ROSSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 6) — Jimmy Owens has led some of this season’s biggest events. But the three-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion has frequently experienced bad luck, coming up short in what could have been a collection of high-paying victories.
But the Newport, Tenn., got the job done early Friday morning, leading flag-to-flag for a $10,000 victory in Friday's preliminary 25-lap feature for Eldora Speedway's 48th annual World 100 weekend.
“It seems like every time we get in the top five and it gets close to the end, something goes haywire,” said Owens, who waited out a long rain delay and visited victory lane just before 4 a.m. “My crew chief’s digging, my sponsors, they keep digging, and giving us stuff to race with. I’ve just gotta thank Leon Ramirez and Ramirez Motorsports.”
Running second in his heat race and redrawing to start on the pole of the 25-lap main event, Owens controlled the entire race, stretching his lead to nearly a half straightaway when the first yellow flag waved on lap 15. The two-time World 100 winner scored his first Eldora victory since the winning a prelim in the 2014 running of the crown jewel event.
“We had a good car,” Owens said. “I could really hit that middle (groove) real good. I wanted to stay in the middle, but the feature before, them guys were running up top, and that hole in the middle of (turns) one and two looked treacherous. And then there towards the end, I don’t know if we have a right-rear (tire) going down or what, but it got to where it was a-hopping doing into the corner there. I jumped the cushion that one time and I was like ‘Uh-oh!’ I said let’s just get away from the top and get back down to the middle.”
Overtaking Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., on the lap-15 restart, Birkhofer finished second, with Zack Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., charging from 12th to post a career-best third-place finish at the famed half-mile oval. After running as high as second, Shirley finished fourth, with eighth-starting Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., rounding out the top five.
“I’m just glad to get back to second,” Birkhofer said. “If you start second and run worse, it always make you feel a little (bad). We’re close. I’m a little rusty yet. I’ve gotta work on my neck muscles a little bit more.
“I thought I might have a little run on him before that last caution, and then … it is Jimmy Owens, so he’ll get up on the wheel when he needs to.”
Birkhofer, a two-time World 100 winner, returns to Eldora this weekend for the first time since 2014. It was just a couple of weeks later that the Iowa driver announced he would be stepping away from the sport, departing after his Knoxville Late Model Nationals victory.
“I can’t ask for more,” Birkhofer said. “We’ve qualified well, won our heat, and run second on the preliminary night. It gives us a good start for tomorrow night. It’s fun to be back and see all the fans.”
Dohm, who finished seventh in last year’s World 100, continues to make gains at the Big E.
“I can only imagine how many times (the announcers) said ‘Zack Dohm digging on the bottom,’” Dohm said. “I don’t know what it is about this place. It seems like I run better here than we do anywhere else. That’s a good problem to have. We’ve just go our own little deal we do to the car. It ain’t no secret: it goes around the bottom real good here, and if I’ve gotta get up on the cushion, I’d pop a wheelie. I think we’ve got too much traction.
“I can’t thank everybody enough. We ain’t where we want to be just yet, but we’re getting there. This is my best run here. Before this was a fourth, now we’ve got a third. We’ve got two more nights to better it, hopefully.”
Notes: Owens is a two-time World 100 winner with his most recent globe coming in 2011; he also previously won a World 100 prelim in 2014. … The race was slowed by two cautions. … The first yellow flag waved on lap 15 when Jonathan Rowan slowed in turns one and two, collecting Kent Robinson. … Frank Heckenast Jr. slowed with a flat tire to draw a caution on lap 20. … Michael Page didn't make the call for staging because of engine problems before lining up for the feature.
Preliminary notes and results:
Even feature lineup
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Brian Birkhofer
Row 2: Robby Hensley, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Chad Simpson, Kent Robinson
Row 4: Frank Heckenast Jr., Tim McCreadie
Row 5: Earl Pearson Jr., Darrell Lanigan
Row 6: Jonathan Rowan, Zack Dohm
Row 7: Brandon Overton, Jonathan Davenport
Row 8: Jimmy Mars, Kyle Bronson
Row 9: Shanon Buckingham, Ryan King
Row 10: Michael Chilton, Freddie Carpenter
Row 11: Chris Ferguson, Michael Page
Row 12: Tyler Carpenter, Doug Drown
Charging around the outside, outside polesitter Doug Drown led the opening lap, with Michael Page and Jason Jameson battling for third in the early running. As the race reached the halfway mark, the top two cars distanced themselves from the field, with second-running Austin Smith reeling in the race leader. A yellow flag waved on lap nine for debris on the racetrack. Splitting the front row, Page took the lead on the restart, with Drown slipping back to second. Page won the heat, with Drown edging out Smith to run second and transfer to the main event.
