JAMAICA, Va. — Jamie Lathroum, a former track champion at Bill Sawyer’s Virginia Motor Speedway, captured the biggest victory of his racing career on Saturday Night. He took home the $20,000 first place in the 33rd annual USA 100.
Lathroum took over the lead on lap 18 and held off Scott Bloomquist for the win in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned event.
Steve Francis led the first 15 laps of the race until Lathroum forged under him coming off of turn four. Francis then jumped the cushion and was forced to stop on the track before contact with the inside guardrail. On the restart, Lathroum picked up the lead, but a big wreck in turn four involving four cars changed the complexion of the top five.
Lathroum maintained the top spot with Earl Pearson Jr. and John Blankenship running in third. Lathroum built his lead over Pearson and Blankenship as the drivers approached the halfway mark of the race.
Blankenship squeezed by Pearson for second as he began to run down the leader, Lathroum. Blankenship closed the gap in a hurry as he closed to within a car length of Lathroum, who was having difficulty negotiating lapped car. Blankenship tried to pass Lathroum several times, but could never get a good enough run.
Lathroum meanwhile stretched his lead out to a comfortable margin over Blankenship, who was now receiving pressure from the duo of Pearson and Bloomquist. Bloomquist moved into the third spot on lap 43 as he tracked down Blankenship and overhauled him on lap 46.
Bloomquist then tried to diamond-off the corners in an effort to catch the high-flying Lathroum, but it was to no avail as Lathroum hit his marks lap after lap as he took his car to Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the first time in his career. He becomes the 15th different winner this year in series competition.
“This is just awesome,” said Lathroum, who emerged from his MasterSbilt by Huey with tears in his eyes. “This is the biggest win of my career and to outrun Bloomquist, O’Neal, and the rest of these guys is just unbelievable! I have to thank my crew, everybody here at Virginia Motor Speedway, my family and the fans.”
Lathroum, who captured the late model track title at VMS back in 2005, said keeping his car away from the bumps and cushion was critical to his success.
“I tried to stay away from all of that, there were guys jumping the cushion, it would bite you if you let it. I just tried to be smooth lap after lap and we got it done,” Lathroum said.
Bloomquist came home in second, followed by Blankenship, Don O’’Neal and Pearson.