East Bay Raceway Park
After tangle with Casey, Richards grabs $10,000
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com chief writer
GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 5) — Another night of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action at East Bay Raceway Park, another controversial pass for the lead.
Maintaining a trend of debatable, finger-pointing action at the 33rd annual Dart Winternationals, Josh Richards dominated Thursday's 40-lapper at the third-mile oval, but not before making contact with leader Terry Casey on the 12th lap that sent Casey's No. 42 spinning between turns one and two. | Complete East Bay coverage
When everyone weighed in afterwards, the crowd produced a chorus of boos, Casey complained that series rules fostered the winning move and Richards apologized in victory lane on a night when he collected $10,000 for his first-ever East Bay and Lucas Oil triumphs.
"First, I have to apologize to Terry Casey. I feel terrible for it," the Shinnston, W.Va., driver said in an interview. "He and I have always gotten along well together. It was just one of those deals where we got into lapped traffic and I got turned and bent, and I didn't want to push over the cushion. I just got turned the same time he was sliding up, and we just caught and he spun around. I feel terrible for that, but to come down here and win is still really awesome."
Awesome was an accurate description of the winning run by Richards, who started fifth and headed to the front in a hurry, taking the lead from the polesitting Casey on the seventh lap. The frontrunners entered traffic and Casey regained the point on lap 11, one lap before Casey's controversial spin.
Even though 11th-starting Billy Moyer, a winner of four of the previous six Winternationals races going back to '08, quickly worked his way into the second position, Richards checked out and built more than a quarter-track lead when he took the checkered flag on another cold Florida night.
Richards, who normally pilots the Rocket Chassis house car but drives the Ernie Davis-owned No. 25 at East Bay and other select events, wasn't slowing down for anything.
"You're at East Bay. Anything can happen," the 20-year-old said. "I got caught up in lapped traffic and Casey got by me, so I just wanted to make sure that didn't happen again. I was just out there trying to keep a good pace, and it was only 40 laps, so you can run pretty hard."
While the victory was impressive, its aftereffects were reminiscent of Tuesday's action when Matt Miller won a 30-lapper after making controversial contact with leader Tim Dohm that resulted in Dohm's lap-22 spin between turns three and four.
This time, it was Casey on the low side in going into turn one when Richards slid in behind him, putting his nose squarely on the rear of Casey's car, turning the No. 42 around. Richards skittered past while Casey stopped, facing the wrong direction.
Casey felt like the victim of the Lucas Oil Series no-judgment rule that doesn't blame cautions on a particular driver but sends any stopped cars to the tail.
"You've got an open rule to spin the car in front of you as long as you don't stop on the racetrack," said Casey, who retaliated by bumping Richards during a lap-16 caution period and was sent pitside by series officials. "When you've got heads-up racing like this at East Bay with this many cars, people don't travel down here all this way to put up with that kind of stuff. I don't think Josh intentionally did it, but I got back by him, it was clean, there was nothing there. I didn't touch him to get by him. And then he comes up and whales me, and I've gotta go to the back. It's a crock.
"Pretty much spin to win, I guess that's what it is," Casey added.
Lucas Oil series director Ritchie Lewis defended the ruling. "As far as me feeling like it was an intentional, rough-driving (or that) he just drove through him, that wasn't the case. That's not what I saw. I don't think anybody if they're honest can say that," Lewis said. "We'll step in and make judgment calls if that's what they want, but they're not going to like that either. ... You're never going to make everybody happy, I don't care what you do."
Richards spent some of his time after the race saying sorry, but he also wanted to talk about his No. 25 that dominated like no other car has in an East Bay feature this week.
"To drive the Ernie Davis car, it's just been awesome. It's been a load off me, all the pressure of driving my car and having to worry about everything, I can just show up and race this car. To come down here and win a race like this is really awesome," Richards said. "Actually, we were really good last night and we had that flat tire (while running second) and the car was set up exactly the same. We were good around the bottom, and we just put it the same and it was good around the top."
