WHEATLAND, MO (May 29, 2010) Powered by VP’s Late Model Plus racing fuel, Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC, etched his name in the DART Show Me 100 history book for the second time, as he claimed the 18th edition of the event Saturday at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO. In front of a capacity crowd in what was possibly one of the greatest races ever, Cook claimed the victory and a $30,000 payday.
Jimmy Owens and Earl Pearson Jr. brought the field to the green flag for the 100-lap affair, which was co-sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS) and the Lucas Oil Midwest Late Model Racing Association (MLRA). Owens took the lead at the onset of the event with Pearson Jr., Terry Phillips, Don O’Neal, and Dale McDowell in tow. By the third circuit O’Neal had cracked the top three as Owens began to motor away from the field.
Lap 5 found Jimmy Owens catching the tail of the field as Chad Simpson went down a lap on the sixth circuit. Owens’ commanding run would come to an abrupt halt exiting turn four on the tenth circuit as Brian Birkhofer got sideways causing Chris Wall to flip in front of the leader. Owens, with nowhere to go, was caught up in the incident and had to go to the tail of the field. Wall would be unhurt in the incident and would rejoin the event fourteen laps later to a standing ovation from the crowd.
With Owens tailback, Don O’Neal inherited the lead with Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer, Terry Phillips, and Dale McDowell making up the top five in the running order. On the ensuing restart O’Neal and Pearson Jr. began to battle for the lead before the caution waved again on lap 12 as Shannon Babb rolled to a stop with a flat tire. During the caution, Steve Casebolt also headed pit-side, and both drivers rejoined the tail of the field.
With the green flag displayed once again, the action at the front of the pack saw O’Neal motor away from the pack with Pearson Jr. and Moyer continuing to host a spirited battled for the second spot. Caution would fly again on lap 21 as Dale McDowell relinquished the fifth spot with a flat tire. He too would head pit-side for fresh rubber before rejoining the field.
At the time of the caution the top five running order consisted of Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer, Ray Cook, and Terry Phillips. As the race resumed Billy Moyer moved past Earl Pearson Jr. for the second spot as the duo began to swap positions lap after lap.
Lap 27 would see the yellow flag in the air again as Scott Bloomquist relinquished the sixth spot with a flat tire. It would mark the first of two trips to the pit area during the course of the feature for the Mooresburg, Tennessee driver. With Bloomquist on the tail of the field the race continued as O’Neal jumped to a comfortable lead over Pearson Jr., Phillips, and eleventh starting Ray Cook.
The race would endure a ten lap green flag run with O’Neal still at the point as Phillips and Cook shuffled Pearson Jr. from second to fourth exiting turn two on lap 32. Two laps later, Billy Moyer Jr. shuffled Pearson Jr. back another spot.
On lap 38, the caution would wave for Chris Simpson, who rolled to a stop on the backstretch, which erased O’Neal’s eight-car length lead. At the time of the caution Phillips, Cook, Moyer Jr., and Earl Pearson Jr. followed O’Neal.
The restart saw Moyer Jr. and Cook beginning to race side-by-side for the third spot before Cook mounted a charge toward the front of the pack that saw him dispose of Moyer Jr. and Phillips to race his way to second by the race’s midway point. The next ten laps saw the race slow on various times by the caution flag before it endured another long green flag run. Cook stalked O’Neal through lapped traffic for several laps before slipping passed him on the high side to take the lead as the field completed the 62nd circuit.
With Cook at the point, O’Neal continued to apply pressure, as 22nd starting Steve Casebolt joined the fray in the third spot. Another driver on the move was 29th starting, John Blankenship, who was up to the fourth spot by lap 65. While Cook maintained the lead, O’Neal and Casebolt waged war for the second spot with disaster nearly striking as they completed lap 67 as the pair briefly made contact sending Casebolt into the front stretch wall. Casebolt would recover after losing several car lengths to O’Neal. Three laps later he would race past O’Neal for the lead and set his sights on race leader, Ray Cook.
By lap 73, Cook and Casebolt were battling side-by-side for the lead and Casebolt, became the fourth different leader of the race. Casebolt quickly extended his lead and would finally be slowed by a caution for John Blankenship, who rolled to a stop with a flat on lap 82.
The ensuing restart saw Casebolt drive away from the field once again, and appeared to be on his way to a comfortable win before bad luck struck on lap 89, when he lost his driveshaft, bringing his night to a disappointing early end. With Casebolt in the pits, Ray Cook inherited the lead and fought off a late race challenge from Don O’Neal to claim the victory. Don O’Neal, Terry Phillips, Eric Wells, Dennis Erb Jr., Billy Moyer Jr., Scott Bloomquist, Dan Schlieper, Brad Neat, and Mike Marlar rounded out the top ten finishers.