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Knoxville Raceway

Blog-style updates of Knoxville opener

September 29, 2011, 6:30 pm
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor
Scott Bloomquist talks about his quick qualifying lap. (Barry Johnson)
Scott Bloomquist talks about his quick qualifying lap. (Barry Johnson)

KNOXVILLE, Ill. (Sept. 29) — Jimmy Owens, pulling away after a side-by-side mid-race duel with early leader Darrell Lanigan, captured the 25-lap semifeature on the opening night of the eighth annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals.

The fourth-starting Owens earned $7,000 for the victory as he pulled away to win by more than a straightaway at the half-mile sprint-car stronghold. | Complete Knoxville coverage

The low-running Lanigan, who started outside the front row, held off sixth-starting Austin Hubbard to get second while Brian Birkhofer was just behind in fourth.

Two cautions slowed the action. The first appeared on the seventh lap when third-running Steve Francis slowed on the frontstretch. Jason Rauen spun back in the pack for a lap-13 yellow.

Brian Shirley never took the green flag when he lost a driveshaft during parade laps.

Thursday's semifeature: (1) Jimmy Owens, (2) Darrell Lanigan, (3) Austin Hubbard, (4) Brian Birkhofer, (5) Shannon Babb, (6) Scott James, (7) Billy Moyer, (8) Will Vaught, (9) Scott Bloomquist, (10) Dale McDowell, (11) Chris Simpson, (12) Tyler Reddick, (13) Chad Simpson, (14) Tim McCreadie, (15) Jimmy Mars, (16) Jason Feger, (17) Brad Neat, (18) John Blankenship, (19) Jared Landers, (20) Dan Schlieper, (21) Jason Rauen, (22) Eric Wells, (23) Steve Francis, (24) Brian Shirley. Fast qualifier (among 64 cars): Bloomquist, 17.335 seconds. Heat race winners: Bloomquist, Birkhofer, Hubbard, Francis, Mars. C-main winner: Chris Spieker. B-main winner: Feger.

Blog-style reports of Thursday's action:

Consolation race finishes

B-main: Jason Feger, Tim McCreadie, Tyler Reddick, Jared Landers, Kent Robinson, Rob Moss, Earl Pearson Jr., Andy Eckrich, Frank Heckenast Jr., John Duty, Jeremiah Hurst, Brian Harris, Chris Spieker, Kerry Hansen, Jack Sullivan, Tyler Bruening, Rich Bell, Charlie McKenna, Dave Eckrich, Jill George, Brady Smith, Ray Cook, Paul Glendenning, Denny Eckrich.

C-main: Chris Spieker, Jack Sullivan, Ray Cook, Dave Eckrich, Mike Fryer, Darrel DeFrance, Tim Lance, Al Humphrey, Kevin Sather, Mike Wallace, Billy Myer Jr., Scott Lewis, Jay Johnson, Alonzo Gross, Nick Marolf, Junior Coover, Curt Schroeder, Chad Chenoweth.

Mid-event notes

Chad Simpson starts on the pole of the main event (lineup at upper right); the feature has an eight-car inversion based on qualifying times, putting fast qualifier Scott Bloomquist outside the fourth row. ... Among drivers done for the night (and working on banged-up cars) are those in the second-heat skirmish in turn two: Bub McCool, Mike Marlar, Steve Casebolt and Matt Furman. ... Don O'Neal also scratched from the C-Main after damaging the right-front of his car in a tangle with Jason Feger in the fifth heat. ... Jason Utter, who got into the outside guardrail hard after losing the lead to Jimmy Mars in the fifth heat, is gingerly holding his right arm; he hopes it's only bruised and not broken (listen to audio above). ... Brian Birkhofer was working on his carburetor after his heat race victory, which puts him starting in the fourth row of the main event. "I'm just making sure it's got enough gas for this big half-mile," Birkhofer cracked. Said fellow driver John Blankenship, eavesdropping from behind: "It looked like it had plenty of power to me." ... Chris Simpson, runner-up in the first heat, is using a rear end borrowed from fellow Longhorn Chassis driver Brad Neat after finding problems with his car earlier this afternoon (listen to audio above). ... Chris Spieker won the C-main and transfers to the rear of the B-main. ... Jason Feger won the B-main to lead four transferrees to the main event.

Fifth heat

Fourth-starting Jimmy Mars overtook front-row starter Jason Utter on the eighth lap, and Utter's race came to an abrupt end when he got into the guardrail between turns one and two to bring out a red flag. Mars held on the final four laps with seventh-starting Dale McDowell and ninth-starting Darrell Lanigan hot on his heels. McDowell turned back Lanigan's high-side charge while Jason Rauen was further back for the final transfer spot.