Moyer, the Hall of Famer from Batesville, Ark., ended up second to continue an impressive streak of finishing first or second in seven consecutive Winternationals events. Miller, of Whitehouse, Ohio, was third and fourth-row starters Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., rounded out the top five.
When Richards got to victory lane, Richards climbed atop his winning car to celebrate, and he was greeting by boos from fans who might've seen things Casey's way 29 laps earlier.
"It's all right," Richards said. "There's always people that aren't going to like you and there's people that are going to like you, so you've just gotta do your thing and win races."
Notes: The winning Rocket is sponsored by Ernie D's Enterprises and Tim Fraker Signs. ... The race was slowed by two cautions, the first for Casey's spin after 11 complete laps. ... A lap-16 caution appeared when Scott James and Don O'Neal tangled in turn four, triggering a mess that included Casey and Eric Wells. The James-O'Neal dustup continued while Casey crinkled the rear quarterpanel of Richards on the frontstretch. ... Ten cars finished on the lead lap. ... Fourth-starting Donnie Moran had a poor start, falling back quickly out of the top 10 and pitting on the lap-11 caution; he ended up 14th. ... Sixth-starting Jimmy Owens also faded early and pulled off on the first yellow. ... Tim Dohm started outside the front row but got shuffled back on the lap-16 restart and later dropped out. ... After three nights of the Dart Winternationals, Billy Moyer leads the $5,000-to-win points fund chase with 710 points over Matt Miller (630), Richards (600), Rick Eckert (590) and Jimmy Owens (565).
Lucas Oil @ East Bay: (1) Josh Richards, (2) Billy Moyer, (3) Matt Miller, (4) Dennis Erb Jr., (5) Mike Marlar, (6) Rick Eckert, (7) Dan Schlieper, (8) Terry English, (9) Ricky Arms, (10) Clint Smith, (11) Brady Smith, (12) Earl Pearson Jr., (13) Eric Jacobsen, (14) Donnie Moran, (15) Dale McDowell, (16) Tim Dohm, (17) Eric Wells, (18) Ray Cook, (19) Scott James, (20) Don O'Neal, (21) Terry Casey, (22) Jimmy Owens, (23) Bart Hartman, (24) Dan Stone, (25) Freddy Smith. Fast qualifier (among 75 cars): Dohm, 14.477 seconds. Heat race winners: Casey, Dohm, M. Miller, Moran, Richards, Owens. Consolation winners: Cook, Schlieper, Wells, C. Smith. Provisional starters: Pearson, Hartman. PRC Strawberry Dash non-qualifiers' race winner: O'Neal.
Polesitter Don O'Neal led all the way in the non-qualifiers' race to earn a feature starting spot. Jayme Zidar and Mike Collins chased him to the checkered flag.
Finish: Don O'Neal, Jayme Zidar, Mike Collins, Chris Wall, Steve Francis, Brandon Thirlby, Brad Eitinear.
Third-starting Clint Smith swept around polesitter Jayme Zidar for the lead on the fifth lap and led the rest of the way for a 12-lap victory and feature transfer spot. Zidar held second until late in the race when he dropped behind Californians Chris Shannon and A.J. Kirkpatrick. It took a while to get the race rolling. Davey Johnson started outside the front row but spun on the first lap. Jason McBride restarted in that spot but blew a right rear tire before a lap was complete.
Finish (finishing cars): Clint Smith, Chris Shannon, A.J. Kirkpatrick, Jayme Zidar, Jeff Beyers, Chad Mahder, Brad Eitinear, Brandon Thirlby.
