Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN passed race leader Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, GA in turn four of the final lap as he outsprinted McDowell to the checkered flag in winning the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series sanctioned March Madness race Sunday at Cherokee Speedway. Randy Weaver of Crossville, TN crossed the stripe in third followed by 16th starting Don O'Neal of Martinsville, IN and Chris Madden of Gaffney, SC rounded out the top five.
A wild first lap saw Bub McCool and Ray Cook get together on the backstretch with Cook suffering heavy damage to his car. Cook went pit-side and fell several laps down as his crew made repairs to the car. While the race was under red outside front row starter Dan Schlieper went to the pits for the night after fluid began leaking out from under his car. So that put Madden to the outside of polesitter John Blankenship. The second time would be a charm to get the race underway. Madden took the lead, followed by McDowell, Blankenship, Chris Wall, and Johnny Pursley. Wall, who was making his first appearance at Cherokee, climbed to third on lap three as Blankenship fell to fourth.
McDowell then started to put the heat on Madden for the lead pulling even with him on lap ten as the two crossed the start-finish line. McDowell pulled ahead of Madden on lap 11 as Wall maintained third. The second caution of the race flew on lap 12 as McCool slowed on the backstretch.
The restart saw McDowell on the point of the Delaware double-file restart as Madden and Wall lined up side-by-side ready for the return of chief starter Bruce Coyle's green flag. McDowell showed his power; but Madden did not giving up easily as the hometown favorite closed to the bumper of McDowell's mount with 16 laps complete. Bloomquist, who started seventh, was now in the hunt. He was running in the fourth spot bringing Randy Weaver with him. Bloomquist and Weaver then began to pressure Wall for third, but Wall, who was the Red Buck Cigars fast qualifier for the night was doing a good job in fighting off the challenges of the two.
McDowell continued to show the way as he and Madden raced through traffic through the mid-point of the race. Madden then pulled dead even with McDowell on lap 27 as the crowd came to its collective feet. McDowell led lap 28, but a circuit later Madden was scored as the race leader. The torrid battle for the lead had all eyes on the two frontrunners. Madden then took a five-car length lead over McDowell on lap 32 as it looked like he was going to be the car to beat in the remaining laps of the race, but McDowell re-grouped and closed quickly on Madden as the two continued to race through some heavy lapped traffic.
With ten laps to go Madden was still showing the way, followed by McDowell. Bloomquist and Weaver had managed to get around Wall back on lap 38 to take over third and fourth places, but they looked to be too far out of it to make a run in the final laps. Bloomquist was out to prove the naysayers wrong as he put on a charge in the last five laps that would give him a shot at the win.
Bloomquist went around Madden on lap 45 as he set his sights on McDowell. A caution with four laps to go for Casey Roberts bunched the field for a four-lap shootout to the finish. McDowell was under constant pressure from Bloomquist as the two went side-by-side coming off of turn number two. McDowell managed enough momentum to maintain the lead. As the two drivers took the white flag, McDowell was a car length ahead of Bloomquist and going into turn number two he moved up just enough out of the groove to allow Bloomquist room on the bottom to pull even with him as Bloomquist carried that momentum as the two were still side-by-side in turn three.
Bloomquist slid up in front of McDowell in turn four and led him on a drag race down the frontstretch as the two headed to the checkered flag. Bloomquist got the win by one car length as a stunned crowd looked on as Bloomquist had recorded another come from behind victory for his third Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the year.
In the Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the 20th time in his Hall of Fame Career, the reigning series champion was out of breath in his post-race interview. "Well the car was super, it just got better and better as the race went on, everything went well today for us, Chris (Madden)is good at this place, we share a lot of information, if he would have had my tire combination on he would have won," said the 46-year-old driver who is quickly approaching 500 career wins.
"We had out a Jay Dickens Engine in today, what can I say, everything went good for us. Dale and I had a great race, we raced each other clean, before that last caution I was catching them and I didn't know if the caution was good or bad for us, the car just fired up real good on the restart, this race track was real good today, everybody was giving each other room, there was some good racing going on out there. Dale and I have raced together several times in the past and it was going to be tough to get around him," said the winner who continues to lead the series points standings heading into the next event on March 27th at Brownstown (IN) Speedway.
Bloomquist' Jay Dickens Racing Engine powered Bloomquist Race Cars Monte Carlo SS is sponsored by Miller Brothers Construction, Hawkeye Trucking, Sweet Mfg, VP Racing Fuels, Hoosier Tires, Arizona Sport Shirts, Ohlins and Lane Automotive.
McDowell in the Clint Bowyer Racing/Dollar General/Warrior Race Cars Impala SS moved to third in the points after his runner-up finish. Weaver was third in the BKW Disaster, Recovery and Rebuilding/Race Engine Design/Bloomquist Race Cars Corvette. Fourth went to the hard charger of the race Don O'Neal in the Superior Cleaning/Jay Dickens Racing Engines/MasterSbilt Monte Carlo SS as Madden took fifth in the Century Plastics/Cornett Racing Engines/Bloomquist Race Cars Monte Carlo SS.
Completing the top ten were Chris Wall of Holden, LA, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, IL, Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN, Clint Smith of Senoia, GA and Johnny Pursley of Clover, SC.