Finish (top two transfer): Michael Page, Doug Drown, Austin Smith, Joey Moriarty, Billy Moyer Jr., Jason Jameson, Matt Miller, Shannon Babb, Josh Putnam, Gregg Satterlee, Tyler Bruening, Travis Stemler, Vic Hill, Jon Hodgkiss.
Polesitter Chris Ferguson stretched his lead in the early running, with Tyler Carpenter sliding ahead of outside poleistter Donald McIntosh to take second on the opening lap. With the leaders maintaining their positions, it was Chris Simpson on the move at the halfway point, improving from eighth to run in third. Holding a straightaway lead at the checkers, Ferguson won the consolation. Carpenter pulled away from Simpson in the final laps to finish second and transfer to the feature.
Finish (top two transfer): Chris Ferguson, Tyler Carpenter, Chris Simpson, Steve Roberts, Jason Hughes, Donald McIntosh, Rod Conley, Ricky Thornton Jr., Jerry Bowersock, Blake Spencer, Will Roland, Brett Miller, Rob Toland. Scratched: Josh Rice, Scott James.
Consolation race lineups
(12 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Chris Ferguson, Donald McIntosh
Row 2: Jason Hughes, Tyler Carpenter
Row 3: Steven Roberts, Brett Miller
Row 4: Rob Toland, Chris Simpson
Row 5: Rod Conley, Jerry Bowersock
Row 6: Josh Rice, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 7: Will Roland, Blake Spencer
Row 8: Scott James
Row 1: Austin Smith, Doug Drown
Row 2: Jason Jameson, Michael Page
Row 3: Joey Moriarty, Josh Putnam
Row 4: Tyler Bruening, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 5: Vic Hill, Matt Miller
Row 6: Travis Stemler, Jon Hodgkiss
Row 7: Shannon Babb, Gregg Satterlee
Even heat notes
Kicking off his retiring car owner Bud Brinkmann’s final World 100 weekend in fine fashion, Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, led every lap of the first heat. His lone scare came when he approached the lapped Brett Miller in turn three on the final lap. “Them lapped cars, I could see them out there so I kind of knew I had to plan it (to pass them),” he said. … Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., was scheduled to start third in Heat 1 but didn’t report for the green flag. The reason? Confusion over which heat he was in resulted in him not being ready when the first prelim hit the track. … Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, was feeling the effects of racing on the heavy, fast Eldora oval after winning the second heat. “The car’s pretty good. It’s better than I am,” said Birkhofer, who is driving Jason Rauen’s machine in his first Eldora appearance since 2014. “I’m out of shape. We’ve raced a little this year, but I’m trying to my neck muscles back.” … Sporting a throwback scene honoring his father, Robbie Hensley of Walton, Ky., was ecstatic after capturing the third heat. “We left a little bit on the table in qualifying,” he said. “I went down to my Penske (Shocks) guy and he made everything right for me. This car was awesome.” … Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., dominated the entire distance en route to winning the fourth heat as he seeks to rebound from two consecutive weeks of misfortune. Engine trouble sent him home early from the Aug 24-25 Dirt Million at Mansfield (Ohio) Motor Speedway and left him a DNQ for last Friday night’s Scheffler Memorial at Beaver Dam (Wis.) Speedway. … Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., won the fifth heat, but he wasn’t exactly smiling afterward. “I drew a 10 (starting spot for the even feature) so we got a lot of work to do tonight,” he said after the program’s final heat ended at 2:01 a.m. ... For Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., tangling with Chris Ferguson of Mt. Holly, N.C., in turn one on the opening lap of the first heat was frustrating enough. But several circuits later he experienced more trouble; a rock knocked the plug off the side of his engine’s oil pan, forcing him to the pit area. … Scott James of Bright, Ind., scratched from the fourth heat because his machine wasn’t yet repaired after he cracked the turn-three wall during qualifying. “I tried to go in wide open and it pushed,” he said. “I hope we didn’t mess the car up too much because it’s been so good since we fixed it after the North-South (100 last month).”
Polesitter Darrell Lanigan shot to the lead at the drop of the green flag, with Freddie Carpenter, Jimmy Mars and Earl Pearson Jr. running three-wide down the backstretch in a tight battle for second. A yellow flag waved on the first lap when Joey Moriarty spun in the bottom of turns one and two. Lanigan held his lead on the restart, with Mars closing the gap between himself and the race leader on the fourth circuit. It was a three-car battle for the lead on the sixth lap, with Lanigan maintaining the advantage over Pearson. Lanigan outran Pearson to win the heat, with Mars and Carpenter grabbing the other transfer spots.
