ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 6) — Jonathan Davenport dominated the 21st annual Dirt Late Model Dream Weekend presented by Ferris Mowers, but in the end he needed a little help to score the $100,000 winner's paycheck.
That assistance came in the form of heartbreak for Scott Bloomquist, the Mooresburg, Tenn., driver who snuck by Davenport on a lap-91 restart and turned back his furious last-lap challenge to apparently win the 100-lap race in a thrilling finish Saturday night at Eldora Speedway. But Bloomquist was denied what would have been his record seventh Dream victory when his car weighed 25 pounds light at the scales.
Bloomquist was disqualified and Davenport was declared the winner of the UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned race, giving the 31-year-old Blairsville, Ga., racer his first career victory in one of Dirt Late Model racing’s traditional crown jewel races and an unprecedented sweep of Eldora's three-night event.
"I don't know if I deserved to win it because I didn't win it the way I wanted to," said Davenport, who also claimed preliminary feature victories at Eldora on Thursday and Friday for a total weekend earnings of $107,500. "But we definitely had a dominant car all week. Scott had a really good car and I knew that it was probably going to be down to me and him at the finish.
"I hate it for him. This definitely isn't the way I wanted to win my first crown jewel. I wanted to actually beat that guy. He's so hard to beat."
Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., advanced from his 18th starting spot to cross the finish line third but was elevated to the runner-up spot with Bloomquist's disqualification. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., finished third in the adjusted final rundown with 2014 Dream winner Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., fourth. Current World of Outlaws Late Model Series points leader and 2012 Dream winner Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., was fifth, giving Peach State drivers three of the race's top five positions.
While Davenport may not have crossed the finish line first, his K&L Rumley Enterprises Longhorn Chassis was arguably the race's fastest car. Advancing from the sixth starting spot, the current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader took the lead from Clanton on lap 61 and pulled away to a comfortable advantage until the race's first caution waved with 89 laps complete for debris on the track.
With Bloomquist alongside him for the double-file restart, Davenport again pulled away when the race returned green, but the yellow flag slowed his pace again two laps later for a spin by Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa.
The second restart didn't go as well for Davenport, and Bloomquist was able to power into the lead with a inside surge through turns one and two. Pearson also briefly pulled ahead of Davenport, allowing Bloomquist to draw away slightly as Davenport worked to regain the second spot.
After clearing Pearson with five laps remaining, the high-running Davenport went to work chasing down Bloomquist. He reached Bloomquist as the two leaders raced toward the white flag, but the damaged, slow-moving machine driven by Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., blocked Bloomquist's middle groove, forcing Bloomquist to move into high line and impede Davenport's strong charge.
Davenport made a quick maneuver to dive under both Owens and Bloomquist entering turn one on the final lap, but his attempt to slide up in front of Bloomquist came up just short. Bloomquist pulled back ahead exiting the second corner and raced toward an apparent victory.
"That lap I ran him down, I never even checked it in three and four," Davenport said of his last-ditch bid on lap 99. "I was just trying to get between (Owens) and Scott. That didn't happen so I tried to get under them.
"I didn't know if (Owens) was going all the way to the wall, but I was going to either hit him or the inside wall. I didn't know what was going on there. I just tried to make something work. But I knew I probably just loss my chance at winning the Dream right there."
The three victories during the Dream weekend extended Davenport's personal win streak to six races. He scored a Lucas Oil MLRA victory on May 21 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., and his four Lucas Oil Series victories this season include a sweep of the tour's May 29-30 doubleheader at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway and Florence Speedway in Union, Ky.
The success this season cements Davenport's place among the current list of Dirt Late Model racing's elite drivers. Reaching that pedestal has been a long, hard road for Davenport full of both ups and downs that all make the Dream weekend sweep even sweeter.
"All those heartaches we've had, all those bad lucks, just the little bitty stuff that's happened here and at other places, it just all went out the window," Davenport said. "It's just like a breath of fresh air. It was definitely something awesome."
