COLUMBUS, Miss. – Don O’Neal topped Jimmy Owens to win the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Clash at the Mag Saturday night at Magnolia Motor Speedway.
O’Neal became the first repeat winner in the $20,000-to-win event, sponsored by the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau.
With the enormous crowd on its feet, O’Neal and Owens swapped the lead four times during the race. O’Neal forged ahead for good on lap 90. Owens finished second, followed by Earl Pearson Jr., Scott Bloomquist and Timothy Culp.
“What a race,” said O’Neal in front of the cheering standing room only crowd. “He started to drive off from me there with about 30 to go. I closed the gap on him, and then the caution came out. I thought I had a shot when that last caution came out. I changed my line for a moment, and the car started taking off better, and then I was able to run him down.
“I wasn’t even looking at my guys towards the end. I was just concentrating on hitting my marks. We just kept digging, like the Show-Me 100. The track was awesome all night. Thanks to Johnny Stokes for a great race track and the fans for coming out tonight to see us race.”
Randy Weaver led the first 28 laps of the 100 lap event, jumping to the lead from his outside pole position at the start. O’Neal, who started fourth, tracked down Weaver taking the lead away from him on lap 29. Owens started ninth and then made his way past Weaver to take over the second spot. Owens then pulled alongside O’Neal for several laps before clearing him for the lead on lap 40.
Owens held the top spot until O’Neal passed him again on lap 73. O’Neal then battled with Owens for the next dozen laps as the two had the capacity crowd on its feet. Owens battled back, regaining the point on lap 86. Owens’ reign as the leader was limited when O’Neal charged back into the lead for good with ten laps remaining.
“That was pretty exciting,” said Owens. “That should be a great race for television. I hope the fans here enjoyed that. O’Neal got around me, and I got back by him. We went back-and-forth so many times I lost track after awhile. Congrats to O’Neal, he had a good car, the track was really racy. We could run all over the track, high, low, in the middle.”
Pearson had a birds-eye view for the race up front between O’Neal and Owens, and was pleased with his third place finish.
“I thought I had a chance to catch Jimmy near the end, but we came up just short. The track was super tonight. With all the rain they had this week, they did a tremendous job on track prep,” said Pearson.
Completing the top ten were Jared Landers, Weaver, Chad Thrash, Steve Francis and Chris Wall.
Don O’Neal, Jimmy Owens, Earl Pearson Jr., Scott Bloomquist, Timothy Culp, Jared Landers, Randy Weaver, Chad Thrash, Steve Francis, Chris Wall, Dennis Erb Jr., Bub McCool, Eric Cooley, Ray Cook, Jason Hughes, Chase Washington, Jason Papich, John Blankenship, Shane Clanton, Wendell Wallace, Neil Baggett, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jimmy Cliburn, Ronny Lee Hollingsworth.