Finish (top four transfer): Darrell Lanigan, Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Mars, Freddie Carpenter, Jason Hughes, Joey Moriarty, Chris Simpson, Matt Miller, Will Roland.
Rolling around the outside, second-starting Brian Shirley took an early lead, with Jonathan Davenport charging from fifth to challenge Tim McCreadie for second on the second lap. Along with Davenport, it was Michael Chilton on the move early, advancing from the seventh starting spot to run in fourth at the halfway mark. As Shirley distanced himself from the field late-race, Davenport continued to challenge second-running McCreadie, unable to complete the pass. Shirley won the heat, with McCreadie and Davenport rounding out the podium. Chilton ran fourth to transfer to the feature.
Finish (top four transfer): Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie, Jonathan Davenport, Michael Chilton, Doug Drown, Steven Roberts, Tyler Bruening, Jerry Bowersock, Jon Hodgkiss. Scratched: Scott James.
Polesitter Robby Hensley led the opening lap, as third-starting Donald McIntosh slipped under Frank Heckenast Jr. in turns three and four to take second. Hensley stretched his lead at the halfway point, with McIntosh and Heckenast running side-by-side for second until Heckenast pulled away on the sixth lap. Hensley won the head, with Heckenast running second. Sixth-starting Brandon Overton finished third, with Ryan King edging out McIntosh for the fourth and final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Robby Hensley, Frank Heckenast Jr., Brandon Overton, Ryan King, Donald McIntosh, Michael Page, Rob Toland, Vic Hill, Ricky Thornton Jr., Gregg Satterlee.
Charging ahead of fellow front-row starter Kent Robinson out of turns one and two, outside poleistter Brian Birkhofer took an early lead. With the frontrunners racing single file at the halfway mark, Birkhofer stretched his lead. Fourth-starting Zack Dohm began closing in second-running Robinson in the final laps but was never able to make the pass for the position. Birkhofer took the checkered flag, with Robinson, Dohm and Shanon Buckingham all transferring to the main event.
Finish (top four transfer): Brian Birkhofer, Kent Robinson, Zack Dohm, Shanon Buckingham, Austin Smith, Tyler Carpenter, Josh Putnam, Rod Conley, Travis Stemler, Blake Spencer.
A yellow flag waved on the opening lap when outside polesitter Billy Moyer Jr. and fourth-starting Chris Ferguson tangled in turn one. The race was brought to a complete restart, with Moyer and Ferguson returning at the tail of the field. Polesitter Chad Simpson shot to the front fo the field as the race went back green, holding a comfortable lead over Jimmy Owens at the halfway mark. Simpson won the heat, with Owens finishing second. Jonathan Rowan held off a charging Kyle Bronson to run third, with Bronson taking the fourth and final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Chad Simpson, Jimmy Owens, Jonathan Rowan, Kyle Bronson, Chris Ferguson, Jason Jameson, Brett Miller, Billy Moyer Jr., Josh Rice. Scratched: Shannon Babb.
Even heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Chad Simpson, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Chris Ferguson
Row 3: Kyle Bronson, Jonathan Rowan
Row 4: Jason Jameson, Jimmy Owens
Row 5: Josh Rice, Brett Miller
Row 1: Kent Robinson, Brian Birkhofer
Row 2: Austin Smith, Zack Dohm
Row 3: Rod Conley, Shanon Buckingham
Row 4: Blake Spencer, Josh Putnam
Row 5: Travis Stemler, Tyler Carpenter
Row 1: Robby Hensley, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Donald McIntosh, Ryan King
Row 3: Ricky Thornton Jr., Brandon Overton
Row 4: Rob Toland, Vic Hill
Row 5: Gregg Satterlee, Michael Page
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Brian Shirley
Row 2: Steven Roberts, Doug Drown
Row 3: Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Bruening
Row 4: Michael Chilton, Jerry Bowersock
Row 5: Jon Hodgkiss, Scott James
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Freddie Carpenter
Row 2: Jimmy Mars, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 3: Joey Moriarty, Jason Hughes
Row 4: Will Roland, Matt Miller
Row 5: Chris Simpson
Afternoon and then evening rain pushed back the start of the event. Time trials finally got rolling at 11:22 p.m. for a program destined to go into the wee hours. After rain from about 2:30-4:30 p.m., a drizzle began during hot laps shortly after 7 p.m. and turned into a light but steady rain 12 cars into time trials, forcing officials to red flag the qualifying session at 8 p.m. to wait out the weather. After the rain stopped pack trucks and then another session of hot laps whipped the track surface back into shape.
