The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series returned to action on Wednesday night at Florence Speedway for the 34th running of the Ralph Latham Memorial. At the end of the night it was series points leader Jimmy Owens who scored his eighth feature win of the season. The Newport, TN driver came away with a $12,000 pay check.
Devin Moran led Group A qualifying and overall with a lap of 15.454 seconds around the half-mile clay oval to beat out Chris Ferguson, Hudson O’Neal, Josh Rice and Brandon Overton.
Jimmy Owens topped Group B qualifying with a time of 15.591 seconds over Mike Marlar, Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Erb and Josh Richards.
Devin Moran earned the pole for the feature when he took the first heat race of the night ahead of Shane Clanton and Josh Rice while Chris Ferguson won out in the second preliminary over Billy Green and Brandon Overton.
Hudson O’Neal won out in the third heat by beating out Scott Bloomquist and Ricky Weiss.
Jimmy Owens would start form the outside of the front row by winning the fourth heat race by outrunning Zack Dohm and Tyler Erb then Josh Richards finished first in the fifth heat by topping Mike Marlar and Dale McDowell.
Shanon Buckingham took the sixth and final heat over Kyle Strickler and Earl Pearson Jr.
Jason Miller and Jonathan Davenport won the two B-main races used to set the remainder of the starting lineup for the main event.
At the start of the 50-lap feature it was Owens who went to the early lead with Moran, Ferguson, Richards and O’Neal in his wake. Richards went to work early on by passing Ferguson for third by using the outside groove. He then used the same line to get around Moran for seconds one lap later.
Ferguson took third away from Moran on lap 5 while Buckingham moved up in the order by passing O’Neal for fifth.
Clanton showed early speed as he entered the top-5 by passing both Moran and Buckingham to get all the way up to fourth on lap 8. Meanwhile, Owens checked out as he drove to lead of more than four seconds by the tenth circuit.
Moran, Buckingham, O’Neal, Dohm and Marlar engaged in a fierce fight for positions 5-9 as the race approached the halfway mark. At the same time, Clanton moved up by passing Ferguson for third.
Clanton then emerged from a battle with Richards and Ferguson to grab the runner-up position on lap 25.
Owens continued to dominate until a caution flag came out on lap 36 for debris on the track. The ensuing restart saw a major incident in the race when Richards spun collecting Moran, Rice and Dohm.
On the next attempt at a restart Owens and Clanton briefly fought over the race lead while Weiss blasted all the way up to third. Owens then looked as if he would pull away to an easy victory.
The racing was fast and furious for those who were in pursuit of Owens with Pierce, O’Neal and McCreadie looking to be on the rise. However, Pierce’s charge was derailed when his car stalled on the track to bring out a caution on lap 46.
Owens then drove to the win once the race returned to green flag action.
Feature Finish: 1. Jimmy Owens, 2. Shane Clanton, 3. Ricky Weiss, 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Hudson O’Neal, 6. Tyler Erb, 7. Mike Marlar, 8. Scott Bloomquist, 9. Kyle Bronson, 10. Brandon Overton, 11. Chris Ferguson, 12. Zack Dohm, 13. Shanon Buckingham, 14. Jonathan Davenport, 15. Billy Moyer Jr., 16. Earl Pearson Jr., 17. Josh Richards, 18. Devin Moran, 19. Billy Green, 20. Tanner English, 21. Tyler Bruening, 22. Bobby Pierce, 23. Kyle Strickler, 24. Josh Rice, 25. Dale McDowell