Rossburg, OH — Now Scott Bloomquist has one for the thumb.
The Mooresburg, Tenn., superstar registered a record fifth career victory in the UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Dirt Late Model Dream XIV at Eldora Speedway on Saturday night, turning back a late bid by Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, to pocket the race’s $100,000 top prize – the division’s biggest single-race paycheck in 2008.
Bloomquist, 44, was never headed after charging forward from the ninth starting spot to take the lead from Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., on lap 24 of the 100-lap A-Main. He drove a new Miller Brothers Coal-sponsored Team Zero car that he built in his shop.
“This event has big very good to me,” said Bloomquist, who previously won the Dream in 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2006. “We’ve won five, but there’s probably three others that we should have had. We work really hard to come to come to this race.
“Following the Prelude (to the Dream) and the attention that got (on Wednesday night) – that makes this an even bigger event to win. It’s right up there, definitely one of the bigger highlights of my career.”
The triumph brought Bloomquist a sense of redemption for the heartbreaking loss he suffered at the hands of Birkhofer in the 2002 World 100 at Eldora. Birkhofer, who slipped by Bloomquist on the final lap to steal a victory in that event six years ago, settled for the $20,000 runner-up money in his Mars-Birkhofer machine, just over a second behind Bloomquist.
Clanton, who led laps 4-23 after starting sixth, slipped back to finish a distant third in a brand-new RSD Enterprises Rocket, and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., came from the 13th starting spot to challenge Clanton late in the distance before placing fourth in the Reece Monuments Bloomquist chassis.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who surged off his outside-pole starting spot to lead laps 1-3, completed the top five in the Valvoline Rocket No. 39. His car was fielded by defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who failed to qualify for the A-Main in Dale Beitler’s No. 15 after suffering a blown right-rear tire with two laps remaining in his heat.
Of course, with the race running caution-free from lap 36 to the finish, Bloomquist was blissfully unaware that an exact repeat of 2002 was possible. His mind was simply on staying in front, not on his closest pursuer.
“I didn’t know Brian was in second, so I didn’t really think about (2002),” said Bloomquist. “But you never not think about getting caught in traffic or getting passed close to the end. You just gotta keep your poise and worry about what’s in front rather than what’s behind you.”
Bloomquist took care of the competition ahead of him with relative ease. He cracked the top five by lap 11, then shot by both Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., and McCreadie to reach second on a lap-17 restart before running down Clanton.
The fast move to the front was by design.
“I saw that Jimmy (Owens) had come through real quick,” said Bloomquist, who used a powerplant built by Vic Hill. “I didn’t want to mess up and let him get in front of me and then have us be the same speed, so I’d have a hard time getting back by him.
“That’s really the answer to why I pushed it early. I wanted to be sure and not give him an opportunity to get in front of me.”
Clanton, who set fast time in Friday night’s 122-car qualifying session with a lap of 16.580 seconds and raced to a Saturday heat win from the fifth starting spot, proved to be no match for Bloomquist.
“After how quick we (caught) him, there was no doubt in my mind that we were gonna pass him,” Bloomquist said of Clanton. “We had got such a good run on him at both ends, it was just a matter of time. We could’ve got him even sooner than we did, but I wanted to take my time and be sure.”
Clanton, 32, missed the setup on his No. 25.
“I was a little too free,” said Clanton, who earned $10,000 for a career-best Dream finish of third. “At the beginning of the race (the car) turned too good and had too much traction. It wasn’t pushing not one bit, so I knew I was in trouble.
“I thought to myself, ‘If I can get out (to a lead) as far as I can get and it goes green-to-checkered, maybe they won’t catch us.’ But that didn’t happen.”
It was left to Birkhofer, 36, to keep Bloomquist honest. Birky reached second place on lap 62 and managed to close within a car length of Bloomquist several times over the final 10 laps.
“I wanted to make him at least a little bit nervous,” smiled Birkhofer, who dived underneath Bloomquist through turns and two but couldn’t make a move stick. “Maybe with three (laps) to go I thought I might have a chance at him (in traffic), but he could just turn it on.
“I’m just happy that we were fortunate to make the race. I learned a lot about my race car tonight.”
Birkhofer had to rally after timing 75th-fastest on Friday night, which left him with a starting spot deep in a heat race. He ultimately transferred by winning the B-Main.
While Birkhofer got the attention of the large crowd late in the distance, Bloomquist was confident that he had the race under control.
“The line I was running wasn’t a line where you were gonna drive right by me,” said Bloomquist. “I would’ve seen you before you ever passed me — catching and passing were too different things.”
The race was slowed by just two caution flags (on lap 17 for the slow car of Whitehouse, Ohio’s Matt Miller and lap 36 for nosepiece damage to the car driven by Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga.) and one red flag (a lap-10 rollover in turn two by R.J. Conley of Wheelersburg, Ohio, who was uninjured).
Pearson finished sixth and polesitter Shannon Buckingham of Morristown, Tenn., who drove a Bloomquist Chassis, was the last driver on the lead lap at the finish in seventh.
