Clanton thrills Georgia crowd with Rome victory
By James EssexLucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
ROME, Ga. (Oct. 10) — Getting a satisfying victory at one of the tracks where he grew up racing, Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., earned $10,000 Sunday for capturing the Rome Showdown on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
The 35-year-old Clanton took the lead from Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind. on the 26th lap and ran unchallenged the rest of the 50-lapper in front of a big crowd at the northwest Georgia oval. | 2011 schedule | Slideshow | Video
"I went with a little softer left-rear tire than anybody else," Clanton said. "O'Neal was strong early on, but once we were able to get some heat in the tire we were able to catch him and get by him," Clanton said. "I have to give a big thanks to (former Dirt Track World Champion) Marshall Green for this win. He came over before the feature and changed some things on the car. He has a lot of laps here, and the changes he made are why we are here in victory lane. ...
"It's good to get a win here in front of the home-state crowd."
Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., finished second in the Lucas Oil Series finale followed by Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., and O'Neal. Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., who clinched his second straight Lucas Oil championship a night earlier with a victory at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga., was seventh.
O'Neal and Francis started on the front row with O'Neal quickly taking command as Francis slipped back to fourth at the outset. O'Neal dominated early in the race, holding a six-length advantage on the fourth-starting Clanton.
Clanton slowly drew closer to O'Neal after 20 laps, and pulled alongside for a near-dead heat at the halfway point of the race. Clanton edged ahead on lap 26 and began pulling away while Madden dropped O'Neal to third on lap 34.
Three cautions over the last 14 laps slowed the action, but Clanton stayed in control to grab his third career Lucas Oil victory.
Notes: Clanton's Ronnie Dobbins-owned Rocket Chassis is powered by a Malcuit Race Engine and sponsored by RSD Enterprises, SAE Parts, VP and Allstar Performance. ... Clanton gives the series 13 winners for the 2010 season. ... Third-place finisher Steve Francis was making his second start in a new Barry Wright Race Car. ... Fourth-place finisher Brady Smith was making his Rome debut. ... Five cautions slowed the action for Chris Wall (lap 4), Bub McCool (lap 32), Ray Cook (laps 36 and 48) and Earl Pearson Jr. (lap 43). ... John Blankenship earned PBM-Erson Cams Hard Charger honors with his 23rd-to-12th run. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature: Clint Smith, Tommy Kerr, Casey Roberts, Frank Ingram, Tony Knowles, Scott Creel and Mike Collins. ... The postseason series banquet is scheduled for Nov. 20 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. ... Champion Scott Bloomquist will pick up $75,000 for his title while Chris Wall of Springfield, La., will collected his Quarter Master Rookie of the Year honors worth $10,000.
Rome Showdown: (1) Shane Clanton, (2) Chris Madden, (3) Steve Francis, (4) Brady Smith, (5) Don O'Neal, (6) Josh Richards, (7) Scott Bloomquist, (8) Jimmy Owens, (9) Dan Schlieper, (10) Steve Casebolt, (11) Jonathan Davenport, (12) John Blankenship, (13) Randy Weaver, (14) David Payne, (15) Brad Neat, (16) Eric Wells, (17) Tim Isenberg, (18) Chris Wall, (19) Ray Cook, (20) Earl Pearson Jr., (21) Aaron Ridley, (22) Dale McDowell, (23) Bub McCool, (24) Shannon Babb. Fast qualifier (among 47 cars): O'Neal, 13.327 seconds. Heat race winners: O'Neal, Madden, Francis, Clanton. Consolation winners: Wells, Cook. Provisional starters: Blankenship, Neat.