Finally clicking in the Moring Motorsports Black Diamond Chassis he piloted for the weekend, Pearson was impressive with his run from 18th into the top three. But his hopes of scoring a Dream victory to go along with his 2006 World 100 triumph were dashed when he couldn't keep up with Bloomquist and Davenport in the closing laps.
"Every time we got on the racetrack we were learning," said Pearson, who scored his career-best Dream finish. "I started 18th and fell back, but once I got my rhythm going, to drive up to second, we're tickled to death for Moring Motorsports and Black Diamond Chassis."
With his third top-three finish on the weekend, Erb again impressed in the new Black Diamond Chassis he debuted at the Dream weekend.
"To come out here with a new car and get a (preliminary feature) win and battle up front, it just shows how good these cars are," said Erb, who fell one spot short of matching his career-best Dream finish of second in 2011. "To come home third, we're proud of that."
Josh Rice of Verona, Ky., finished sixth, completing a stellar weekend for the 16-year-old racer, who finished third in a preliminary feature on Thursday night. Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., charged from his fourth starting spot to lead laps 2-4 but faded to seventh at the finish.
Polesitter Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., finished eighth after leading the race's opening lap, while Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., survived the last-lap encounter with the leaders to finish ninth. Chad Simpson of Mount Vernon, Iowa, rallied from the 26th starting spot to finish 10th.
Bloomquist, who was credited with a 28th-place finish, was not available for comment after the race.
Dream XXI presented by Ferris Mowers:
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $100,000
2. Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., Black Diamond, $20,000
3. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., Black Diamond, $10,000
4. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Warrior, $6,000
5. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., Capital, $5,000
6. Josh Rice (11), Verona, Ky., Club 29, $4,000
7. Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., Sweet-Bloomquist, $3,500
8. Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., Barry Wright, $3,000
9. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Club 29, $2,500
10. Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, Victory Circle, $2,475
11. Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., Club 29, $2,450
12. John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., Rocket, $2,425
13. Randy Weaver (116), Crossville, Tenn., Longhorn, $2,400
14. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., Rocket, $2,375
15. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $2,350
16. Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., Rocket, $2,325
17. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., Club 29, $2,300
18. Matt Westfall (54), Ludlow Falls, Ohio, Rocket, $2,275
19. Brandon Overton (76), Appling, Ga., MasterSbilt, $2,250
20. Garrett Alberson (F5), Las Cruces, N.M., Black Diamond, , $2,200
21. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., Longhorn, $2,175
22. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Rocket, $2,150
23. Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., Club 29, $2,125
24. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., Rocket, $2,100
25. Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., Rocket, $2,075
26. Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., MB Customs, $2,050
27. Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, MasterSbilt, $2,025
28. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., Sweet-Bloomquist, $2,000
Fast qualifier (among 84 cars): Westfall, 15.374 seconds.
Heat race winners: Davenport, Erb, Landers, Sheppard, Clanton, O'Neal
Consolation winners: Moran, James
Consolation scramble winners: Chris Simpson, Duane Chamberlain
Provisional starters: Weaver, Marlar.
Live blog-style updates and results by Alli Collis and Kevin Kovac:
Scott Bloomquist is declared 25 pounds light at the scales.
Lap 100: Bloomquist wins Dream XXI.
Lap 92: Bloomquist charges to the lead on the restart.
Lap 91: Satterlee spins in turn two to draw the race's second caution.
Lap 90: Daveport edges Bloomquist on the restart.
Lap 89: The first yellow flag waves for debris on the racing surface. Davenport leads Bloomquist, Clanton, Erb and McDowell. Youngster Josh Rice races among the top-10.
Lap 83: Davenport holds a commanding lead. McDowell has moved into the top five.
Lap 75: Davenport leads Bloomquist, Clanton, Erb and Landers. Pearson is up to eighth (from 18th).
Lap 68: Bloomquist overtakes Clanton for the second-place spot. Davenport leads.
Lap 61: Charging around the high-side, Davenport edges Clanton to lead lap 61.
Lap 50: Bloomquist is closing in on Davenport for the second-place spot.
Lap 42: Clanton, Davenport, Bloomquist (from 11th), Landers, Owens.
