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Daily Dirt 06/13/2024 21:24:56

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February 10
East Bay Raceway Park,
Gibsonton, FL
Sanction: Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (Winternationals) - $5,000
Information provided by: Todd Turner (last updated February 11, 5:58 pm)
Erb outduels Moyer for $5,000 East Bay victory
Winternationals
  1. Dennis Erb Jr.
  2. Earl Pearson Jr.
  3. Billy Moyer
  4. Bobby Pierce
  5. Brandon Sheppard
  6. Dennis Franklin
  7. Josh Richards
  8. Billy Moyer Jr.
  9. Eddie Carrier Jr.
  10. Jason Papich
  11. Mike Benedum
  12. Scott Bloomquist
  13. Jimmy Owens
  14. Mark Whitener
  15. Allen Murray
  16. Russell Brown Jr.
  17. Chad Hollenbeck
  18. Stormy Scott
  19. Jonathan Davenport
  20. Kyle Bronson
  21. Devin Moran
  22. Mason Zeigler
  23. Austin Rettig
  24. Davey Johnson
  25. Gregg Satterlee
  26. Dan Stone
presented by
Rick Schwallie/rickschwalliephotos.com
Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., waves in victory lane at East Bay.
What won the race: Polesitter Dennis Erb. Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., pulled away from an early, torrid battle with Billy Moyer to grab his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory since last February at East Bay.
On the move: Bobby Pierce rallied from 16th to fourth.
Winner's sponsors: Erb's Barry Wright Race Car has a Jay Dickens Racing Engine and sponsorship from McBride Mack, Cheap Cars, M&S Concrete, Hoosier Tire and Allstar Performance.
Points chase: Earl Pearson Jr. has 480 points to lead Scott Bloomquist (430), Donald McIntosh (405), Jonathan Davenport (395) and Stormy Scott (385); Tuesday's race wasn't a points race.
Car count: 42
Fast qualifier: Dennis Erb Jr.
Time: 15.177 seconds
Polesitter: Dennis Erb Jr.
Dash winner: Jason Papich
Heat race winners: Dennis Erb Jr., Stormy Scott, Billy Moyer, Earl Pearson Jr.
Consolation race winners: Jimmy Owens, Mark Whitener
Provisional starters: Eddie Carrier Jr.
Next series race: February 11, East Bay Raceway Park (Gibsonton, FL) $7,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor

GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 10) — On most nights, Dirt Late Model winners climb out of their cars, praising the setup and performance of the chassis that carried them to victory lane.

Tuesday at East Bay Raceway Park wasn’t one of those nights.

Polesitter Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., led 18 of 25 laps in the opening round of the 39th annual Winternationals, but he wasn’t sure how he beat everyone to the checkered flag for his first series victory since last February at the same third-mile oval.

“That was the worst feeling race car I’ve ever had out there,” a befuddled Erb said. “It was bad.”

So bad it was good, good enough to break away from a torrid early battle with fellow front-row starter Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., the winningest Winternationals driver in East Bay history, and keep runner-up Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., in check late in the race for a 1.8-second margin of victory.

The challenge for Erb and virtually everyone else in the 26-car field was the more restrictive tire rule that put cars on a harder compound than normal, costing drivers traction and sending them sliding across the track trying to get a hold of something to propel their cars forward.

“That was luck, I guess, because I just had to hang on there and try to skate it the right way,” said Erb, who notched his eighth career Lucas Oil victory and sixth in Winternationals action. “It wasn’t like what I like to drive, but hopefully we can get some things figured out, and like I said, get it to steer better.”

Pearson and Moyer were chased across the line by Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., who rallied from his 16th starting spot to finish fourth after briefly edging past Moyer. Fellow Illinois driver Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin rounded out the top five in the first of six racing programs during a busy week at East Bay.

Pearson echoed Erb’s feelings of discomfort behind the wheel, saying his Dunn-Benson car fought a push that made steering a huge challenge.

“We came down the front straightaway in a dead shove most of the laps,” Pearson said. “I don’t know what was going on behind me, but it was a handful up front.”

Moyer, who led seven of the first nine laps, had his hands full, too.

“It was just a little tricky there. We just wasn’t good enough, bottom line there. But Dennis done a good job and got around there pretty good. We made a couple of good laps — and then a lot of bad laps. So we’ve just gotta work on it a little bit.

