Another caution waved, this time for Justin Rattliff, who pulled out
of the race. As O’Neal jumped at the chance to lead the race on the restat, Bloomquist and Schlieper went at it for
second until Bloomquist moved back into the runnerup slot on lap 44.
O’Neal stretched his lead to ten car lengths over
Bloomquist and Schlieper, while Steve Francis was now in the hunt for the first time in the race. He finally
climbed from his 19th starting spot to run fourth by lap 46. Cook then rebounded; passed Francis for
O’Neal was looking solid and was comfortably in
front of Bloomquist when the caution came out for Francis on lap 57. The top five stayed in that running order as
O’Neal looked to be on cruise control. Following O’Neal was a terrific battle for second between the cars of
Bloomquist, Schlieper and Erb.
Bloomquist jumped the cushion in turns one and two
again. Schlieper slipped by him on lap 64, then slowly closed the gap with five laps to go. O’Neal sped on to pick
the big check for not only his 13th career win at East Bay, but his 13th career win on the Lucas Oil Late Model
Dirt Series tour.
In the Lucas Oil Victory Lane the 45-year-old racer
who has twice finished runner-up in the Lucas Oil Series; was happy to be there. He thought he had thrown the
chance away when he jumped the cushion back on lap 31.
“I thought I had really messed up there, we had a
really good car from the start and I thought I had lost my chance to win. 75 laps is a lot of laps here, things can
happen so quick here; people come and go to the front so often that you lose and gain track position all the time.
When I saw Scott jump the cushion up there on that restart, I thought this wasmy chance to redeem myself,” said O’Neal.
By virtue of his fourth place finish, Erb captured
the 2010 34th Annual DART Winternationals Championship. Erb took home a $5,000 check for his efforts during the
week as won by a 55-point margin over O’Neal.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Race Summary Saturday Night, February 6th, 2010 “34th
Annual DART Winternationals” East Bay Raceway Park – Tampa, Fla.
Feature Finish (75 Laps): (1) Don O’Neal, (2) Dan Schlieper, (3) Scott Bloomquist, (4)
Dennis Erb, Jr., (5) Jimmy Mars, (6) Jason Feger, (7) Steve Francis, (8) Rick Eckert, (9) Ray Cook, (10) Earl
Pearson, Jr. (prov.), (11) Chris Wall, (12) John Blankenship, (13) Tim Fuller, (14) Eric Wells, (15) Eric Jacobsen
(prov.), (16) Tim McCreadie, (17) Justin Rattliff, (18) Brady Smith, (19) Matt Miller, (20) Ricky Weiss, (21)
Daniel Stone, (22) Shannon Babb, (23) Mark Andersen, (24) Mike Marlar, (25) Steve Casebolt, (26) Jimmy Owens
(prov.), (27) Dillan White (prov.),