- July 30 - Hagerstown Speedway by Sam Holbrooks


John Blankenship at Hagerstown Speedway

After moving ever closer in recent weeks, West Virginia's John Blankenshp finally put one over the top on the Lucas Oil Racing series at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway. (Gary Shrey)

Lucas Oil Series: Blankenship Breaks Out at Hagerstown

James Essex

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - July 30. John Blankenship of Williamson, W.V. won the biggest race of his career on Saturday at Hagerstown Speedway, taking home the $10,000 to win “Conocoheague 50.”

Blankenship rebounded after failing to record a lap in time trials. He went on to win his B-Main, making him start 17th in the main event before racing his way to the win. Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn. finished second to maintain his Lucas Oil Championship points Lead. Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., was third, followed by 13th staring Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla. and 15th starting Jamie Lathroum of Mechanicsville, Md.
John Blankenship at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway.
John Blankenship at Hagerstown Speedway. (Gary Shrey)
Blankenship, the LOLMDS Rookie of the Year back in 2009 took the lead on lap 29 from Jared Landers, who had led from the beginning. Blankenship then pulled away from the field to score his first career Lucas Oil Series victory. “Tonight, I thought we would have trouble making the feature after what happened in time trials. The bolt came out of a shock and we didn’t get to time a lap. We won the consi to make the show. We have had a great car the last four races, I wish I had a shot at Jimmy (Owens) at Fonda, but Jimmy was awfully good up there,” said the 30-year-old driver.
Landers, in his first ever appearance at Hagerstown, was in complete control of the race from the onset. He built a huge lead over Owens and the rest of the field. With 15 laps complete Landers was still holding a sizable lead over Owens, Don O’Neal, Hubbard and Steve Francis.
The complexion of the race changed on lap 18 when two-time series champion, Scott Bloomquist stopped on the track. Bloomquist had changed tires before the race began and was becoming a non-factor as he faded outside of the top ten. Bloomquist did not make it onto the track before the green was waved. He then came out on the backstretch and stopped to bring out another caution. Series officials sent Bloomquist to his pit for the remainder of the feature.
Blankenship was coming on fast after the caution. He passed Owens for second on lap 25 and then ran side by side with Landers until nosing ahead on lap 29. Blankenship then continued a quick pace as he opened up the lead.
Owens then passed Landers for second on lap 36, but by this time Blankenship was well out of reach. Landers held the third spot until dropping out of the race just four laps from the finish. 
“After all the trouble we had at Utica-Rome the other night, and the way it started off tonight, I never dreamed we would end up in victory lane." Blankenship said "The track was great tonight, I have to thank American Racer Tires. I have waited for three years for this moment and it sure feels good to finally win a Lucas Oil Series race,” said Blankenship, whose previous biggest win was a $7,000 victory.
“I want to thank the crew; they worked their tails off the last few days getting this car ready to run. Tom Buckingham, my crew chief and everyone else a big thank you goes out to them,” said Blankenship whose car is sponsored by Coal America’s Energy, XCoal resources, Todd Case Trucking, Fast Lane Convenience Stores and Todd Case Trucking.
In preliminary action, Jared Landers was the Red Buck Cigars Fast Qualifier among the 44 entrants. Heat race winners were Landers, Jimmy Owens, Don O’Neal and Scott Bloomquist. The B-mains went to John Blankenship and Jeremy Miller.
Lucas Oil Series at Hagerstown Speedway
1) John Blankenship, 2) Jimmy Owens, 3) Austin Hubbard, 4) Earl Pearson, Jr., 5) Jamie Lathroum, 6) Steve Francis, 7) Steve Shaver, 8) Josh Richards, 9) Ray Cook (prov.), 10) Rick Eckert, 11) J.T. Spence, 12) Daniel Stone, 13) Don O'Neal, 14) Brad Neat, 15) Eric Wells (prov.), 16) Nick Dickson, 17) Bo Feathers, 18) Bub McCool (prov.), 19) Frank Heckenast, Jr., 20) Jared Landers, 21) Kyle Lear, 22) Gary Stuhler, 23) Scott Bloomquist, 24) Roy Deese, Jr. (prov.), 25) Tyler Reddick (prov.), 26) Jeremy Miller, 27) Tyler Hershey
 Fast Time (44 entries): Landers; Heat winners: Landers, Owens, O'Neal, Bloomquist; B-Main winners: Blankenship, Miller

Gary Shrey photo


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