ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 5) — Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., showed his new Club 29 Race Car is ready for prime time at Eldora Speedway on Thursday night.
Combining patience with an impeccably handling machine, Owens ran down and passed race-long pacesetter Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., for the lead on lap 15 and rolled on to capture the 25-lap feature for odd-numbered qualifiers during the first preliminary night of the $100,000-to-win Dream XX presented by Ferris Mowers.
“It’s good to come up here and win and have a pretty versatile car,” said Owens, a past winner of Eldora’s Dream (2009) and World 100 (’07, ’11). “I was pretty good wherever I wanted to go actually — I could run high, through the middle and on the bottom. I was really pleased.”
Owens, 42, failed to jump out to the lead at the initial green flag from his pole position starting spot, but that was the only blemish on his run. He glided by the 17-year-old Pierce, who started second, just after the halfway mark and controlled the remainder of the distance to pocket a $2,500 check.
Pierce, who won the UMP DIRTcar Spring Nationals A-Main at Eldora on April 12, settled for a runner-up finish, 1.441 seconds behind Owens.
Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., earned a career-best Eldora finish of third after surging past Jacob Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va., on the restart following the race’s only caution flag, on lap 22. John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., also passed Hawkins on the final restart to place fourth, leaving Hawkins fifth at the checkered flag.
Owens watched Pierce build a 10 car-length edge early in the race, but he didn’t overdrive his mount in an effort to erase the gap.
“He was right up there riding the high-side cushion,” Owens said of Pierce. “He was running pretty hard, and really, I didn’t push it, because it’s not a big race and I didn’t want to take any big chances.
“When we got to lapped traffic he just came to me, and I guess we were able to still move because we hadn’t overheated our stuff.”
The triumph gave Owens a good feeling for the remainder of the weekend.
“I’m a little more confident than I’ve been in the past,” Owens said. “I’ve had really good success in our Bloomquist stuff here, but I feel like I can run that high side right against the wall a little more comfortable.
“So for the most part, we’ve gotten off to a good start with this new car and now we just gotta keep digging.”
Pierce fell short of kicking off the Dream weekend with his 12th overall win of his spectacular 2014 season, but he learned some things he hopes to use to his benefit as the weekend continues.
“I kind of wish some of those lapped cars would’ve gotten out of the way a little bit better when they got the move-over flag,” said Pierce, who drove a car that sported a retro graphics scheme resembling the Dependable Carburetors No. 32 his father Bob ran in the early ‘90s. “But you gotta race ‘em — and it’s good practice for the 100-lap race. I kind of realized how you gotta work those (lapped) guys and maybe use the right side (to pass them) if I have to.
“I got stuck behind those lapped cars and wasn’t able to run my own race, and (Owens) had a good car to run right through that middle in (turns) one and two and three and four. But Jimmy has a ton of laps at this place, so just to run second behind him is really good.”
First heat (eight laps; top four transfer): Jacob Hawkins, John Blankenship, Jimmy Mars, Eddie Carrier Jr., Tim McCreadie, A.J. Diemel, Casey Noonan, Brian Gray, Darrell Lanigan, Jacob Hughes.
Second heat: Eric Wells, Billy Moyer Jr., Shannon Babb, Jeff Babcock, Jason Feger, Davey Johnson, Brian Shirley, Brandon Kinzer. Scratched: Randy Korte, Charles LaPlant
Third heat: Bobby Pierce, Jeep Van Wormer, Brian Birkhofer, Terry Phillips, Don O'Neal, Jason Riggs, Wendell Wallace, Justin Rattliff, Jay Johnson, Rob Williams.
Fourth heat: Finish: Jimmy Owens, Chris Madden, Jason Hiett, Shane Clanton, Jeff Provinzino, Jared Landers, Scott James, Morgan Bagley, Matt Irey.
First consolation (10 laps; top four transfer): Tim McCreadie, A.J. Diemel, Darrell Lanigan, Jason Feger, Davey Johnson, Brian Shirley, Casey Noonan, Brandon Kinzer, Jason Hughes, Brian Gray. Scratched: Charles LaPlant, Randy Korte.
Second consolation: Don O'Neal, Jared Landers, Jason Riggs, Morgan Bagley, Wendell Wallace, Justin Rattliff, Matt Irey, Jay Johnson, Scott James, Rob Williams, Jeff Provinzino.
Time trials (unofficial)
- Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 16.433
- Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 16.631
- Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.731
- Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 16.765
- Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 16.804
- Jeff Babcock (1), Wayne, Ohio, 16.938
- Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 16.987
- Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 17.006
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 17.055
- Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 17.137
- Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 17.196
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 17.224
- A.J. Diemel (58), Elk Mound, Wis., 17.266
- Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 17.338
- Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa, 17.502
- Jason Hiett (1), Oxford, Ala., 17.535
- Jacob Hawkins (20h), Fairmont, W.Va., 17.538
- Brandon Kinzer (18), Allen, Ky., 17.648
- Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 17.684
- Jeff Provinzino (28), Hibbing, Minn., 17.732
- Jason Hughes (12), Westville, Okla., 17.796
- Brian Shirley (81), Chatham, Ill., 17.843
- Wendell Wallace (1), Batesville, Ark., 17.880
- Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 17.898
- Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 17.938
- Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 17.977
- Jason Riggs (81jr), Harrisburg, Ill., 18.074
- Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 18.090
- Casey Noonan (1n), Sylvania, Ohio, 18.161
- Randy Korte (00), Highland, Ill., 18.237
- Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 18.304
- Scott James (83), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 18.381
- John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 18.502
- Davey Johnson (1j), Latrobe, Pa., 18.602
- Jay Johnson (93), West Burlington, Iowa, 18.764
- Matt Irey (36), Mansfield, Ohio, 18.961
- Brian Gray (3), Hamilton, Ohio, 19.229
- Charles LaPlant (3c), East Prairie, Mo., no time
- Rob Williams (11), Eaton, Ohio, no time