UNION, Ky. — Jimmy Owens won the Sunoco Race Fuels North/South 100 presented by Lucas Oil Saturday Night at Florence Speedway.
Owens took the lead on lap 75 from Scott Bloomquist, as he went on to score his third career victory in the annual $50,000-to-win event. Bloomquist had to hold off a hard-charging Brad Neat to finish second. Neat started 15th and finished third, followed by Ray Cook. Mike Marlar was fifth.
“It feels great to win this race again,” said the 39-year-old Owens who joins the late Jack Boggs as the only three-time winner of the race. “I never got the chance to race with Jack Boggs, I know all about what he did in late-model racing and to be mentioned in the same breath as him, it’s just a tremendous accomplishment. I have to my car owner, Mike Reece. He’s here tonight and all the crew, they did a great job all weekend long.”
Don O’Neal has led more laps than any other driver the last two years in this race. He grabbed the lead at the start of the race with Bloomquist running second. Bloomquist shadowed O’Neal for 22 laps of the race before taking over the top spot on lap 23. Bloomquist then pulled away from O’Neal and the rest of the field as he stretched his lead out to several car lengths.
As the race reached the halfway mark, it was Bloomquist, Owens, Marlar, O’Neal, and Lanigan all outpacing the field. Owens then started to close the gap on Bloomquist ever so slightly as Bloomquist was having to deal with lapped traffic. Owens cut the deficit to half a straightaway when a caution for John Blankenship, who slowed on the frontstretch with a flat tire.
This time on the restart Owens was bound and determined to pass Bloomquist as he went to the top of the race track and passed him on lap 75 to take over the point. Over the last 25 laps of the race, Owens had to hold off Bloomquist, who was having his position threatened by Neat.
But Owens was able to put enough distance between the Bloomquist-Neat battle to go on and capture his fifth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of 2011 and he expanded his points’ lead over Bloomquist.
“I didn’t now if could do anything with Scott once I caught him, the cautions sure helped us, and it looked like his left-rear tire sealed over,” Owens said. “I just got tired of running there on the bottom, so I decided to go up top and that was the way to go around him. I was worried there for a while that the track was going to become one-groove but it held up nicely, the car worked so well on it at the end. Scott builds a great race car and to beat him is always tough.”
Jimmy Owens, Scott Bloomquist, Brad Neat, Ray Cook, Mike Marlar, Jonathan Davenport, Steve Francis, Darrell Lanigan, Clint Smith, John Blankenship, Don O’Neal, Jared Landers, Tyler Reddick, Josh Williams, Eric Wells, Bub McCool, Joe Janowski, Jacob Grizzle, Frank Heckenast, Jr., Vic Hill, Chris Madden, Ken Robinson, Dale McDowell, Greg Johnson, Earl Pearson, Jr., Chris Wall, Steve Casebolt.