BROWNSTOWN, Ind. (Sept. 20) — With next weekend’s Knoxville Nationals on the horizon, Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., is exactly where he wants to be — in victory lane.
The 2014 World 100 winner notched a record fifth career Jackson 100 victory Saturday night at Brownstown Speedway, besting local favorite Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., for a $20,000 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series triumph.
Picking up a win in Saturday’s fourth heat race, Bloomquist advanced from the fourth starting spot, overtaking outside polesitter Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., on lap 11 following an early battle for the lead. Bloomquist dominated the remainder of the 100-lap distance and was never again seriously challenged for the lead.
“This race is as tough as winning the World 100, even though it might not have appeared that way to others,” Bloomquist said after Saturday’s 100-lapper. “I’m proud to be the only five-time winner of this event."
Bloomquist notched back-to-back Jackson 100 victories in 1990 and 1991, and then again 2010 and 2011. After fighting mechanical issues in last month’s Lucas Oil Series events at Portsmouth Raceway Park and I-77 Raceway Park, Bloomquist said he’s happy with the direction his season is finally headed.
“This ranks right up there in the top,” Bloomquist said of his Jackson 100 victory. “The kind of year we’ve had … too many seconds. Too many real fast runs and not got to capitalize on them. There’s a lot of good racecar drivers from this area that run really good here, especially Don O’Neal. It’s just a testament to where our car’s at right now. I think I’m in the zone again.”
Sixth-starting O’Neal improved four spots for a runner-up finish, while Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, charged from the 14th starting position to finish third. Fifth-starting Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., advanced one spot to finish fourth, with Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., rallying from the 17th starting position to round out the top five.
“I got a decent starting spot there and got up through there to third pretty quick,” O’Neal said Saturday after the race. “I got into second and thought we had a shot there for a while and then the longer we run, I realized I had a second or third place car. We wound up hanging on for second … a good points night.”
Entering the Jackson 100 weekend, three-time Lucas Oil Series champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., held a 25-point advantage over O’Neal in the series points standings. Owens finished 12th in Saturday’s event, and with his second-place run, O’Neal is the new Lucas Oil points leader.
“We’ve got four more races,” O’Neal, who now holds a 35-point lead over Owens, said. “This right here is what we’ve got to do for these next four races … try not to get out of that top three. If we can do that, I think we’ve got a shot to win it.”
Third-place finisher Chris Simpson debuted a brand new Club 29 Race Car for this weekend’s Jackson 100. After difficulties in Friday’s time trials, he said he was pleased with his podium finish, especially at a racetrack he’s only raced at a few times. But he’s looking forward to next weekend’s Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.
“We charged up through there pretty good,” Simpson said. “The car was good. At the end of the race, I felt like I was getting better again. It is what it is.
“I guess when you come with a new car, it’s kind of an open notebook anyway. It’ll be good to get home and celebrate a little and get ready for the big one.”
The race was slowed by six cautions. A lap-43 yellow flew for Jared Landers of when he drove off the embankment in turns one and two. Steve Francis drew a lap-49 caution when he slowed with a right-rear flat tire. A third yellow flew on lap 52 for Earl Pearson Jr. Jason Hughes slowed on the backstretch for a caution on lap 61. Another yellow flew for Dustin Linville on lap 77. Landers drew the final caution on lap 79 when his No. 777 went over the berm.
Notes: Time trials were completed on Friday, with Marlar lowering the track record. ... Bloomquist's $20,000 victory came just two weeks after he pocketed $47,000 for winning the World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. ... O'Neal was inducted into Brownstown Speedway's Hall of Fame prior to Saturday's heat race action. ... Brad Barrow topped Joe Godsey with a last-lap pass in Friday's $2,000-to-win Bowman 50 Crate Late Model feature. ... Brownstown's final Super Late Model event of the season is Oct. 11.