Lap 33: Clanton conitues to lead as Davenport closes in on Landers for the second spot. Owens has improved to fourth.
Lap 12: The leaders have caught the tail of the field. Clanton still leads Landers and Davenport.
Lap 5: Clanton leads Landers, Davenport, O'Neal and Erb.
10:01 p.m. | Engines fired
The command to start engines has been given and the field is beginning to roll off the frontstretch for pace laps. Updates of the Dream XXI will now continue by lap number.
9:44 p.m. | Field lined up
The 28-car Dream XXI field has assembled on the frontstretch in the traditional single-file lineup for an Eldora crown-jewel event. Drivers have gathered in the pit area and introductions will soon begin.
9:35 p.m. | Pre-feature notes
Provisional starters Mike Marlar and Randy Weaver — the two fastest overall qualifiers from Thursday and Friday who didn’t qualify — have both been busy working on their cars. Marlar changed his machine’s radiator in an effort to correct an overheating condition, while Weaver patched his car back together after hitting the spinning Brian Ligon during hot laps. … Eight former Dream winners are in the field: Don O’Neal, Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens, Dale McDowell, Scott Bloomquist, Darrell Lanigan, Steve Casebolt and Jimmy Mars. … Seven drivers are making first-ever Dream feature starts: Matt Westfall, Chris Ferguson, Josh Rice, Garrett Alberson, Chad Simpson, Brandon Overton and Randy Weaver.
9:10 p.m. | Second consolation
A red flag fell on the first lap for a tangle in turns one and two involving James Rice, Devin Gilpin and others. Scott James soared to the front of the field as the race went green, leading the entire 20-lap distance. Fourth-starting Garrett Alberson advanced two spots to finish second, with sixth-starting Brandon Overton finishing third. Chad Simpson edged Jason Riggs in the final laps to finish fourth and advance to the 100-lapper.
Finish (top four transfer): Scott James, Garrett Alberson, Brandon Overton, Chad Simpson, Duane Chamberlain, Jason Riggs, Frank Heckenast Jr., Steve Francis, Morgan Bagley, Wendell Wallace, Davey Johnson, Jason Feger, Andrew Reaume, Mark Dotson, Tim Lance, Jake O’Neil, Brian Ligon, Brian Gray, Ernie Cordier, James RIce, Brian Shirley, Devin Gilpin
8:46 p.m. | First consolation
A red-flag fell on the first lap for a multi-car pileup in turns three and four involving Jerry Bowersock, Josh Richards, Eddie Carrier Jr., Riley Hickman and Dustin Nobbe. Polesitter Billy Moyer Jr. jumped to an early lead, but sixth-starting Devin Moran slid by on the seventh lap to win the first consolation. Second-starting Jimmy Mars held on to the runner-up spot. John Blankenship edged Gregg Satterlee at the checkers to finish third, with the Pennsylvania driver taking the fourth and final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Devin Moran, Jimmy Mars, John Blankenship, Gregg Satterlee, Billy Moyer Jr., Chris Simpson, Nick Latham, Jeep Van Wormer, Mason Zeigler, Bobby Pierce, Rusty Schlenk, Matt Cochran, Charlie La Plant, Brandon Kinzer, Mark Voigt, Rodney Hamblin, Tim Manville, Riley Hickman, Eddie Carrier Jr., Josh Richards, Austin Siebert, Jerry Bowersock, Dustin Nobbe. Scratched: Terry Phillips
8:36 p.m. | The kid makes it
Josh Rice was walking on air after his second-place finish in the sixth heat put him into the 100-lap feature.
“It’s a dream come true,” said the 16-year-old who has become a Dirt Late Model sensation this weekend. “It’s cool getting to race with pretty much all my heroes.”
Rice will enter uncharted territory when he takes the green flag from the 12th starting spot. He’s never competed in a century-grind Dirt Late Model event, so he’s listening carefully to advice from his father, former driver Jerry Rice.
“The longest (race) I’ve ever run is 50 laps,” Rice said, “so dad told me to just go out there and keep it straight, don’t spin the tires.”
