East Bay Raceway Park
Feb. 9: Red-hot Moyer grabs 3rd win in 4 races
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com chief writer
GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 9) — Talk about coming alive on a restart. Bolting from sixth to first over a four-lap stretch, Hall of Famer Billy Moyer took command of East Bay Raceway Park's Dart Winternationals finale on the 31st lap and roared to a dominating victory. The Batesville, Ark., driver earned $12,000 for the 75-lap Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory, his third in six events at the third-mile oval south of Tampa. | Slideshow
The victory, the 50-year-old driver's third in the last four nights, also boosted his career lead in touring victories at East Bay to 18, six more than his closest pursuer.
Three-time Lucas Oil champion Earl Pearson Jr., who started 23rd, tried to make a challenge after taking second from Casey with five laps remaining, but Moyer — who appeared to slow somewhat with seven laps to go — held on to win by a half-straightaway margin after leading by as much as a quarter-track margin in the race's middle stages. Pearson was second with Casey, Steve Francis and Shannon Babb rounding out the top five.
"It was anything but pretty there at the beginning, but we sort of set up there for the late run," said Moyer, the first driver since Jimmy Mars in 2004 to win more than two races during a Winternationals.
In addition to his race winnings, Moyer topped the Dart Winternationals points to earn an additional $7,500 out of $30,000 in cash and awards. Moyer was tied with Matt Miller entering Saturday's race.
Casey started outside the front row and pulled out to a comfortable lead before a lap-five caution bunched the field. On the restart, Francis started working the high groove and swept around Casey to take over on the ninth lap.
But Casey, Thursday night's winner, kept plugging away in the low groove and was right on Francis as the frontrunners, including third-running polesitter Josh Richards, entered lapped traffic.
Francis slipped high out of turn four on the 19th lap and Casey moved underneath to go back ahead as Francis and Richards began swapping the second spot. But a lap-27 caution when Dan Schlieper slowed in turn four was the turning point of the race for Moyer, who to that point was battling Miller for the fifth spot.
Moyer roared into contention on the restart, grabbing third behind Casey and Francis on lap 28 as a three-wide battle developed for the lead with Casey low, Moyer in the middle and Francis high. For three laps the trio battled with Moyer finally squeezing through the middle and taking command on the 31st lap.
"That's where I like to run. I like my middle groove like that," Moyer said in victory lane. "The car was just coming in right then and I was biding my time there a little bit at the beginning."
Again after a lap-34 caution, Moyer quickly sprinted away to a huge lead while Francis, Richards and Casey tried futilely to keep up. The 50-year-old driver held a quarter-track lead by the 45th lap as Pearson, up to sixth, was making his way into contention.
With Moyer cruising with 20 laps remaining, Casey began showing a little life and worked his way back into the second ahead of Francis while Richards began to fade. At the 60th lap, Pearson was up to third while Brady Smith also moved into the top five.
With 10 laps remaining, Moyer's quarter-track margin began shortening and he appeared to falter slightly as Casey began reeling in the leader. But when Casey faced a challenge from Pearson, his pursuers began battling and Moyer was able to steady himself and prevent Pearson from making a last-ditch charge.
"We were waiting there for when the fat lady sings," Moyer said, "and everything worked out for us."
Scott Bloomquist was among the drivers failing to make the feature field. The Hall of Famer's car barrel-rolled in turn-three scramble on the first lap of the second heat race, but wasn't injured.
Finish: (1) Billy Moyer, (2) Earl Pearson Jr., (3) Terry Casey, (4) Steve Francis, (5) Shannon Babb, (6) Brian Shirley, (7) Josh Richards, (8) Matt Miller, (9) Brady Smith, (10) Terry English, (11) Tim Dohm, (12) Steve Casebolt, (13) Tim Fuller, (14) Eric Jacobsen, (15) Clint Smith, (16) Scott James, (17) Justin Rattliff, (18) Donnie Moran, (19) Mike Marlar, (20) Eddie Carrier Jr., (21) Wayne Chinn, (22) Chuck Harper, (23) Jeep Van Wormer, (24) Dan Schlieper, (25) Josh McGuire.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Don O'Neal was the last driver before Moyer to win more than two Winternationals races in a single year. Jimmy Mars won three in 2004.
