Tampa, Fl (Friday, February 8, 2019) - The final two days of the non-points racing during the Winternationals from East Bay Raceway for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series saw some of the best racing of the week thus far. On Wednesday, Illinois’ Brian Shirley jumped to the top of the board during his late Group B qualifying with a 14.273 second lap time. 2016 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the year Colton Flinner (Who set fast time for the night) turned a lot of heads after winning heat race number 1, holding off Billy Moyer (P2), Earl Pearson Jr. (P3), and Tim McCreadie (P5). Other heat race winners were Don O’Neal, Jonathan Davenport, Shirley, Brandon Sheppard, and TAnner English; McCreadie and Kyle Bronson won their B-mains with Matt Cosner picking up the final transfer into the show, winning the Strawberry dash.
In the main event, it was the defending Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion, Jonathan Davenport who picked up the win over a hard fighting Brandon Sheppard. Davenport, who started fifth, took the lead from Sheppard just over half-way into the 50-lap main event, and never looked back en-route to his 37th career Lucas Oil win. Tyler Erb and Josh Richards finished out the podium, Brandon Overton and Brandon Sheppard finished out the top five.
On Thursday night, there was plenty of drama to go around before the final non-points night of the week. Mike Benedum began the night with the overall fast time at a 14.681, Brian Shirley again paced Group B missing the overall quick time by just two-tenths-of-a-second. Kyle Bronson, Tyler Erb, Stormy SCott, Earl Pearson, Jr., Jonathan Davenport and TAnner English all picked up heat race wins, with Don O’neal, and Brandon Overton winning their B-Mains, and Austin Rettig winning the Strawberry Dash.
The main event was one to remember for a number of reasons. Bronson lead the first eight laps before Tyler Erb, who has been tough all week, took the lead. A number of caution flags (nine in total) plagued the race, with the first caution coming on lap ten when Hudson O’Neal spun in turn four. The final caution of the night came as Davenport was working the outside of the race track and making up time on leader Erb, who had been running the bottom. Suddenly, going into turn three, Erb ditched the bottom of the race track in an apparent attempt to put an end to Davenport’s tear around the outside. Davenport, with nowhere to hide, went into the back of Erb’s number One, before slamming into the outside wall. On the restart, Hudson O’Neal, who had worked his way back into the top five, jumped to the outside where Davenport had been running. O’Neal took advantage of contact between Erb and Pearson, Jr, to power around the outside on the final lap. O’Neal beat Erb back to the line in a photo finish, getting the win by just three-one-hundredths of a second. O’Neal credited Davenport for showing him the line, while Erb was booed during his post race interview.