Blankenship Marches Through Rome


ROME, Ga. — John Blankenship continued the best season of his racing career on Sunday night as he captured the Rome Rumble at Rome Int’l Speedway. Blankenship, who started seventh, roared to the lead on lap 21 and never looked back in winning his third Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event of the season.

Scott Bloomquist survived a side-by-side duel with Chris Madden to finish second in his Hawkeye Trucking, Bloomquist Race Cars Ford. Madden was third, followed by Steve Francis and 10th-starting Don O’Neal.

Jimmy Owens took the lead at the start of the 50-lap, $10,000-to-win feature event. Owens looked dominant in the early going until race traffic started to slow his momentum. When Owens caught traffic, so did Madden, Bloomquist and Blankenship and they made it a four-way battle for the top spot.

At one point they were three wide for second. Blankenship passed both Madden and Bloomquist on the same lap to take second. Then two laps later Blankenship made the inside pass of Owens for the lead on lap 21. On the same lap, Owens slowed with a right-rear flat tire.

On the restart, Blankenship received some pressure from Madden and Bloomquist, but that did not last long as Blankenship started to pull away from the field. Madden held the second spot until lap 38 when Bloomquist took over that position. But by then, Blankenship was well out in front as he went on to capture his fourth career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event in convincing fashion.

“The crew got on me pretty good for the way I drove in the heat race,” said the 31-year -old. “We made some changes for the feature and the car was strong from the start, it was easy to drive, we went by Madden and then Scott (Bloomquist) and then when I got by Jimmy, I guess he had a flat, and we went on from there.”

The finish:

John Blankenship, Scott Bloomquist, Chris Madden, Steve Francis, Don O’Neal, Mike Marlar, Billy Ogle Jr., Ray Cook, Jonathan Davenport, Earl Pearson Jr., Jason Hiett, Tyler Reddick, Tony Knowles, Eric Wells, Jared Landers, Jimmy Owens, Aaron Ridley, Joe Armistead, Luther Jenkins, Jake Knowles, Steve Casebolt, Tyler Millwood, Dillon Wood, Shane Clanton.