Rounding out the top 10 was 18th-starter Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., 16th-starter Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., and 23rd-starter Bart Hartman of Zanesville, Ohio. Each driver was one lap down at the finish.
Clanton’s fast-time award on Friday came after the first round of qualifying was cut short by Mother Nature with just 23 cars still waiting to time. The edge of a severe storm clipped Eldora Speedway and dropped some rain, forcing officials to wipe out the qualifications already completed and restart the first round from scratch.
Saturday’s 15-lap heat winners were Clanton, Shawn Toczek of Hebron, Ind., Pearson, John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., McCreadie and Buckingham. The C-Main was captured by Donnie Moran of Dresden, Ohio, and the B-Main went to Birkhofer.
For more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing, visit www.dirtcar.com.
14th Annual Dirt Late Model Dream Official Finish (100 laps):
1. Scott Bloomquist $100,000
2. Brian Birkhofer $20,000
3. Shane Clanton $10,000
4. Jimmy Owens $6,000
5. Tim McCreadie $5,000
6. Earl Pearson Jr. $4,000
7. Shannon Buckingham $3,500
8. Steve Shaver $3,000
9. Chub Frank $2,500
10. Bart Hartman $2,200
11. Audie McWilliams $2,000
12. Wendell Wallace $1,900
13. Eric Jacobsen $1,800
14. Rodney Combs $1,750
15. Mike Marlar $1,725
16. Billy Moyer $1,700
17. Shawn Toczek $1,675
18. John Blankenship $1,650
19. Don O’Neal $1,625
20. Dale McDowell $1,600
21. Aaron Scott $1,575
22. Tim Fuller $1,550
23. Matt Miller $1,525
24. R.J. Conley $1,500
Heat 1 Finish (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Shane Clanton, Tim Fuller, Jimmy Owens, Dale McDowell, Michael England, Dennis Erb, Justin Ratliff, Matt Lux, Andrew Reaume, D. J. Wells, Robbie Hensley, Dan Schlieper, Donald Beyers, Freddy Smith, Terry Phillips, Bobby Kitchen, Darrell Lanigan, Jerry Rice, Brett Wyatt, Mark Anderson, Rodney Hambline
Heat 2 Finish (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Shawn Toczek, Don O’Neal, Mike Marlar, Rodney Combs, John Gill, Rick Eckert, Donnie Moran, Casey Roberts, Frank Heckenast, Terry Casey, Curt Spalding, Scott Orr, Todd Morrow, Billy Moyer, Jeff Fornet, Jill George, Kirk Bradley, Michael Kloose, Jon Horner, Riley Hickman, Bob Lanter
Heat 3 Finish (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Earl Pearson, Jr., Scott Bloomquist, R. J. Conley, Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars, Steve Casebolt, Vic Hill, Eric Jacobsen, Joe Arms, Tyler Boggs, Jason Keltner, Ky Harper, Tim Isenberg, Chris Ross, Justin Labonte, Bryan Bernheisel, April Farmer, Steve Francis, Shane Riner, Scott James, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Heat 4 Finish (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer) John Blankenship, Wendell Wallace, Chub Frank, Brady Smith, Chad Ruhlman, Jeep VanWormer, Jessee Stovall, Jerry Bowersock, Brian Shirley, Jordan Bland, Ben Adkins, Brent Kreke, Mike Collins, Damon Eller, Tony Knowles, Nick Marolf, Brandon Perkins, Scott Daly, Josh Williams, Justin Shaw
Heat 5 Finish (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Tim McCreadie, Matt Miller, Aaron Scott, John Mason, Shannon Babb, Jeremy Payne, Ryan Dauber, Casey Noonan, Jay Johnson, Larry Kingseed, Rick Rogers, Jared Hawkins, Wayne Chinn, Josh Richards, Rocky Owens, Brad Neat, Mark Thresher, Rocky Hodges, Doug Drown, Dillon Wood
Heat 6 Finish (15 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Shannon Buckingham, Audie McWilliams, Steve Shaver, Bart Hartman, Chris Madden, Eddie Carrier, Jr., Rusty Schlenk, Jackie Boggs, Clint Smith, Ray Cook, Brian Ruhlman, Jason Feger, Billy Faust, Shannon Thornsberry, Bill Williams, Tommy Kerr, Dale Groves, Jr., Chris Conley, Jeff Beyers, Delmas Conley
C-Main Finish (15 laps – Top 6 Transfer to B-Main): Moran, Hill, Ratliff, Dauber, Arms, Lux, Heckenast, C. Smith, Shirley, Schlenk, T. Boggs, Stovall, Cook, J. Boggs, Johnson, Bland, Wells, Jacobsen, Noonan, Bowersock, Roberts, Reaume, Casey, Kingseed
B-Main Finish (20 laps – Top 4 Transfer to Dream): Birkhofer, Combs, Hartman, McDowell, B. Smith, Mars, Gill, C. Ruhlman, Madden, Carrier, Jr., Erb, Eckert, Ratliff, Babb, Arms, Hill, Dauber, VanWormer, England, Payne, Mason, Moran, Lux, Casebolt