Owens Wins Lowes Foods World Finals Finale For Third Straight Year As Eckert Claims First-Ever World of Outlaws Late Model Series Title
Richards’s Flat On Final Lap Propels Eckert To $100,000 Championship Celebration At The Dirt Track At Charlotte
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
CONCORD, NC – Nov. 5, 2011 – Jimmy Owens enjoyed another up-close look at a World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship celebration following Saturday night’s fifth annual Lowes Foods World Finals presented by Tom Snack’s, Coca-Cola and Nature’s Own at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
After capturing the 50-lap World Finals finale for the third consecutive year, the standout driver from Newport, Tenn., witnessed a raucous Victory Lane scene involving Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who clinched his first-ever WoO LMS title in dramatic fashion.
“This is pretty amazing to be standing here again,” the 39-year-old Owens said after earning $10,275 for his first WoO LMS victory of 2011 and the fifth of his career. “We kind of have to share the spotlight, but we know that winning a championship is just awesome. It’s a real cool accomplishment – especially in front of this (capacity) crowd (of 14,000-plus) and in front of everyone watching on TV (on SPEED) – so hat’s off to Rick Eckert and all his guys.”
Eckert, 45, appeared resigned to finishing second in the national tour’s points standings until Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who entered the event trailing Eckert by just two points, slowed with a flat right-rear tire heading to the white flag. Richards, 23, was running ninth – four spots ahead of Eckert – when he fell off the pace, allowing Eckert to sail by through turns one and two and finish a very rewarding 12th.
With Richards limping to an 18th-place finish, Eckert claimed the coveted $100,000 WoO LMS championship by a 14-point margin. A series regular since the circuit was re-launched in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner, Eckert became the seventh driver to win the points crown.
“We’ve been here (on the World of Outlaws trail) since the beginning so we wanted to get (a championship),” said Eckert, whose previous best points finish was third in 2005. “It was cool to get it.”
Securing the title certainly tested Eckert’s resolve, however. When Richards sliced Eckert’s edge to two points after Friday night’s A-Main, the veteran driver found himself on the verge of relinquishing the top spot in the standings for the first time since he assumed command with his first triumph of the season, on May 7 at Swainsboro (Ga.) Raceway.
Richards started 17th and Eckert took the green flag from 20th in the Saturday’s feature, setting up a nip-and-tuck battle for World of Outlaws glory. They ran the entire distance always in sight – and often within inches – of each other.
Eckert moved ahead of Richards at mid-pack for the first time on lap 25, two circuits after the race’s first caution flag flew for the slow car driven by Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. Richards briefly fell three spots behind Eckert before tossing his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car to the outside of the four-tenths-mile oval and regaining the upper hand on lap 28.
When a caution flag flew on lap 37 for Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., Richards sat 14th and Eckert was 15th – a dead-heat in the points race, though Richards held the tie-breaker with his series-leading nine wins versus Eckert’s three. They resumed their battle on the restart but later that lap were nearly swept up in a tangle between turns three and four that involved, among others, a spinning Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. Eckert escaped the incident unscathed on the outside while Richards pressed on despite clipping the sliding car of Union, Ky.’s Darrell Lanigan with the right-rear corner of his machine.
Richards and Eckert were 11th and 12th, respectively, for the ensuing restart, but two circuits later Richards was up to 10th and Eckert had fallen to 13th. Richards picked up another spot on lap 42 and, with Eckert wallowing in 13th, settled into a groove that seemed likely to bring him an unprecedented third championship in a row.
But as Richards slid through turns three and four with the white flag flying, his car suddenly lost speed. A flat right-rear tire was visible as he passed the start/finish line and he slowed drastically through turns one and two, leaving him unable to turn back Eckert’s surge to the championship.
It all happened so quickly for Eckert and his army of family and friends watching from the pits, stands and suites. In one lap, he went from a dejected runner-up in the standings to an overjoyed champion.
“I was pretty down because (Richards) got away from me towards the end there,” Eckert said of the race’s deciding circuit. “I killed my left-rear tire (and thus was holding on), but then I seen his car lay down – and just as I seen his car lay down, I looked at the flagman and seen it was the white flag. I was like, ‘Oh, s—. I gotta get to him.’
“I just wanted to get by him without crashing, and we did. Then I was like, ‘This is not really happening.’ I couldn’t really believe it was happening.”
Eckert was met on The Dirt Track’s homestretch by dozens of celebrating people, including his weeping wife Kristal and 22-year-old daughter Courtney; his father, Junior, and mother, who is battling cancer but was able to attend Saturday’s race because her doctors postponed a scheduled chemo treatment; and Barbara Vest, the wife of Eckert’s longtime car owner Raye Vest, who passed away during the 2009 World Finals.
“This is great,” said Eckert, who has fielded his own Team Zero by Bloomquist cars for the last two seasons. “There’s a bunch of teams on this circuit that aren’t overly funded and we’re one of them, so (winning the championship is) great for all the little guys that don’t have all that stuff.”
