East Bay Raceway Park
Moyer vs. Richards? Mr. East Bay Past triumphs
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com chief writer
GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 3) — In Wednesday's Dart Winternationals feature, it was Josh Richards vs. Billy Moyer. The driver formerly known as Kid Rocket vs. the veteran known as Mr. Smooth. Mr. East Bay Present vs. Mr. East Bay Past.
"He's half of my age, or less than that even, I'm thinking to myself out there as we're racing along," Moyer said of the 30-lap showdown. "It's definitely the old guy here and the young guy." | Slideshow | Complete East Bay coverage
Score one for the old guys.
Proving that the Mr. East Bay Past label might be a little premature, Moyer outdueled Richards over the final six laps in dramatic showdown on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at East Bay Raceway Park for his all-time leading 20th career Winternationals victory and fifth in three seasons.
The 52-year-old Moyer, who led three of the last six laps including the final two, earned $5,000 for outgunning a 22-year-old Richards, who plans to spend the rest of the week in ARCA action at Daytona International Speedway.
"Josh done a heckuva job. ... if (he) could hit it just right, a couple of times he could drive off from me," the polesitting Moyer said, knowing Richards made headlines last year with three East Bay victories in a 24-hour stretch. "He's got a bright future ahead of him for sure. I'm sure he'll get his share of them."
Richards, who started outside the front row and led the first 24 laps, enjoyed the battle with one of Dirt Late Model racing's biggest stars, a duel that drew cheers from a big midweek crowd at the third-mile oval near Tampa.
"He's won a lot of races here, a lot longer than what I've been coming here," Richards said. "It's cool to race with him. We've always had success here at East Bay, but to come that close, we finished second, but we just got beat and it was just good hard racing."
The fourth-starting Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., wore out his soft-compound tires early in the race and settled for third, although his high groove worked good enough to briefly drop Moyer to third after a lap-17 restart. Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., was fourth for his first top-five finish at East Bay since '08 and third-starting Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., rounded out the top five.
Richards, driving the Ernie Davis-owned No. 25 he piloted to three East Bay victories last season, took command early but never got comfortable as Moyer stalked him throughout the race while struggling to get a handle on his No. 21.
"When this place gets to where your front wheels quit working, it just gets so hard to steer in," Moyer said. "At times, (Richards) was doing a heckuva job and I didn't know if I had anything for him or not. I was kind of wiggling around there and drove a little bit different. The tires are so funny here, you don't know what they'll do ... so I was just trying to do what they wanted, and it all turned out. It was a heckuva race for the people, that's for sure."
When Moyer regained second from Babb, the final 10 laps were tight all the way with Moyer edging ahead to lead a single lap before Richards went back out front. But with the white flag waving, Moyer slipped back underneath Richards, then held off a last-gasp effort by sliding high in front of Richards exiting turn four with the checkers in sight.
When Moyer reached victory lane, announcer James Essex told Moyer something many of the Batesville, Ark., driver's fans would like to say: "Please don't retire."
"It's getting closer than people think," Moyer replied, "but nights like tonight make it all worth it."
Before he hangs it up, he'd like to match his car number on the East Bay victories list.
"I hope we got one more left in us and we can get to 21 here."
The race was slowed by a four cautions, the most serious on the initial start when sixth-starting Chris Wall lost control in turn two after making contact with O'Neal, causing a scramble that collected Justin Rattliff and several others. Rattliff slowed alone to draw a lap-seven yellow and Brandon Thirlby lost a wheel in turn two midway through the race. The final caution waved on lap 17 for Tim Isenberg's spin inside turns one and two.
The Winternationals continue Thursday with the fourth of six events and the first $10,000-to-win feature of the week.
