The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series headed for the Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC for the penultimate race in an eight day stretch that will see the series hit the track six times. At the end of this night, it would be Scott Bloomquist who drove away from “The Place Your Mama Warned You About” with the winner’s trophy and a $12,000 payout.
It was the 599th feature victory of Bloomquist’s career.
Josh Richards began the night as the fastest qualifier in Group A time-trials and overall when he turned a lap of 15.061 seconds around the 3/8 mile clay oval to beat out Michael Brown, Brandon Overton, Brett Dixon, and Bobby Pierce.
Hudson O’Neal proved to be the fastest in Group B when his lap of 15.212 seconds bettered the times of Kyle Bronson, Darrell Lanigan, Gregg Satterlee and Dennis Franklin.
Richards earned the pole for the feature by winning the night’s first heat race ahead of Bobby Pierce, Kyle Pierce and Overton while Dennis Erb, Jr. took the second preliminary over Bloomquist, Ross Bailes and Tyler Millwood.
It was Hudson O’Neal who would start the main event from the outside of the front row after he emerged victorious in the third heat race ahead of Dennis Franklin, Jonathan Davenport and Darrell Lanigan just before Don O’Neal won the final heat of the evening ahead of Gregg Satterlee, Jeff Smith and Kyle Bromson.
Earl Pearson, Jr. was the winner of the sole B-main race used to set the remainder of the starting lineup for the main event.
At the start of the 50-lap feature it was Hudson O’Neal who quickly grabbed the lead ahead of Richards, Erb, Don O’Neal and Franklin. However, the younger O’Neal’s time at the front would be short-lived as Richards swept by to claim the race lead just after the cars had completed their first lap.
At the same time, Bloomquist began his surge forward as he moved into the top-5 from his fifth starting position at the end of the second circuit.
Disaster struck one of the Lucas Oil Series regulars just after the completion of the second lap when Bobby Pierce slowed to a stop on the track with smoke billowing from his car. That, in turn, brought out the firs cation flag of the night.
On the ensuing restart, Bloomquist did what e would do all night and that is gain positions at the waving of the green flag. The No. 0 machine stormed to third on that restart as he moved by Erb and Don O’Neal.
Series points leader Jonathan Davenport looked to move forward as well when he raced Kyle Pierce and Satterlee in a tight pack for seventh in the running order during the early going.
Debris on the track forced series officials to wave the yellow flag on lap 7. That again set up an opportunity for Bloomquist which he took advantage of by moving around Hudson O’Neal to seize the runner-up position behind Richards. Don O’Neal grabbed the fourth spot away from Erb on that same restart while Overton passed by Erb to take fifth one lap later.
Hudson O’Neal regained second from Bloomquist following a lap 11 restart but the driver known as ‘Black Sunshine’ took the spot back on lap 15 with a turn one slide job.
Richards continued to lead throughout the middle stages of the race with Bloomquist closing the gap on the defending series champion. By lap 20 the two stars found themselves battling each other while at the same time having to negotiate around slower traffic.
Overton continued his climb as he went to the high side of the track to move around both O’Neals to take third by lap 22.
Bloomquist moved by Richards for the lead just before a caution flag flew for the slowing car of Benji Hicks. Series officials ruled that the lap had been completed and Bloomquist remained in the lead.
Davenport would suffer troubles on lap 37 when he brought out a yellow flag for a flat tire.
Overton took second on the lap 37 restart and pressured Bloomquist on multiple occasions over the remaining laps but was never able to make the move. Bloomquist took the checkered flag that will enable to seek career win No. 600 in his next race.
Feature Finish: 1. Scott Bloomquist, 2. Brandon Overton, 3. Josh Richards, 4. Don O’Neal, 5. Dennis Erb Jr., 6. Dennis Franklin, 7. Darrell Lanigan, 8. Jimmy Owens, 9. Earl Pearson Jr., 10. Gregg Satterlee, 11. Ross Bailes, 12. Mason Zeigler, 13. Kyle Bronson, 14. Jonathan Davenport, 15. Tim McCreadie, 16. Joey Coulter, 17. Justin Williams, 18. Jeff Smith, 19. Kyle Pierce, 20. Hudson O’Neal, 21. Donald Bradsher, 22. Benji Hicks, 23. Johnny Pursley, 24. Tyler Millwood, 25. Bobby Pierce