As the evening went on at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida it was obvious that Dennis Erb Jr. would be the man to beat. What wasn’t obvious, though was that the track conditions were deteriorating rapidly as the evening progressed.
The 25-lap feature for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series quickly became a survival race, and it was Erb who came out on top after a thrilling battle with Billy Moyer.
“It was just something that wasn’t very fun to drive but we were able to get around and get the win,” Erb said afterwards. “The race track just got real slick. The cars wouldn’t steer. We just had to find a way to skate them around and get it to go.”
Moyer echoed Erb’s thoughts on the race track and wondered if it could have been the new tires they were running on that may have caused the issue.
“It was like just running on ice,” said Moyer, who has won 23 times at East Bay over his stellar career. “I went into the corner and the front wheels didn’t work and you had to do tricks to get it to turn halfway around the corner. We were on a harder tire, so it just made it tricky.”
Erb and Moyer battled side by side, lap after lap for much of the first half of the race, with a few cautions briefly putting their duel on hold. The duo traded the lead four times in the first ten laps, before Erb finally took total control and led the final 15 laps.
Moyer slipped back a bit after he appeared to have caught the berm in turn four, but he said that wasn’t the case.
“My car jumped out of gear twice,” Moyer said. “That’s when those other two cars got by me. I don’t know what the deal was with that, but we’ve just got to learn and move on.”
Moyer slipped back to fourth as a result, but he worked his way back by Bobby Pierce to finish third behind Erb and Earl Pearson Jr. Pierce finished fourth after starting 16th, and Brandon Sheppard completed the top five.
While Erb was quite happy to score another win at East Bay, he was more focused on what could have caused the issues with the race track.
“There’s a lot of factors that we have to look at,” Erb said. “We are on a little bit harder tires than we usually are. The track was hard in three and four, and it was cool out. But It’s real good to be able to come down here and start the week off with a win.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Paul Arch Photo
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Winternationals Night One Results
East Bay Raceway Park, Tampa, Florida
1. Dennis Erb Jr.
2. Earl Pearson Jr.
3. Billy Moyer
4. Bobby Pierce
5. Brandon Sheppard
6. Dennis Franklin
7. Josh Richards
8. Billy Moyer Jr.
9. Eddie Carrier Jr.
10. Jason Papich
11. Mike Benedum
12. Scott Bloomquist
13. Jimmy Owens
14. Mark Whitener
15. Allen Murray
16. Russell Brown Jr.
17. Chad Hollenbeck
18. Stormy Scott
19. Jonathan Davenport
20. Kyle Bronson
21. Devin Moran
22. Mason Zeigler
23. Austin Rettig
24. Davey Johnson
25. Gregg Satterlee
26. Dan Stone