Notes: Moyer's Victory Circle Chassis was powered by a Cornett-built Ford and sponsored by L&D Trucking, Banner Valley Hauling and Henderson Motorsports. ... Steve Francis drove Chad Stapleton's No. 32 in the main event, giving up the ninth starting spot to start on the tail. ... The race was briefly delayed as officials tried to repair the turn-one gate damaged by Terry Casey's Strawberry Dash accident. The track ended up putting a bomber-type pack car behind the gate in case it was struck again.
Lucas Oil @ East Bay: (1) Billy Moyer, (2) Josh Richards, (3) Shannon Babb, (4) Don O'Neal, (5) Jimmy Owens, (6) Tim Dohm, (7) Matt Miller, (8) Dennis Erb Jr., (9) Earl Pearson Jr., (10) Tim McCreadie, (11) Eric Jacobsen, (12) Steve Francis, (13) Bub McCool, (14) Brady Smith, (15) Tim Isenberg, (16) Austin Hubbard, (17) John Blankenship, (18) Jason Feger, (19) Steve Casebolt, (20) Jason McBride, (21) Dillan White, (22) Tyler Reddick, (23) Brandon Thirlby, (24) Justin Rattliff, (25) Eric Wells, (26) Chris Wall. Fast qualifier (among 49 cars): Moyer, 14.281 seconds. Heat race winners: Moyer, Richards, Owens, Babb. Consolation winners: Casebolt, Pearson. Non-qualifiers' winner: McCool. Provisional starter: Wells.
Outside front-row starter Earl Pearson Jr. led all the way in a race spiced by position-swapping action and problems among drivers in transfer spots. A low-running Dillan White, who started fifth, finished second while Tim Isenberg went from fifth to third on the ninth lap and held that position the rest of the way. Tyler Reddick inherited the fourth and final transfer spot, finding himself in that position the last two laps after Mike Marlar and Kyle Berck tangled in turn one while battling on lap 10. Two other contenders had inglorious endings on the seventh lap. Second-running Steve Shaver lost power amid smoke in turn two and fourth-running Ray Cook, the Winternationals points leader, broke in turn four seconds later. The first caution appeared on the fourth lap when Pearson's teammate Brad Neat stopped in turn one to draw a caution, erasing Pearson's early lead.
Finish: Earl Pearson Jr., Dillan White, Tim Isenberg, Tyler Reddick, Chad Stapleton, Mark Andersen, Jim O'Hara, Mike Marlar.
Fourth-starting Steve Casebolt overtook polesitter Austin Hubbard after a mid-race restart and raced to a 12-lap victory. Hubbard slipped back to third before regaining second from Jason Feger and nearly overtaking Casebolt at the checkers. Feger got the third transfer spot while Brandon Thirlby was fourth to qualify for his second straight East Bay feature. Terry Casey ran second or third most of the way, but spun in turn four on the sixth lap to draw and caution and then limped to the pits. Two other yellows slowed the action. Leon Henderson and Travis Varnadore spun together in turn four on the ninth lap. On the first lap, Dan Stone stopped after contact with Varnadore on the backstretch that damaged the nose of Stone's car.
Finish (cars on the track): Steve Casebolt, Austin Hubbard, Jason Feger, Brandon Thirlby, Bub McCool, Doug Blashe, Shan Smith.
Regaining the lead on the eighth lap when Matt Miller stumbled between turns three and four, polesitter Shannon Babb raced to victory in the final 10-lap heat. Miller won a side-by-side duel on the first lap and led Babb most of the race, but nearly lost control as Babb swept past with just over two laps remaining. Sixth-starting Dennis Erb Jr. was third and third-starting Brady Smith was fourth. Monday's winner Mike Marlar dropped out with a flat right-rear on the white-flag lap of the caution-free prelim and Mike Collins pulled off early after contact with Danny Mitchell exiting turn four.
Finish: Shannon Babb, Matt Miller, Dennis Erb Jr., Brady Smith, Earl Pearson Jr., Ray Cook, Kyle Berck, Chad Stapleton, Danny Mitchell, Mark Andersen, Mike Marlar, Mike Collins.