The night's preliminaries with corrected and official finishes:
After a difficult week, Josh McGuire led all the way in the Strawberry Dash to grab the final transfer spot in the main event. Darren Miller rallied from sixth to second but never could challenge McGuire, who missed the first night with engine problems and struggled four other nights. Polesitter Keith Nosbisch got banged around in a first-lap collision with Steve Shaver, then departed with a flat tire midway through the race.
Finish: (1) Josh McGuire, (2) Darren Miller, (3) John Mason, (4) Damon Eller, (5) Chris Hackett.
Polesitter Brady Smith fought off an early challenge from second-row starter Steve Shaver and pulled away for a victory. Shaver blitzed Smith and front-row starter Dan Stone on the first lap to edge ahead, but Smith maintained momentum in the high groove to turn back Shaver's charge. Shaver got out of shape exiting turn two on the third lap and lost ground, falling to third behind Ray Cook. Shaver regained second from Cook at the halfway point and tried to reel in Smith, but he fell 12 lengths short.
Finish: (1) Brady Smith, (2) Steve Shaver, (3) Ray Cook, (4) Wendell Wallace, (5) Josh McGuire, (6) Rohn Moon, (7) Billy Faust, (8) Keith Nosbisch, (9) Ky Harper, (10) Mark Andersen, (11) Bob Geiger, (12) Dan Stone, (13) Joe Denby.
Polesitter Dan Schlieper won a lead-swapping duel with Chris Wall midway through the race and went on to victory. Wall was in control through the first half of the race, but Schlieper's lap-seven slide job between turns three and four gave him the lead. Wall pulled back alongside heading down the frontstretch, but Schlieper was able to edge ahead and take command for good down the backstretch. Wall stayed close until the final lap. McCreadie finished third and Scott James, due for a provisional starting spot, fourth.
Finish: (1) Dan Schlieper, (2) Chris Wall, (3) Tim McCreadie, (4) Scott James, (5) Darren Miller, (6) Dennis Erb Jr., (7) Chris Madden, (8) Billy Decker, (9) Damon Eller, (10) Donald Beyers, (11) D.J. Wells, (12) Jackie Boggs.
Starting outside the front row, Wayne Chinn led all the way despite racing with a broken left-front suspension over the final laps. Fellow Ohio driver Bart Hartman took a shot at Chinn on a restart with three laps to go, but Chinn held on to transfer to the feature. Hartman was second and Vic Coffey a distant third. The lap-nine caution appeared when Clint Coffman and Marshall Austin Jr. got together on the frontstretch. Austin pulled to the infield but Coffman did a 360-degree spin, continued but then pulled to a stop.
Finish: (1) Wayne Chinn, (2) Bart Hartman, (3) Vic Coffey, (4) Freddy Smith, (5) Rodney Melvin, (6) Rick Eckert, (7) John Mason, (8) Bryan Barber, (9) John Blankenship, (10) Tyler Ivey, (11) Jimmy Owens, (12) Clint Coffman, (13) Marshall Austin Jr., (14) Peyton Taylor.
Steve Casebolt outdueled fellow front-row starter Bryan Collins early in the race and pulled away for a 12-lap victory. Don O'Neal, starting deep in the field, rallied to finish second ahead of Collins and Earl Pearson Jr.
Finish: (1) Steve Casebolt, (2) Don O'Neal, (3) Bryan Collins, (4) Earl Pearson Jr., (5) Tyler Boggs, (6) Billy Drake, (7) Rick Aukland, (8) Jason McBride, (9) Eric Wells, (10) Shane Clanton, (11) Chris Hackett, (12) Jeff Beyers, (13) Dave Tyrchniewicz, (14) Austin Hubbard.
Terry Casey outran Shannon Babb for another heat race victory at East Bay. He won by a half-straightaway while Babb was a full straightaway ahead of third-row starter Eddie Carrier Jr., who finished third. Chris Wall was fourth and Steve Shaver fifth in the final heat race. Billy Faust started on the second row but dropped back quickly and finished seventh. The only caution appeared on the second lap when Doug Horton stopped in turn two.
