GIBSONTON, Fla. — Don O’Neal captured his 15th victory at East Bay Raceway Park Friday after taking the lead on lap 39.
Doug Drown and O’Neal had a hard fought battle, exchanging the lead several times during the main event. O’Neal captured $10,000 for winning the first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points event of the season.
Drown led the majority of the 50-lap event and held the top spot until O’Neal chased him down in lapped traffic. Drown fought back hard, closing to within a car length of O’Neal near the end of the race, but came up short in his bid for a first LOLMDS win.
Bobby Pierce, the 16-year-old second-generation driver, held his own, finishing third. He was followed by Earl Pearson Jr., who drove his way from the 18th starting spot to claim fourth, just ahead of Dennis Erb Jr.
“That was a thrilling race. The fans could not have asked for a better feature. We changed so many things on this car, and it was perfect in the end,” said O’Neal. “I got up to second and we (Drown) raced hard for the lead, I would get by him, then he would come back around me.”
Drown is racing at East Bay for the first-time in his career this week and was excited with his runner-up finish. “Hats off to Don. He drove a great race. I thought we were going to get it for a moment,” Drown said. “I looked over at the scoreboard and saw the 71 behind me, and I thought maybe I could him hold him off, but he is obviously one of the best drivers in the country. Just to run with these guys is quite an honor.”
In preliminary action, Pierce (Group A) set the overall Fast Time amongst the 37 entrants, with a lap of 14.404 seconds.
Don O’Neal, Doug Drown, Bobby Pierce, Earl Pearson Jr., Dennis Erb Jr., John Blankenship, Vic Coffey, Steve Francis, Jimmy Owens, Chad Hollenbeck, Jason Riggs, Tyler Reddick, Austin Hubbard, Jerry Lierly, Jared Landers, Jason McBride, Eddie Carrier Jr., Devin Moran, David Breazeale, Scott Bloomquist, Stormy Scott, Ricky Weiss, Eric Jacobsen, Justin Rattliff, Chad Stapleton, Donnie Moran.