Finish: Jimmy Mars, Dale McDowell, Darrell Lanigan, Jason Rauen, Jason Feger, Earl Pearson Jr., Jill George, Tyler Bruening, Darrel DeFrance, Junior Coover, Jason Utter, Don O'Neal.

Fourth heat

Becoming the third driver to overcome the 10-car inversion, Steve Francis rallied to cut down John Blankenship's straightaway lead for a late-race pass in the fourth 12-lapper. Blankenship, who started fourth and took the early lead from Dan Schlieper, was second with eighth-starting Brian Shirley rallying into third. Schlieper got the final transfer spot while Brady Smith, who held the fourth spot for several laps, nearly got sideways in turn four on the eighth lap to lose a position, and then lost the fifth spot to Rob Moss at the checkers.

Finish: Steve Francis, John Blankenship, Brian Shirley, Dan Schlieper, Rob Moss, Brady Smith, Kerry Hansen, Andy Eckrich, Jay Johnson, Dave Eckrich, Scott Lewis, Ray Cook, Mike Wallace.

Third heat

Tenth-starting Austin Hubbard rallied for a last-lap pass of Billy Moyer to win the third prelim. The fifth-starting Moyer overtook fellow third-row starter Kent Robinson on the fourth lap and led until Hubbard charged past on the backstretch on the final lap. Robinson jumped into the lead on the first lap, slipping past Jack Sullivan at the start-finish line, but he and Sullivan faded midway through the race. Hubbard took the second spot from Scott James on the seventh lap and tracked down Moyer while James and Jimmy Owens wrapped up the final transfer spots in the caution-free prelim.

Finish: Austin Hubbard, Billy Moyer, Scott James, Jimmy Owens, Tyler Reddick, Kent Robinson, Jeremiah Hurst, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jack Sullivan, Nick Marolf, Mike Fryer, Alonzo Grosse.

Second heat

Brian Birkhofer, scheduled to start 10th, took advantage of a better starting spot after a first-lap wreck and blitzed into the lead on the first lap, building a full straightaway advantage before the halfway mark and cruising to an easy 12-lap victory. Will Vaught took second from Shannon Babb on the seventh lap and got the runner-up spot while Babb and Eric Wells (who inherited the pole) got the other two transfer spots. A red flag appeared on the initial start when a scamble on the first lap exiting turn two involved more than half the field as McCool got sideways. McCool was knocked out of the race while polesitter John Duty and Steve Casebolt had to restart on the rear.

Finish: Brian Birkhofer, Will Vaught, Shannon Babb, Eric Wells, Charlie McKenna, Rich Bell, John Duty, Paul Glendenning, Curt Schroeder, Steve Casebolt, Bub McCool, Matt Furman, Mike Marlar.

First heat

Fast qualifier Scott Bloomquist overcame the 10-car inversion, outrunning home-state brothers Chris and Chad Simpson for a victory in the ifrst heat. Also transferring to the main event was Brad Neat in fourth while Jared Landers in fifth will go to the B-main. Bloomquist took the lead from Chris Simpson on the 10th of 12 laps. Poleisitter Chris Spieker got into the wall on the second lap and was scored last.

Finish: Scott Bloomquist, Chris Simpson, Chad Simpson, Brad Neat, Jared Landers, Tim McCreadie, Denny Eckrich, Brian Harris, Kevin Sather, Tim Lance, Al Humphrey, Chad Chenoweth, Chris Spieker.

Qualifying

Scott Bloomquist, gunning for a record fifth straight Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory, topped 64 qualifiers Thursday at Knoxville Raceway on the opening night of the three-night Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals.

Bloomquist toured the half-mile sprint car stronghold in 17.335 seconds to set fast time on the first of two qualifying nights. Thursday and Friday's complete programs (paying $7,000 to semifeature winners) help drivers accrue points to set up the lineup for Saturday's $40,000-to-win main event.

With the 10-car inversion for heat races, Chris Spieker, John Duty, Jeremiah Hurst, Kerry Hansen and Jill George are scheduled to start on the pole.

Sixty-four teams signed in for the event that's being sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series for the first time since 2006.

The event follows a unique format with two complete programs which allows drivers to accrue points that will set the starting lineup for Saturday's main event.

