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Quick Time: Ohio drama goes down to checkers

May 16, 2012, 8:52 am
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor

Take a quick lap around the proverbial dirt track with managing editor Todd Turner for roundup of Dirt Late Model racing through the latest weekend of action along with some other quirks of racing (and occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, one of the newest features of our website, will appear every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:

Frontstretch: Drivers of the week

National: Sweeping virtually every lap during the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series weekend, Don O’Neal dominated at Hartford (Mich.) Motor Speedway and La Salle (Ill.) Speedway to collect $20,000 and notch his sixth and seventh series victories of the season and put Scott Bloomquist’s record of 15 victories within reach.

Regional: Grabbing a Kennedy Motorsports ULMS victory at Stateline Speedway and a weekly victory at Eriez Speedway, Robbie Blair of Titusville, Pa., got his season into high gear after some rainouts and forgettable outings. Blair held off Boom Briggs at Stateline and outraced Dave Lyon and Mike Knight at Eriez. Honorable mention: Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, swept events at Attica and Oakshade to lengthen his personal winning streak to three.

Weekly: Sammy Stile of Charleroi, Pa., continued his strong start to the season with a pair of home-state victories, rallying from 12th for his second straight victory at Dog Hollow Speedway in Strongstown and posting his second in a row at Marion Center Speedway, too. Honorable mention: Ryan King of Seymour, Tenn., won three weekend races between Spring City (Tenn.) Raceway and his hometown 411 Motor Speedway.

Crate: Brandon Umberger of Rural Retreat, Va., won at Beckley (W.Va.) Motorsports Park and posted a runner-up finish at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Hanover, W.Va., during the Fastrak City Chevrolet Tour weekend. Honorable mention: Mitchell Coble of Mount Airy, N.C., doubled his victories total at 311 Motor Speedway in Madison, N.C., by sweeping Saturday’s double features.

Turn 1: Ohio’s wild finishes

Three weekly races over the weekend in Ohio featured some wild finishes:

Moler Raceway Park, Williamsburg: Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., not only had to sweep around John Whitney on the final lap to take the lead, he had his hands full with the lapped car of Chad Oberson at the checkers. When Oberson slid up high just before the finish line, Jameson’s contact sent Oberson’s car into a wild, flipping accident. Oberson wasn't injured and Jameson made it to victory lane unscathed.

Muskingum County Speedway, Zanesville: Hometown driver Cody Parker led 24 laps in the Sean Weekley-owned No. 63, but Hall of Famer Donnie Moran used the high side to sweep pass Parker on the final lap for a victory.

Oakshade Raceway, Wauseon: While also trying to fend off Brian Ruhlman, Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, barely beat a charging Andrew Reaume to the checkers. The three flashed across the line in a bunch for a dramatic finish at the 3/8-mile oval.

Turn 2: Bring on Batesville

A few tidbits heading into this weekend’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series stop at Batesville (Ark.) Motor Speedway for the Bad Boy 98, the race where the winner’s $10,000 purse is sweetened by a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro and the runner-up receives $20,000 (in addition, a lucky fan drawing will see someone drive away in a 2012 Ford Mustang):

• In the last three Lucas Oil visits to Batesville for the Topless 100, only three non-series regulars have cracked the top five: Terry Phillips (2010), Brady Smith (2010) and Jimmy Mars (2009).

• Hometown driver Billy Moyer enters the race as the most recent Late Model winner at Batesville after his April 13 Comp Cams Super Dirt Series victory. He has 10 victories overall and and has won every race he’s finished since Florida Speedweeks.

• Only four drivers among the top 15 in Lucas Oil points have victories at Batesville. Among those looking for their first victories are the 3/8-mile oval are Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr. and Steve Francis.

• O’Neal, of Martinsville, Ind., who enters Batesville with three victories in the last four Lucas Oil events, has scored back-to-back victories three times this season. At Batesville, he’ll be going for his first-ever stretch of three Lucas Oil victories in a row.

• Only two Arkansas drivers are on the Lucas Oil Series career victories list: Batesville drivers Moyer and Jared Landers, whose 2010 victory at Batesville’s Topless 100 was his first-ever Super Late Model victory.

• Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., the 2003 Topless 100 winner at Batesville, enters the race winless on the season. His last victory came Sept. 24 of last season, when he won 15 races and the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals championship.

Backstretch: We’ll be landing shortly

A few weeks ago, I covered most of my miles on a racing trip riding the Megabus (think Greyhound without stops in podunk towns) and the rails of Amtrak, a first for me on a racing weekend. Of course, I connected with co-worker Michael Rigsby and his new minivan to get me the rest of the way to and from Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., and Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway.

What’s next? I doubt I’ll ever charter an airplane to go the races, but if I do, perhaps I’ll be headed to Hartford (Mich.) Motor Speedway. On the track’s website and Facebook page prior to last weekend’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, information was provided about what to do if you happen to be flying in for the races.

"If you are coming by private jet, South Haven Regional Airport can handle your needs. 269.637.7343.”

I might have to try it. Then I’ll have planes, trains and automobiles covered (along with a Megabus, for good measure).

Turn 3: Facebook post of the week

This one brought a smile to the face of someone who combs the web for race results each weekend. Laurens County Speedway’s Facebook page recently took more than four days to post the Saturday night results, and the first response to their appearance? “Good things the cars ain’t this slow,” cracked Lamar McAlister.

Turn 4: Turn back the clock

Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:

May 16, 1981: In the only series event held at Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, Pittsburgh, Pa., Mike Duvall of Cowpens, S.C., raced to his second straight National Dirt Racing Association victory.

May 18, 1991: Winning his only career Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series event, hometown driver Melvin Sloan races to victory at Interstate Raceway in Cordele, Ga.

May 16, 1998: Five-time series champion Dean Moore of Grand Junction, Colo., wins the first-ever Western Dirt Racing Association event at Sweetwater County Speedway in Rock Springs, Wyo.

May 13, 2000: Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., leads every lap of the second annual Mountain Momma 100 at West Virginia Motor Speedway in Mineral Wells for his first victory with sponsorship from Valvoline Motor Oils. John Gill was second in the Rocket Chassis house car.

May 21, 2003: John Bradshaw, a promoter who had breathed new life into Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky., died in Yosemite, Ky. He was 57.

Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions

• Before leaving the pits Saturday night, Batesville (Ark.) Motor Speedway’s winner of the Bad Boy 98 will already have a deal in place to sell his new Chevrolet Camaro.

• Batesville’s runner-up will pocket his richest non-winning payday.

• With an Ohio-centered series invading Kankakee, Fairbury and Lincoln, Illinois drivers will defend their turf by sweeping all three Sunoco American Late Model Series events.

• Saturday’s winner of the Ultimate Super Late Model Series event at Virginia Motor Speedway will be a previous five-figure winner at the track.

• The winner of Saturday’s season-opening Michigan Dirt Cup event at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa will go on to capture the championship on the first-year series.

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