Late Model great Bloomquist to race at Deer Creek for first time
Scott Bloomquist would run out of fingers if he attempted to count all the series championships he has won during his Late Model racing career.
The veteran driver from Mooresburg, Tenn., most recently won back-to-back Lucas Oil dirt Late Model Series championships in 2009 and 2010. But Bloomquist has changed his philosophy a bit this season.
"We've been running for championships with the Lucas Oil Series and other series for so long," Bloomquist said. "You kind of get married to running a series and it puts a damper on being able to do other racing because of conflicting schedules.
"We decided to back off the points stuff this year and get back to making racing fun again."
The fun for Bloomquist this season is chasing money, not points.
That has given him the ability to make his own schedule, which now includes his first-ever visit to Deer Creek Speedway. Bloomquist, who has won nearly every major Late Model event in the country, plans to race at Deer Creek on Saturday, when the World of Outlaws Late Models Series makes it annual stop at the track for the 34th running of the Gopher 50.
He is a three-time Gopher 50 champion, winning in 1990, 1999 and 2003, when the race was held at the Steele County Speedway in Owatonna.
"The tracks up there have always been very good to us, we've always enjoyed racing in that area," said Bloomquist, who will be sponsored by Farm Boy BBQ out of St. Ansgar, Iowa, this weekend. "We like to run in new places. I have about a 70 percent win ratio on first visits to tracks. I always get excited to drive at new places."
Bloomquist, 49, comes to Minnesota on a high.
Just less than a month ago, on June 9, he pocketed $100,000 by winning the prestigious Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, for the sixth time in his career. He said he told his crew before the race that he had a feeling they would win.
"The first time we won (1995) was definitely exciting and we got to where we won it every other year for a five-year period," he said. "I've always had a lot of confidence there. I just told my crew 'as bad as our luck has been this year, it has to turn around big for us this weekend.' I just felt really confident I was going to win there."
Bloomquist has never lacked confidence, which is a big part of the reason why he has won more than 30 races in his career that paid $30,000 or more to win.
His confidence and success have also led to a friendship with NASCAR star Kyle Busch, who drove Bloomquist's Late Model to a victory at the popular Prelude to The Dream race last summer at Eldora, a track owned by former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart.
Bloomquist will return the favor on July 24, when he drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports during the NASCAR Camping World Trucks race on the dirt at Eldora. Bloomquist tested the truck on dirt for the first time on Tuesday.
"It's a tremendous difference," Bloomquist said of driving the heavier truck compared to a Late Model. "You have to forget almost everything that applies to the Late Model. You have to keep reminding yourself how heavy it is. You'll get yourself in trouble if you're not careful.
"But Eldora is one of my favorite places to race, so we'll have a little advantage there, I think."
Friday: Defending Gopher champ eager to return to Deer Creek.
What: 34th annual Gopher 50 charity Late Model race
Who: The World of Outlaws Late Models Series, plus USRA Modifieds
When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.; pit gate and grandstands open 3 p.m.
Where: Deer Creek Speedway, near Spring Valley.
Tickets: Adults, $30; 12-and-under, $15; pit pass, $35.
Noteworthy: Veteran Late Model driver Scott Bloomquist will race at Deer Creek for the first time in his career. ... A $1,000 bonus will be paid to the A Main winner in each class, from race sponsor NAPA Auto Parts.