GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 14) — Even at 57 years old, it doesn’t appear the King of East Bay Raceway Park’s Winternationals plans on giving up his crown anytime soon.
Billy Moyer, the Hall of Fame driver from Batesville, Ark., won a mid-race side-by-side duel with Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and cruised the rest of the way to a $10,000 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory in the week’s finale.
Moyer stretched his lead to more than a straightaway at the finish to take the checkers over reigning Lucas Oil Series champion Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind. Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., improved four positions to finish third while Owens and Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., rounded out the top five. Series points leader Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., was among drivers shuffled back on a lap-22 restart, and his points lead was cut to just five ahead of Davenport.
Moyer, who also won Thursday and Friday features, notched his career-leading 26th Winternationals victory and captured three races for the second time in his career. He previously pulled off that feat in 2008 and an unprecedented six times he’s had multiple-victory visits to the third-mile oval near Tampa.
Moyer also overcame a broken rear end that left him stalled on the track during his second qualifying, but his crew and other friends jumped in to get him back on the track for the second heat race.
“We was in a drill over there. … I know you guys run a quick show here, so I knew we was under the gun. And everything just fell right. If we’d have been in the first heat, we probably wouldn’t have made it,” Moyer said. “We’re ready … it’s not our first rodeo, for sure. We have a rear end ready where it all went together pretty quickly.”
From there, Moyer outdueled Davenport to win his heat race, then won a similar duel with Owens during the main event for his 23rd career Lucas Oil Series victory.
“I don’t think we ever did (touch). It was fun. We race each other hard but try to give each other room with everybody out there … it’s an honor to be able to race with all these guys and have fun and not run over each other and look like a bunch of clowns out there.
“And with this track, the way it is, believe it or not, it’s hard to keep off of one another out there. Everybody’s professional and does a good job.
“They put a little more water on that outside over there, which helped there to where you could exit on the outside, kind of opposite than it was all during the week … it’s definitely threw a curve at us. Every night it’s kind of been a little bit different, but other than the rubber deal last night, it’s been where you can run around on it.”
O’Neal, hampered in Friday night’s points race when the team put the wrong shock on, was glad to rebound in the finale.
“After the week we’ve had here, I’m just glad we’re leaving here with a good finish,” said O’Neal, second in Moyer in all-time victories at East Bay. “We all worked hard and worked hard all week, and that’s what it takes, just never give up … I just want to thank (the crew) for everything they do. That’s why we are where we are tonight, because of what they do.”
Davenport broke into the top five following mid-race caution and pressured O’Neal in the final laps.
“We started coming on there at the end,” Davenport said. “I finally figured out how to drive it a little bit. We couldn’t just stay straight and easy on the gas. I think I got hard on the gas a couple of times and made my tires come alive. So we had a good night.”
Owens took command at the outset while polesitter Tim Dohm and Moyer joined him in a three-car breakaway as they were a full straightaway ahead of the fourth-running O’Neal after a dozen laps.
But a huge pack of slower cars loomed and O’Neal began closing ground as things tightened up among the frontrunners. The leaders caught a break with a lap-16 caution, bunching the field and providing clear track on the restart.
Dohm took a stab at the lead on the restart, briefly slipping ahead in turn two, but Owens blew back past and Moyer took advantage to grab second while Dohm suddenly found himself in danger of getting shuffled back as O’Neal took third.
Owens and Moyer edged away from O’Neal before another caution six laps later, and while the top two immediately pulled away on the restart, a skirmish behind them dropped Dohm and Earl Pearson Jr. out of the top five with O’Neal, Davenport and Mike Benedum giving chase.
Moyer pressured Owens for several laps, pulling inside to run nearly side-by-side the entire way around on lap 26. Owens did all he could to hang on, but Moyer slid in front of him on lap 28 to take a lead he’d never give up.
O’Neal and Davenport dropped Owens to fourth the rest of the way while Landers fought his way into fifth by banging past Benedum exiting turn four. Dohm, who contended early, ended up seventh.
The feature was slowed by three cautions, all for single-car slowdowns. Chris Brown had a flat tire (lap 16) while Davey Johnson (lap 22) and Gregg Satterlee (lap 30) also drew yellows.
Lucas Oil competitors return to action March 20 at Atomic Speedway near Chillicothe, Ohio, for the first post-Speedweeks event of the season.