“We had the darn thing jumping out of gear — there ain’t no excuses — but that wasn’t helping matters any. We’ll do some work tomorrow and get a little bit better hopefully.”

Moyer and Erb swapped the lead each of the first four laps before Moyer edged away after a few early cautions. But Erb got rolling good enough on the high side to sweep around Moyer exiting turn four on the 10th lap just before the third caution, earning a lead he’d never give up.

From there, Erb stayed in control, but the slipping and sliding behind him produced plenty of excitement as 10 drivers or more had a spot in the top five at one point or another.

Just past halfway, Erb had nearly a full straightaway lead erased by a yellow while Pierce began his charge by squeezing past Billy Moyer Jr., the third-place finisher's son, on the backsretch to burst into the top five. Pierce took third from Moyer on the 16th lap, but Moyer regained it a lap later as he futilely tried to keep up with the leading Erb and second-running Pearson.

Five cautions slowed the action, the most serious when fifth-running Devin Moran plowed the turn-four wall on the sixth lap. A trailing Mason Zeigler, who had advanced 10 positions up to 11th, couldn’t avoid Moran and the contact ended his race, too.

A first-lap yellow appeared when Scott Bloomquist got sideways in turn four, triggering a spate of beating and banging throughout the field. Gregg Satterlee slowed in turn four on the fifth lap for another yellow.

A pair of top-five contenders fell out with cautions on lap 10 (Jonathan Davenport in turn one) and lap 15 (Stormy Scott’s turn-four spin).

Action continues Wednesday at East Bay with a $7,000-to-win non-points event with hot laps scheduled for 6 p.m.

Notes: Erb has won five East Bay races in the past four seasons. … Last-row starters Eddie Carrier Jr. and Jason Papich finished ninth and 10th. … Fifteen of 26 starters completed 25 laps.

Strawberry Dash finish

Finish (winner transfers): Jason Papich, Doug Blashe, Terry English, John Gardner Jr., Chris Brown, Jim O'Hara, Ricky Weiss, Dustin Mitchell. Scratched: Dave Fieber, Gregg Hill.

Strawberry Dash lineup

(10 laps; winner transfers)
Row 1: Chris Brown, Terry English
Row 2: Ricky Weiss, Dave Fieber
Row 3: Jason Papich, Dustin Mitchell
Row 4: Doug Blashe, Gregg Hill
Row 5: John Gardner Jr., Jim O’Hara
Alternates: Nick Davis, Bob Gardner, Gavin Landers, Jared Landers, Kenny Pettyjohn.

Consolation results

First consolation (top four transfer): Jimmy Owens, Russell Brown Jr., Mason Zeigler, Chad Hollenbeck, Chris Brown, Ricky Weiss, Jason Papich, Doug Blashe, John Gardner Jr., Nick Davis, Gavin Landers. Scratched: Dan Schlieper, Kenny Pettyjohn.

Second consolation (top four transfer): Mark Whitener, Mike Benedum, Allen Murray, Austin Rettig, Terry English, Dave Fieber, Dustin Mitchell, Gregg Hill, Jim O'Hara. Scratched: Bob Gardner, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jared Landers, Tim Dohm.

Consolation race lineups

(12 laps; top four transfer)
First consolation
Row 1: Russell Brown Jr., Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Doug Blashe, Chris Brown
Row 3: John Gardner Jr., Dan Schlieper
Row 4: Nick Davis, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 5: Gavin Landers, Jason Papich
Row 6: Kenny Pettyjohn
Second consolation
Row 1: Mark Whitener, Mike Benedum
Row 2: Tim Dohm, Terry English
Row 3: Allen Murray, Dave Fieber
Row 4: Austin Rettig, Gregg Hill
Row 5: Jim O'Hara, Bob Gardner
Row 6: Eddie Carrier Jr., Jared Landers
Row 7: Dustin Mitchell

Fourth heat

Earl Pearson Jr. became the first non-polesitter to win a heat, zipping past pole-starting Bobby Pierce on the backstretch of the first lap and cruising to victory. Fourth-starting Devin Moran took advantage of a lap-three caution and finished second with Dan Stone third and Pierce fourth after rallying from the tail. Pierce was running second on the third lap when he spun between turns three and four, collecting third-running Jared Landers to draw a caution. The Landers machine was taken away by a tow truck. A lap-five caution flew when Bob Gardner slid into the turn-four wall.

