When a driver is having the kind of year that Dale McDowell is having in 2014, little things can go right to make what is already a great one even better.
Thursday night, the Chickamauga, Georgia driver was the lucky beneficiary of some bad luck suffered by polesitter Scott Bloomquist early in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series’ “Scorcher” 50-lapper at Volunteer Speedway. He inherited the lead after Bloomquist pitted, but suffered damage on the restart lap when cars near the back of the pack tangled and left the track nearly blocked in turn one.
With wrinkled body panels, McDowell, driving for Team Dillon Racing, never showed any signs of slowing for the remaining circuits as he cruised to the $10,000 payday at the Tennessee 4/10-mile.
“We were fighting little battles all night long,” said McDowell in victory lane. “At the beginning, the starter went out. Then it hung in low gear. Then that wreck happened that closed in the header a little bit. I guess it was just meant for us to (win) here tonight.
“Hat’s off to my brother Shane and the TDR crew for building something tough enough to withstand all that. We went down in the corner on that caution and with these things, you just can’t cut down on the bank or I would’ve slid into him. There was just a little hole. It wasn’t big enough, obviously. I squeezed through there and got both sides a little bit.”
McDowell won his heat race earlier in the day at Volunteer Speedway and started alongside fast timer and fellow heat race winner Scott Bloomquist. Bloomquist led the opening two laps, but blew a tire going down the back stretch on the third. As Bloomquist cut his car down towards the infield in turn four, several cars tangled behind him. McDowell was able to sneak through, while others such as Eddie Carrier, Jr., Chris Madden and Earl Pearson, Jr. were not as fortunate.
“It happened all the way down (the back stretch),” said McDowell of Bloomquist’s cut tire. “He had a really good car and I don’t really thing that if nothing happened we could’ve done anything. It blew out off of two, so I don’t know if he ran over something. It wasn’t low, it just blew out. Our good fortune was his misfortune. We’ll take it though.”
Once the field got some laps logged and McDowell built up his lead, he was in command the rest of the way as he picked up his seventh win of 2014. McDowell added Thursday’s “Scorcher” $10,000 payday went along with his Dream 100 win at Eldora and others, plus his newly-acquired Boyd’s Speedway in Georgia, that have made 2014 a highlight season for the 48-year-old.
“I’m really blessed. Austin and Ty (Dillon), Richard (Childress) and everybody at RCR allows this to happen. We’ve got the development deal with Blake Shapiro and Kate Dallenbach that Shane’s doing an awesome job with. Me involved with Boyd’s speedway now, it enables me to split my time up so Shane and I can go race.”
Mike Marlar held off John Blankenship for second at the checkered flag. Bloomquist, who made several pit stops to address issues caused by the cut tire early, rallied back to finish fourth ahead of Jared Landers in fifth.
With a sixth-place finish, Don O’Neal cut into point leader Jimmy Owens’ advantage after Owens dropped out of the race with a rear end issue. Owens finished 15th in the 24-car field.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series returns to action on Saturday, August 23 at Lawrenceburg Speedway in Lawrenceburg, Indiana with the $10,000-to-win “Whiskey City 50.”
Replay the Speed51.com Trackside Now coverage of the “Scorcher” at Volunteer Speedway: click here
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield. Photo credits: Speed51.com
|Unofficial Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Scorcher Finish