Taking the lead when race-long leader Josh McGuire had a flat tire on the fifth lap, third-starting Eric Wells led the rest of the 12-lap consolation to earn a feature starting spot. Polesitter John Mason was second and Tyler Ivey third. Several yellows waved, three involving Rusty Schlenk, whose right rear tire exploded in turn four on the eighth lap. Earlier in the race, Schlenk spun between turns three and four, collecting Mark Andersen and Chris Wall. Schlenk later spun between turns one and two, collecting David Breazeale and Mike Collins. Chris Wall spun in turn two on the fifth lap, then stopped on the ensuing restart with a flat tire, leaving the track along with McGuire.
Finish (finishing cars): Eric Wells, John Mason, Tyler Ivey, Mark Pettyjohn, Tyler Bruening, Russ Adams.
Dan Schlieper led all the way from outside the front row to earn the only transfer spot. Fifth-starting Don O'Neal was second but not able to mount a serious charge. Steve Shaver started on the pole and ran second for seven laps to Schlieper before sliding out of the groove into the turn-four wall.
Finish (finishing cars): Dan Schlieper, Don O'Neal, Tommy Kerr, Steve Francis, Danny Mitchell, Michael Walker.
Polesitter Ray Cook, who entered East Bay action among the hottest drivers in the country, led all the way to earn his first East Bay feature start of 2009. Cook fought off a few challenges from Jeep Van Wormer on late restarts in a caution-plagued race where fewer than half the starters finishes. Dillan White was third. Tim Isenberg ran third most of the way before spinning in a late turn-four scramble. A red flag appeared on the sixth lap when Steve Casebolt's night ended with a head-on crash into the frontstretch wall while battling with Wayne Chinn, who pulled to the pits. Casebolt wasn't injured. Justin Rattliff pulled off with a broken tie rod on the mid-race restart.
Finish (finishing cars): Ray Cook, Jeep Van Wormer, Dillan White, Victor Lee, Shon Flanary, Tim Isenberg, Tyler Reddick.
Surviving a banging frontstretch battle with outside front-row starter Eric Jacobsen, fourth-starting Jimmy Owens led the final three laps for a victory in the sixth heat. Jacobsen ended up second after the lap-seven restart while Dale McDowell got the third and final transfer spot from his fifth starting position. Polesitter Josh McGuire, shuffled back after contact with Owens in turn four on the first lap, recovered late to finish fourth. The Owens-Jacobsen battle was among the most exciting of the week. Coming toward the flagstand midway through the race, Owens got outside Jacobsen and the frontrunners slammed door-to-door. Amazingly both gathered up their cars and soldiered on with McDowell and Clint Smith hot on their heels. Two cautions reset the field, and Owens made his outside move work the second time and he went on to victory.
Finish: Jimmy Owens, Eric Jacobsen, Dale McDowell, Josh McGuire, Clint Smith, Tyler Ivey, Chris Shannon, Tyler Bruening, Jeff Beyers, Mark Andersen, Bob Geiger, Mark Pettyjohn.
Donnie Moran, Ricky Arms and Brady Smith held the top three spots all the way in a raceway that required five starts. The top three weren't challenged after the race finally got going with Jayme Zidar finishing a distant fourth after overtaking Eric Wells on the last lap. Smith survived a couple of problems in turn three to hold on to his position. With all the problems early, officials eventually went to a single-file start. East Bay rookie Adam Ferri lost control on the first start and had to restart on the tail. A caution appeared on the next attempted start when Chris Wall spun in turn three and Chad Mahder spun after Brady Smith got nearly sideways near the front of the field; Wall's car was towed to the pits. After a failed start, Rusty Schlenk stopped in turn two just before Travis Varnadore spun in turn four. The only caution after several bad starts was on the second lap for Ferri's turn-two spin.
Finish: Donnie Moran, Ricky Arms, Brady Smith, Jayme Zidar, Eric Wells, Jason McBride, Bart Hartman, Chad Mahder, Rusty Schlenk, Brad Eitinear, Travis Varnadore, Chris Wall.
