Defending series champion, Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN withstood a one-lap shootout with Ray cook of Brasstown, NC to win his sixth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event of the season. The win took place on Thursday Night at Utica-Rome Speedway. Bloomquist earned $10,000 for the 492nd win of his illustrious career. Cook, last year's series winner at the track, finished second after starting in ninth. Eighteenth starting Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, GA finished third, followed by Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, FL and John Blankenship of Williamson, WV.
"Here tonight, the car was about as perfect as it gets," exclaimed the 46-year-old driver, "last year, after the American Racer tires beat us, Hoosier went to work and had a great tire for us tonight. I wasn't really nervous on that last restart, because I knew Ray would run me clean. It would have been a shame to lose the race on the last lap after the night we had".
Bloomquist dominated the field for a majority of the race. He already held nearly a half-a-lap lead over Cook when the caution came out with seven laps to go. Bloomquist then had to be patient through two more cautions in the final two circuits, setting up a one-lap dash to the finish. As Cook tried valiantly to steal the win from Bloomquist, he was able to outrun the #53 into turn one on the final lap. He went on to score the win and extend his series points lead over Jimmy Owens. The engine erupted in flames after the fuel line came off on lap ten while Owens was running second, ending his night.
"I have to thank Bob and Barb Miller, Miller Brothers Construction, Hawkeye Trucking, of course the Roush-Yates Engine ran superb, and all the crew, Tommy (Hicks) and everybody else," said the winner. "They [crew] do a great job, and with the tough competition on this series you have to be on top of your game night in and night out to stay up front. We gained a lot of points tonight on Jimmy and we look forward to coming back up here. This is a very good race track and the fans treated us just super".
Cook in the D&R Racing owned MasterSbilt captured the win at Utica-Rome a year ago, but could not quite overcome his ninth starting spot as he crossed the line behind Bloomquist. McDowell in the Clint Bowyer Racing, Dollar General sponsored Warrior Impala SS salvaged a credible night after the battery lost power in his car during the heat race. He was relegated to an outside ninth-row starting spot and came home third followed by Pearson in the Bobby Labonte Racing; Lucas Oil Products sponsored MasterSbilt Dodge Charger. Blankenship, in the Don Blankenship, Coal America's Energy Rocket was fifth.
Completing the top ten were Billy Decker of Unadilla, NY; Steve Casebolt of Richmond, IN; Don O'Neal of Martinsville, IN; Tyler Reddick of Corning, CA; and Tim Isenberg of Marshfield, WI.
In preliminary action, Bloomquist was the fastest qualifier among the 26 entrants in the Red Buck Cigars Time Trials. Heat race winners were Bloomquist, Pearson, and Blankenship. Dan Schlieper took the B-Main win.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will be back in action this Saturday Night, July 31st at Frank Plessinger's Hagerstown Speedway in Hagerstown, MD. The event will pay $10,000 to win. For more information, go to www.hagerstownspeedway.com.