The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series had its annual awards banquet Dec. 9 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Scott Bloomquist was honored as the series champion for the third time in his career, and Colton Flinner was announced as the top rookie driver.

Bloomquist, of Mooresburg, Tennessee, took home more than $100,000 in point funds and bonuses from the banquet. Overall this season, racing in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series the 53-year-old Hall-of-Fame driver pocketed nearly $500,000.

Bloomquist’s convincing win in this year’s Jackson 100 was one of his 15 feature wins on the Lucas Oil circuit in 2016. It was also a record sixth win in Brownstown Speedway’s biggest race, and it helped seal the championship a month before the season concluded in mid-October.

“We have always liked running at Brownstown. We first came there in the late 1980s. One of the things about racing there, its wide enough to run two or three wide, plus it has no walls around it, so you don’t get your equipment torn up either, and plus we have a lot of fans in Indiana.”

“We had a tremendous season. I want to thank Forrest Lucas for giving us the best series in dirt late model racing. Thanks to the Lucas Oil staff and the promoters who held our events. To win 15 races this year is just a testament to my crew and everybody else involved with our race team.”

“I want to thank Mark Martin and Lance Landers of Mark Martin Automotive, Ed Petroff of Petroff Towing, everybody at Crop Production Services, Steve Sorbera of Sorbera Chiropractic, Mike Reece of Reece Monument Company and Andy Durham of Durham Race Engines. Without them this wouldn’t be possible.”

Along with his 15 series wins this year, Bloomquist also recorded 31 top-five finishes and 36 top-ten finishes on his impressive résumé in 2016. He also won an amazing 26 heat races during the campaign.

Reigning series champion Jonathan Davenport won 10 events this year on the series tour, but after losing his points lead to Bloomquist in early July, he never recovered from several poor finishes in July and August. He did hold onto second place in the final championship points standings, just ahead of Tim McCreadie, Brandon Sheppard and Don O’Neal of Martinsville.

Completing the top 10 in points were Dennis Erb Jr., Darrell Lanigan, Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Owens and Jared Landers.

Other series notes from the banquet: It was announced that Jared Landers, who was running third in points until he was injured in a July accident should return to the cockpit come Speedweeks in February and that reigning World of Outlaws Late Model Champion Josh Richards will be running full-time with the Lucas Oil Series in 2017.

Richards is the only four-time World of Outlaw Series Champion and is the all-time winningest driver in that series history. He just concluded his most successful season yet winning a record-setting 18 series events. He has left his father Mark Richards’ racing operation and joined the Best Performance Motorsports Team for next season.

The series will kick off its 2017 campaign on Feb. 10 at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia. From there, the series moves to six nights of racing at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida, for the annual Winternationals and the trip concludes on Feb. 19 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida.

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will make three appearances in Indiana in 2017. The first scheduled event will be March 18 at Brownstown Speedway for the Indiana Icebreaker, paying $12,000 to win for the 20th Annual running of the race.

Brownstown will host the series again on Sept. 22-23 with the 38th annual Jackson 100, paying $20,000 to win on the schedule. The other track in Indiana hosting the series will be Lawrenceburg Speedway in Lawrenceburg on Aug. 26 with a $12,000-to-win event.

This week in racing history

From 1980, Russ Petro of Columbus won the Late Model Track Championship at Twin Cities Speedway in Vernon. Petro drove a car owned by Herman Burton of Columbus to the title. Tommy Day was second in the points, followed by Carl Collins, Dee Kramer, Gary Herbert, Steve Boley, Dusty Chapman, Buck Ridenour, Pete Willoughby and Johnny RobbinsBill Franks of North Vernon won the Street Stock Championship over Willie Sallee, Russ Smiley, R.C. Calton, Jim Short, Dan Sallee, Bob Johnson, Don Walp, Ed Lloyd and Kenny Hensley.

From 1972, Ira Bastin won his first of three career Late Model track championships at Brownstown Speedway. Jim Curry finished second in the final points. They were followed by Paul Crockett, Russ Petro, Kenny Simpson, Jack Owens, Carl Collins, Dick Brinegar, Verden Kinser and John Davis completed the top 10 drivers.

Bastin was named driver of the year. Gerald Todd was named rookie of the year and Mel Vails won the bad luck trophy.

James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The (Columbus) Republic, a sister paper of The Tribune. Send comments to jmorey@tribtown.com.