Rice noted that his father’s eyes were filled with tears after the heat, “so I don’t know what he’ll do if we could win it,” he said.
(20 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Billy Moyer Jr., Jimmy Mars
Row 2: Bobby Pierce, John Blankenship
Row 3: Gregg Satterlee, Devin Moran
Row 4: Nick Latham, Tim Manville
Row 5: Jeep Van Wormer, Riley Hickman
Row 7: Rusty Schlenk, Chris Simpson
Row 8: Josh Richards, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 9: Matt Cochran, Austin Siebert
Row 10: Dustin Nobbe, Mason Zeigler
Row 11: Terry Phillips, Mark Voigt
Row 12: Brandon Kinzer, Kelly Guy
Row 13: Rodney Hamblin, Charles LaPlant
Row 1: Garrett Alberson, Scott James
Row 2: Jason Feger, Jason Riggs
Row 3: Steve Francis, Brandon Overton
Row 4: Frank Heckenast Jr., James Rice
Row 5: Tim Lance, Brian Shirley
Row 6: Chad Simpson, Davey Johnson
Row 7: Jake O’Neil, Duane Chamberlain
Row 8: Wendell Wallace, Devin Gilpin
Row 9: Morgan Bagley, Cody Mahoney
Row 10: Mark Dotson, Jay Johnson
Row 11: Andrew Reaume, Austin Smith
Row 12: Tyler Erb, Brian Ligon
8:20 p.m. | Heat race notes
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series regulars nearly swept the heat-race checkered flags, winning five of the six heats. World of Outlaws points leader Shane Clanton prevented the whitewash by passing Scott Bloomquist to capture the fifth prelim. … Six different chassis manufacturers were represented by the heat winners: Longhorn (Jonathan Davenport), Black Diamond (Dennis Erb Jr.), Sweet-Bloomquist (Jared Landers), Rocket (Brandon Sheppard), Capital (Shane Clanton) and Barry Wright (Don O’Neal). … Josh Richards replaced the transmission that broke in his car during hot laps in time to start the first heat, but he was never a factor in the prelim. He briefly climbed up to challenge for fifth before steadily fading over the race’s second half to finish eighth — the same position in which he started. … Jimmy Mars started the second heat from the pole position but fell back immediately when he fired slowly at the initial start. The green flag wasn’t called back and Mars settled for a fifth-place finish. … Matt Miller saw his night come to an end during the fourth heat due to terminal engine trouble. “It started to seize up like something was about ready to break so I pulled off,” said the former Dream winner. … Garrett Alberson, the native of Las Cruces, N.M., who now lives in Shreveport, La., and drives for the Houghton, La.-based Childress Racing team, had his best run of the weekend in finishing fourth in the fourth heat. He’ll have a good starting spot for a B-Main as he attempts to lock into the Dream field for the first time. … Earl Pearson Jr. turned in arguably the biggest charge of the heats, advancing from the ninth starting spot to finish third and transfer to the feature. He was able to turn around a weekend in which he slapped the wall with his Moring Motorsports machine during qualifying on both Thursday and Friday. … No team displayed more emotion over qualifying for the Dream than that of 16-year-old Josh Rice, whose second-place finish in the sixth heat put him in the crown-jewel event in his first-ever attempt. His father, former driver Jerry Rice, displayed tears of joy after watching his youngest son crack the starting field. … Matt Westfall continued his sold weekend, putting his Best Motorsports machine in the field with a second-place finish in the second heat. His first-ever Dream feature start will be a learning experience for him. “I used to run Silver Crown cars and they were a hundred laps (races),” he said, “but this is a different deal."
8:04 p.m. | Real Deal will lead them
Don O’Neal battled to victory in the sixth heat, giving him the pole position for the feature. He was pleased with that achievement, but he knows his Clint Bowyer Racing machine isn’t quite a $100,000 winning car yet.
“We gotta get this thing a little bit better,” said O’Neal, who won the Dream in 2011. “We’re not that great, but we’re better than we have been this weekend.”
