Landers Sets 14.922 Track Record for Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora
Ninety-one cars made the trek from every corner of the country to head to the Midwest to run one of the most prestigious races in dirt track racing, the Dirt Late Model Dream. This year marks the seventeenth annual event at the Big E.
Among those 91 drivers was the man with the most wins in the Dream, Scott Bloomquist, who is seeking his sixth win in the event. Last year’s main event winner Billy Moyer was also looking to secure the win and become a back-to-back Dream winner. Ohio native, Matt Miller, most recent winner at the speedway in the Johnny Appleseed Classic, has already turned some laps at the track this season, that he hopes will lead him to a victory in the esteemed race. Ten different drivers have won the main event and have added their names to the history books, so who will it be this year?
If you ask the drivers in any series of late model racing what their biggest win, or sought out win would be, most will say it’s the Dirt Late Model Dream. With one of the biggest purses in any dirt track racing event of $100,000, it’s easy to see why any driver would like to pull in to victory lane at the Big E.
Wednesday kicked off the week of events at Eldora Speedway with the Prelude to the Dream. But as it’s name implies, the event was only a prelude to something much bigger. Fans have lined up, filling the camping areas around the speedway, flying their flags and gearing up for the main event. Tech inspection began Thursday and Friday afternoon, drivers were able to take to the track for the first time this week for hot laps.
In hot laps, the fastest man on the track was Kid Rocket, Josh Richards, laying down a lap of 15.305 only a tenth off of the track record. Some of the other drivers at the top of the chart included the 0 of Black Sunshine, Scott Bloomquist; the 21 of Mr. Smooth, Billy Moyer, the 44 of Chris Madden, and the 44 of the Hurricane, Earl Pearson Jr.
After the first round of qualifying, two things were evident, the weather was going to be a nightmare and so was the fast qualifier. Duane Chamberlain was the first to break the record with a lap of 15.204, then Chris Madden was the next to break it again with a 15.027 lap. The Newport Nightmare, Jimmy Owens, slaughtered the track record with a 14.968, the first fourteen second lap ever run on the historic half mile in a late model. Some other top speeds in qualifying were Owens in the 20, Madden in the 44 and the 23 of Duane Chamberlain.
With threatening weather in the area, track officials were able to get through 91 cars in the first session of qualifying in under 40 minutes. The clouds were rolling in, but drivers were already on the grid ready to head out for round two of qualifying. After 52 of the 91 drivers had made their second run around the half mile, with 26 of those drivers bettering their first run times, the heavens opened up and the rain began falling hard on the track. As the rules go, if any qualifying run is not completed by all drivers, those times will be thrown out, and the entire group will restart. The first qualifying run was completed, so if the weather keeps the second qualifying run from happening, the heat race inversion will be based off the first round of qualifying speeds.
Track workers took to the surface as soon as the rain had seized at about 8:30 p.m., determined to get round two in. Sure enough, at 10:10, hot laps were underway. Owens’ new track record looked as though it was going to stick, but Jared Landers proved otherwise. Landers took his 777 machine around the half mile, breaking the record yet again, with a 14.922 second lap around the high banks! At the conclusion of round two of qualifying, 53 of the 79 cars that took laps in round two bettered their first session time.
Image Credit: LucasDirt.com
The night ended with the spinning of the inversion wheel, which revealed the number six. Tomorrow night, officials will invert six for the heat races to line up the A-main for the Dirt Late Model Dream.
Tune in tomorrow night for a full recap of the Dream at Eldora Speedway, as well as a photo gallery of the nation’s best late model drivers.