Richards, meanwhile, was gracious after absorbing a heartbreaking defeat. He held his head high and hailed Eckert, who served as a trusted mentor to Richards early in his career.
“I’m not disappointed at all in the year we had,” said Richards, who tied the single-season WoO LMS win record of nine set in 2004 by Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn. “We fought hard all year, but every time we would get close to the points, boom! – something would happen.
“Circumstances all year long put us behind and we couldn’t quite overcome it all. I feel like we had a championship year, but it just didn’t work out.
“It could not get any closer,” he added. “We lined up side-by-side on restarts, he was ahead of me, I tried to get him back. Then I was like, ‘I think I finally got him,’ and I just tried to ride it out. But we didn’t make it. We did have a gash in our tire so maybe that’s what it was, but I don’t know.”
Richards paused, and then said, “It just wasn’t meant to be our year I guess. Eckert and his guys did a great job all year. They did what they had to do and they deserved to win – congratulations to them.”
Owens has his own post-race party of the periphery of the Eckert celebration. His Lowes Foods World Finals victory topped off a memorable season in which he won the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship and the DIRTcar UMP-sanctioned World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
The race’s fourth starter, Owens made his way into the lead on lap nine when he overtook Friday-night A-Main winner Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., who started from the pole position. Owens was nosed out for the top spot on lap 13 by Bloomquist, but he had his Mike Reece-owned Team Zero by Bloomquist car in front again the following circuit and never looked back.
Owens crossed the finish line 2.497 seconds ahead of Bloomquist, who registered his seventh top-five finish in 10 WoO LMS A-Main starts this season. Davenport settled for third in the Barry Wright house car, Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., placed fourth in the K&L Rumley Rocket and Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., was fifth in a Team Zero by Bloomquist mount.
“I figured the track was gonna be a little drier tonight and we made a good tire choice for the conditions,” said Owens, a four-time DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion. “That really helped us out, but we also got down to the bottom (groove) at the right time. I could see Scott nosing under me there, so I thought, I better move down. There was some rubber down there and we were a lot better there.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 were John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., who ran in the top five for much of the distance; Frank, who was able to spin around and continue without stopping in the middle of the lap-37 tangle; Lanigan, who started 22nd; Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla.; and Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va., who earned the $500 ‘Bonus Bucks’ cash for being the highest-finishing driver who hasn’t won a WoO LMS A-Main and wasn’t ranked among the top 12 in the points standings.
Heat winners were Davenport, Bloomquist, Shaver, Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., Blankenship and Owens. The B-Mains were captured by Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., Eckert and Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y.
The stars of the 2011 WoO LMS will be honored during the tour’s annual awards banquet on Sunday night (Nov. 6) at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, N.C.
For more information of the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
Results of WoO Late Model Series Lowes Foods World Finals presented by Tom’s Snacks, Coca-Cola and Nature’s Own Race No. 2 (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (4) Jimmy Owens/50 $10,275
2. (5) Scott Bloomquist/50 $5,150
3. (1) Jonathan Davenport/50 $3,050
4. (6) Steve Shaver/50 $2,500
5. (8) Dennis Erb Jr./50 $2,000
6. (3) John Blankenship/50 $1,700
7. (13) Chub Frank/50 $1,500
8. (22) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,400
9. (15) Earl Pearson Jr./50 $1,200
10. (8) Eddie Carrier Jr./50 $1,600
11. (2) Will Vaught/50 $1,050
12. (20) Rick Eckert/50 $1,050
13. (14) Tyler Reddick/50 $950
14. (10) Dennis ‘Rambo’ Franklin/50 $900
15. (19) Dale McDowell/50 $950
16. (21) Vic Coffey/50 $850
17. (26) Austin Hubbard/50 $820
18. (17) Josh Richards/50 $900
19. (24) Chris Madden/50 $730
20. (18) Tim Fuller/50 $750
21. (16) Morgan Bagley/47 $700
22. (9) Shane Clanton/37 $750
23. (12) Clint Smith/37 $750
24. (25) Tim McCreadie/37 $850
25. (11) Steve Francis/36 $800
26. (28) Pat Doar/21 $1,000
27. (23) Jeremy Miller/20 $700
28. (27) Ron Davies/9 $750
* Earnings include cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 25 Mins., 30.086 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 2.497 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 3 (Laps 23, 37, 37)
Lap Leaders: Davenport (1-8); Owens (9-12); Bloomquist (13); Owens (14-50)
Provisional Starters: McCreadie, Hubbard (WoO); Davies (pre-entry speed); Doar (early entry)
