Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Recaps Successful Dart Winternationals

WAYCROSS, GA (March 6, 2012) – The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series has concluded another successful Dart Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, IL was crowned the Champion this year, making it the third time the Illinois driver has won the title. Erb previously won the Dart Winternationals Championship in 2010 and 2006. The 2012 Dart Winternationals title was worth $5,000 to Erb, who drove his Bloomquist Chassis powered by a Vic Hill Engine to one victory during the six-nights of racing.
Fifty-three (53) different drivers entered the weeklong Dart Winternationals in 2012, providing fans some of the most exciting racing action in recent years at East Bay Raceway Park. Erb’s lone win of the week came during Friday night’s rain delayed 50-lap feature event. Erb charged through the field after pitting on lap 3, after a caution when he tangled with Austin Hubbard. Erb restarted 23rd and masterfully moved through the field. He was in 3rd place with three laps to go when the final caution appeared. Erb charged to the outside lane on the restart, passing both Randy Korte and Tyler Reddick in the same corner to take the lead on lap 48 and went on to the win. Erb posted four Top-5 finishes during the week. His worst finish all week was 9th on opening night. Erb beat Steve Francis by a mere 10 points to win the 36th Annual Dart Winternationals Championship.
Steve Francis of Ashland, KY drove the Barry Wright House Car powered by a Clements Racing Engine during the Dart Winternationals, and picked up two wins. Francis won Thursday night’s show in dramatic fashion. He passed Austin Hubbard in turn four on the final lap to win by half a car-length at the finish line. Francis won again on the final night of the weeklong Dart Winternationals as he held off the hard charging 2011 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Champion, Jimmy Owens. Francis finished second in the final Dart Winternationals standings.
Don O’Neal of Martinsville, IN was strong all week in his MasterSbilt House Car powered by a Jay Dickens Engine. He won the first two nights’ events on Monday and Tuesday. O’Neal finished third in the final Dart Winternationals standings and added more victories to his resume at the famed Clay by the Bay. Optima Batteries has signed on to sponsor O’Neal and the MasterSbilt House Car for the 2012 season along with sponsoring the 2012 Optima Batteries Hard Charger Award with the series.
Randy Korte of Highland, IL driving the Riggs Motorsports Rocket Chassis entry during the 36th Annual Dart Winternationals was consistent all week long. He posted four Top-10 finishes during the week and started every feature event during the six-nights of racing. Korte posted his best finish of 2nd place on Friday night. Korte finished 4th in the final Dart Winternationals standings.
The MasterSbilt Chassis, Race Engine Design powered #53 of Ray Cook from Brasstown, NC posted one victory on Wednesday night during the weeklong event. Cook last visited victory lane at East Bay Raceway Park back in 2000. He powered past Steve Francis to win in one of the week’s most exciting races. Cook posted three Top-10 finishes to finish 5th in the final Dart Winternationals standings. The top five drivers in the final Dart Winternationals points standings all received cash and product awards for competing all week.
Finishing 6th through 10th in the final Dart Winternationals Point’s Standings were: John Blankenship of Williamson, WV; Scott Bloomquist of Morresburg, TN; Terry Casey of New Loudon, WI; Eric Wells of Hazard, KY; and Tyler Reddick of Corning, CA. These drivers all received numerous product awards. In addition, Performance Bodies awarded a new MD3 nosepiece to the first non-qualifier from the PRC Strawberry Dash each night.
“The series would like to thank all the drivers that competed with us this year and put on some great racing action for the fans. We really felt this is was one of the best Winternationals events in recent years and we want to thank all the race fans that came out and supported us as well. Everyone from the track staff, racers, fans, and all the sponsors that support the Dart Winternationals were really great to work with. We would also like to thank Dart Machinery for their continued support of the Dart Winternationals and the LOLMDS. Dart has been very instrumental in the success of the Winternationals and the growth of the series over the past several years and we look forward to a great 2012 season”, stated Ritchie Lewis, Series Director.
Dennis Erb leads the 2012 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Point’s Standings after two events with 455 points. The 2011 LOLMDS Champion Jimmy Owens is currently in second place, 35 points back. Following Owens are Steve Francis, Randy Korte, and Jonathan Davenport. Rounding out the Top-10 in the LOLMDS Championship Standings are Tyler Reddick, Austin Hubbard, Earl Pearson Jr, Donnie Moran, and Don O’Neal.
The LOLMDS will head to Brownstown, Indiana to the next sanctioned event on March 24th for the “Indiana Icebreaker”. The one-day show will pay $10,000 to the winner and is expected to draw a large field of racers from all over the country. For more information about the event, log onto the track’s official website,

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