Red-hot Owens captures West Virginia RaceFest
From series reports
MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. (Sept. 15) — Winning never gets boring, but Jimmy Owens is trying to make taking checkered flags a routine event. The Newport, Tenn., driver cemented his status as the hottest dirt racer in the country with his victory in the RaceFest World Championship at West Virginia Motor Speedway, earning $20,000 for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event on the 5/8-mile oval. | Slideshow
Owens added the victory to August's $50,000 payday at Florence (Ky.) Speedway's North-South 100 and the previous weekend's $40,000 at Eldora Speedway's prestigious World 100.
"I mean, to back this up after winning at Eldora is just unbelievable," the 35-year-old Owens said. "I guess we are going to be in a higher tax bracket now."
Owens, who started 12th in the 24-car field, took the lead midway through the 75-lapper when the rear end in race-long leader Bart Hartman's car failed on the 30th lap.
"I saw him do something on the backstretch and I thought he was going to wreck and then he pulled off the track, so it was a good break for us and bad for him," said Owens, who won in front of a huge hillside crowd. "I didn't know what it was but that happens sometime."
Owens withstood several caution flags over the last 44 laps of the race to score his third major win in the last month. Scott Bloomquist finished second followed by current Lucas Oil Series points leader Earl Pearson Jr., 15th-starting Mike Balzano and rookie NASCAR Busch Series driver Tim McCreadie, who drove a No. 31 car.
Hartman grabbed the lead at the start of the 75-lap main event from outside the front row McCreadie, polesitter Donnie Moran, Scott James and Pearson the top five with one lap in the books. The running order stayed the same until the first caution came out on lap four for a slowing John Blankenship. On the restart, Moran gained the second spot from McCreadie, but McCreadie fought back two circuits later to regain the position.
There were two more quick cautions, but on those restarts Hartman quickly opened up his lead to six lengths over McCreadie with 10 laps scored. Eddie Carrier Jr. slowed on lap 11 for a flat tire which set up another double-file restart.
As Hartman crossed the line to complete the 15th lap, McCreadie was still second, but James was up toï¿½third with defending race winner Bloomquist fourth as Moran fell to fifth. Hartman was still setting a blistering pace as he was unchallenged in the race for the lead as the fifth caution flew on lap 17 for Tim Dohm. With the field bunched up once more, Hartman continued to open up an advantage over McCreadie, who was now having to deal with Owens, who had started 12th on the grid as the battle for the second spot was heating up.
With 25 laps scored, it was still Hartman in control followed by McCreadie, Owens, Bloomquist and Pearson. Hartman was about to enter some lapped traffic as Owens made the move by McCreadie on lap 28 to take over second place. Just as Hartman was lapping cars, he suddenly slowed on the backstretch as Owens raced by to take over the lead. The culprit was a broken rear end as he took his car pit side as he was done for the night.
With Owens inheriting the lead on lap 31 after Hartman's misfortune McCreadie was back to second followed by Bloomquist, Pearson and James. As Owens was fighting through traffic by the 40th circuit, Bloomquist made a daring move on McCreadie as the two went door to door for a half lap until Bloomquist got the spot. Another caution flag appeared for Steve Lucas, who was running in sixth place at the time slowed on the track with 41 laps complete.
On the restart Owens, was out in front by himself with Bloomquist and McCreadie lined up side by side with Bloomquist gaining the position ahead of McCreadie heading into turn one. Pearson took the spot from McCreadie on lap 42, garnering the third spot as the race stayed green for four more laps until the seventh caution came out on lap 45.
With Owens on the point, the restart became quite interesting with Pearson and Bloomquist racing door to door for two laps until Bloomquist got back around Pearson to regain the second slot. With a quarter of the race left Owens was holding a sizable advantage over Bloomquist, Pearson, McCreadie and 19th-starting Michael England, who was up to fifth.
A lengthy stretch of green flag racing saw Owens holding his lead at a healthy margin with several lengths between himself and Bloomquist. The eighth and final caution slowed the high-flying Owens with 15 laps to go. So with one last chance to try and get the lead away from Owens on the restart, Bloomquist and Pearson were unable to muster enough speed to get the job done as Owens sprinted away from the pair.
Owens handled any situation that came up in the final circuits as he got by lapped cars. He was negotiating with the ease of a veteran as he went on to score his series-leading fifth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event of the 2007 season.
Owens' Bloomquist Race Car has a Cornett-built Ford with sponsorship from Reece Monuments, Gantte Appraisals, Red Line Oil, Performance Rod and Custom, Byrd's Radiators, VP Racing Fuels, Hoosier Tires and Alwee Trucking Company. ... "I justï¿½can't thank Scott (Bloomquist) enough," Owens said. "He builds an awesome car, my whole crew, my sponsors and my car owner, Mike Reece." ... Owens has more than $110,000 in earnings from victories alone in since Aug. 18.