Love him or hate him, there’s little gray area for racing fans when it comes to rooting for Scott Bloomquist. The no-nonsense, intimidating driver drew the loudest cheers and jeers during driver introductions for the 19th Dirt Late Model Dream on Saturday.
They saved the loudest for last. Bloomquist treated the roughly 18,000 spectators at Eldora Speedway with a classic run on the half-mile dirt track’s high-banked oval. He rocketed away on two restarts in the final 10 laps, including one that set up a green-white-checkered finish, to capture his record sixth Dream victory and the $100,000 prize.
“The race track right now is a good as it’s ever been,” said Bloomquist, who started sixth and spent most of the first 50 laps in the top five. “I just did not want to spend the tires, so I let (the leaders) go. I knew I was running a fast enough pace not to get (lapped). That’s definitely what made it feel like the old days. We used to wait for the last 30 laps and everybody had already burned their stuff up.”
Pole-sitter Tyler Reddick, a 17-year old from California, set a blazing pace the first 21 laps. He tagged the wall early and damaged his rear spoiler to help the field reel him in. Wisconsin’s Jimmy Mars inherited the lead when Reddick fell off pace. He kept it until Bloomquist roared past coming out of Turn 4. Bloomquist upped his advantage to seven seconds with 20 laps — leading by a full straightaway — before the cautions bunched up the field behind him.
Bloomquist was never challenged on either double-file restart. It was his first win at Eldora since 2008 and sixth Dream win in a record 17 starts.
“That’s about as sweet of a handling car, I could do anything with it. I could run middle, bottom, high,” the Mooresburg, Tenn., resident said. “Overall, I was in such control I felt real comfortable the whole race no matter how close we ran to the wall. They key was to be able to pull off the wall. I can’t say enough.
“The car was awesome. … You hate to see those cautions at the end like that. But the car felt so good. The car just took off.”
Illinois’ Dennis Erb Jr. and West Virginia’s Josh Richards battled for second behind Bloomquist and finished in that order. Richards, though, came up 32 pounds light on the 2,300-minimum weight requirement at the post-race scales and was disqualified. Iowa’s Brian Birkhofer moved into third and Georgia’s Dale McDowell and Tennessee’s Jimmy Owens rounded out the top five.
Bradford’s Wayne Chinn qualified for his first Dream feature and finished 16th.