Tim Dohm won from outside the front row, pulling away from the field along with polesitter Dennis Erb Jr. Rick Eckert, in a tight battle with John Mason early in the race, got third on a lap-five restart and held on for the final transfer spot. Mason was fourth and Davey Johnson fifth. Three yellows slowed the action. A lap-two caution appeared when Mike Collins spun in turn two, triggering a collision that included Darren Miller, Russ Adams and Brandon Thirlby. A lap-three caution appeared when A.J. Kirkpatrick spun in turn three trying to avoid David Breazeale, who did everything but spin in trying to get under Rick Eckert. Mike Collins spun in turn four midway through the race, collecting Brad Neat.
Finish: Tim Dohm, Dennis Erb Jr., Rick Eckert, John Mason, Davey Johnson, Scott Slay, A.J. Kirkpatrick, David Breazeale, Brandon Thirlby, Russ Adams, Mike Collins, Darren Miller.
Josh Richards won a wild three-way battle up front early, then checked out for an easy 10-lap victory. Billy Moyer started outside row and led early, but Richards went from third to first exiting turn four. But Richards lost momentum on the frontstretch, allowing polesitter Tim Isenberg to grab the lead for a lap. Once Richards cleared Isenberg a lap later, he pulled away while Scott James went to work, going past Isenberg and Moyer to grab second. Moyer battled with Isenberg a few laps before clearing him, then caught James late to make a last-lap pass for second. James got the third transfer spot with Isenberg fourth. Steve Francis, fifth and sixth in the first two features of the week, qualified poorly and didn't dig out of the hole, finishing ninth.
Finish: Josh Richards, Billly Moyer, Scott James, Tim Isenberg, Tim Fuller, Jeep Van Wormer, Earl Pearson Jr., Dillan White, Steve Francis, Strait, Justin Rattliff, Shon Flanary.
Tuesday's feature winner Matt Miller started outside the front row and cruised to win over polesitter Terry English, who debuted a new Rayburn Race Car. Fifth-starting Dan Stone was third ahead of some wild racing behind him. Steve Shaver started fourth but slid too high between turns one and two on the first lap, falling way back. He recovered to finish fourth. Tail-starting Wayne Chinn worked his way to the front and tried to take fourth from Tommy Weder Jr. when they got hooked up in turn three, knocking both from contention during a lap-six caution. Michael Walker spun alone in turn four on the ninth lap for the second caution.
Finish: Matt Miller, Terry English, Dan Stone, Steve Shaver, Steve Casebolt, Shanon Buckingham, Wayne Chinn, Michael Walker, Tommy Weder Jr., Tommy Kerr, Victor Lee. Scratched: Jordan Bland.
Capitalizing on a lap-seven restart, Terry Casey went from third to first in the final laps, first diving under Freddy Smith in turn three and then overtaking Mike Marlar a lap later exiting turn four. Casey, who started second but was shuffled back to sixth after a first-lap scramble with Don O'Neal, crossed the finish line ahead of Marlar and Smith to earn the pole position for the main event. Ray Cook contended for a transfer spot but settled for fourth in the 10-lapper. Eddie Carrier Jr.'s left-rear flat tire on the seventh lap brought out the race's lone caution.
Finish: Terry Casey, Mike Marlar, Freddy Smith, Ray Cook, Russ King, Dan Schlieper, Don O'Neal, Tyler Reddick, Danny Mitchell, John Blankenship, Eddie Carrier Jr. Scratched: J.R. Hotovy, Scott Bloomquist.
Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., notching his second fast qualifying time of the week, topped 75 entrants in time trials Thursday for the third round of the 33rd annual Dart Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park. Dohm, who posted a lap of 14.477 seconds to top Group B qualifying, will start outside the front row in the fourth heat after spinning two on the PRC inversion wheel. The fastest qualifier in Group A was Terry Casey of New London, Wis., last night's fast qualifier. "It's a fast racetrack tonight and a narrow groove. You've gotta hit it just right," Dohm said. "I think it's going to be the best track we've had all week so far."
