Moyer spoils potential party at Bowyer's track
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (July 16) — On a night when a pair of Clint Bowyer Racing teammates had high hopes at the boss’s former home track, Billy Moyer spoiled the party.
The 55-year-old Hall of Famer from Batesville, Ark., took the lead from Bowyer driver Jared Landers on the 18th lap, then fought off a late challenge from another Bowyer driver, 18th-starting Steve Francis, for a $10,000 victory, his first of the season on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. | Slideshow
Francis broke into the top five after 15 laps, worked his way into second on lap 27, and did his best to chase down Moyer. He drew closest to Moyer late in the race, but couldn’t find a way past.
The checkered flag “couldn’t have got here too soon, for sure,” said Moyer, who notched his fifth overall victory of the season. “We’ve had a rough year, a real rough last week trying to get everything done. We went back home after Wheatland and my guys just worked their butts off, and it paid off for us.”
The late charge of Francis, of Ashland, Ky., fell shy on the slick half-mile oval where his car owner, then racing out of Emporia, Kan., was a star in the modified division before entering NASCAR’s highest ranks.
Finishing third was Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., who ran second early in the race, while Landers ended up fourth after leading the first 17 laps.
Series points leader John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., improved 10 positions to complete the top five and leads Francis by 70 points in the title chase. Two-time series champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who finished 11th, fell to third in the standings, 80 points behind Blankenship.
Moyer appeared to be in control for most of the last 33 laps, he struggled a few times lapping Australian driver Craig Vosberen, and had difficulty maintaining his momentum exiting turn two with Francis hot on his heels.
“The track, you just kind of had to keep chasing it around. I haven’t run here that much to know what was going on there,” the sixth-starting Moyer said. “You just miss things a little bit and get the tail out, and it didn’t like it, so I was trying to concentrate on keeping the thing straight and keep from buzzing the tires.
“I knew Steve started way back there, so to get to second, he must’ve been pretty good, so I knew I couldn’t be dragging my feet too much.”
Francis wishes he’d started have started near the front instead of the ninth row.
“We just dug ourselves a hold there qualifying, had a carburetor that kind of went down on us a little bit. We just struggled all night to recover from that,” Francis said. “I thought we had Billy right there with about five (laps) to go when we caught them lapped cars and I went wide and he went low. He cleared 'em and I didn’t, and that gave him enough room” to pull away.
Two cautions slowed the action. Wendell Wallace spun in turn two on the second lap to draw the race’s first yellow, then Jason Feger stopped at the top of the frontstretch on lap 30.
Pole-starting Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon, Mo., retired on the sixth lap. Bowyer joined his drivers Francis and Landers among entrants, but damage from a last-lap consolation race accident forced him to pass on a chance to run the main event.
Notes: Moyer’s Victory Circle Chassis has a Clements Automotive Engine and sponsorship from Henderson Motorsports, L&D Trucking, Cooley Transport, Karl Chevrolet. ... Moyer is the tour’s 13th winner. ... Thirteen of 24 starters completed 50 laps. ... Seventeen were running at the finish. ... Former Late Model pilot Jeremy Payne of Springfield, Mo., earned $5,000 for his United States Modified Touring Series; he led all 40 laps. ... Lucas Oil and USMTS action continues Wednesday at Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City, Iowa.
Lucas Oil @ Lakeside: (1) Billy Moyer, (2) Steve Francis, (3) Don O’Neal, (4) Jared Landers, (5) John Blankenship, (6) Tyler Reddick, (7) Mike Marlar, (8) Ryan Gustin, (9) Terry Phillips, (10) Eddie Carrier Jr., (11) Jimmy Owens, (12) Jason Bodenhamer, (13) Jason Feger, (14) Dennis Erb Jr., (15) Billy Moyer Jr., (16) Earl Pearson Jr., (17) Craig Vosbergen, (18) Tommy Weder Jr. (19) Jerry Lierly, (20) John Anderson, (21) Jack Sullivan, (22) Will Vaught, (23) Tony Jackson Jr., (24) Wendell Wallace, Scratched: Bowyer. Fast qualifier (among 32 cars): Landers, 17.011 seconds. Heat race winners: Jackson, Weder, Landers, O’Neal. Consolation winners: Carrier, Francis. Provisional starters: Pearson, Lierly.