8:00 p.m. | Sixth heat
Second-starting Jason Feger jumped to an early lead over the field. Don O’Neal overtook race leader Jason Feger on a lap nine restart to win the sixth and final heat race. Josh Rice charged from the fifth starting spot, challenging O’Neal in the final laps, but settled for second. Charging from the ninth-starting position, Earl Pearson Jr. grabbed the third and final transfer spot, with Feger finishing fourth. Two cautions fell for Brian Ligon.
Finish (top three transfer): Don O’Neal, Josh Rice, Earl Pearson Jr., Jason Feger, Brandon Overton, Tim Lance, Davey Johnson, Wendell Wallace, Cody Mahoney, Randy Weaver, Andrew Reaume, Brian Ligon. Scratched: John Gill
7:53 p.m. | Clanton flexes some muscle
No driver pulled off a more impressive heat-race victory than Shane Clanton, who drove past six-time Dream champion Scott Bloomquist to take the checkered flag. The performance had the Georgia driver looking toward the 100-lapper with great excitement.
“Our car’s awful good,” the 2012 Dream champion said of his Capital Race Car. “We’ve had three days to adjust on it, and now we just have to make the right adjustments for the feature. I know we can do it.”
Clanton will take the green flag from the outside pole in his ninth career Dream start.
7:49 p.m. | Sheppard looks toward feature
Brandon Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis worked great in the fourth heat, which we won to earn the third starting spot in the Dream.
But will it be as fast in the headliner? That’s the question the 22-year-old still needs to answer.
“We have a really good car right now,” said Sheppard, whose only previous Dream feature start came in 2012 when he finished 19th. “I don’t know how much of a shot we have at the win — we really haven’t had a chance to run in the slick yet, so we’ll see.”
7:47 p.m. | Jared's excited
A triumph in the third heat left Jared Landers bursting with anticipation for his fifth career Dream start.
“We’ve been struggling with this car, but we’re pretty dad-gum good right now,” said Landers, who will start fourth as he seeks to better his career-best Dream finish of sixth achieved one year ago. “I think I can go run up front in this deal.”
7:45 p.m. | Fifth heat
Third-starting Shane Clanton overtook outside front-row starter Scott Blomquist on lap 10, leading the remaining distance. Blomquist held off a charging Shannon Babb to finish second. Babb finish third to transfer to the main event, with Scott James finishing fourth. Polesitter Steve Francis slipped to finish fifth after an early battle with Clanton and Babb. The night’s first caution fell on the first lap when Brian Gray spun in turn two.
Finish (top three transfer): Shane Clanton, Scott Blomquist, Shannon Babb, Scott James, Steve Francis, James Rice, Chad Simpson, Duane Chamberlain, Morgan Bagley, Jay Johnson, Tyler Erb, Brian Gray
7:39 p.m. | Erb gets quotable
Dennis Erb Jr. certainly isn’t know for turning memorable words, but he provided a memorable quote after his second-heat victory when asked what a $100,000 victory tonight would mean to him.
“Words can’t describe it,” said Erb, who continued his impressive burst out of the starting gate this weekend with his new Black Diamond machine. “That’s why they call it the Dream.”
7:37 p.m. | J.D.'s confidence rises
Jonathan Davenport’s victory in the first heat gave him another boost in his quest for the a first-ever crown-jewel victory. He knows the long-distance feature will present new challenges, but he noted after his triumph that he’s ready for them.
“We ain’t got to put the 40s (hard-compound tires) on yet so we aren’t sure how this car will react to them,” said Davenport, who will start sixth in the Dream. “But we got a good baseline setup so we think we’ll be just fine.”
7:35 p.m. | Fourth heat
Third-starting Dale McDowell overtook outside front-row starter Brandon Sheppard on lap seven, but it his lead was short-lived as Sheppard charged back to the front of the field to pick up the win in the fourth heat. Third-running Matt Miller’s No. 3 began smoking on lap-nine, forcing him to pit early. Steve Casebolt finished third to transfer to the 100-lapper.
