- Feb. 17 - Volusia Speedway Park by Sam Holbrooks


Scott Bloomquist - VSP VL2

Scott Bloomquist after his first World of Outlaws win of the season, and his second of the winter racing period in Florida. (Eileen Shrey) 

World of Outlaws: Richards Slip Paves Way For Bloomquist Win in Volusia Opener

Kevin Kovac

BARBERVILLE, Fla. -–Feb. 17. Scott Bloomquist brought an end to Josh Richards's mastery of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series season opener on Thursday at Volusia Speedway Park.

Racing through gritted teeth on a fast, physical track due to a sore shoulder and ribs, Bloomquist took advantage of Richards's losing bout with the half-mile oval's ample cushion to capture the 50-lap A-Main that was part of the 40th annual DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio.

Bloomquist, 47, of Mooresburg, Tenn., regained command of the race on lap 42 after Richards slammed the dirt curb between turns one and two and lost momentum. The 2004 WoO LMS titlist controlled the remainder of the distance to record his 20th victory on the national tour since 2004.

Richards, who advanced from the seventh starting spot to take the lead from Bloomquist on lap 29, saw his bid for an unprecedented fifth consecutive win in the WoO LMS lidlifter end when his Rocket Chassis house car's right-rear wheel broke off exiting turn two on the final circuit as he ran second. The 22-year-old, two-time defending series champion limped around the track on three wheels to cross the finish line in 14th place.

Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis. finished second after starting 10th. He flashed under the checkered flag 2.970 seconds behind Bloomquist's Roush-Yates Ford-powered machine.

Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., celebrated his 19th birthday and the start of his sophomore season as a WoO LMS regular with a solid third-place finish. Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., registered a WoO LMS career-best placing of fourth in NASCAR star Clint Bowyer's Rocket and 13th-starter Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., completed the top five.

Bloomquist, who started from the pole position, felt the effects of the tough conditions after pocketing $10,175 for his first triumph during the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH since a WoO LMS event in 2004.

"I'm wore out",”Bloomquist said following a race that was slowed by just two caution flags. "This track's pretty demanding, and I tore my left shoulder muscle and bruised my ribs in that rough stuff at Ocala (Speedway) on Sunday so there was a little bit of pain involved. When you jump the cushion and you gotta grab a handful of (steering) wheel to give it all you got to get out of there, it hurts."

"But when you're racing, you can overcome that. It's afterwards when you feel it the most, but it's all worth it to win the race."”

Bloomquist appeared headed to a runner-up finish after Richards made a breathtaking move between him and a lapped car off turn four to take the lead on lap 29. Richards perched his machine in the outside groove and maintained a short edge over Bloomquist as the race wound down.

But when Richards hit the cushion working lap 41, Bloomquist seized the moment to grab the lead. Richards was unable to mount another challenge; his impact with the berm was so violent that it bent his car's right-rear wheel, which eventually broke and flew off.

"He got in a little hot, didn't get the car turned enough and got out in the stuff,"”Bloomquist said of the moment that cost Richards. "He always seems to dance with the devil. The problem is, it's hard to get out of (the cushion) once you get in it, and that's all it took. He did get it out of it, but not in time. "

"Once I got the lead back I was pretty sure I wasn't gonna' give it back again. When (Richards) got by us I tried running low and there just wasn't enough to get up off the corner. The high line was better at that time of the race, but once he made that mistake we were pretty confident we weren't gonna' give it up again".”

Smith, who won last year's WoO LMS finale during the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, slipped by Richards for second on lap 45 but gave the spot back when he scrubbed the homestretch wall on the 48th circuit. The 33-year-old driver avoided Richards - and Richards's flying wheel - on the last lap to regain second place.

"I was driving as hard as I could,"” said Smith, who spent much of the race’s second half battling for position with Hubbard. "But if I gotta' take second, he's (Bloomquist) the one I want to take second to. We're happy and I know we got a helluva' chance to get to Victory Lane here the next two nights.”

Hubbard, the 2010 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year, ran as high as second early in the distance but couldn't quite match the leaders' pace.

The race's only caution flags were produced by cars rolling slowly due to steaming engines, on lap 12 for Eric Jacobsen of Sea Cliff Beach, Calif., and on lap 29 for Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.

A sterling field of 69 cars was signed in to begin the 2011 WoO LMS campaign.

Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., registered his first career WoO LMS fast-time honor, setting a new track record of 15.783 seconds in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials. A Rookie of the Year hopeful on this year’s tour, the 47-year-old driver surpassed the one-lap Volusia standard of 15.813 seconds established 24 hours earlier by Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind.

Heat winners were Landers, Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., Bloomquist, Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., Hubbard and Wells. The B-Mains were captured by Clint Smith, 15-year-old Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif., and Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga.

Dan Schlieper of Sullivan, Wis., captured the 12-lap "Bulrush Dash"’that was reserved for 15 of the evening's non-qualifiers. He earned $300 for his night-ending effort.

Surprisingly absent from the evening's action was 2008 WoO LMS champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who finished second in last year's points standings. He flew home on Monday because he wasn't feeling well and was planning to return for Thursday's program, but before he could get on a plane, health issues forced him to remain in the Bluegrass State.

Feb. 17 - World of Outlaws
1) Scott Bloomquist, 2) Brady Smith, 3) Austin Hubbard, 4) Jared Landers, 5) Don O'Neal, 6) Billy Moyer, 7) Earl Pearson, Jr., 8) Eric Wells, 9) Shane Clanton (prov.), 10) Jimmy Mars, 11) Jason Feger, 12) Chris Madden, 13) Rick Eckert, 14) Josh Richards, 15 Chub Frank (prov.), 16) Tim McCreadie (prov.), 17) Steve Francis, 18) Dennis Erb Jr. (prov.) 19 Tyler Reddick, 20) Pat Doar, 21) Tim Fuller (prov.), 22) Jonathan Davenport, 23) Tyler Ivey, 24) Clint Smith, 25) Dan Stone, 26) Eddie Carrier, Jr. 27) Casey Roberts, 28) Eric Jacobsen, 29) Justin Rattliff, 30) Ryan Unzicker (prov.) (69 entries)

Brian McLeod photo


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