Notes: Moyer has finished outside the top five in just two of his Georgia-Florida Speedweeks starts. … Don O’Neal’s second-place finish was his best of Speedweeks. … Nineteen of 26 starters completed 50 laps; Scott Bloomquist was the first driver a lap down. ... Justin Rattliff earned $500 for winning the six-lap non-qualifiers’ race that wrapped up the night’s action.
Row 1: Doug Blashe, Justin Rattliff
Row 2: Dustin Mitchell, Allen Murray
Row 3: Freddie Carpenter, Nick Davis
Row 4: Gregg Hill, Jim O'Hara
Row 5: Mark Dotson
Dan Stone won a race-long battle with fellow front-row starter Terry English to win the 12-lap prelim. English turned up the lead past the halfway point but couldn't find a way past while Scott Bloomquist finished third behind them. Justin Rattliff and Billy Moyer Jr. were fourth and fifth. Mark Dotson got into the backstretch wall on the second lap to draw a yellow.
Finish (top four transfer): Dan Stone, Terry English, Scott Bloomquist, Justin Rattliff, Billy Moyer Jr., Allen Murray, Nick Davis, Jim O'Hara.
Stormy Scott slipped by the upset car of polesitter Chris Brown exiting turn two on the first lap and raced to a 12-lap victory. Gregg Satterlee took second from Brown on an early restart, just before Brown's car went around with a little help, drawing the second caution. Bobby Pierce ended up second with Satterlee settling for the third and final transfer spot. The first of four cautions appeared on the third lap for a tangle involving Austin Rettig and Freddie Carpenter in turn four; the second and third yellows flew for Brown, who pulled to the infield after his spin but wasn't out of harm's way. Austin Rettig spun in turn one on a restart for the final caution.
Finish (top three transfer): Stormy Scott, Bobby Pierce, Gregg Satterlee, Doug Blashe, Dustin Mitchell, Freddie Carpenter, Chad, Hollenbeck, Gregg Hill, Austin Rettig, Chris Brown.
Consolation race lineups
(12 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Chris Brown, Stormy Scott
Row 2: Bobby Pierce, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Dustin Mitchell, Austin Rettig
Row 4: Doug Blashe, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 5: Freddie Carpenter, Gregg Hill
Row 1: Terry English, Dan Stone
Row 2: Justin Rattliff, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Mark Dotson
Row 4: Jim O’Hara, Nick Davis
Row 5: Allen Murray
Polesitter Earl Pearson Jr. survived a turn-one bobble on the start and righted his car to race to victory. Dennis Erb Jr. chased Pearson home in second while Davey Johnson, winner of last year's finale, finished a distant third after wresting the spot from Mike Benedum midway through the race. Benedum got the final transfer spot while Billy Moyer Jr. was fifth and headed to a consy to keep his streak of five straight features at East Bay alive. The lone caution appeared on the ninth lap when Nick Davis got into the turn-four wall.
Finish (top four transfer): Earl Pearson Jr., Dennis Erb Jr., Davey Johnson, Mike Benedum, Billy Moyer Jr., Dan Stone, Mark Dotson, Nick Davis.
Outside front row-starter Jimmy Owens got the jump on polesitter Soctt Bloomquist and brought fourth-starting Don O'Neal along with him in racing to victory. Devin Moran was just behind O'Neal in third with Brandon Sheppard fourth while Bloomquist's flat right-rear tire on the third lap doomed his chances. The first start was scrapped after some Owens-Bloomquist contact and spins by others including Moran. Allen Murray spun in turn four just before Bloomquist blew a right-rear tire for a third-lap caution. Bloomquist pitted for new rubber but made little progress.
Finish (top four transfer): Jimmy Owens, Don O'Neal, Devin Moran, Brandon Sheppard, Terry English, Justin Rattliff, Scott Bloomquist, Jim O'Hara, Allen Murray.
Outside front-row starter Jonathan Davenport got the jump on polesitter Billy Moyer, but Moyer, who swapped rear ends in his car between time trials and the heat, went back underneath on a lap-two restart and raced to victory. Davenport faded to settle for second while Ricky Weiss (with a last-lap pass) and Jason Papich got the other two transfers spots. Stormy Scott was fifth in a heat slowed by an early caution when a portion of the wall dropped onto the track in turn one.
Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer, Jonathan Davenport, Ricky Weiss, Jason Papich, Stormy Scott, Gregg Satterlee, Austin Rettig, Chad Hollenbeck, Gregg Hill.
Tim Dohm won a first-lap, side-by-side battle with fellow West Virginian Eddie Carrier Jr. and moved on to a victory that gave him the pole position for the main event. Dohm finished more than a half-straightaway ahead of Jared Landers while Carrier, who started outside the front row, settled for third ahead of Steve Francis. Chris Brown was fifth in the caution-free affair.
Finish (top four transfer): Tim Dohm, Jared Landers, Eddie Carrier Jr., Steve Francis, Chris Brown, Bobby Pierce, Dustin Mitchell, Doug Blashe, Freddie Carpenter.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Tim Dohm, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 2: Steve Francis, Jared Landers
Row 3: Chris Brown, Bobby Pierce
Row 4: Dustin Mitchell, Freddie Carpenter
Row 5: Doug Blashe
Row 1: Billy Moyer, Jonathan Davenport
Row 2: Jason Papich, Austin Rettig
Row 3: Ricky Weiss, Gregg Satterlee
Row 4: Stormy Scott, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 5: Gregg Hill
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Devin Moran, Don O'Neal
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Terry English
Row 4: Justin Rattliff, Jim O'Hara
Row 5: Allen Murray
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 2: Mike Benedum, Davey Johnson
Row 3: Billy Moyer Jr., Nick Davis
Row 4: Dan Stone, Mark Dotson
Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., posted his second quick qualifying time of the week by topping 35 entries in the Winternationals.
Dohm posted a lap of 15.103 seconds on the third-mile oval that got some extra track prep for the last of six events.
Other heat race polesitters: Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark. (who broke a rear end on his second qualifying lap); Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn.; and series points leader Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla.
The Lucas Oil Series wraps up a six-race stretch at East Bay with a $10,000-to-win finale, the second points race of week and fourth of the season. Four-time series champ Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., enters as the series points leader.
The night’s action includes hot laps, time trials, heat races, consolation races and the DirtonDirt.com Strawberry Dash. A 50-lap feature concludes the program.
The lone newcoming driver is Justin Rattliff of Campbellsville, Ky., whose car has been on the property all week. Work commitments kept Rattliff out of action while Terry English of Benton, Ky., drove a team car at East Bay, scoring a best finish of 15th. … Rattliff makes 50 drivers who have made at least one appearance at East Bay. … Nine drivers have made the lineups for the first five features: Dennis Erb Jr., Billy Moyer, Billy Moyer Jr., Bobby Pierce, Brandon Sheppard, Jonathan Davenport, Devin Moran, Stormy Scott and Mason Zeigler. … Zeigler left East Bay and entered Saturday’s wWorld of Outlaws Late Model Serie event at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. … The feature was originally advertised as 60 laps, but it was announced as 50 laps at the drivers’ meeting. ... Billy Moyer's machine shut down after his first qualifying laps; his car was pushed to the pits with a broken rear end.
Time trials (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown
Tim Dohm (6T), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 15.103
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.308
Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 15.461
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.507
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.515
Jason Papich (91p), Nipomo, Calif., 15.523
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 15.531
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 15.685
Chris Brown (21), Spring, Texas, 15.711
Ricky Weiss (7), Headingly, Manitoba, 15.714
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.868
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.908
Dustin Mitchell (D8), Pine Level, N.C., 15.973
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.978
Freddie Carpenter (c4) Parkersburg, W.Va., 16.118
Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 16.452
Doug Blashe (1), Marion, Wis., 16.994
Gregg Hill (8), Eveleth, Minn., 17.110
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.368
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.521
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.526
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.646
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 15.704
Mike Benedum (25), Bristol, W.Va., 15.803
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.824
Davey Johnson (1j), Latrobe, Pa., 15.915
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 15.925
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.951
Terry English (96), Benton, Ky., 15.957
Nick Davis (92), Gumboro, Del., 16.128
Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 16.195
Dan Stone (21D), Thompson, Pa., 16.416
Jim O’Hara (44j), Moscow, Pa., 16.829
Mark Dotson (85d), Cameron, Mo., 16.843
Allen Murray (2), San Antonio, Texas, 17.841