The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series journeyed to the Tazewell Speedway on Friday night to contest a $12,000-to-win event. At the end of the evening, it was Jonathan Davenport who came away from the upper east Tennessee track with the win and with a nice payday after the race slipped away from Jimmy Owens in the closing laps due to a mechanical failure.
Davenport extended his series points lead as a result of the win and the bad luck suffered by others.
Jason Jameson was fastest in qualifying when he turned a lap in 11.060 seconds around the high-banked third-mile clay oval. That effort beat out Dakotah Knuckles, Hudson O’Neal, Josh Richards and Jimmy Owens.
Richards earned the pole for the feature by scoring the victory in the first heat race of the night ahead of Jameson, Don O’Neal, Dennis Erb, Jr., Scott Bloomquist and Chad Ogle.
That first heat proved to be a wild one when Jameson and Richards got together going through turns 1 & 2 on the first lap allowing O’Neal to pull into a three-wide battle for the top spot. Contact between the three cars set off a chain reaction that collected Vic Hill, Darrell Lanigan, Gregg Satterlee, Jeff Neubert and Bloomquist. Hill was done for the night while series regulars Lanigan and Satterlee had to rely on provisional starting positions to make the feature.
Owens scored the win in a far less eventful second heat over Knuckles, Davenport, Ryan King, Forrest Trent and Bobby Pierce.
More calamity broke out in the third and final heat of the night when Shanon Buckingham, Kyle Bronson and Chicky Barton were tangled in a crash on the first lap that did significant damage to each. Buckingham and Barton were done for the night while Bronson had to use a provisional to make the feature.
Hudson O’Neal eventually won the third heat with Tim McCreadie, Earl Pearson, Jr., Eric Wells, Eric Webber and Brian Smith following him to the finish line.
Mason Zeigler won the only B-main of the evening.
Owens fired off to the early lead in the 50-lap feature at the drop of the green flag with Richards, Jameson, McCreadie and Hudson O’Neal in his tire tracks. Knuckles made a move in an attempt to take fifth away from the younger O’Neal on the second lap but the move went awry and the Tazewell Speedway regular spun to bring out a yellow flag.
On the ensuing restart, Jameson and Richards resumed the hard racing they had demonstrated in the heat race as they fought over second behind the race leading car of Owens, who was in the process of breaking away.
However, things went south for Jameson on lap 6 when he brought out the night’s second caution flag with a flat tire. That restart began the process of Davenport marching to the front as he wrested the fifth spot from Don O’Neal soon after the field took the green flag. The No. 49 got around the other member of the O’Neal family when he passed Hudson for fourth on lap 8.
The second running car of Richards halted on the track to bring out a yellow flag on lap 18 when the No. 1 broke a drive shaft. Owens still led at this point with Davenport now all the way up to second ahead of McCreadie, Hudson O’Neal and Don O’Neal.
The race ran caution free from that time until the end with Owens pulling out to a lead of as much as 10 car lengths as he worked through slower traffic. At the same time, Davenport and McCreadie engaged in a battle for second that saw the two keep close tabs on each other lap after lap. Also, a good battle raged further back in the top-10 as Erb and Pearson got by Hudson O’Neal.
Owens appeared to be cruising to victory until on lap 45 when a plume of smoke boiled from under his car lap 45 and sent him to the pit area. Davenport inherited the lead at that point and held off McCreadie to capture the win.
Feature Finish: 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Tim McCreadie, 3. Don O’Neal, 4. Dennis Erb, Jr., 5. Earl Pearson, Jr., 6. Hudson O’Neal, 7. Eric Wells. 8. Mason Zeigler, 9. Chad Ogle, 10. Jason Jameson, 11. Gregg Satterlee, 12. Scott Bloomquist, 13. Dakotah Knuckles, 14. Kyle Bronson, 15. Carder Miller, 16. Ryan King, 17. Jimmy Owens, 18. Robby Moses, 19. Eric Webber, 20. Bobby Pierce, 21. Josh Richards, 22. Jeff Neubert, 23. Brian Smith, 24. Darrell Lanigan