East Tennessee was well represented at the Golden Isles Speedway in Waynesville, GA as both the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and the NeSmith Crate Late Model Series kicked off their respective 2014 campaigns. In all, five drivers from the region competed on the south Georgia track and posted a mixed bag of results.
Thursday night was scheduled as a $5,000-to-win non points paying LOLMDS race with a $2,500-to-win points event for the NeSmith tour. Friday and Saturday were set as a pair of $10,000-to-win shows for the Lucas Oil racers while each night would again offer $2,500-to-win points races for their NeSmith counterparts.
Thursday’s events were postponed to Friday morning as a result of light rain.
Three time LOLMDS champion and Newport resident Jimmy Owens was among the drivers vying for points and purse money on the 4/10 high speed track. The driver plans to seek a fourth consecutive title in 2014, but did not come away from the first two points paying rounds of the season as well as he might have liked.
After starting 6th in the feature on Friday morning, Owens settled for a 10th place result behind the victorious Jonathan Davenport in the daytime sun. Meanwhile, a brush with the wall while running 2nd in his heat race on Friday night dropped Owens to 3rd at the finish. That led to an 11th place start in the feature which eventually resulted in a 9th place finish behind winner Chris Madden after 50 laps.
In the Saturday finale, Owens had to fight through a B-main to earn a 20th place starting position. Patience while working through traffic in the main event ultimately resulted in a 12th place finish behind winner Steve Francis.
Randy Weaver, who announced his intention to follow the LOLMDS during 2014, also raced among the nation’s best dirt late model drivers at Golden Isles. The Crossville driver starting 19th in the Friday morning feature and pulled off early to take a 23rd place result in the non points race.
Weaver started on row 11 in Friday’s nightcap and soldiered to a 16th place finish on a track that did not allow for much passing. A 12th place start on Saturday turned sour quickly for Weaver as he found himself involved in a pileup on lap 5 of the feature which resulted in a 23rd place finish.
Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame member Scott Bloomquist made a brief but memorable appearance on Saturday night.
Arriving after hot laps had been completed, the Mooresburg resident moved forward from his 13th starting spot to take a solid 4th place result in his only feature race of the weekend.
Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame member Ronnie Johnson was on hand for NeSmith competition and admittedly was doing some experimenting on a newly acquired MasterSbilt race car. Finishes of 15th, 8th and 11th were the results of the Chattanooga driver’s efforts in south Georgia.
A separate story will be written based off an interview with Johnson. Look for that feature in the very near future.
And finally, it was Gatlinburg’s Mack McCarter who came out of Golden Isles with the best overall results among east Tennessee’s sons. The NeSmith driver posted three top-10s in three races, including a 2nd place behind winner Walker Arthur on Saturday.
A separate story will be provided to detail McCarter’s experience at Golden Isles. Look for that feature on Wednesday.