Owens Snaps Two-Year Lucas LM Drought At East Bay


Jimmy Owens in victory lane Thursday night at East Bay Raceway Park. (Heath Lawson photo)

GIBSONTON, Fla. – Four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Jimmy Owens proved Thursday night at East Bay Raceway Park that he hasn’t forgotten the way to victory lane.

Owens went to the lead for good on lap 13 after a side-by-side battle with polesitter Garrett Smith, going on to earn a $10,000 victory during the continuation of the 48th annual Wieland Winternationals presented by Lucas Oil.

For Owens it was his 81st career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win and his first at East Bay since 2013.

Jonathan Davenport made a late-race charge to finish second, falling .314 seconds at the finish. Garrett Alberson rounded out the Big River Steel Podium in third, ahead of Ricky Thornton Jr. and defending series champion Hudson O’Neal.

Owens and Smith had a good race for the lead in the first 12 laps, until Owens was finally able to get away from the Georgia youngster. Davenport moved into second on lap 18 and held that spot until Alberson passed him on lap 23.

Alberson then was able to challenge Owens for the lead as he closed in, but Owens kept him at bay.

Davenport then mounted an electrifying run to the outside and appeared to be primed to take over the lead, but a caution with two laps to go forced a single-file restart and allowed Owens to hang on.

Owens became the fifth different winner this year on tour and returned to victory lane for the first time since June 17, 2022, at Tennessee’s Smoky Mountain Speedway.

“I don’t even remember the last time I won a race at East Bay; I never did win one here in these conditions,” admitted Owens, whose most recent win at the track was more than a decade ago. “The car has been flawless all night and you know it was good from qualifying to the heat race to the feature. Me and Garrett [Smith] had a heck of a race that was fun. It was a good night.”

Reminded that it was 11 years ago for his last win at East Bay, Owens could do little but laugh.

“I can’t remember back that far,” he joked. “I have to thank Bobby Koehler for giving us good equipment. I want to give a shout out to everyone back home. It’s good to win a race. It’s very humbling to hear the crowd response tonight. It feels really good. I appreciate all of you guys and thank you all so much.”

Davenport could not regain his momentum during the green-white-checkered finish, falling just short at the end.

“I never took it off the wood in those final laps. I had a really good car and I had saved enough tire to be there at the very end,” said Davenport. “It just didn’t work out in our favor and that’s OK because we’ve got a good hot rod. We will continue to work on this thing.

“We have changed it every night just trying some different things, and I think we found something a little different for later,” he added. “It’s obviously not as slick as what it was [during] the first East Bay races we were here.”

Alberson got right up to Owens, but lost ground to the Tennessee native after Davenport got around him late in the race.

“I think we have turned the corner. We have really worked hard,” tipped Albeson. “Ken [Roberts] has put a lot into this program and my group has just never given up on me. We are really close. I just need to position myself better at the end. It blows my mind still to this day how hard these guys run.”

Brandon Sheppard, who went on to win the Monday makeup feature, Mike Marlar, Devin Moran, Smith, and Tim McCreadie closed out the top 10 at the checkered flag.

The finish:

Lucas Oil A-Main (40 laps): 1. 20-Jimmy Owens [2]; 2. 49-Jonathan Davenport [6]; 3. 58-Garrett Alberson [5]; 4. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr. [11]; 5. 1-Hudson O'Neal [14]; 6. B5-Brandon Sheppard [13]; 7. 157-Mike Marlar [19]; 8. 99-Devin Moran [8]; 9. 10-Garrett Smith [1]; 10. 39-Tim McCreadie [15]; 11. 6-Clay Harris [4]; 12. 46-Earl Pearson Jr. [17]; 13. 3S-Brian Shirley [26]; 14. 1T-Tyler Erb [20]; 15. 7-Ross Robinson [25]; 16. 18D-Daulton Wilson [21]; 17. 99B-Boom Briggs [24]; 18. 7T-Drake Troutman [27]; 19. 111-Max Blair [22]; 20. 93-Cory Lawler [29]; 21. 14X-Wil Herrington [7]; 22. 96V-Tanner English [23]; 23. 19M-Spencer Hughes [12]; 24. 40B-Kyle Bronson [16]; 25. 4G-Bob Gardner [30]; 26. 76N-Blair Nothdurft [10]; 27. 174-Ethan Dotson [28]; 28. 71C-RJ Conley [9]; 29. 5-Mark Whitener [3]; 30. 33X-Brandon Overton [18].

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