Wednesday's winner Billy Moyer is leading the Dart Winternationals points standings with 480 points followed by Jimmy Owens (440), Tuesday's feature winner Matt Miller (410), Steve Francis (405) and Rick Eckert (390). The points fund pays $5,000 to the week's champion. ... Among newcomers for Thursday's action are Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. Other first-timer starters are Brad Eitniear of Defiance, Ohio; Michael Walker of Franklin, Tenn.; Russ King of Bristolville, Ohio; and Canadian sprint-turned-Late Model driver Adam Ferri of Port Colborne, Ontario. ... Bloomquist didn't show up for qualifying. ... Terry English of Benton, Ky., piloting cars for Shelbyville, Tenn. car owner Bob Harris at East Bay, plans to driver yet another different car on Thursday, a brand new red Rayburn Race Car. English drove a Warrior on Tuesday and a Rocket on Wednesday. ... Lucas Oil officials fined Davey Johnson's car owner Tracy Seymour $1,500 for a Wednesday night altercation with members of the Shanon Buckingham team. The teams patched up their differences, series director Ritchie Lewis said. ... Lewis also announced at the pre-race meeting that series races in 2009 will use double-file restarts up until the last 10 laps, when restarts will be single file. ... Scott James, who finished third Tuesday but missed Wednesday's action, said fuel pressure problems kept him out of action. He's got two cars ready to go Thursday. ... Scott Slay also had fuel issues that caused problems, including when he started on the front row of Wednesday's Strawberry Dash. Slay said the team discovered that the car's fuel cell had been installed backward, causing the fuel pickup problems. ... Joe Loudin of Clarksburg, W.Va., who wrecked in Wednesday's fifth heat, didn't enter Thursday's event. There's a possibility fellow West Virginia driver Doug Horton will drive Loudin's No. 5 on Friday. ... Steve Francis got badly out of shape in turn three qualifying and was more than a second and a half off the pace. ... Wayne Chinn also qualified poorly, washing up in turn four. ... Mike Collins peeled his left-rear tire off the rim in qualifying. ... Three more Winternationals races conclude the week, including a Friday doubleheader. The $5,000-to-win program rained out on Monday will start about noon on Friday and the originally scheduled $10,000-to-win event will be run in the evening. The week wraps up with a $12,000-to-win feature Saturday.
Heat race lineups
Row 1: F. Smith, Casey
Row 2: Marlar, O'Neal
Row 3: Cook, Schlieper
Row 4: King, Carrier
Row 5: Reddick, Blankenship
Row 6: Mitchell, Hotovy
Row 7: Bloomquist
Row 1: English, M. Miller
Row 2: Weder, Shaver
Row 3: Stone, Buckingham
Row 4: Bland, Kerr
Row 5: Lee, Casebolt
Row 6: Walker, Chinn
Row 1: Isenberg, Moyer
Row 2: Richards, Pearson
Row 3: White, James
Row 4: Fuller, Rattliff
Row 5: Flanary, Van Wormer
Row 6: Francis, Strait
Row 1: Erb, Dohm
Row 2: Mason, Eckert
Row 3: D. Johnson, D. Miller
Row 4: Breazeale, Neat
Row 5: Slay, Thirlby
Row 6: Adams, Kirkpatrick
Row 7: Collins
Row 1: Moran, Arms
Row 2: Wall, B. Smith
Row 3: Ferri, Mahder
Row 4: Wells, Zidar
Row 5: McBride, Hartman
Row 6: Varnadore, Schlenk
Row 7: Eitniear
Row 1: McGuire, Jacobsen
Row 2: Ivey, Owens
Row 3: McDowell, C. Smith
Row 4: Bruening, Beyers
Row 5: Shannon, Geiger
Row 6: Andersen, Pettyjohn
- Terry Casey (42), New London, Wis., 14.515
- Matt Miller (7), Whitehouse, Ohio, 14.672
- Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 14.675
- Freddy Smith (00), Seymour, Tenn., 14.781
- Terry English (B1), Benton, Ky., 14.836
