20240208103613 Img 3284
Jimmy Owens (20) won Thursday's Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race at East Bay Raceway Park. (Jim DenHamer photo)

Owens Ends East Bay Winless Streak

GIBSONTON, Fla. — Jimmy Owens went to the lead for good on lap 13 after a side-by-side battle with Garrett Smith.

The four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion picked up the $10,000 victory on Thursday night during the 48th annual Wieland Winternationals presented by Lucas Oil at East Bay Raceway Park.

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 0.314 seconds at the finish. 

Garrett Alberson rounded out the podium in third. Ricky Thornton Jr. and Hudson O’Neal rounded out the top five.

Owens and polesitter Garrett 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 would move into second on lap 18 as he held that spot until Alberson passed him on lap 23. Alberson then was able to challenge Owens for the lead as he closed on him, 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 as Owens would cross the line .314 seconds ahead of Davenport at the finish.

Owens became the fifth different winner this year in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

“I don’t even remember the last time I won a race at East Bay, I never did win one here in these conditions,” Owens said. “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.”

When reminded that it was 11 years ago for his last win at East Bay, Owens responded with, “I can’t remember back that far. You know 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 this crowd response tonight. It feels really good. I appreciate all of you guys and thank you all so much.”

Ebay1 02 08 24 (209)mikeruefer
Jimmy Owens (Mike Ruefer photo)

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

“I never took it off the wood in those final laps,” Davenport said. “I had a really good car and I had saved enough tire to the very end. It just didn’t work out in our favor and that’s ok, we’ve got a good hot rod. We will continue to work on this thing. We have changed it every night just trying something different. I think we found something a little different for later. It’s obviously not as slick as what it was the first East Bay races we were here.”

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

“I think we have turned the corner,” Alberson said. “We have really worked hard. 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.”   

The finish:

Jimmy Owens, Jonathan Davenport, Garrett Alberson, Ricky Thornton Jr., Hudson O’Neal, Brandon Sheppard, Mike Marlar, Devin Moran, Garrett Smith, Tim McCreadie, Clay Harris, Earl Pearson Jr., Brian Shirley, Tyler Erb, Ross Robinson, Daulton Wilson, Boom Briggs, Drake Troutman, Max Blair, Cory Lawler, Wil Herrington, Tanner English, Spencer Hughes, Kyle Bronson, Bob Gardner, Blair Nothdurft, Ethan Dotson, R.J. Conley, Mark Whitener, Brandon Overton.