Pre-race notes

The track is doing live video of tonight's racing. ... Time trials started about 7:45 p.m. ... Hot laps were scheduled for 6:45 p.m. but got started about a half-hour late to complete track prep. ... It was a blustery but clear afternoon across Iowa. The winds began to die down as action got rolling. ... Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., who scored an unprecedented sweep of all three races last year, comes to his native state fresh off a $20,011 victory in last weekend's Magnolia State 100 at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway. ... With Josh Richards having duties on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this weekend at Kentucky Speedway, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., is piloting the Rocket Chassis house car, which is sporting black sheetmetal. It's a new car. ... Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., is piloting the Illinois-based Moring Motorsports car, which has yellow sidepanels instead of white as it's carried since O'Neal began driving the car part time in the spring of 2010. ... Brian Harris of Davenport, Iowa, is driving the No. 27H Diercks Motorsports car that Darren Miller entered in this event last season. ... This marks the third time in the race's eight-year history its been sanctioned. It was sanctioned by the Xtreme DirtCar Series in 2004 and the Lucas Oil Series in 2006. ... Jason Feger and Tim Lance were among drivers not pre-entered who are on hand. The event limits the field to 66 cars and rejected entries until it was clear there'd be room for last-minute additions. ... Programs are Late Models-only the first two nights; modifieds run as a support class Saturday.

Thursday's time trials (unofficial)

Driver (car no.), hometown, time

Scott Bloomquist, (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 17.335
Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa, 17.429
Austin Hubbard (19), Seaford, Del., 17.511
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 17.57
Don O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 17.609
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 17.622
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 17.625
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 17.795
Andy Eckrich (56), Iowa City, Iowa, 17.818
Darrell Lanigan (1), Union, Ky., 17.818
Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 17.859
Mike Marlar (5B), Winfield, Tenn., 17.905
Scott James (81), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 17.942
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 17.946
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 18.025
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 18.027
Will Vaught (1), Crane, Mo., 18.027
Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 18.045
Rob Moss (1m), Iowa City, Iowa, 18.049
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 18.073
Brian Harris (27H), Davenport, Iowa, 18.082
Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 18.108
Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., 18.126
Dave Eckrich (58), Oxford, Iowa, 18.150
Jason Rauen (98), Farley, Iowa, 18.190
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 18.202
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 18.202
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 18.249
Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 18.318
Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 18.328
Denny Eckrich (50), Tiffin, Iowa, 18.337
Matt Furman (51), Iowa City, Iowa, 18.361
Jack Sullivan (1), Greenbrier, Ark., 18.397
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 18.418
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 18.433
Brad Neat (41), Dunnville, Ky., 18.445
Bub McCool (57j), Vicksburg, Miss., 18.455
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 18.478
Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 18.492
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 18.498
Kevin Sather (3), Ankeny, owa, 18.561
Charlie McKenna (22m), Clear Lake, Iowa, 18.568
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 18.613
Dan Schlieper (9), Oak Creek, Wis., 18.625
Jason Utter (31), Columbus Junction, Iowa, 18.697
Chris Speiker (56x), Massena, Iowa, 18.734
John Duty (5), Portland, Ore., 18.737
Jeremiah Hurst (15H), Dubuque, Iowa, 18.823
Kerry Hansen (25), Spencer, Wis., 18.833
Jill George (22), Cedar Falls, Iowa, 18.835
Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 19.006
Paul Glendenning (33G), Mount Ayr, Iowa, 19.050
Mike Fryer (5m), Freeport, Ill., 19.116
Alonzo Grosse (44zo), Council Bluffs, Iowa, 19.134
Mike Wallace (8), Carter Lake, Iowa, 19.150
Darrel DeFrance (99D), Marshalltown, Iowa, 19.235
Al Humphrey (6), Giltner, Neb., 19.238
Rich Bell (21B), Sheffield, Ill., 19.307
Scott Lewis (99), Henderson, Colo., 19.338
Junior Coover (10), Norfolk, Neb., 19.404
Chad Chenoweth (7c), Huron, S.D., 19.48
Curt Schroeder (15), Ames, Iowa, 20.277
Nick Marolf (33), Moscow, Iowa, 22.239
Jay Johnson (93), West Burlington, Iowa, no time

Feature lineup

Row 1: Chad Simpson, Lanigan
Row 2: Owens, Babb
Row 3: Francis, Hubbard
Row 4: Birkhofer, Bloomquist
Row 5: James, Shirley
Row 6: Vaught, McDowell
Row 7: Rauen, Chris Simpson
Row 8: Wells, Moyer
Row 9: Blankenship, Mars
Row 10: Neat, Schlieper
Row 11: Feger, McCreadie
Row 12: Reddick, Landers

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