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 15.203
Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 15.259
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.453
Zack Dohm (17), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 15.456
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.475
Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 15.481
MIke Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.487
Doug Drown (12D), Wooster, Ohio, 15.501
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.524
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.545
Greg Johnson (17J), Bedford, Pa., 15.557
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.600
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.622
Austin Smith (84), Rome, Ga., 15.627
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.634
Donald McIntosh (58), Dawsonville, Ga., 15.648
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 15.649
Steven Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., 15.654
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.666
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 15.674
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.678
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.681
Devin Gilpin (1G), Columbus, Ind., 15.691
Brian Birkhofer (30), Muscatine, Iowa, 15.695
Dustin Nobbe (5N), Batesville, Ind., 15.715
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill. 15.716
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (6), Ocala, Fla., 15.721
Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 15.723
Joey Coulter (2), Concord, N.C., 15.741
Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 15.754
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 15.762
Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 15.763
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.764
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 15.766
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 15.780
Robby Hensley (21H), Walton, Ky., 15.782
Shannon Thornsberry (17), Martin, Ky., 15.787
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.860
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.864
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 15.876
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 15.877
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.895
Chad Stapleton (32), Edinburgh, Ind., 15.896
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 15.907
Rod Conley (71R), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 15.927
Kody Evans (4G), Camden, Ohio, 15.933
Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 15.938
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 15.958
Jon Henry (20H), Ada, Ohio, 15.964
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.964
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 15.974
Nick Latham (31), Winchester, Ohio, 15.981
Jonathan Rowan (56), Whiteville, Tenn., 15.993
Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 15.998
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.998
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 16.025
Forrest Trent (101), Morristown, Tenn., 16.041
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.079
Dwight Falcon (995), Pine Grove, La., 16.094
Jason Hughes (4H), Watts, Okla., 16.102
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 16.122
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 16.142
Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 16.154
Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 16.167
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 16.170
Rob Toland (39), Hinsdale, Ill., 16.179
Jack Sullivan (18), Greenbrier, Ark., 16.188
Michael Chilton (97), Salvisa, Ky., 16.223
Duane Chamberlain (20c), Richmond, Ind., 16.233
Will Roland (22), Jasper, Ga., 16.252
Greg Roberson (19), Waynesboro, Va., 16.256
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.261
Josh Putnam (212), Florence, Ala., 16.266
Justin Williams (89W), Concord, Va, 16.275
Jay Johnson (93), West Burlington, Iowa, 16.297
Vic Hill (1), Mosheim, Tenn., 16.307
Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 16.331
Jerry Bowersock (95j), Wapakoneta, Ohio, 16.347
Kyle Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 16.362
Matt Miller (3), Whitehouse, Ohio, 16.443
Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark., 16.453
Josh Rice (12), Verona, Ky., 16.453
Bryant Dickinson (5*), Ionia, Mich., 16.461
Travis Stemler (2S), Ionia, Mich., 16.480
Casey Noonan (1N), Sylvania, Ohio, 16.501
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.530
Steve Casebolt (C9), Richmond, Ind., 16.552
Jon Hodgkiss (69), Kennedy Township, Pa., 16.774
Jason Whitaker (w13), Cincinnati, Ohio, 16.832
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 16.856
Rob Anderzack (8a), Swanton, Ohio, 16.899
Brett Miller (M8), Metamora, Ohio, 16.905
Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 16.930
Tyler Carpenter (28), Parkersburg, W.Va., 17.299
Nick Fenner (22), Morenci, Mich., 18.187
Michael Page (18), Douglasville, Ga., no time
Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., no time
Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., no time
Tim Manville (33), Highland, Ill., no time
Thursday race schedule
5 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
6 p.m.: Hot laps
7:55 p.m.: Invocation and national anthem
8 p.m.: Racing begins
- 10 heat races (10 laps; alternating odd/even with four transferring to main event)
- Four consolation races (12 laps; two for odd, two for even and top from each transferring to main event)
- Odd feature race (25 laps)
- Even feature race (25 laps)
Thursday event schedule
6 a.m.-6 p.m.: Showers open (front of Lot 2)
7-11 a.m.: Breakfast at turn four concessions
8 a.m.: Hillside markings may begin
10 a.m.: Turn-three race registration opens (pit passes and media credential sign-in)
10 a.m.: Main gate ticket office opens (tickets, pit passes and will call)
10 a.m.: Turn-four ticket office opens (tickets and pit passes)
11 a.m.: Turn-three pit gate opens
11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Technical inspection for Late Models
11 a.m.: All ADA parking opens (permit required)
11 a.m.: Grandstand cleared and secured for grand opening
Noon: All admission gates/suites/concessions open
5 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
6:30 p.m.: Hot laps
8 p.m.: Racing begins