Pursley - Madden

Chris Madden looks between #09 John Pursley and Dan Schieper to find an eventual fifth place finish in Lucas Oil Series action at Cherokee Speedway on March 7th. (Rick Schwallie)

 Lucas Oil Late Model Series

Bloomquist Passes McDowell on Final Lap
to Take Cherokee "March Madness" Win
By James Essex

GAFFNEY, S.C. (March 7) - Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tennessee passed race leader Dale McDowell in turn four of the finallap and outsprinted McDowell to the win in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series sanctioned March Madness race Sunday at Cherokee Speedway.

Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn. crossed the stripe in third followed by 16th starting Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind.

A wild first lap saw Bub McCool and Ray Cook get together on the backstretch,

Scott Bloomquist

Scott Bloomquist sails toward another big win at Cherokee Speedway for his fourth win of the young season. (George Missita) 

with Cook suffering heavy damage to his car. Cook went several laps down as his crew made repairs to the car. During the red flag period, outside front row starter Dan Schlieper went to the pits for the night after fluid began leaking out fromunder his car, putting Chris Madden to the outside of polesitter John Blankenship.

The second time would be a charm to get the race underway as Madden took the lead over McDowell, while Chris Wall quickly dropped John Blankenship to fourth. McDowell started to put the heat on Madden for the lead, pulling even on lap 10 and nudging ahead on the next lap. One lap later, the second caution of the race flew as McCool slowed on the backstretch.

The restart saw McDowell and hometown favorite Madden still batttling with 16 laps complete. Bloomquist, whostarted seventh, was in the hunt by then,

Pearson - Fitzgerald

Earl Pearson, Jr. shares some quality time with Crew Chief Jason Fitzgerald prior to the Cherokee Speedway Lucas Oil DLM Series event. (Rick Schwallie)

running fourth and bringing Weaver with him. Wall,who was the Red Buck Cigars fast qualifier for the night was doing a good job in fighting off the challenges of the two while McDowell and Madden raced through traffic.

Madden pulled dead even with McDowell on lap 27 as the crowd came to its collective feet. McDowell led lap 28, but a circuit later Madden was scored as the leader. Madden then took a five length lead over McDowell on lap 32 and looked to have the car to beat in the remaining laps, but McDowell re-grouped and closed quickly.

O'Neal - Pursley - Smith

 Don O'Neal, John Pursley, and Clint Smith all have the right idea at Cherokee Speedway, "Wherever there is, get there before he does." (Rick Schwallie)

Meanwhile,  Bloomquist and Weaver had managed to get around Wall back on lap 38 to take over third and fourth, but they looked to be too far out of it to make a run in the final laps until after Bloomquist went around Madden on lap 45, a caution flew with four to go.

McDowell was under constant pressure from Bloomquist at that point, and as the two drivers took the white flag, McDowell moved up just enough out of the groove to allow Bloomquist room on the bottom to pull even, then slide up in front of McDowell through turn four on the final lap. Bloomquist got the win by one car length as a stunned crowd looked on.

In the Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the 20th time in his career, the reigning series champion was out of breath in his post-race interview. "Well the car wassuper, it just got better and better as the race went on, everything went well today for us, Chris (Madden) is good at this place, and we share a lot of information. If he would have had my tire combination on, he would have won," said the 46-year-old driver who is quickly approaching 500 career wins.

Scott Bloomquist

Scott Bloomquist, swamped in confetti after his Lucas Oil Series win at Cherokee Speedway. (George Missita)

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