Finish (top four transfer): Earl Pearson Jr., Devin Moran, Dan Stone, Bobby Pierce, Mike Benedum, Terry English, Dave Fieber, Gregg Hill, Bob Gardner, Jared Landers.

Third heat

Polesitter Billy Moyer turned back an early challenge from Eddie Carrier Jr. and cruised to a victory in the third heat. He led by nearly a straightaway at halfway with Carrier trying to fend off Scott Bloomquist when Carrier's car went up in smoke on the frontstretch on the sixth lap, drawing a yellow flag (Dustin Mitchell exited just before that). Bloomquist lost second to Kyle Bronson on a restart and held on to edge  Bloomquist with fourth-place Davey Johnson transferring along with them. A first-lap caution appeared when Tim Dohm spun between turns three and four. Dustin Mitchell and Allen Murray slid into the wall trying to avoid the mess. A third caution appeared on the lap-six restart when Murray ended up facing the wrong way in turn four.

Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer, Kyle Bronson, Scott Bloomquist, Davey Johnson, Mark Whitener, Tim Dohm, Allen Murray, Jim O'Hara, Eddie Carrier Jr., Dustin Mitchell.

Second heat

Polesitter Stormy Scott cruised to victory in the second prelim, staying comfortably ahead of runner-up Billy Moyer Jr. all the way in the caution-free heat. Outside front-row starter Dennis Franklin got a poor start but settled into third, far behind the top two as everyone stuck with the low groove. Gregg Satterlee got the final transfer spot while Ricky Weiss was fifth and will head to a consolation race. Jason Papich gave up the sixth spot and retired on lap seven.

Finish (top four transfer): Stormy Scott, Billy Moyer Jr., Dennis Franklin, Gregg Satterlee, Ricky Weiss, Mason Zeigler, Chris Brown, Chad Hollenbeck, Dan Schlieper, Jason Papich.

First heat

Polesitter Dennis Erb Jr. got the jump on an all-Illinois front row and led all 10 laps. Third-starting Jonathan Davenport quickly jumped into second and stayed with Erb the rest of the way while outside front-row starter Brandon Sheppard was third, the second-finishing Illinoisan. Jimmy Owens took the fourth and final transfer spot from Josh Richards midway through the heat, but Richards quickly regained it to transfer to the feature. The first start was called back because Sheppard jumped early and a lap-three caution appeared when John Gardner Jr., Kenny Pettyjohn and Gavin Landers were among drivers spinning in turn four; Pettyjohn retired. A second caution appeared on the lap-three restart when Nick Davis spun exiting turn four, and Russell Brown Jr. spun to avoid him.

Finish (top four transfer): Dennis Erb Jr., Jonathan Davenport, Brandon Sheppard, Josh Richards, Jimmy Owens, Russell Brown Jr., Doug Blashe, Nick Davis, John Gardner Jr., Kenny Pettyjohn.

Heat race lineups

(10 laps; top four transfer)
First heat
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Josh Richards, Kenny Pettyjohn
Row 4: John Gardner Jr., Russell Brown Jr.
Row 5: Nick Davis, Doug Blashe
Row 6: Gavin Landers
Second heat
Row 1: Stormy Scott, Dennis Franklin
Row 2: Billy Moyer Jr., Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Ricky Weiss, Jason Papich
Row 4: Mason Zeigler, Chris Brown
Row 5: Dan Schlieper, Chad Hollenbeck
Third heat
Row 1: Billy Moyer, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Tim Dohm, Davey Johnson
Row 4: Allen Murray, Mark Whitener
Row 5: Austin Rettig, Dustin Mitchell
Row 6: Jim O'Hara
Fourth heat
Row 1: Bobby Pierce, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Jared Landers, Devin Moran
Row 3: Bob Gardner, Dan Stone
Row 4: Mike Benedum, Terry English
Row 5: Dave Fieber, Gregg Hill

Qualifying

Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., whose last Lucas Oil Series victory came at East Bay last February, topped 42 qualifiers Tuesday on the first night of action at the 39th annual Winternationals.

Erb tripped the clock at 15.177 seconds on the third mile oval to earn the pole position for the first of four heat races. Other heat race polesitters: Stormy Scott of Las Cruces, N.M.; Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.; and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill.