- Tim Isenberg (9T), Marshfield, Wis., 14.866
- Mike Marlar (34), Winfield, Tenn., 14.877
- Tommy Weder Jr. (02), Woodward, Okla., 14.900
- Josh Richards (25), Shinnston, W.Va., 14.912
- Don O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 14.925
- Steve Shaver (79), Vienna, W.Va., 14.928
- Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.004
- Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 15.039
- Dan Stone (21D), Thompson, Pa., 15.042
- Dillan White (54), Crofton, Ky., 15.073
- Dan Schlieper (9), Sullivan, Wis., 15.081
- Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 15.086
- Scott James (83), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 15.104
- Russ King (56), Bristolville, Ohio, 15.156
- Jordan Bland (12), Campbellsville, Ky., 15.278
- Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y., 15.283
- Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 15.294
- Tommy Kerr (4T), Maryville, Tenn., 15.341
- Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 15.375
- Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 15.393
- Victor Lee (4), Stanford, Ky., 15.401
- Shon Flanary (98), Mount Carmel, Tenn., 15.428
- John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 15.533
- Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 15.606
- Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 15.820
- Danny Mitchell (18D), Clarksburg, W.Va., 15.832
- Michael Walker (64), Franklin, Tenn., 16.054
- Steve Francis (19), Ashland, Ky., 16.158
- J.R. Hotovy (13), Covert, Mich., 16.305
- Wayne Chinn (1), Bradford, Ohio, 16.677
- Butch Strait (79), Traverse City, Mich., 18.352
- Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., no time
- Tim Dohm (6T), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 14.477
- Ricky Arms (4), Moss, Tenn., 14.555
- Eric Jacobsen (5), Seacliff Beach, Calif., 14.560
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.575
- Donnie Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 14.580
- Josh McGuire (41), Grayson, Ky., 14.612
- John Mason (72), Millersburg, Ohio, 14.623
- Chris Wall (71), Holden, La., 14.646
- Tyler Ivey (47), Tallahassee, Fla., 14.679
- Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., 14.750
- Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 14.759
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 14.766
- Davey Johnson (17), Latrobe, Pa., 14.783
- Adam Ferri (1F), Port Colborne, Ontario, 14.869
- Dale McDowell (17m), Rossville, Ga., 14.879
- Darren Miller (32D), Milledgeville, Ill., 14.898
- Chad Mahder (55c), Eau Claire, Wis., 14.91
- Clint Smith (44), Senoia, Ga., 14.924
- David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 14.937
- Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 14.938
- Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 14.942
- Brad Neat (41), Dunnville, Ky., 14.977
- Jayme Zidar (9z), Greenfield, Wis., 14.998
- Jeff Beyers (27), Pana, Ill., 15.106
- Scott Slay (6), Clinton, Miss., 15.133
- Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 15.201
- Chris Shannon (32s), Merced, Calif., 15.297
- Brandon Thirlby (M14), Traverse City, Mich., 15.445
- Bart Hartman (75), Zanesville, Ohio, 15.453
- Bob Geiger (38), Laurel, Del., 15.703
- Russ Adams (74), Princeton, Ill., 15.786
- Travis Varnadore (41cj), Dover, Fla., 15.939
- Mark Andersen (85), Blanchard, Mich., 16.081
- A.J. Kirkpatrick (12k), Castroville, Calif., 16.092
- Rusty Schlenk (91), Jackson, Mich., 16.362
- Mark Pettyjohn (49), Milton, Del., 17.902
- Mike Collins (3), Council Bluffs, Iowa, no time
- Brad Eitniear (B4U), Defiance, Ohio, no time