MEMORY LANE: Indiana’s Steve Casebolt Looks to Claim Second Dirt Late Model Dream Trophy
Indiana’s Steve Casebolt Looks to Claim Second Dirt Late Model Dream Trophy
ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 6, 2017) – It’s been 10 years since Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Indiana, rolled on to the Eldora Speedway stage as the winner of the 13th Annual Dirt Late Model Dream.
But he still remembers every detail of that night, from the 100-lap race to the way he felt as he emerged from his car in victory lane.
A decade later, the 38-year-old Casebolt still considers that June night in Rossburg, Ohio, one of the most memorable of his life. As he heads back to Eldora this weekend for Dream XXIII, he’s hoping to rekindle some of that same 2007 magic with his new Jim Beeman Motorsports team.
Casebolt entered Dirt Late Model Dream XIII weekend fresh off of his second career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory in Florence Speedway’s Ralph Latham Memorial. Lining up for the $100,000-to-win crown jewel event, the Indiana driver knew he had a car that could win the race. He just had to make it through 100 laps at Eldora, a racetrack known for throwing twists and turns at its competitors.
“When it very first started off, I knew that the car was really good just because it was easy to drive and I didn’t have to force the issue,” Casebolt said, reflecting on the 2007 event. “I really didn’t have to use much of the engine, I could use the steering wheel instead of having to use the throttle to make the car turn and accelerate. In the beginning of the race everybody was fast, but that’s the way it usually is at the start of these races, but they couldn’t circle as easily as I could. I’d get close to them and wait for them to make a mistake to pass them.
“I passed Brian Shirley and Clint Smith to get to second-place behind Scott James. I knew his run at the lead was going be short lived, just because of the way he had to drive the car. I didn’t force the issue, I just rode behind him until he was running the bottom of the track.
“I waited on his car to start pushing, and when it did, passing him was easy. I drove underneath him and made the pass. That’s when it got hard, because following those guys and knowing that your car is better than their’s is easier than having to stay out in front.”
As Casebolt took the lead from James, who would later finish fifth, there was one specific car number that stood out as he glanced the scoreboard each lap – the No. 0 of Scott Bloomquist. The Mooresburg, Tenn., driver had already earned four career Dirt Late Model Dream victories by 2007 and was running second behind Casebolt after working his way through the field.
“I think I took the lead fairly early on,” Casebolt said. “I’m not quite sure what lap it was. They had the scoreboard at that time, so I knew Bloomquist had started pretty far back. When I saw him come into fifth place, he started working his way up the leader board. In five to ten laps, I saw that the No. 0 had worked his way up to second place. On the restarts, I knew what was coming.
“Fairly late in the race, I remember kind of giving up. Scott’s in second, I’m beat. In thinking that, I felt myself slowing down. And then I thought to myself, you know what? I’ve led this long, I can beat these guys. I just had to give myself a pep talk. I’d passed Scott for position and the win in the Ralph Latham Memorial the week before, I knew I could beat them. I’d led the whole race, I’m not giving it away now.”
It was in the final stages of the race that Louisiana driver Garrett Durrett lost an engine, spilling oil on the racing surface. Paying close attention to the spot of the incident, Casebolt was able to hold off Bloomquist in a late-race restart to capture the Dream win, his first career crown jewel victory.
“The final restart, Garrett Durrett blew up an engine and it was right in the center of turns one and two,” Casebolt reflected. “Obviously, Bloomquist was still behind me, but when Garrett’s engine blew, it left a big puddle of oil in the center of the track. I made a mental note of exactly where that puddle was and I put my left-side tires just above it when we came back to the green flag.
“I knew if Scott [Bloomquist] was going to beat me, he was going to turn underneath me and try to slide me in turn two. I remembered where the oil was on the track, and when Bloomquist tried to go underneath me, his tires stuck and he lost 10 car lengths with two laps to go and that was the end of his run.”
What did winning the Dream mean for Casebolt’s racing career?
He sums it up in one simple word — everything.
“If I never win another race, I can say that I won the Dirt Late Model Dream and that’s pretty special,” Casebolt said. “There are some exceptional drivers that can win the Dream and the World 100, maybe multiple times. Maybe I’m that guy, maybe I’ll win the Dream again, or even the World 100. Maybe I won’t. But if I had to quit racing today I’d be happy with my career simply because I won that race.”
Casebolt heads to Dirt Late Model Dream XXIII following a recent pairing with the Indiana-based Jim Beeman Motorsports team that is crewed by MasterSbilt Race Cars co-founder, Tader Masters. On May 26th in his debut with the team, Casebolt finished in the runner-up position in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series event at Atomic Speedway in Waverly. The team picked up a MARS East victory the following night at Brownstown (Indiana) Speedway.
“This is actually the best opportunity that I’ve had to run well in the Dream for many years,” Casebolt said. “I’ve had good equipment, solid runs and won some races since my time with the Jim Beeman Motorsports team. Winning races like the Dream is tough, especially without a mentor. When I won the Dream in 2007, I had Robby Allen coaching me. Bobby Pierce has Bob Pierce. Devin Moran has Donnie Moran – it helps to have someone like that working with you.
“To win these big events, you surround yourself with people that help you keep on-track. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a good team or crew, but to win these big races you need support. I think working with Tader Masters and Mark Saul is one of the best shots I’ve had to win the Dream in several years.
Casebolt will make his first 2017 appearance at Eldora this weekend. A former Sunoco American Late Model Series winner at the Rossburg oval, Casebolt enters the weekend riding the momentum of a three-race win streak.
“Eldora is special to me, it’s only 45 minutes from my home and one of the first tracks I competed at when I started racing,” Casebolt said. “It’s a place I’ve had some success, but I’ve also had some dismal races at too. You want to win at every track, but Eldora is more special to me and hopefully we can make something happen there this year.”
The 23rd Annual Dirt Late Model Dream presented by Ferris Mowers begins this Thursday, June 8th, with a complete show featuring multi-car time trials, Heat Races, B-Features and the Twin 25-lap Feature events paying $5,000 to win. Friday, June 9th, will be another complete show featuring Twin 25-lap features paying $10,000 to win. The weekend concludes on Saturday, June 10th, with the traditional six Heat Race format, B-Features, $1,000 to win Scrambles and the 100-lap main event paying $100,000 to win.
Single day tickets start at just $20 with children (12 & younger) admitted free to general admission all three days of the Dirt Late Model Dream. For ticket prices and camping information, please call (937) 338-3815 or visit www.EldoraSpeedway.com.
About Eldora Speedway:
Since carved from a cornfield in the natural amphitheater that existed between the Eldora Ballroom and the Wabash River by bandleader Earl Baltes in 1954, Eldora Speedway has grown to be a frontrunner in motorsports growth and stability. Baltes chose to sell the legendary high-banked clay oval to motorsports entrepreneur and NASCAR, IndyCar and USAC champion Tony Stewart in 2004. Celebrating its 64th season in 2017, Eldora hosts the biggest events in short-track racing including the 23rd annual Dirt Late Model Dream; the 34th annual Kings Royal Weekend; the Camping World Truck Series’ Eldora Dirt Derby – the only NASCAR National Series race on dirt; and the 47th annual World 100. The complete schedule for Eldora’s 64th consecutive season, including ticket and campsite information, is available at www.EldoraSpeedway.com and can be requested by phone at (937) 338-3815. Fans can get behind-the-scenes access of Eldora Speedway by following @EldoraSpeedway on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, hitting ‘Like’ at www.facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway and subscribing to www.youtube.com/EldoraSpeedway.
(This story courtesy of Alli Collis, DirtOnDirt.com)