R.J. Conley had his hands full further back with Steve Casebolt and Steve Francis among those challenging. Conley held on to finish third ahead of Brian Birkhofer, whose last-lap slide job dropped Casebolt to sixth behind Birkhofer and Mars. Four cautions appeared: Scott James broke an axle to bring out an early caution, Bryan Bernheisel spun in front of the leaders on the ninth lap and Shane Riner got sideways on the frontstretch and bumped the inner wall. Just as the white flag flew, another caution came out when Steve Francis peeled off a tire and Justin Labonte also slowed.
Third heat finish: Earl Pearson Jr., Scott Bloomquist, R.J. Conley, Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars, Steve Casebolt, Vic Hill, Eric Jacobsen, Joe Armes, Tyler Boggs, Jason Keltner, Ky Harper, Tim Isenberg, Chris Ross, Justin Labonte, Bryan Bernheisel, April Farmer, Steve Francis, Shane Riner, Scott James. Scratched: Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
8:02 p.m. (third heat, lap 10): Pearson leads
Earl Pearson leads the third heat after the third caution and 10 laps. Scott Bloomquist is second and R.J. Conley third ahead of Steve Francs.
7:49 p.m. (second heat complete): Toczek wins second heat
Shawn Toczek, despite losing the lead heading for the white flag, was declared the winner of the second heat. Mike Marlar got past the race-long leading Toczek when Toczek briefly lost control in turn four on the 14th lap, but he was penalized two spots for jumping a restart. Don O'Neal was listed as second with Marlar in the third and final transfer spot. O'Neal's teammate, Rodney Combs, finished fourth.
Second heat finish: Shawn Toczek, Don O’Neal, Mike Marlar, Rodney Combs, John Gill, Rick Eckert, Donnie Moran, Casey Roberts, Frank Heckenast Jr., Terry Casey, Curt Spalding, Scott Orr, Todd Morrow, Billy Moyer, Jeff Fortner, Jill George, Kirk Bradley, Michael Kloos, Jon Horner, Riley Hickman. Scratched: Bob Lanter
7:42 p.m. (second heat, lap 7): Second-running Morrow spins
Todd Morrow spun amid traffic in the fourth turn of the second heat, losing the second spot. Surprising Shawn Toczek was running away with it, leading by a straightaway after seven laps. Mike Marlar is in second followed by Don O'Neal, O'Neal's teammate Rodney Combs and John Gill near the halfway point. Billy Moyer has dropped to the tail and will take a provisional, apparently.
7:38 p.m. (first heat complete): Clanton overcomes inversion to win
Fast qualifier Shane Clanton overcame the five-car inversion to win the first heat, assisted by the demise of both front-row starters. Tim Fuller and Jimmy Owens got the other two transfer spots. "My car feels pretty good," Clanton told Bret Emrick. "Hopefully we can get that $100,000 tonight."
First heat finish: Shane Clanton, Tim Fuller, Jimmy Owens, Dale McDowell, Michael England, Dennis Erb Jr., Justin Ratliff, Matt Lux, Andrew Reaume, D.J. Wells, Robby Hensley, Dan Schlieper, Donald Beyers, Freddy Smith, Terry Phillips, Bobby Kitchen, Darrell Lanigan, Jerry Rice. Scratched: Brett Wyatt, Mark Andersen, Rodney Amblin
7:34 p.m.: Schlieper loses right rear tire
Race-long leader Dan Schlieper lost his right rear wheel in the third turn on the 12th lap, putting Shane Clanton into the lead as both front-row starters are out of the first heat. Sixth-starting Tim Fuller is up to second followed by Jimmy Owens and Dale McDowell, still trying to recover from a two-position penalty for jumping an early restart. Michael England has advanced three positions and is running fifth. Bret Emrick reports that it appears the center of the wheel ripped out.
7:29 p.m.: Lanigan out
Darrell Lanigan, running second in the first heat, dropped out on the fifth lap with a puff of smoke exiting turn two. Dan Schlieper is leading but he's getting heavy pressure from Shane Clanton. Tim Fuller is moved up to third after Dale McDowell was penalized for jumping the previous restart.
7:24 p.m.: Schlieper leads first heat
Jerry Rice got into the turns 3-4 wall to draw a lap-two caution in the first heat. Dan Schlieper's leading Darrell Lanigan, Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens and Dale McDowell. Freddy Smith has dropped from third to 10th.
7:18 p.m.: Engines fired for first heat
The invocation by Debbie Reed of the Dirt Racing Outreach and the national anthem have been completed. Engines have been fired for the 20 starters in the first heat race and the cars are rolling onto the track.
7:10 p.m.: First two heats staged
The first two heats are staged on the infield concrete pad. The pack trucks have reversed course and are running clockwise in the high groove, right up against the outside wall. Dan Schlieper and Darrell Lanigan are lined up as the front-row starters in the first heat.
7:03 p.m.: Banner part of announcement?
The D-R-E-A-M sign in victory lane has been affixed with a furled up banner centered over the "E." Could the banner be part of the announcement track owner Tony Stewart is scheduled to make during the night's festivities?
6:56 p.m.: Review of night's format
The top three finishers in each 15-lap heat race will transfer to the 100-lap feature. Finishers 4-6 go to the B-Main and finishers 7-10 go to the C-Main (finishers 11 on back load up). The 15-lap C-Main transfers six finishers to the B-Main, and the B-Main transfers four drivers to rows 11 and 12 of the feature (the 10th row of the feature is made up of the two fastest qualifiers who don't make the feature through heat races).
6:43 p.m.: First heat cars to grid
Cars for the first heat have been told to head for the grid between 6:50-7 p.m. Pack trucks have moved to the low groove in putting the finishing touches on the track surface. Skies to the west are clearer and temperatures are in the mid-70s.
6:20 p.m.: About 16 trucks packing track
Work on the track surface continues at Eldora as about 15 pack trucks are on the oval, mostly working the middle and high grooves for now. The inner groove still appears a little sloppy but the surface is coming around overall. The track hasn't officially announced if there'll be a delay from the 7 p.m. start time, but not cars are lining up.
5:44 p.m.: Work on track begins
The drivers' meeting has concluded and the first pack truck has pulled onto the track. The track was sealed overnight so much of the moisture is in the inside groove. Scott Bloomquist was among drivers checking out the track as he walked up the turn-one banking, digging his foot into the surface as he took deliberate steps up and down the banking.
5:10 p.m.: Drivers' meeting still set for 5:30
More teams are beginning to pull their cars and equipment out of haulers. The track announced the drivers' meeting is still set for 5:30 p.m.
5:02 p.m.: Light showers end
After perhaps 40 minutes of light showers, the rain has ended at Eldora and the skies look more favorable. Eldora director of operations Larry Boos said once the track crew begins working on the track they'll have a better idea of how long it will take to get surface into racing condition.
4:30 p.m.: Races on schedule for now
Light showers are falling at Eldora Speedway, but Saturday's Dream action is still on schedule. Most of the haulers are buttoned up with some teams unloading their cars and covering them with tarps or car covers. Heat races are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.