Jimmy Owens won the North/South Shootout at Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky, on Thursday night. The event kicks off three nights of racing that will culminate in a 100-lap, $50,000-to-win feature on Saturday, August 12.
Owens won his heat to start third in the A-Main. That placed him behind Darrell Lanigan and Hudson O'Neal, who also won their heats. O'Neal got a good jump but quickly fell prey to Lanigan, who brought Owens along with him.
The first 16 laps saw Owens and Lanigan exchanging slide jobs for the lead. That allowed O'Neal to rejoin the mix. Owens took the lead for a last time on lap 16 but was never able to completely shake Lanigan. The Union native Lanigan crossed the finish line on the bumper of Owens' car.
"I really felt like I needed to get off the top," Owen's said about his strategy. "I saw O'Neal up there and I figured he was running the cushion. I didn't think I could catch the lapped cars on the bottom so that is why I stayed up top. I had to look over my shoulder there at the end to see who was there, especially on a track like tonight the guy running in second has the advantage. You never know where to be. Hats off to the track crew for a doing a great job on the track,"
Owens won two races before Thursday night, both in his home state of Tennessee, first at Tazewell Speedway and then at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville. This win ties him for fifth in the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series points with Earl Peterson Jr., who finished sixth.
"It was a good show tonight," Owens said from Victory Lane. "I was thankful to get the lead on the bottom when I did. The lapped traffic was a bear. I had a hard time getting around Scott [Bloomquist]. Wherever I went, he went, but that's part of it. Maybe we can run good in the heat races tomorrow and get a good starting spot for Saturday."
The pole-sitter O'Neal fell back to fourth by the end of the race with Tim McCreadie passing him late in the going as the teenage phenom was engaged in a battle with Owens and Lanigan.
McCreadie never had the chance to see if he could get around Owens because Lanigan was in his preferred line well.
"It was definitely top-dominated," McCreadie explained. "Jimmy did a good job there and I thought well maybe we could get around him, but Darrell was there and we all had a heck of a race going. I am happy with a third place. I think we can get some more out of it."
Lanigan's success in the race came partly as the result of a new car that the team has been building and perfecting in their Union shop after running into some difficulties in Illinois and Wisconsin.
"We struggled last week in Illinois and Wisconsin so we came home and built a new one," Lanigan said after the race. "I love coming home and running here. The fans are great. Hopefully we can finally win this race. We have tried for a long-time to win the North/South 100. We have run second three or four times. So hopefully we can bring this I-Racing.com entry home with the win for Clint Bowyer and all the guys."
Bobby Pierce rounded out the top five by passing 12 cars from his 17th-place starting position.
Earl Pearson Jr, Brandon Overton, Don O'Neal, Josh Richards, and Zack Dohm finished in fifth through 10th.
Keep an eye on all of them going into the next two nights of racing at Florence Speedway as FloRacing.com provides live updates.
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