Pre-race setup

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series opens its portion of the 39th annual Winternationals on Tuesday at rain-soaked East Bay Raceway Park for the first of six race programs over five days. The event drew 42 entries.

The track crew busily whipped the grounds and racing surface into shape Tuesday after Monday’s cancellation as rain soaked the Tampa area most of the day and into the evening.

Tuesday’s program is a $5,000-to-win, non-points event for the series with time trials, heat races, consolations, the DirtonDirt.com Strawberry Dash and 25-lap main event.

Pre-race notes

Tuesday’s race is one three non-points events on the week. … The week offers $200,000 in purse money with 26 starters in each event, including the winner of the Strawberry Dash. … Monday’s non-points rainout will be made up with a split program of time trials on Thursday night with the racing action on Friday following Friday’s regularly scheduled program. … The series also made a change to Thursday’s schedule, moving time trials for Friday’s program to 5 p.m. (instead of following Thursday’s racing). … East Bay has hosted six events during the week every year since 2000. … It appears the 38-year streak of Bob Geigler, the Delaware driver who is said to have entered every year of the Winternationals, has come to an end. .. Last year's winner Bobby Pierce is the only driver under 40 to win at East Bay since 15-year-old Tyler Reddick's 2011 victory. ... The series is instituting a rule of not covering cars with tarps or any objects blocking wheel wells or rear ends during racing programs; the penalty is cars must carry an extra 50 pounds. Drivers get one warning before the penalty. ... Drivers with cars in the pits not entered: Steve Francis, Steve Casebolt and reigning Lucas Oil champ Don O'Neal. ... Justin Rattliff is also expected to join fellow Kentuckian Terry English later this week; English is making his first East Bay appearance since 2009. ... The track record is 13.854 seconds belonging to John Blankenship. ... This week's fast qualifier get the usual $100 from Miller Welders and an additional $100 from Linda Shultz of Eddie's Sunoco. Linda's husband Eddie, a long-time sponsor for Donnie and Devin Moran, died in November. The week's action is available via pay-per-view at xsan.tv.

Time trials (unofficial)

Driver (car no.), hometown
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.177
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.252
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 15.291
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 15.335
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.415
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.463
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.535
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.565
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.653
Ricky Weiss (7), Headingly, Manitoba, 15.690
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 15.701
Jason Papich (91p), Nipomo, Calif., 15.747
John Gardner Jr. (38c), Creve Couer, Ill., 15.750
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.864
Russell Brown Jr. (00), Valdosta, Ga., 15.905
Chris Brown (21), Spring, Texas, 15.923
Nick Davis (92), Gumboro, Del., 15.944
Dan Schlieper (s9), Oak Creek, Wis., 15.989
Doug Blashe (1), Marion, Wis., 16.083
Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 16.223
Gavin Landers (77), Batesville, Ark., 16.482
Second group
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.273
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.454
Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 15.541
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.618
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.655
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 15.696
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.699
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 15.726
Tim Dohm (6T), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 15.740
Bob Gardner (4G), Creve Couer, Ill., 15.845
Davey Johnson (1j), Latrobe, Pa., 15.851
Dan Stone (21D), Thompson, Pa., 15.922
Allen Murray (2), San Antonio, Texas, 15.923
Mike Benedum (25), Bristol, W.Va., 15.997
Mark Whitener (58), Middleburg, Fla., 16.151
Terry English (96), Benton, Ky., 16.180
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 16.182
Dave Fieber (1), Neenah, Wis., 16.197
Dustin Mitchell (D8), Pine Level, N.C., 16.375
Gregg Hill (8), Eveleth, Minn., 16.689
Jim O’Hara (44j), Moscow, Pa., 17.013

Feature lineup

Row 1: Erb, Moyer Sr.
Row 2: Scott, Pearson
Row 3: Davenport, Bronson
Row 4: Moyer Jr., Moran
Row 5: Sheppard, Bloomquist
Row 6: Franklin, Stone
Row 7: Richards, Johnson
Row 8: Satterlee, Pierce
Row 9: Owens, Whitener
Row 10: Brown, Benedum
Row 11: Zeigler, Murray
Row 12: Hollenbeck, Rettig
Row 13: Carrier, Papich

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