Finish: (1) Terry Casey, (2) Shannon Babb, (3) Eddie Carrier Jr., (4) Chris Wall, (5) Steve Shaver, (6) Scott James, (7) Billy Faust, (8) Dennis Erb Jr., (9) Keith Nosbisch, (10) Butch McGill, (11) Mark Andersen, (12) Doug Horton.
Polesitter Josh Richards, the overall fast qualifier, jumped out to an early lead and rolled to a heat race victory for the fourth night in a row. Fourth-starting Mike Marlar took the second spot from Donnie Moran with an inside move at the halfway point and finished second. Moran fought off sixth-starting Darren Miller and secured the third and final transfer spot, while third-starting Brady Smith — who dropped back early after a poor start — took fourth from Miller on the last lap. Jackie Boggs spun in turn four on the eighth lap to draw the race's only caution, but Richards pulled away from Marlar on the restart.
Finish: (1) Josh Richards, (2) Mike Marlar, (3) Donnie Moran, (4) Brady Smith, (5) Darren Miller, (6) Freddy Smith, (7) Chris Madden, (8) Rohn Moon, (9) Billy Decker, (10) Bob Geiger, (11) Jackie Boggs, (12) Wendell Wallace, (13) D.J. Wells.
Two-time feature winner Billy Moyer outran polesitter Tim Fuller to put himself in a position for his third victory of the week. Fuller finished six lengths behind in second while Tim Dohm, competing after putting a new engine in his No. 6T, was third. Sixth-starting Dan Schlieper nosed his way into early battles for the third spot, but ended up fourth ahead of Dan Stone and Tim McCreadie. Donald Beyers and Ky Harper got together in turn four on the seventh lap to bring out the race's third caution. Joe Denby and Tony Knowles also spun in early separate incidents to draw cautions.
Finish: (1) Billy Moyer, (2) Tim Fuller, (3) Tim Dohm, (4) Dan Schlieper, (5) Dan Stone, (6) Tim McCreadie, (7) Ray Cook, (8) Damon Eller, (9) Joe Denby, (10) Donald Beyers, (11) Ky Harper, (12) Tony Knowles. Scratch: Jared Hawkins, Josh McGuire
Polesitter Chuck Harper pulled away from the outset for his first heat race victory of the week. Earl Pearson Jr. held the second spot the first three laps, but then appeared to struggle as first Terry English and then Justin Rattliff went past by the halfway point. English and Rattliff held on to their transfer spots while Pearson faded to sixth behind Steve Casebolt and Vic Coffey. Rattliff, scheduled to start on the front row, was penalized for jumping a start back to the second row.
Finish: (1) Chuck Harper, (2) Terry English, (3) Justin Rattliff, (4) Steve Casebolt, (5) Vic Coffey, (6) Earl Pearson Jr., (7) John Mason, (8) Billy Drake, (9) Rodney Melvin, (10) Kurt Owens, (11) Peyton Taylor, (12) Dave Tyrchniewicz, (13) Kellen Chadwick.
Polesitter Matt Miller, rebounding after his car's broken rear end knocked him out of Friday night's feature while he was running second, blazed to a victory in the second heat, which was marred by a barrel-roll by Scott Bloomquist in turn three on the first lap. The Hall of Fame driver, going onto his lid for the first time in his career, wasn't injured. Brian Shirley, who fought off mid-race challenges from Don O'Neal, grabbed the second spot for his first feature of the week and Eric Jacobsen, scheduled for the front row but docked a spot for jumping a start, was third. Tyler Ivey, part of the first-lap scramble involving Bloomquist, finished a strong fourth just behind Jacobsen. O'Neal pulled pitside on the sixth lap after slowing, then showing smoke from his No. 71. The red flag appeared on the first lap when Bloomquist barrel-rolled in a turn-three scramble. Out-of-shape cars on the first lap triggered collisions in turn three, and Bloomquist's right-side wheels dug into the track and he rolled two and half times. He emerged apparently unhurt and fired his car up to pull off the track to cheers from the crowd.
