ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 5) — Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., thought he’d done the hard work when he overtook race-long leader and outside front-row starter Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., on the 14th of 25 laps Friday night at Eldora Speedway.
But when a caution flew with two laps remaining in Friday’s second preliminary feature during the weekend for Dream XX by Ferris Mowers, the 48-year-old McDowell knew his work wasn’t quite done with Lanigan restarting alongside.
“I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' A caution with two laps to go and Darrell as good as he is here?,” McDowell said. “I picked the bottom and just hoped there was enough traction maybe to get the jump on him, and just drive in the corner deeper.”
Going against conventional wisdom, McDowell’s inside-lane choice for the lap-23 restart paid off as he kept Lanigan in check the final two laps for a $5,000 victory that establishes McDowell as among the favorites in Saturday’s $100,000-to-win program.
“Everything was good, everything turned out. It was our night. I hope it’s our night tomorrow night.”
Lanigan, the 2003 Dream winner who led the first 13 laps, settled for second with polesitter Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., in third on the second of three nights of UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Late Model action at the legendary half-mile oval. Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., improved six positions to finish fourth and Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., rounded out the top five.
“We had a pretty good car tonight, just a little free there in the feature,” Lanigan said. “I kind of just need to go a different direction in the feature tomorrow night and just tighten up a little bit more, but all in all, it was a pretty good car.”
Lanigan grabbed the lead from Feger at the outset and set sail with McDowell quickly working his way into second. When the frontrunners reached lapped traffic by halfway, McDowell drew closer to Lanigan and made the winning pass on the backstretch.
Ready for the checkered flag, McDowell’s victory was delayed when 10th-running Jason Riggs of Harrisburg, Ill., spun in turn four.
Lanigan licked his chops in lining up outside McDowell when the green flag reappeared, but McDowell beat him into turn one and slid back into the catbird’s seat.
“I really thought when he gave me that outside I could roll it down there,” Lanigan said, “but he got some pretty good digs on that start on the bottom down there and got beside me. He did what he had to do to win it.”
McDowell hopes his Friday performance is a sign of things to come Saturday.
“I think we learned just a few things tonight about the car in the slick,” McDowell said. “I think it’s helping everybody though to be able to run two nights before the big race, so everybody’s got the same advantage. Or, if you’re pretty good, you can dial yourself out. We’re just going to stay baseline with what we’ve been the past couple of nights and hope for the best.”
First heat: Dale McDowell, Jason Riggs, Wendell Wallace, John Blankenship, Bobby Pierce, Jon Henry, Justin Rattliff, Scott James, Michael Asberry. Scratched: Brad Neat.
Second heat: Shane Clanton, Chris Madden, Scott Bloomquist, Matt Miller, Eddie Carrier Jr., Wayne Chinn, Vic Hill, Aaron Scott, Brandon Kinzer. Scratched: Delmas Conley.
Third heat: Darrell Lanigan, Jeep Van Wormer, Jeff Babcock, Jared Landers, Jason Hiett, Jeff Provinzino, Brian Gray, Josh Adkins, Tim McCreadie. Scratched: Dustin Neat.
Fourth heat: Jason Feger, Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens, Ryan Gustin, Brandon Overton, Brandon Sheppard, Dennis Erb Jr., Matt Irey. Scratched: Jerry Bowersock.
First consolation: Eddie Carrier Jr., Wayne Chinn, Michael Asberry, Jon Henry, Justin Rattliff, Vic Hill, Brandon Kinzer, Scott James, Aaron Scott. Scratched: Bobby Pierce, Brad Neat.
Second consolation: Finish: Brandon Overton, Jason Hiett, Tim McCreadie, Jeff Provinzino, Brandon Sheppard, Dennis Erb Jr., Dustin Neat, Josh Adkins, Matt Irey, Brian Gray. Scratched: Jerry Bowersock.
- Brad Neat (16n), Dunnville, Ky., 15.790
- Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 15.815
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.865
- Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.894
- Jason Riggs (81jr), Harrisburg, Ill., 15.930
- Wayne Chinn (1), Bradford, Ohio, 15.946
- Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 15.967
- Brandon Overton (5), Appling, Ga., 16.004
- Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.036
- Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.053
- Jason Hiett (1), Oxford, Ala., 16.105
- Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 16.116
- Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.132
- Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 16.142
- Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 16.212
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.255
- Jon Henry (15), Ada, Ohio, 16.286
- Matt Miller (3), Whitehouse, Ohio, 16.326
- Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 16.382
- Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 16.412
- Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.428
- Rusty Schlenk (11), Weston, Ohio, 16.447
- Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.506
- Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.551
- Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 16.623
- Vic Hill (1), Mosheim, Tenn., 16.674
- Josh Adkins (19m), Talladega, Ala., 16.779
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.836
- Scott James (83), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 16.853
- Brandon Kinzer (18), Allen, Ky., 16.917
- Jeff Provinzino (28), Hibbing, Minn., 16.960
- Matt Irey (36), Mansfield, Ohio, 17.111
- Wendell Wallace (1), Batesville, Ark., 17.264
- Aaron Scott (33), Newark, Ohio, 17.424
- Brian Gray (3), Hamilton, Ohio, 18.377
- Jerry Bowersock (95j), Wapakoneta, Ohio, 19.016
- John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., no time
- A.J. Diemel (58), Elk Mound, Wis., no time