ROSSBURG, OH (SEPTEMBER 10, 2011) Jimmy Owens was in a league of his own for most of Saturday night’s 41st annual World 100 at Eldora Speedway. The final 10 laps, however, were a dogfight for the Tennessee driver running on VP’s Late Model Plus. Owens hustled to turn back challenges from Darrell Lanigan, Don O’Neal and Eddie Carrier Jr. and was successful in doing so, securing his second career victory at this prestigious DIRTcar UMP event.

Owen’s Team Zero car sustained some damage late in the race and was slowed a bit, but used the half-mile oval’s cushion to remain in front during a frantic fight to the finish that had the massive crowd roaring. He earned a $44,000 first-place check after beating Carrier to the checkered flag by 0.635 of a second!

Fellow VP user Don O’Neal, who won Eldora’s $100,000 Dream in June, finished third. Lanigan settled for fourth after nearly overtaking Owens on at least two occasions, and John Blankenship registered a career-best World 100 finish of fifth.

“To win (the World 100) once was an achievement,” said Owens, whose previous triumph came in 2007. “To do it again is unbelievable. You know, if we never win another race in our life, we’re proud of where we’re at right now.”

A four-time DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion who has been racing dirt Late Models fulltime for less than decade, Owens appeared headed to a runaway victory after he advanced from the fourth starting spot to pass polesitter Chris Madden for the lead on lap 13. He effortlessly glided away from the field following six restarts between laps 39 and 67, building straightaway advantages in short order.

But something changed after the race’s seventh and final caution flag. On lap 82, an incident occurred on turn four that eliminated the third- and fourth-place drivers, Dale McDowell and Josh Richards. With the 10-to-go mark approaching, Lanigan, who had passed McDowell for second on lap 76, began edging noticeably closer to Owens’s car.

“I guess when I jumped the cushion (in turn one) it knocked the bracing loose from my (right-side) door and that really slowed us down quite a bit,” said Owens. “When I would get within about six cars of a lapped car, I would start losing it. All the air getting under the car was just making the car ‘skatey.’ We couldn’t stick no more, where early in the race it didn’t phase us none.”

By lap 92, Lanigan was close enough to stick the nose of his Rocket car underneath Owens. The World of Outlaws Late Model Series regular was primed to sail by Owens to assume command in one quick burst.

“But when I caught him,” said Lanigan, “he actually caught them lapped cars at the same time and that kept me from doing a slide job. And that let O’Neal catch up too.” O’Neal, who started eighth but ran inside the top five for the entire distance, slid under Lanigan rounding turns three and four on lap 93. The two drivers spent the ensuing laps swapping second place – and trading paint – to the benefit of Owens.

The deciding moment came on lap 98 when Lanigan dived to the inside of O’Neal through turns one and two and appeared to have plenty of momentum built up to pass Owens. But Lanigan ran up on Owens too fast in turn two and had to check up, causing a scramble with O’Neal that allowed Carrier to scoot into second on the inside and Owens to open enough room to carry him to the finish line.

“I knew we were hurting and a sitting duck,” said Owens. “But we were able to hold on and hold ‘em off.” The victory was Owens’s third overall in Eldora’s pair of annual dirt Late Model majors, joining his 2009 success in the $100,000 Dream. This one tops his list of checkered flags at the high-banked track, however.