Jared Landers of Batesville, AR scored the first Late Model victory of his career on Sunday Afternoon as he captured the $40,000 to win 18th Annual COMP Cams Topless 100 at Batesville Motor Speedway. Landers, a veteran open wheel modified driver, took the lead from Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL with three laps to go in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series sanctioned event. Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN edged out Pearson at the finish line for second, followed by Pearson, Terry Phillips of Springfield, MO and Brady Smith of Solon Springs, WI.
"I don't know what to say," said the 29-year-old driver in victory lane, "This is my first Late Model win, to do it here on my home- track and in front of my fans; it's something I'll always remember," said Landers. "I have to thank Shane McDowell and all of my crew; they did a great job all day long; thanks to Boater Sports, Mark Martin KIA, and Mark Martin Chevrolet for all of their help along with Warrior Race Cars and Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines ... this is unbelievable."
The afternoon heat and the baked track surface forced every team that finished the race to pit at least once for fresh rubber. Don O'Neal led the first 43 laps of the race until yielding to polesitter, Chris Madden. Madden then held the top spot until ninth-starting Scott Bloomquist took over the lead on lap 46.
Bloomquist and Madden then ran one-two through several caution flags. Madden re-gained the point from Bloomquist on lap 57, but Bloomquist came back five laps later to re-take the lead. Bloomquist held the top spot until a lap 84-restart when Landers slipped under him on the backstretch to take over the lead, much to delight of the crowd.
Bloomquist began to fade as he slowed on lap 87 to bring out a caution. He darted into the pits to change tires. Bloomquist had been the only car on the track that had not pitted. On the restart, Landers was challenged by both Pearson and Owens. Pearson slipped by Landers on lap 95 for the lead, but Landers came back with authority to take over the top spot for the final three circuits. Landers went on to hold off both Pearson and Owens as the three almost came across the finish side-by-side.
Owens, in the Reece Monument Company, Mark Martin Ford sponsored Bloomquist Race Cars entry nipped Pearson at the line for second, but said afterwards he should have pitted a little earlier. "We came in the pits a little sooner than I anticipated," said Owens.
Completing the top ten were Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, GA; Dan Schlieper of Sullivan, WI; Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, GA; Eric Wells of Hazard, KY; and Steve Casebolt of Richmond, IN.
Next weekend the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will be back in action on Friday Night, August 27th at Lawrenceburg (N) Speedway and on Saturday Night, August 28th at Bluegrass Speedway in Bardstown, KY for the 10th Annual "Bluegrass Classic." Both events will pay $10,000 to win. For more information, go to www.lawrenceburgspeedway.com and www.bluegrass-speedway.com.