Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN passed race leader, Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL as the pair headed for the white flag. Owens held off Pearson on the final circuit to win the 28th Annual Sunoco Race Fuels North/South 100 Presented by Lucas Oil on Saturday Night at Florence Speedway. The $50,000 victory was celebrated by Owens; car owner, Mike Reece; and team in victory lane before a huge crowd. Trailing Owens and Pearson to the finish line were Don O'Neal of Martinsville, IN; Steve Francis of Ashland, KY; and Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC.
"First off, I want to dedicate this win to Dewayne Hommell," said Owens, who captured his second Sunoco Race Fuels North/South 100 Presented by Lucas Oil victory in the last four years. "I didn't know if I could catch Earl, he got boxed in behind another car and I decided to run up against the wall, and the car just took off and we were able to track him down and pass him as we took the white flag." The elated Owens continued, "I have to thank my car owner, Mike Reece; he hadn't been at a race since we won at Cleveland back in June. Thanks also to Reece Monument Company, Gantte Appraisals, Hoosier Tires VP race Fuels, Cornett Racing Engines and Bloomquist Race Cars."
Eddie Carrier Jr. took the lead at the start of the 100-lap event and held the lead for the first 18 circuits of the race. O'Neal took over the point on lap 19 from Carrier after the two made contact down the backstretch. O'Neal built a solid lead over the field, and by lap 30 he had a ten car length advantage over the field. Carrier and Francis managed to close on O'Neal in heavy traffic and slice his lead to five lengths with 40 laps complete.
Owens, who started fifth, climbed into the top five on lap 41. He moved into third by the halfway-mark of the race, catching up to behind O'Neal and Carrier. "The Newport Nightmare" overhauled Carrier for second with 55 laps scored. O'Neal kept a steady pace out front, but Owens and Pearson started to make some noise with 25 laps remaining. Pearson climbed to third on lap 73.
O'Neal saw his lead dissolve on lap 78 as Owens passed him for the top spot. Pearson followed suit, and drove around O'Neal with 16 laps to go. Pearson used his patented bottom groove to take the lead from Owens on lap 88. Pearson then pulled away from Owens and appeared to be on his way to the victory. He got caught behind another car with less than five laps to go and Owens capitalized and made a late-race charge.
While Pearson was trapped down on the bottom of the track, Owens went to the topside and closed quickly on the leader. Owens made his move as the two exited turn four, heading to the white flag. Owens cleared "The Hurricane" to click off the lead as the two approached the flag stand. He withstood a strong surge of power from the machine of Pearson, extinguishing his last lap effort to take the victory. Pearson's second place finish earned him the PBM/Erson Cams Hard Charger honor for the event, having advanced 12 spots from his 14th place starting position.
Completing the top ten were Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN; Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, WI; Chris Madden of Gaffney, SC; Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, GA; and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA.
Capturing heat race wins earlier in the night were Chris Madden, Dan Schlieper, Jimmy Owens, Eddie Carrier Jr., Don O'Neal, Steve Francis.
The B-Mains were won by Wendell Wallace and Justin Rattilff.
The stars of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will be back in action next weekend for the 18th Annual COMP Cams "Topless 100" at Batesville Motor Speedway in Batesville, AR. Events at the speedway will kick off on Thursday Night, August 19th with an open practice session in the evening. Friday Night, August 20th, there will be Red Buck Cigars Time Trials and Heat Races. The weekend will be capped off on Saturday, August 21st with B-Mains and the $40,000 to win 18th Annual COMP Cams "Topless 100".