Rookie of the Race: Doar ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Carrier ($500)
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Eddie Carrier Jr., 3. Chub Frank, 4. Dale McDowell, 5. Chris Brown, 6. Gregg Satterlee, 7. John Lobb, 8. Dan Stone, 9. Ron Davies, 10. Mike Gault, 11. Don Gordon
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Scott Bloomquist, 2. Dennis Erb Jr., 3. Tyler Reddick, 4. Jared Landers, 5. Darrell Lanigan, 6. Mike Marlar, 7. Brandon Sheppard, 8. Pat Doar, 9. Jason Feger, 10. Denny Fenton, 11. Jim O’Hara
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Steve Shaver, 2. Shane Clanton, 3. Earl Pearson Jr., 4. Rick Eckert, 5. Jeremy Miller, 6. Chris Ferguson, 7. Matt Westfall, 8. Tim Allen, 9. Luke Roffers, 10. Chuck Harper (DNS) Brian Hubbard
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Will Vaught, 2. Dennis Franklin, 3. Morgan Bagley, 4. Vic Hill, 5. Russell King, 6. Kenny Moreland, 7. Dane Burns, 8. Dale Planck, 9. Donald Bradsher, 10. Tim Dohm, 11. Tim McCreadie
Heat No. 5 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. John Blankenship, 2. Steve Francis, 3. Josh Richards, 4. Chris Madden, 5. Austin Hubbard, 6. Jeff Smith, 7. Dan Schlieper, 8. Doug Drown, 9. Chad Hollenbeck, 10. Jill George (DNS) Brent Dixon
Heat No. 6 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): 1. Jimmy Owens, 2. Clint Smith, 3. Tim Fuller, 4. Vic Coffey, 5. Jared Hawkins, 6. Johnny Pursley, 7. Jay Sessoms, 8. John Henderson, 9. Thomas Baker, 10. Brian Ledbetter (DNS) Eric Jacobsen
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Dale McDowell, 2. Darrell Lanigan, 3. Jason Feger, 4. Chris Brown, 5. Gregg Satterlee, 6. John Lobb, 7. Jared Landers, 8. Dan Stone, 9. Pat Doar, 10. Ron Davies, 11. Brandon Sheppard, 12. Mike Gault, 13. Denny Fenton, 14. Jim O’Hara, 15. Don Gordon, 16. Mike Marlar
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Rick Eckert, 2. Jeremy Miller, 3. Chris Ferguson, 4. Vic Hill, 5. Russell King, 6. Tim Allen, 7. Kenny Moreland, 8. Chuck Harper, 9. Matt Westfall, 10. Dale Planck, 11. Tim McCreadie, 12. Dane Burns, 13. Tim Dohm (DNS) Luke Roffers, Donald Bradsher, Brian Hubbard
B-Main No. 3 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Vic Coffey, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Austin Hubbard, 4. Jared Hawkins, 5. Dan Schlieper, 6. Doug Drown, 7. Jeff Smith, 8. John Henderson, 9. Jay Sessoms, 10. Chad Hollenbeck, 11. Johnny Pursley, 12. Brian Ledbetter, 13. Jill George (DNS) Thomas Baker, Brent Dixon, Eric Jacobsen
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:
Arizona Sports Shirts ($100 apparel certificate to 22nd fastest qualifier): Ron Davies
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main w/decal): Scott Bloomquist
Comp Cams ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Scott Bloomquist
Comp Cams (certificate to 10th place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Eddie Carrier Jr.
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): John Lobb/Tim Allen/Doug Drown
JE Pistons ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Jimmy Owens
JE Pistons (one set of Pro Seal rings to 11th-place or next highest w/decal, redeemable w/next purchase of one complete set of rings): Rick Eckert
JE Pistons (one set of Pro Seal rings to 21st-place or next highest w/decal, redeemable w/next purchase of one complete set of rings): Morgan Bagley
MSD Ignition ($75 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Jimmy Owens
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to last-place in A-Main or next lowest w/decal): Ron Davies
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Jimmy Owens
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Jonathan Davenport
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place or next highest w/decal): Dennis Erb Jr.
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place or next highest w/decal): Dale McDowell
R2C Performance ($100 certificate to highest-finishing driver w/decal or $100 cash if race winner is using R2C filter and decal is displayed): Jimmy Owens (certificate)
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
Superflow Dynos ($50 cash to 7th-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to winner of Heat 1 or next highest w/decal): Jonathan Davenport
VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (one five-gallon plastic fuel jugs to fastest qualifier who does not make the A-Main or next highest w/decal): Gregg Satterlee
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Dale McDowell
Wrisco Aluminum (Three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner w/decal): Jimmy Owens
Final 2011 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings – 32 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Rick Eckert 4472
2. Josh Richards 4458 (-14)
3. Darrell Lanigan 4304 (-168)
4. Tim McCreadie 4178 (-294)
5. Chub Frank 4174 (-298)
6. Austin Hubbard 4140 (-332)
7. Shane Clanton 4134 (-338)
8. Clint Smith 4064 (-408)
9. Vic Coffey 3966 (-506)
10. Tim Fuller 3948 (-524)
11. Pat Doar 3758 (-714)
12. Ron Davies 3654 (-818)
13. John Lobb 3444 (-1028)
14. Jill George 2272 (-2200)
15. Jason Feger 1932 (-2540)
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.