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Magnolia Motor Speedway

O'Neal dominates Clash at the Mag for $20,000

July 8, 2012, 4:58 am
By James Essex
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Don O'Neal takes the checkers at Magnolia. (foto-1.net)
Don O'Neal takes the checkers at Magnolia. (foto-1.net)

COLUMBUS, Miss. (July 7) — Capturing his series-leading ninth race, Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., dominated Saturday's Columbus Convention Center and Visitors Bureau Clash at the Mag for a $20,000 payday on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

The ninth-starting O'Neal took the lead from Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark., on lap 20 at Magnolia Motor Speedway, then outran Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., the rest of the way in lapping all but three competitors. | Slideshow | Video | Prelims

Bloomquist settled for second followed by Scott Dedwylder of Vosburg, Miss. Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., rallied from 19th to finish fourth while Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., rounded out the top five in one of Mississippi’s richest Dirt Late Model events. Just two cautions, both in the first seven laps, slowed the 100-lapper.

"The car was terrific, to get the win here in Jay Dickens' home area is special, he does such a great job with our engine program, thanks to all my crew,” said O’Neal, who turns 48 on Tuesday. "I don't what to say! We struggled a little bit in qualifying and in the heat race, we worked all night long and we went out to hot lap tonight, I knew we going to have a good car.”

"Wendell was good early, but he got out of the groove there one lap and I was able to get by him. I decided I was going to run the bottom, I tried the top there a lap or two and that wasn't a good choice, so I got right back there on the bottom, when you lap people like (Jimmy) Owens and (Billy) Moyer, it doesn't happen very often, it's just a tribute to the team: Tader Masters, Cody Mahoney, and tonight we had Mike Price with us. They make my job easy.”

Wallace jumped to lead at the start, passing both Bloomquist and Moyer on the opening circuit. O'Neal got things going early on as he sped from the inside of the fifth row to second place by lap five. O'Neal then patiently waited behind Wallace and jumped on the opportunity to take the lead on lap 20.

Bloomquist, who had dropped back to sixth at one point in the race after starting from the pole, rebounded nicely and marched back towards the front, taking the second spot just one lap after O'Neal had taken the lead. O'Neal and Bloomquist then raced in heavy traffic for a long period during the race as both drivers were lapping cars at a staggering rate.

Bloomquist closed in on O'Neal several times in the last half of the race, but O'Neal had the answer each time. Once Bloomquist got close, he would open up his lead over the two-time series champion. O’Neal’s victory moved him into a tie with Bloomquist for second place in series points behind Owens.

Notes: O’Neal’s MasterSbilt Race Car has a Jay Dickens Engine and sponsorship from Optima Batteries, Seubert Calf Ranches, Independence Lumber, Tarpy Trucking, Superior Cleaning Services, Jones Core, Budda Bert Transmissions, Dragon Race Fuels and Ohlins. ... He has 28 career Lucas Oil victories. ... Cautions appeared for Eric Cooley on the fourth lap and Jason Wood on the seventh lap. ... Earl Pearson Jr.’s 19th-to-fourth run gave him Optima Batteries Hard Charger honors. ... The race lasted just under 40 minutes. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature lineup: Jamie Elam, Joseph Joiner, Neil Baggett, Dillon Wood, Jimmy Cliburn, Jason Cliburn, Timothy Culp, C.J. Robinson, Robbie Stuart, Justin McRee, Leon Henderson, Ross Camponovo and Ray Cook, who had mechanical problems in his Friday heat race and headed to Maryville, Tenn., for a $5,000 Ultimate Super Late Model Series victory at Smoky Mountain Speedway. ... Lucas Oil competitors return to action July 13 at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., and July 14 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo.

Columbus Convention Center and Visitors Bureau Clash at the Mag: (1) Don O'Neal, (2) Scott Bloomquist, (3) Scott Dedwylder, (4) Earl Pearson Jr., (5) Mike Marlar, (6) Steve Francis, (7) Billy Moyer, (8) Chris Wall, (9) Jared Landers, (10) Jimmy Owens, (11) Wendell Wallace, (12) Tyler Reddick, (13) Jonathan Davenport, (14) Eric Wells, (15) John Blankenship, (16) Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, (17) Eric Cooley, (18) Brad Neat, (19) Rick Rickman, (20) Billy Moyer Jr., (21) Chad Thrash, (22) Klint Byars, (23) Scott Creel, (24) Shep Lucas, (25) Rodney Wing. Fast qualifier (among 50 cars): Landers. Heat race winners: Bloomquist, Moyer, Wallace, Owens. Consolation winners: Blankenship, Wells. Provisional starters: Lucas, Creel, Wall.

Lucas Oil points

(Through July 7)
1. Jimmy Owens - 4,155
2. Don O’Neal - 3,885
3. Scott Bloomquist - 3,885
4. Steve Francis - 3,830
5. Jonathan Davenport - 3,605
6. Earl Pearson Jr. - 3,565
7. John Blankenship - 3,525
8. Tyler Reddick - 3,355
9. Jared Landers - 3,335
10. Eric Wells - 3,260
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