Outside front-row starter Josh Richards got the jump on Chris Wall and raced to victory at the third-mile oval. Third-starting Tim McCreadie lost a spot to Jason McBride midway through the race but regained it to finish third. McBride got the fourth and final transfer spot. Steve Shaver, who started 10th, took a stab at McBride in turns three and four on the final lap but settled for fifth and a pole position in a consolation race. Four cautions appeared, two for Jim O'Hara; he spun in turn one on the first start, then spun inside turn four on the fourth lap. The third yellow was for debris on lap six when the decklid on Dillan White's car came off and the fourth was for Brad Neat's turn-two spin on lap seven.
Finish: Josh Richards, Chris Wall, Tim McCreadie, Jason McBride, Steve Shaver, Tim Isenberg, Dillan White, Brad Neat, Tyler Reddick, Jim O'Hara, Bob Geiger, John Kellum.
Polesitter Jimmy Owens turned back Eric Jacobsen after an early side-by-side duel, fighting him off in a tightly contested 10-lapper. Front-row starter John Blankenship finished third with seventh-starting Tim Dohm got the fourth and final transfer spot. Eric Wells ran fourth the first seven laps, but while battling Dohm on the backstretch, they made contact and Wells got into the wall, breaking his right-front suspension. Fifth-starting Dale McDowell's No. 17m went up in smoke and he pulled to the pits.
Finish: Jimmy Owens, Eric Jacobsen, John Blankenship, Tim Dohm, Terry Casey, Shan Smith, Doug Blashe, Leon Henderson, Eric Wells, Ross Camponovo, Dale McDowell.
In a battle of the all-time three winningest Winternationals drivers, fast qualifier Billy Moyer outran Don O'Neal and Steve Francis as they finished in the same order they're listed on the winner's list. O'Neal pressured Moyer at the halfway point, but Moyer led all the way. Francis, who finished a straightaway behind the top two, nearly lost control in turn four on the last lap but held on ahead of Justin Rattliff. Rattliff got the fourth and final transfer spot, transferring to his first feature of the week without a provisional. Austin Hubbard was a distant fifth. Dan Schlieper was running fourth early when a right-front flat tire forced him pitside.
Finish: Billy Moyer, Don O'Neal, Steve Francis, Justin Rattliff, Austin Hubbard, Steve Casebolt, Jason Feger, Bub McCool, Travis Varnadore, Brandon Thirlby, Chad Hollenbeck, Dan Schlieper (corrects duplicate Casebolt listing).
Rebounding from two sub-par nights, all-time winningest Dart Winternationals driver Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., topped 49 qualifiers Wednesday at East Bay Raceway Park. Moyer posted a lap of 14.281 seconds at the third-mile oval.
"We needed a little shot in the arm there," Moyer said, "so hopefully things will go good for us tonight."
Moyer spun a "2" on the inversion wheel, putting him outside the front row of the first heat race. With the inversion, heat race polesitters should be Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill. Monday's winner Mike Marlar struggled in time trials and will be on the tail of a heat race while Tuesday's winner Scott Bloomquist entered the event but scratched from time trials.
The top four finishers from each of four heat races will transfer to the main event. Four drivers apiece from each of two consolations will transfer along with the winner of the Strawberry Dash (a race for non-qualifiers) and the fastest qualifier not already in the race. The night's feature pays $5,000 to the winner.
