GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 12) — Billy Moyer led features each of the previous two nights at East Bay Raceway Park, but couldn’t make his way to victory lane either time.
The 57-year-old Hall of Famer from Batesville, Ark., made sure it wasn’t three nights in a row, grabbing a $7,000 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory and his Winternationals-leading 24th career win at East Bay.
Outside front-row starter Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., led the first lap and slipped by Moyer to lead the fifth lap, but Moyer seized control at the line on the sixth lap and faced few challenges the rest of the way while sticking with the preferred inside line.
“I started on the outside — if I would’ve had my pick I didn’t want to be out there — so I just told myself I gotta make something happen here,” the fourth-starting Moyer said. “Brandon, I knew he’d be giving it all he had there, and when he got to the lead there, I thought it was going to be tough to get around him.
“The heat races were all around the bottom, (but) I could run that top groove there for a couple of laps before it got too sandy up there. Just everything happened right tonight — like everything happened wrong last night.”
Sixth-starting Mike Benedum of Bristol, W.Va., fought past Sheppard on a lap-25 restart and finished second with Sheppard settling for third. Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., making his first start of the week, rallied from 14th to finish fourth and Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., rounded out the top five.
Benedum, who finished 11th in Tuesday's opener, notched his best career finish at East Bay with his runner-up performance.
“Finishing second here with Billy Moyer, that’s just like a win to me,” Benedum said. “You know, this is a tough place to get around sometimes. We worked on the car and didn’t change a whole lot and here we are.
“We ran this car (at East Bay) last year (and) that last race, the car was really, really good, but we didn’t get the finish to show for it. Now we’ve got a finish to show for it.”
Sheppard has been in position to win several Georgia-Florida Speedweeks races over the previous eight days, but he fell short again with a third-place finish.
“We finally got qualified good tonight and got us a front-row starting spot, but you know, the track was a little bit one-laned tonight, but you’ll have that,” Sheppard said. “You can’t have a good track every night.
“It was just one of them deals where we didn’t put ourselves in the right position early enough. We should’ve got down to the bottom and stuck down there a little bit harder. Congrats to Billy and Mike. They both did a really good job.”
At the outset, Sheppard led the Moyers — Jr. and Sr. on the first lap, and after a quick caution, the elder Moyer got rolling on the outside to take command while the younger Moyer was shuffled out of contention.
Working down low, Sheppard got a good enough bite on the fifth lap to go ahead, but Moyer nipped him at the line the next time around and then settled into the low groove ahead of Sheppard while Benedum broke out of a tight battle for third followed by Jared Landers and Tuesday’s winner Dennis Erb Jr.
But a lap-25 slowdown and resulting double-file restart ended Erb’s chances when he got turned around in turn two, collecting Steve Francis, Don O’Neal and Earl Pearson Jr. among others.
Moyer edged away after the restart and wasn’t seriously challenged the rest of the way while Benedum settled into second for the final 20 laps, running about a dozen lengths behind Moyer most of the way.
The feature was slowed by four cautions, three of them on lap 25, including for Erb. Davey Johnson slowed for the original lap-25 yellow and Allen Murray spun in turn one on another attempted restart. Murray also drew a lap-one yellow when he ended up facing the wrong way on the inside of the frontstretch.
Notes: Moyer has 10 more victories than the closest driver on the Winternationals victories list; Don O’Neal has 14 victories and Steve Francis has 10. … Moyer has 791 career victories. … He won two at last year’s Winternationals. … Sixteen of 26 starters completed 45 laps in the non-points event. … Dennis Erb Jr. dropped out on lap 39. … Jason Papich of Nipomo, Calif., ran third early, but faded from contention and dropped out on lap 25. ... Time trials for Monday's makeup event will wrap up Thursday's program.
Correction: Fixes Benedum's Tuesday night performance.
The track crew spent about 45 minutes cutting up the track and rolling it with pack trucks after a series of prelims with little passing. … Feature polesitter Billy Moyer Jr., better to be safe than sorry, added a few more tearoffs to his helmet’s faceshield after watching the work. “It was going to be brutal … but at least they’re not going to water it, so that’s good,” he said. “The fans don’t want to watch that (one-laned) crap — that’s why we’re here.” … Most of the feature drivers checked out the work on the track … The 10-minute horn for the lineup blew about 8:20 p.m. … Justin Rattliff of Campbellsville, Ky., had planned to fly to Florida to join fellow Kentuckian Terry English, who has been piloting a Rattliff-owned car, but work in Rattliff’s wholesale automobile business picked up and prevented him from coming down, crew member Tim Tungate said. … Kenny Pettyjohn loaded up early Thursday and a crew member said they’d like sit out until Monday at Volusia Speedway Park, where he won last year. “We just can’t get a hold off this racetrack,” the crew member said. … Three UMP DIRTcar Summernationals champions are among the first three starters in Brandon Sheppard, Don O’Neal and Billy Moyer.
