The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series completed its three-race weekend on Saturday night with a $12,000-to-win feature race at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn. Jimmy Owens excited the big crowd in his home state by turning in a dominating performance to earn the victory.
Chris Ferguson picked up the win on Thursday night at North Carolina’s Fayetteville Motor Speedway in the first leg of those events while Brandon Overton scored a thrilling triumph on Friday evening at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC.
Darrell Lanigan was fastest in Group A qualifying when he posted a lap of 15.820 seconds around the 4/10 mile clay oval with Earl Pearson, Jr., Ray Cook and Shanon Buckingham following.
Owens set quick time in Group B qualifying and overall with a time of 15.806 seconds. Overton, Scott Bloomquist and Josh Richards followed Owens in the group.
Cook earned the pole for the feature by winning the first heat race over Lanigan, Casey Roberts and Dennis Erb, Jr. while Pearson took the second preliminary ahead of Buckingham, Steve Francis and Donald McIntosh.
Owens would start from the outside of the front row in the feature by virtue of beating out Bloomquist and the father-son duo of Don and Hudson O’Neal in heat 3. Richards beat out Overton, Dale McDowell and Gregg Satterlee int he fourth and final heat race of the night.
Steven Roberts and Michael Chilton won the two B-main race used to set the remainder of the starting lineup for the main event.
Owens immediately grabbed the lead at the start of the 60-lap feature with Cook, Pearson, Richards, Lanigan and Bloomquist in his wake. Richards made the first move as he took third away from Pearson on the second lap and then set out after Cook.
On lap 5, Richards put himself in the runner-up position when he executed a slide job pass on Cook at the exit of turn two. From that point, Owens and Richards began to separate themselves fro the pack.
The first and only caution flag of the night waved on lap 6 when Steven Roberts slowed on track. Once the race went back to green flag conditions, Owens and Richards again drove away from their pursuers. Meanwhile, Bloomquist began making his way toward the front as he passed by Lanigan take fifth on lap 10 and then moved around Pearson for fourth on lap 13.
Casey Roberts and McDowell began a battle that would last throughout much pf the race as they fought for positions further back in the top-10. All of that was going on as Bloomquist tracked down and passed Cook for third just before the halfway mark of the race.
Just behind the advancing Bloomquist, Overton commenced a move toward the front that looked very similar to that of the night before in Gaffney as he split between the cars of Lanigan and Pearson to seize the fifth spot on lap 30. He then sailed by Cook to take fourth just three circuits later.
The race’s second half saw Owens maintain a relatively comfortable advantage as he skillfully maneuvered through slower traffic. About a straightaway behind the race leader, however, Richards, Bloomquist and Overton engaged in a spirited fight that would go on for several laps. Overton passed by Bloomquist for third with an outside move on lap 49 only to see Bloomquist move back around on the following lap. Finally, Overton was able to once again complete an outside pass to take the spot.
Overton then wrested the second position away from Richards with another outside move on lap 52. Bloomquist slipped by Richards to grab third on lap 54. But it would be all Owens in the race to the checkered flag.
Feature Finish: 1. Jimmy Owens, 2. Brandon Overton, 3. Scott Bloomquist, 4. Josh Richards, 5. Darrell Lanigan, 6. Dale McDowell, 7. Ray Cook, 8. Casey Roberts, 9. Dennis Erb, Jr., 10. Shanon Buckingham, 11. Earl Pearson, Jr., 12. Hudson O’Neal, 13. Michael Chilton, 14. Tim McCreadie, 15. Gregg Satterlee, 16. Robby Moses, 17. Boom Briggs, 18. Dusty Carver, 19. Steve Francis, 20. Tommy Kerr, 21. Donald McIntosh, 22. Tyler Millwood, 23. Don O’Neal, 24. Steven Roberts