Going into this past weekend, Jimmy Owens had not had a lot to hang his hat on in regard to 2018. As a matter of fact, the Newport, Tenn. driver’s highest finish of the season up to that time had been a pair of third place efforts, one in a Spring Nationals race at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn. and the other in a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at the Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. However, recent efforts had begun to indicate that things were in the process of turning around for the Ramirez Motorsports team.
In the Lucas Oil show held at Tazewell(TN) Speedway on May 4th, the No. 20 Rocket Chassis was clearly the dominant machine as Owens won his heat race, took the early lead, and proceeded to dominate. However, mechanical issues derailed what looked to be a race winning effort just five laps from the finish.
This past weekend, Owens put the early season’s misfortune behind him as he turned in an outstanding performance in the $25,001-to-win ‘First in Flight 100’ World of Outlaws Late Model Series sanctioned feature at the Fayetteville(NC) Motor Speedway. The ‘Newport Nightmare’ set the fastest overall time in qualifying and went on to win his heat race on Friday evening. He then capped the night off by earning the pole position for the feature after he won the $2,001-to-win ‘Big C Dash for Cash’ named in honor of Dunn-Benson Motorsports team co-owner Carlton Lamm, who recently passed away.
Saturday night also belonged to ‘The O Show’ as he took early lead in the 100-lap main event. After briefly surrendering the top spot to Brandon Sheppard, Owens stormed back to regain the race lead and drove on to the big money victory.
“It does feel good to get through the weekend and not have nothing tear up and to be successful,” Owens declared in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “It’s a real weight off your shoulders to have a run like that. It’s kind of early yet and to win a big show like that this early is just real good. It’s been a struggle all year it seems like and to finally put every thing together at a race like that is pretty great.”
Owens is, however, a regular on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. The three-time champion of that circuit currently ranks eighth in the tour’s overall standings. However, he is cautiously optimistic that things may be coming together for his team as the LOLMDS is about to hit a stretch of races that will take the No. 20 far north and west of their Newport, Tenn. home.
“I hope so,” Owens declared when asked if he felt the momentum swinging to his side. “Everybody’s working together and everything’s clicking. Things are working out for us. We’re getting a real good feel for the cars and everything’s working that way.”
But the 46-year-old veteran of the racing wars is not quite ready to say that he and his team have fully gotten a grasp on their Rockets just yet.
“It’s a little early to say that,” Owens conceded. “I mean we’ve been in them long enough to where we should be a little more consistent than what we are. It’s been a little bit of a struggle to be where we’re at but hopefully we can keep running good and finish the year off good.”
Running a series such as the Lucas Oil tour requires that a driver and his team be on top of their game each time they unload. With star drivers such as Richards, Bloomquist, Davenport, O’Neal, McCreadie, Pierce and Lanigan to compete against, Owens and his crew have their work cut out for them each and every time they hit the track.
“We’re racing against some of the best guys in the country week in and week out so the odds of you winning are pretty slim,” He admitted. “You’ve just got to work extra hard to get it right.”
The Ramirez Motorsports team will leave Newport later this week and will not return for quite some time. Races in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri and Illinois will consume the next three weekends for these road warriors. Then after a very brief return home, Owens and crew will head back out again for the Dirt Late Model Dream weekend at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.
“Right, I don’t know when we’ll be back,” Owens said. “We’ll be up north then we’ll probably come back from there then go straight to Eldora. That’s a lot of running around right there that I’m not necessarily looking forward to.”
However, a bright spot in all the upcoming travel will be that the Show-me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri will be among that stretch of races. Owens is a four-time champion of that prestigious event and would love add another trophy to his collection.
“You know, if the car keeps working like it is right now, I’m real excited about that race. If we can just go in there with some consistent top-5 finishes behind us, I’ll be real excited to get there.”