Finish (top three transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Dale McDowell, Steve Casebolt, Garrett Albertan, Jason Riggs, Frank Heckenast Jr., Brian Shirley, Jake O’Neil, Devin Gilpin, Mark Dotson, Austin Smith, Ernie Cordier, Matt Miller
7:27 p.m. | Third heat
Second-starting Darrell Langian cruised around the outside to take the lead on the opening lap. Fourth-starting Jared Landers slipped past Lanigan on the bottom of the racetrack, taking the lead on lap five to win the third heat. After a tight battle, sixth-starting Chris Ferguson grabbed the runner-up spot from Lanigan in the final laps. Lanigan held on to the third and final transfer spot, with polesitter Bobby Pierce finishing fourth.
Finish (top three transfer): Jared Landers, Chris Ferguson, Darrell Lanigan, Bobby Pierce, Devin Moran, Jeep Van Wormer, Chris Simpson, Matt Cochran, Mason Zeigler, Brandon Kinzer, Charlie LaPlant
7:19 p.m. | Quick end for Moyer
Two-time Dream winner Billy Moyer’s voice dripped with dejection as he tried to describe his fate in the first heat, which he started from the fourth spot but was knocked from action before one lap was completed. He attempted to make an outside charge into turn one but slapped the wall, damaging the right-rear corner of his car and forcing him to retire.
“I might have got in a little bit high there,” Moyer said. “It is what it is.”
Despite hot laps being run to knock the slime off the racetrack, Moyer complained that the first heat was started before the surface was ready to race.
7:17 p.m. | Second heat
Second-starting Matt Westfall jumped to the lead on the first lap, as polesitter Jimmy Mars quickly fell to fourth. Third-starting Dennis Erb Jr. overtook Westfall on the ninth lap to pick up the win, with Westfall settling for the runner-up spot. Fourth-starting Tim McCreadie grabbed the third and final transfer spot over Mike Marlar.
Finish (top three transfer): Dennis Erb Jr., Matt Westfall, Tim McCreadie, Mike Marlar, Jimmy Mars, Gregg Satterlee, Tim Manville, Rusty Schlenk, Eddie Carrier Jr., Dustin Nobbe, Rodney Hamblin, Mark Voigt. Scratched: Casey Noonan, Chase Junghans
7:07 p.m. | First heat
Third-starting Jonathan Davenport charged to the lead on the opening lap, leading the entire 15-lap distance. Second-starting Jimmy Owens held on to the runner-up spot. Polesitter Kent Robinson slipped two positions, but fought off a hard-charging Billy Moyer Jr. for the third and final transfer spot. Two-time Dream winner Bill Moyer started fourth, but got into the backstretch wall on the first lap and pulled into the pit area.
Finish (top three transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens, Kent Robinson, Billy Moyer Jr., John Blankenship, Nick Latham, Riley Hickman, Josh Richards, Austin Sieber, Terry Phillips, Kelly Guy, Jerry Bowersock, Bryant Dickinson, Billy Moyer
6:58 p.m. | First heat on the track
Heat races are ready to roll at Eldora. The top three drivers will transfer from each 15-lap heat. With the inversion, the winner of heat six will start on the pole of the 100-lap feature.
6:42 p.m. | Pre-race notes
Among the drivers joining Chase Junghans in bypassing tonight’s program are 410 sprint car star Tim Shaffer, who opted to leave Eldora to compete in an All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series event at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, and Benji Cole, who experienced mechanical trouble on Friday night. … Jerry Bowersock is back in competition after skipping Friday night’s card to run an open-wheel modified at Ohio’s Limaland Motorsports Park. He was bidding for third place in that event when he tangled with a lapped car. … Rusty Schlenk contemplated heading to Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio, tonight, but his wife helped convince him to stay at Eldora. He starts sixth in the second heat. … Pre-race favorite Jonathan Davenport chose to skip hot laps, confident that his fleet K&L Rumley Longhorn Race Car is primed and ready for heat action. … Josh Richards’s rough weekend continued during hot laps when he slowed with transmission failure. His Rocket Chassis house car team is rushing to install a new tranny in time for the first heat, which he is scheduled to start from the eighth spot. … Eight-time 2015 winner Randy Weaver and his team will have to scramble to take their fourth-place starting spot in the sixth heat after the Tennessee driver crashed during hot laps. “I was trying to make a good lap around the bottom to see what we had for the heat coming up and some guy (Brian Ligon) got in there and spun. You’re going so fast here, you can’t stop, and I got into him and then hit the wall.” Weaver’s Longhorn Race Car sustained significant damage to his right-rear corner; he does rank high on the list of the weekend’s fastest time-trailers, however, so he could be in line for a provisional. … Brian Shirley was left to fix damage to the right-rear corner of his car and Steve Casebolt was seen pounding out his machine’s left-side door after the two Midwesterners got together on the homestretch during hot laps. …Dan Shepherd pounded the wall between turns three and four during his practice session.