Finish: (1) Matt Miller, (2) Brian Shirley, (3) Eric Jacobsen, (4) Tyler Ivey, (5) Rick Aukland, (6) Freddy Smith, (7) Eric Wells, (8) Marshall Austin Jr., (9) Don O'Neal, (10) Clint Coffman, (11) Austin Hubbard, (12) Jimmy Owens, (13) Scott Bloomquist.
Polesitter Steve Francis rolled to an easy victory in the opening 10-lapper. Finishing second and securing his first feature transfer spot of the week was third-starting Jeep Van Wormer, while front-row starter Clint Smith took third. Bryan Collins made a few stabs at Smith in the second half of the race, but settled for fourth ahead of Wayne Chinn, who made a last-lap pass of Tyler Boggs. Bart Hartman, Rick Eckert and Shane Clanton were among standouts finished far out of contention. A lap-five caution appeared for John Blankenship, who finished fifth in Friday's feature.
Finish: (1) Steve Francis, (2) Jeep Van Wormer, (3) Clint Smith, (4) Bryan Collins, (5) Wayne Chinn, (6) Tyler Boggs, (7) Bart Hartman, (8) Chris Hackett, (9) Bryan Barber, (10) Jason McBride, (11) Rick Eckert, (12) Shane Clanton, (13) John Blankenship, (14) Jeff Beyers.
Josh Richards has gotten plenty comfortable after a week of racing in the Ernie Davis-owned No. 25. The 19-year-old driver from Shinnston, W.Va., dubbed Kid Rocket was fast enough in the Rocket Chassis to set fast time among 80 qualifiers in Saturday's finale at East Bay Raceway Park's Dart Winternationals.
"This car's been good all week," said Richards, whose fast lap was 14.418 seconds, "and it just keeps getting faster." Richards, who normally drives the No. 1 Rocket Chassis house car, said he plans to run 20 or so races in the No. 25 Davis car along with 80 in his regular ride. Richards won an Independent Racing Series event in the Davis car last season at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway.
Other fast qualifiers in group qualifying at the third-mile oval near Tampa: Steve Francis (14.793) of Ashland, Ky.; Chuck Harper (14.541) of Beverly, W.Va.; Tim Fuller (14.488) of Edwards, N.Y.; Shannon Babb (14.501) of Moweaqua, Ill.; and Tuesday's winner Matt Miller (14.567) of Whitehouse, Ohio. Richards spun a "1" on the PRC wheel, meaning there'll be no inversion for the heat races. The top qualifiers in each group will start on the pole of the heat races. The top three finishers from each of six heat races will transfer to the feature event. The winner from each of four consolation races will also transfer. Two provisionals and the winner of the non-qualifiers' race will fill the 25-car field.
Among the 80 entries, Tim Fuller's teammate Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y., is the only newcomer. ... Saturday's race is the third Lucas Oil points race of the week, but the three races together combine to count the same as a single regular season event. ... The next Lucas Oil event is scheduled for March 29 at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway, the $10,000-to-win Indiana Icebreaker. ... Drivers who competed Friday night not in attendance Saturday: New York teammates Danny Johnson and Joe Isabell; Illinois teammates Kevin Cole, Scott Riggs and Jason Riggs; Ronnie Lee Whitt of Grayson, Ky.; Doug Blashe of Marion, Wis.; and a pair of Michigan drivers traveling together, Jim Borden and J.R. Hotovy. ... Vic Coffey is back in his own No. 32c after driving teammate Tim McCreadie's backup car on Friday night. ... Tim Dohm is back in his own No. 6T after driving a T&R Logging car on Friday. Dohm, who damaged two engines earlier in the week, dropped a new Vic Hill engine into his car.
Terry Casey (42), New London, Wis., 14.509
Billy Faust (92B), Lebanon, Ill., 14.717
Chris Wall (71), Holden, La., 14.739
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 17.317
Correction: Terry Casey's qualifying time was incorrect in an earlier version of this story. His time was 14.509.