Jimmy Owens makes a turn during the Clash at The Mag on Saturday at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus. Owens placed first and won $15,000. Photo by: Claire Hassler/Dispatch Staff
June 21, 2020 8:50:25 PM
Jimmy Owens knows no two races at Magnolia Motor Speedway are ever the same.
Track conditions and preparation vary from event to event and night to night, and The Mag's famed "black ice" surface throws a lot of unpredictability into the mix.
But the veteran driver from Newport, Tennessee, didn't have much trouble at the raceway this weekend.
Owens started on the pole, led 93 of 100 laps and won $15,000 with a first-place finish in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series/COMP Cams feature race at the General Tire Clash at The Mag on Saturday night.
Combined with a win in Friday night's main event and a second-place finish Thursday, and Owens walked away from the raceway's headline weekend with $23,000 cash and some more momentum.
"It's great to get a field of cars with a lot of tough competition, and to be consistently fast all weekend is definitely a big help," Owens said. "It's great morale for the team."
Owens won his eighth race this year and his third on the Lucas Oil circuit, extending his lead in championship points over Tim McCreadie to 160. McCreadie finished 10th on Saturday night.
The race continued a streak of strong showings for the "O Show" dating back to the end of the 2019 circuit.
"We ended the season great and have come out stronger this year," Owens said. "2020 is a good year for us."
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Georgia, finished second in Saturday's feature, 0.57 seconds behind Owens. Clanton led from the 18th to 23rd lap before Owens overtook him, and a Clanton surge on Lap 81 nearly got him the lead back.
"It got cleaned up there off Turn 2, and I think I found it before he did," Clanton said of Owens. "He was trying to pass some lapped cars and go to the outside. I got a good run and got beside him there, but it was so slick in 3 and 4, and he got back in front of me."
Owens, too, said the track conditions were rough toward the end of the race, making him unsure whether going high to low was his best option.
"We had a great track to race on for the first 70 laps or something like that," he said.
Still, Owens' green and white No. 20 car navigated the ⅜-mile oval track as well Saturday as it did Friday, with the same result both times.
"We were good when the track was slick like this," Owens said. "We were fast all weekend no matter what the conditions have been. Just the hard work of the crew and all that stuff, it all pays off in the end."
After losing the lead to Tyler Erb on the 16th lap, Owens regained it from Clanton seven laps later and soon began lapping cars. That posed a problem, though, when they got in his way.
"It was really tough to do anything with lap traffic and stuff," Owens said. "You don't know where to go, and you just basically have to stay in line and hope the cautions play out your way."
The yellow flag waved on the 21st, 46th, 63rd, 66th and 82nd laps, but Owens was able to shoot off restarts well despite having to slow down to avoid contact with the cars he had already lapped.
Behind Owens and Clanton, Josh Richards, Bobby Pierce and Erb rounded out the top five. Richards, who started fifth, made a late surge to come up third, though he hoped for more.
"Jimmy's been really tough," Richards said. "I feel like if we had a car just a little bit better, we might have had something for him. But hats off to those guys."
Richards, the 2017 LOLMDS champion, felt foiled again.
"I honestly feel like we've had a solid car the entire year," Richards said. "I really don't feel like we should have been outside the top five. I feel like we should have a few more wins than we have, but a lot of crazy stuff happens."
Pierce led wire to wire to win Thursday night's race, with Owens coming in second. Ross Bailes was third, and Clanton and Erb completed the top five.
On Friday, Richards was second to Owens, while Erb was third. Frank Heckenast Jr. was fourth, and Michael Page was fifth.
Columbus driver Neil Baggett, the only local driver in Saturday's race, finished 20th.
Jeremy Shaw won two more Crate Racin' USA Late Models races to extend his streak to four at The Mag and bring home $1,700 dollars in the process.
Shaw won $1,000 by besting Evan Ellis in Saturday's race, while Monte Skinner, Randall Beckwith and Jamie Tollison rounded out the top five.
Hunter Carroll of Columbus was sixth, and Shay Knight of Steens was 10th.
Shaw also captured first place in Friday's feature, taking home $700.
Beckwith, Skinner, Bryant Marsh and Carroll rounded out the top five.
Mike Pickard of Steens and Knight were 18th and 19th.
Tyler Burgess of Quitman won the Glenn's BBQ and Fish Late Model Sportsman race Saturday night.
Burgess finished ahead of Brett White, Nick Thrash, Colby Ponds of Caledonia and Chance Inman to win the $500 prize.
Tony Shelton and Pickard, both of Steens, were seventh and eighth. Columbus drivers Jeremy Reedwood, Caleb Pickard and Lance Johnson finished 12th, 15th and 16th, respectively.
West Point drivers Jody Guest and Allen Simmons finished 17th and 20th, and Jacob Wooten of Pheba was 23rd.
Chad Thrash won Saturday's Three Star Tire and Auto Street Stocks race to claim $1,000.
Thrash, who is from Meridian, beat Carl Kilgore and The Mag promoter Johnny Stokes. TJ Herndon and Heath Minor rounded out the top five.
Knight was seventh, Lee Ray of Columbus was 11th, and TK King of Columbus was 22nd.
On Friday, Hayden Matthew Moran of Covington, Louisiana, won a $1,000 prize with a first-place finish.
Chad Winkles, Thrash, Herndon and Knight rounded out the top five.
Ray was sixth, Stokes was 11th, and King was 19th.
Columbus driver Aidan Fletcher won $400 with a first-place finish in Friday's Ranch House Diner Factory Stocks feature race.
Fletcher beat out Scooter Ware of West Point, who finished second. Justin King was third, John A. Beard Jr. of Columbus was fourth, and John Johnson IV was fifth.
West Point's Thomas Gable was 16th. Daniel Wiggins of Starkville was 21st, and Bobby Barksdale of Columbus was 23rd.
Jason Byrd won Thursday's Crate Racin' USA Modified Sportsman feature race to take home $500.
Byrd, of Carbon Hill, Alabama, held off Bryce Trull for the win. Michael Blakeney, Rusty Duncan and Luke Riddle rounded out the top five.
No local drivers competed in the 13-car race.
Isaac Gipson of Russellville, Alabama, took first place in Thursday night's Hot Shots feature.
Gipson beat Jesse White for the $200 prize.
Dale Johnson, Les Sanford and Thomas Bynum rounded out the top five.
Ed Caulder and Judd Murphy of Columbus were 10th and 11th, respectively. Brandon Glenn of Steens was 15th.
Theo DeRosa reports on high school sports and Mississippi State softball for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.