6:29 p.m. | Pre-race ceremonies coming up
Hot laps are complete and pre-race ceremonies will begin shortly. Heat races are slated for 7 p.m.
5:42 p.m. | Teams readying for hot laps
Officials have scheduled hot laps before the start of tonight's racing program. Cars will roll onto the track at 6 p.m. for practice, with the first heat set to begin at 6 pm.
5:28 p.m. | Did Bloomer game the system?
As soon as Friday night’s first 25-lap preliminary feature ended, the pit area was abuzz with speculation about the tactics of Mooresburg, Tenn.’s Scott Bloomquist.
The question: Did the six-time Dream champion intentionally stop on the homestretch while running fourth on lap 16 in an effort to set himself up for a better shot at a prime starting position in one of Saturday night’s six 15-lap heat races, which this year are aligned using drivers’ average finishes from the two preliminary programs?
The cagy Bloomquist, who was scored 17th in the final rundown, certainly didn’t acknowledge that a mechanical problem prompted him to relinquish a top-five spot in the race.
“Well, I’m not above it,” Bloomquist said with a sly smile when asked this afternoon if he purposely gave up his spot to increase his finish average. “That’s all I can say.”
The move did put Bloomquist in a seemingly very attractive heat-race position. With a three-car invert in place, he starts second in the fifth heat race, giving him the opportunity to earn the outside pole for the 100-lap feature with a victory in the prelim.
“There’s a window (with the new Dream format),” Bloomquist said, elaborating further on the situation. “I just started doing some figuring yesterday, and I just wanted to be where at least I knew I wouldn’t end up in the third row (of a heat). So, we went with a little different tire (harder compound), just wanted to feel what the car did with it … I didn’t really take that race as serious.”
Bloomquist smiled when asked to comment on the pit-area talk that inevitably followed his actions on Friday night.
“What they need to worry about is their own s—,” said Bloomquist, who would have started third in a heat if he continued on to a top-five finish in Friday’s feature. “Just like at the World (100 last year), it didn’t seem to make a damn where we started (he won after being put the rear for having an “unapproved” window net).
“It’s just … you stay out of trouble more if you start up front, and the odds of not getting wrecked in a heat race are a lot better. It’s more about just not tearing your stuff up before you get in the feature than it is worrying about where you start the feature. This place here, a hundred laps is an eternity. If you’re on, it ain’t gonna matter where you start, so we just want to get into the show unscathed.”
Was Bloomquist encouraged by his car’s performance during Friday’s A-Main?
“I was actually coming on,” Bloomquist said. “I was a couple tenths or better faster than the leader and coming back towards him when the caution come out.”
4:57 p.m. | Clanton takes a hit
Shortly after Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., completed his run to a sixth-place finish in Friday night’s first 25-lap preliminary feature, he grabbed his helmet and headed off to the Simpson Race Products trailer in the middle of the pit area. He showed workers there his helmet, which had a small piece of its outer shell missing just below the shield because a rock or clod of hard dirt had entered his cockpit and struck him square in the face midway through the race.
“I was behind a few cars going into (turn) one and something kicked up, dented my right-front fender and hit me in the helmet,” Clanton said. “It took me a lap to gather my thoughts, but I was OK.”
A former Dream winner, Clanton is scheduled to start third in the fifth heat after recording finishes of fourth and sixth in the preliminary features. The current World of Outlaws Late Model Series points leader feels pretty good about his chances for success.