In the first pass for the lead of the night, Dennis Franklin overtook Mason Zeigler on the sixth lap and raced to victory in the second consy. Zeigler held on for second while polesitter Jonathan Davenport and 13th-starting Jimmy Owens battled for third most of the way as the racing surface allowed drivers to get off the bottom. Davenport held on for third with Owens in the fourth and final transfer spot. Eddie Carrier Jr. was fifth.
Finish (top four transfer): Dennis Franklin, Mason Zeigler, Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens, Eddie Carrier Jr., Gregg Satterlee, Ricky Weiss, Wendell Wallace, Dave Fieber, Dan Schlieper, Dustin Mitchell, Dan Stone. Scratched: Scott Bloomquist, Kenny Pettyjohn.
Vic Hill captured the first 12-lap consy, keeping fourth-starting Stormy Scott in check for the first half of the race, and then turning back 10th-starting Steve Francis over the final five laps. Scott finished third while Davey Johnson got the final transfer spot in the caution-free prelim.
Finish (top four transfer): Vic Hill, Steve Francis, Stormy Scott, Davey Johnson, Kyle Bronson, Doug Blashe, Mark Dotson, Freddie Carpenter, Austin Rettig, Nick Davis, Chad Hollenbeck, Charles LaPLant, Jim O'Hara, Gregg Hill.
Consolation race lineups
(12 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Vic Hill, Davey Johnson
Row 2: Freddie Carpenter, Stormy Scott
Row 3: Kyle Bronson, Mark Dotson
Row 4: Doug Blashe, Nick Davis
Row 5: Austin Rettig, Steve Francis
Row 6: Jim O’Hara, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 7: Charles LaPlant, Gregg Hill
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Dennis Franklin, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Wendell Wallace, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 4: Scott Bloomquist, Ricky Weiss
Row 5: Dan Stone, Dave Fieber
Row 6: Dustin Mitchell, Dan Schlieper
Row 7: Jimmy Owens, Kenny Pettyjohn
Billy Moyer made if 4-for-4 polesitting heat winners, edging away for a comfortable victory over fellow front-row starter Bobby Pierce. Dennis Erb Jr. was third and Jared Landers, who started sixth and briefly made a run on the high side, settled into a distant fourth. Mason Zeigler was fifth to earn a consolation race spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer, Bobby Pierce, Dennis Erb Jr., Jared Landers, Mason Zeigler, Gregg Satterlee, Eddie Carrier Jr., Ricky Weiss, Dave Fieber. Scratched: Kenny Pettyjohn.
A low-running Brandon Sheppard became the third straight polesitter to win a heat while a few drivers vainly tried to make the high groove work. Third-starting Mike Benedum finished second followed by fifth-starting Devin Moran as inside-lane starters had a big advantage on the start. Outside front-row starter Steve Casebolt salvaged the final transfer spot while Jonathan Davenport and Jimmy Owens, who both tried the high side, couldn't make it happen.
Finish (top four transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Mike Benedum, Devin Moran, Steve Casebolt, Jonathan Davenport, Dennis Franklin, Wendell Wallace, Scott Bloomquist, Dan Stone, Dustin Mitchell, Jimmy Owens.
Polesitter Don O'Neal stuck his No. 5 in the low groove and raced to a 10-lap victory. Outside front-row starter Earl Pearson Jr. chased him home in second while Texas Allen Murray had his best showing of the week with a third-place run. Terry English got the fourth and final transfer spot in the caution-free prelim, holding off Davey Johnson. Stormy Scott was the first driver to try the high side and managed a sixth-place finish, while Steve Francis didn't fare as well on the high side, losing three spots late.
Finish (top four transfer): Don O'Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Allen Murray, Terry English, Davey Johnson, Stormy Scott, Mark Dotson, Nick Davis, Steve Francis, Chad Hollenbeck, Gregg Hill.
Fast qualifier and polesitter Billy Moyer Jr. race to victory, holding off a mid-race challenge from sixth-starting Jason Papich who took advantage of a good start and ran second virtually all the way. With everyone sticking with the bottom groove, Chris Brown, who started in the third row with Papich, was third and Tim Dohm got the final transfer spot in fourth. Outside front-row starter got shuffled back on the first lap and quickly fell from contention. The first start was called back for Moyer jumping it.
Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer Jr., Jason Papich, Chris Brown, Tim Dohm, Vic Hill, Freddie Carpenter, Kyle Bronson, Doug Blashe, Austin Rettig, Jim O'Hara, Charles LaPlant.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Billy Moyer Jr., Austin Rettig
Row 2: Tim Dohm, Freddie Carpenter
Row 3: Chris Brown, Jason Papich
Row 4: Kyle Bronson, Vic Hill
Row 5: Doug Blashe, Charles LaPlant
Row 6: Jim O'Hara
Row 1: Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Allen Murray, Stormy Scott
Row 3: Terry English, Steve Francis
Row 4: Davey Johnson, Nick Davis
Row 5: Mark Dotson, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 6: Gregg Hill
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Steve Casebolt
Row 2: Mike Benedum, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Devin Moran, Jonathan Davenport
Row 4: Wendell Wallace, Scott Bloomquist
Row 5: Dan Stone, Dennis Franklin
Row 6: Dustin Mitchell
Row 1: Billy Moyer, Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Dennis Erb Jr., Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 3: Mason Zeigler, Jared Landers
Row 4: Gregg Satterlee, Dan Schlieper
Row 5: Kenny Pettyjohn, Ricky Weiss
Row 6: Dave Fieber
Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., topped 44 qualifiers, including his Hall of Fame father, Thursday in time trials around the third-mile oval. Moyer posted a lap of 15.797 seconds to earn the pole position for the night’s opening heat race.
Other heat race polesitters: Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind.; Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill.; and Billy Moyer.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series runs the third round of the 39th annual Winternationals on Thursday for a non-points event paying $7,000-to-win among 44 entrants.
Competitors return to action following Tuesday’s opener won by Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., and Wednesday’s race won by Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who won be in action Thursday.
Thursday's program is made up of hot laps, time trials, heat races, consolations, the DirtonDirt.com Strawberry Dash and 45-lap main event.
The regularly scheduled event, unusually, is sandwiched by time-trial sessions that will be recorded to set up Friday’s doubleheader, a $10,000-to-win points event and a makeup of Monday’s $5,000-to-win non-points race. Dan Stone was Friday's fast-timer.
The week’s prime storyline has been the difficult in steering for drivers who have battled a combination of harder-than-usual tire compounds required by series rules and a slippery racetrack. … Five newcoming drivers in action Thursday are Mark Dotson of Cameron, Mo., Freddie Carpenter of Parkersburg, W.Va., Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., Vic Hill of Mosheim, Tenn., and former Dirt Track World Champion Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark. … Hill is piloting the second car of Ricky Weiss while Wallace takes the seat of the No. 77 driven by Gavin Landers earlier in the week. … Besides the departure of Josh Richards, brothers Bob and John Gardner have also pulled out with plans to head to World of Outlaws Late Model Series action at Ocala, Fla.
Time trials (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.797
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.960
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 16.207
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.240
Allen Murray (2), San Antonio, Texas, 16.291
Tim Dohm (6T), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 16.291
Freddie Carpenter (c4) Parkersburg, W.Va., 16.331
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.345
Chris Brown (21), Spring, Texas, 16.384
Terry English (96), Benton, Ky., 16.389
Jason Papich (91p), Nipomo, Calif., 16.398
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 16.465
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.616
Davey Johnson (1j), Latrobe, Pa., 16.677
Vic Hill (7h), Mosheim, Tenn., 16.692
Nick Davis (92), Gumboro, Del., 16.758
Doug Blashe (1), Marion, Wis., 16.880
Mark Dotson (85d), Cameron, Mo., 16.924
Charles LaPlant (3c), East Prairie, Mo., 16.948
Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 17.216
Jim O’Hara (44j), Moscow, Pa., 17.360
Gregg Hill (8), Eveleth, Minn., 17.992
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.036
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 16.167
Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 16.214
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.244
Mike Benedum (25), Bristol, W.Va., 16.352
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.361
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.374
Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 16.441
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 16.462
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 16.472
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 16.495
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 16.501
Wendell Wallace (77), Batesville, Ark., 16.599
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.630
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.694
Dan Schlieper (s9), Oak Creek, Wis., 16.697
Dan Stone (21D), Thompson, Pa., 16.766
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.835
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 16.841
Ricky Weiss (7), Headingly, Manitoba, 16.926
Dustin Mitchell (D8), Pine Level, N.C., 16.952
Dave Fieber (1), Chippewa Falls, Wis., 17.083