With a pair of top-five finishes the first two nights, Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C., leads the Dart Winternationals points over former champ Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill. The week-long championship pays $5,000. ... With rain affecting track conditions the first two nights, Wednesday's weather is dry with sunshine and clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60s. Forecasts are for clear skies and temperatures dipping into the 50s in the evening. ... In Georgia-Florida Speedweeks news from another series, the Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series announced Wednesday afternoon that tires from the Jan. 28-30 winners at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., proved legal after testing by an independent laboratory. Tests on tires from three other drivers will be reported by next week, including one from Earl Pearson Jr., the only driver whose tire failed to pass the on-track test for chemical alteration. ... Newcomers for Wednesday's East Bay action are Pearson, Brad Neat of Dunnville, Ky., Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., Ross Camponovo of Clarksdale, Miss., and nine-time Winternationals winner Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky. ... Francis is driving his self-owned No. 15, although he was scheduled to drive a Tennessee-based Blount Motorsports car later this week as a teammate to Tommy Kerr. ... Jimmy Owens is celebrating his 38th birthday. ... Austin Hubbard's No. 11 let out huge plume of smoke as his hot-lap session concluded Wednesday (the team had already swapped engines this week after breaking a powerplant Monday). In qualifying, he came out in Dale Beitler's No. 19, the car he plans to field on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Time trials were his first officials laps for Maryland-based Beitler, who has fielded cars for standout drivers like Steve Francis, Gary Stuhler and Davey Johnson. ... Josh Richards is wrapping up his East Bay outings with plans to head to Daytona for ARCA action the rest of the week. ... Steve Shaver's team swapped powerplants following last night's race. ... Shannon Babb has switched to the black No. 18 he ran last week at Golden Isles. ... Brad Neat spun in turn four on his first qualifying lap. ... Monday's winner Mike Marlar got into the cushion on both his qualifying laps and will face a tall order to transfer through a heat race. ... In other Speedweeks news, World of Outlaws regular Shane Clanton was released from an Atlanta hospital today after a week-long stay because of an infection triggered by a thumb injury; Clanton plans to compete next week at Volusia Speedway Speedway. ... Best fact of the day from announcer James Essex: Dan Stone's dog is taller than driver Tyler Reddick.
Time trials (unofficial)
- Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 14.281
- John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 14.340
- Don O’Neal (71), Martinsville, ind., 14.378
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 14.446
- Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 14.480
- Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 14.545
- Dan Schlieper (9), Sullivan, Wis., 14.560
- Eric Jacobsen (5), Seacliff Beach, Calif., 14.567
- Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 14.617
- Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 14.644
- Ross Camponovo (18), Clarksdale, Miss., 14.660
- Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 14.684
- Tim Dohm (17T), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 14.685
- Bub McCool (57j), Vicksburg, Miss., 14.736
- Terry Casey (42), New London, Wis., 14.780
- Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 14.812
- Dan Stone (21D), Thompson, Pa., 14.902
- Brandon Thirlby (m14), Traverse City, Mich., 15.037
- Dale McDowell (17m), Rossville, Ga., 15.071
- Doug Blashe (1), Marion, Wis., 15.197
- Travis Varnadore (41), Dover, Fla., 15.296
- Shan Smith (17ss), Dade City, Fla., 15.346
- Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 15.462
- Leon Henderson (10), Laurel, Miss., 15.631
- Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., no time
- Chris Wall (71), Holden, La., 14.319
- Matt Miller (7), Waterville, Ohio, 14.492
- Josh Richards (25), Shinnston, W.Va., 14.509
- Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 14.535
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 14.606
- Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 14.615
- Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 14.678
- Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 14.712
- Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 14.732
- Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 14.741
- Tim Isenberg (9T), Marshfield, Wis., 14.813
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.825
- Dillan White (54), Crofton, Ky., 14.975
- Mike Collins (3), Council Bluffs, Iowa, 15.096
- Brad Neat (41), Dunnville, Ky., 15.140
- Kyle Berck (14), Marquette, Neb., 15.170
- John Kellum (41), Clay Hill, Fla., 15.250
- Chad Stapleton (32), Edinburg, Ind., 15.335
- Steve Shaver (30), Vienna, W.Va., 15.336
- Mark Andersen (85), Blanchard, Mich., 15.339
- Bob Geiger (38), Laurel, Del., 15.568
- Danny Mitchell (18D), Clarksburg, W.Va., 15.568
- Jim O’Hara (44), Moscow, Pa., 15.965
- Mike Marlar (34), Winfield, Tenn., 16.155