“Our car’s been pretty good,” said Clanton. “If we can get it a little better, I think we’ll have a shot at it.”
4:40 p.m. | Rough night for James
Scott James of Bright, Ind., isn’t entering Saturday night’s action with a smile on his face.
“Last night has got me in a bad mind today,” James said while standing inside his trailer late this afternoon.
Indeed, James had an all-around awful Friday evening at Eldora. After a heat-race scrape with Bobby Pierce sent him spinning on the homestretch and out of contention for a transfer spot, James’s night ended midway through his B-Main when his car’s right-rear tire exploded, causing him to slam the turn-three wall.
“It was a new tire with six laps on it,” said James, whose car sustained significant bodywork damage from the impact with the concrete. “I never had a tire blow apart like that. It pretty much ruined our weekend.”
Now saddled with a ninth-place starting spot in the fifth heat, James must make a major charge to crack the starting field of a race in which he is a former runner-up.
“We’re gonna do what we can,” James said, “and if we don’t make it we’ll get the trailer loaded up and try to get out of here before the feature if we can.”
4:20 p.m. | Just watching the action
As race time for Saturday night’s Dream XXI finale approached, Manhattan, Kan.’s Chase Junghans and his father, Greg, were sitting in chairs on the concrete pad behind their hauler, which was locked up tight with Junghans’s ShopQuik Racing No. 18 inside. They were both sipping on cold drinks, settled in for an evening as spectators after Junghans experienced terminal engine trouble during a Friday-night B-Main and decided not to install a backup with an 11th-place heat-race starting spot starting him in the face.
“We’re just watching tonight,” said the 22-year-old Junghans, who contemplated heading over to a $5,000-to-win show tonight at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park before opting to hang around the Eldora pits.
Heat race lineups
(15 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Kent Robinson, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Billy Moyer
Row 3: Billy Moyer Jr., John Blankenship
Row 4: Nick Latham, Josh Richards
Row 5: Riley Hickman, Terry Phillips
Row 6: Kelly Guy, Austin Siebert
Row 7: Jerry Bowersock, Bryant Dickinson
Row 1: Jimmy Mars, Matt Westfall
Row 2: Dennis Erb Jr., Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Mike Marlar, Rusty Schlenk
Row 4: Gregg Satterlee, Tim Manville
Row 5: Eddie Carrier Jr., Casey Noonan
Row 6: Chase Junghans, Mark Voigt
Row 7: Dustin Nobbe, Rodney Hamblin
Row 1: Bobby Pierce, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Jeep Van Wormer, Jared Landers
Row 3: Devin Moran, Chris Ferguson
Row 4: Chris Simpson, Brandon Kinzer
Row 5: Mason Zeigler, Matt Cochran
Row 6: Mack McCarter, Tim Shaffer
Row 7: Charles LaPlant, Butch Kruckeberg
Row 1: Frank Heckenast Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Matt Miller
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Steve Casebolt
Row 4: Jason Riggs, Devin Gilpin
Row 5: Garrett Alberson, Jake O'Neil
Row 6: Austin Smith, Mark Dotson
Row 7: Ernie Cordier, Benji Cole
Row 1: Steve Francis, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Shannon Babb
Row 3: Chad Simpson, James Rice
Row 4: Duane Chamberlain, Morgan Bagley
Row 5: Scott James, Tyler Erb
Row 6: Jay Johnson, Dan Shepherd
Row 7: Brian Gray, Jeff Robertson
Row 1: Davey Johnson, Jason Feger
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Randy Weaver
Row 3: Josh Rice, Brandon Overton
Row 4: Wendell Wallace, Tim Lance
Row 5: Earl Pearson Jr., Andrew Reaume
Row 6: John Gill, Brian Ligon
Row 7: Cody Mahoney, Jason Bodenhamer
Autograph session in Fan Zone: 3:30 p.m.
Drivers’ meeting: 4:30 p.m.
Hot laps (at officials’ discretion): 6 p.m.
Racing: 7 p.m.