WHEATLAND, Mo. — Conventional wisdom finds even the best dirt Late Model drivers slowing down when they pass the half-century mark in age. But Scott Bloomquist never has been conventional.
Instead, the 52-year-old seemingly has never been faster.
The Hall of Famer with more than 550 career victories is leading the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series by a healthy 245 points over Jonathan Davenport after reeling off three straight wins earlier this month.
Bloomquist has eight series wins in 2016, is on track for his first Lucas championship since 2010 and ranks No. 1 in the DirtonDirt.com weekly poll.
So is he driving better than ever?
“I think I am,” Bloomquist said earlier this week in a phone interview from his Mooresburg, Tennessee race shop as he prepares for a two-race Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series swing this weekend.
Bloomquist and his iconic No. 0 car will be looking to bust a lengthy drought at Lucas Oil Speedway on Saturday at the 10th annual CMH Diamond Nationals. On Friday, the series stops at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois.
“I’m driving smart still,” Bloomquist said, explaining that a well-prepared race car – as his Sweet-Bloomquist machine has been much of the season – means everything to a driver’s confidence and performance.
“When your car is throwing you surprises and not quite doing things the way you want, or if you get in track conditions that are rough and the car is erratic … it makes your confidence not where you would like it to be, for good reason,” he added. “Your comfort zone is extremely important in a race car when it comes to having confidence in your ability.”
Preparing the race car to that high level doesn’t come without a price. Asked the key to his 2016 success, Bloomquist laughed and said it’s a little surprising, all things considered.
He called it “the most hectic year I’ve probably ever had,” mentioning multiple events in which he’s pulled into the pits late. At times, he’s even missed time trials all together.
“We’ve missed practices and in some of them missed qualifying and found ourselves having to dig out of a hole,” Bloomquist said. “We’ve just had so much going on here in the shop. We’ve been working on things to try and get better all the time and it just takes up time. Then the next thing you know, you’re scrambling.”
Asked if his on-track success is surprising, in light of often being in scramble mode, Bloomquist said, “To some degree it is.”
“But I’m not really surprised because we make sure we don’t leave until we know we’re ready. It’s not like we’re just throwing stuff in the box and heading down the road to the next race. We’re spending the amount of time that the cars need spent on them.”