O’Neal Takes Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Opener at Golden Isles

Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Photo

 The defending Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion, Hudson O’Neal started his title defense by winning the tour’s season opener. O’Neal led all but one lap to win the General Tire Super Bowl of Racing on Thursday night at Golden Isles Speedway.

O’Neal yielded the lead for one lap to Jonathan Davenport on lap 22 but fought back to regain the point and go on to win the 40-lap race by 0.633 seconds. Davenport held on for second over Brandon Overton who won four of the previous six Super Bowl races at Golden Isles. 

Overton came home in third followed by Ricky Thornton Jr. and Brandon Sheppard who rounded out the top five drivers.

O’Neal started on the Victory Fuel Pole and grabbed the lead at the start of the race. Jimmy Owens, looking for his 81st career win with the series, ran in second for the first six laps until yielding the spot to Davenport.

The race was a hotly contested battle for most of the 40 laps as several drivers were in contention to pick up the opening night win. O’Neal stumbled slightly in turn two, opening the door for Davenport to take the lead on lap 22, but O’Neal came right back to regain the point from the three-time champion.

With cautions on lap 27 and lap 30, the field stayed bunched up behind O’Neal for the restarts, but when O’Neal stayed on the high-side to hold off Davenport and Overton at the end as the final 10 laps went caution-free.

In Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the 25th time in his career, O’Neal has his sights set on a second consecutive Lucas Oil National Championship after scoring his first win at Golden Isles.

O’Neal was asked about the lap that nearly led to his downfall. “The top was just blowing a lot of crumbs across it. If you didn’t get set enough you would lose the front end halfway through the corner. Jonathan got back by me and did the exact same thing and let me get back by him. Things just worked out in our favor, and I thought that one mistake I made it was going to be it, but fortunately he made a little bobble over there in two and got us back in it.”

“The restarts actually calmed me down a little bit,” said the Martinsville, Indiana resident who earned an industry record $200,000 from the over one million dollar point fund the series offered in 2023. “I was nervous whenever we got to lapped traffic, because I didn’t know where to go. Whenever the cautions come out it actually gave me a little bit of a clean racetrack again for a few laps. My race car was awesome all night long.”

Davenport, entered the event with 72 career LOLMDS wins, saw his one chance to take control of the race slip away on lap 23. “I just kind of slid for the lead there and I knew he (O’Neal) would be coming back the next corner. He made a mistake over there. I wish I was a little bit further behind because once he started coming left, I knew he was going to block the bottom, but I was already to his inside. I wish I was a couple of feet behind because I could have went to the outside and maybe got a run off of four on him. I just didn’t capitalize on his one mistake he made.”

Overton rounded out the Big River Steel Podium with his third-place finish as the driver who has dominated at Golden Isles over the past few seasons was in the thick of things until the end. “Our car was actually good. These guys are good. It is what it is. They are the best in the business. It was a heck of a race for a while. This is just the first night. I am looking forward to tomorrow. I am sure we can do a couple of things to speed up the car a little bit.” 

The winner’s Mark Richards Racing Rocket Chassis is powered by a Durham Racing Engine and sponsored by Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Performance Grading, Ace Metal Works, Stiles Marine and Maintenance, Wheeler Metals, Gunter’s Honey, O’Neal’s Salvage and Recycling, Professional Concrete Cutting and Drilling, Fox Shocks, and Sunoco Race Fuels.

Completing the top ten were Jimmy Owens, Kyle Bronson, Devin Moran, Daulton Wilson, and Dennis Erb Jr.

Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series 

Race Summary 

General Tire Super Bowl of Racing | Night 1

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Golden Isles Speedway – Waynesville, GA

Allstar Performance Time Trials

Fast Time Group A: Hudson O’Neal | 15.166 seconds (overall)

Fast Time Group B: Jonathan Davenport | 15.299 seconds

Penske Shocks Heat Race #1 Finish (8 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 1-Hudson O’Neal[1]; 2. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[2]; 3. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[5]; 4. 39-Tim McCreadie[3]; 5. 157-Mike Marlar[4]; 6. 214-Haiden Cowan[6]; 7. 3-Brennon Willard[7]; 8. 111R-Steven Roberts[9]; 9. 93-Cory Lawler[8]

Summit Racing Products Heat Race #2 Finish (8Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 20-Jimmy Owens[1]; 2. 99-Devin Moran[3]; 3. 6-Clay Harris[2]; 4. 19M-Spencer Hughes[4]; 5. 3S-Brian Shirley[9]; 6. 99B-Boom Briggs[5]; 7. 8-Dillon McCowan[8]; 8. 17SS-Brenden Smith[7]; 9. 388-Jackson Hise[6]

Earnhardt Technologies Heat Race #3 Finish (8 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 76-Brandon Overton[3]; 2. 44-Chris Madden[1]; 3. 58-Garrett Alberson[2]; 4. 111-Max Blair[5]; 5. 76N-Blair Nothdurft[4]; 6. 81-Jason Riggs[7]; 7. 66C-Matt Cosner[6]; 8. 81J-Jack Riggs[8]

Simpson Race Products Heat Race #4 Finish (8 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 49-Jonathan Davenport[1]; 2. B5-Brandon Sheppard[3]; 3. 79-Donald McIntosh[2]; 4. 5-Mark Whitener[7]; 5. 97-Cody Overton[4]; 6. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[8]; 7. 174-Ethan Dotson[5]; 8. 19R-Ryan Gustin[6]; 9. 28B-Carson Brown[9]

Lucas Oil Heat Race #5 Finish (8 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 40B-Kyle Bronson[3]; 2. 17M-Dale McDowell[1]; 3. 7T-Drake Troutman[2]; 4. 96V-Tanner English[6]; 5. 25-Tony Jackson Jr[5]; 6. 14X-Wil Herrington[4]; 7. 99T-Dylan Thompson[7]; 8. (DNS) 42-Terry Casey

Lucas Oil Heat Race #6 Finish (8 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 18D-Daulton Wilson[2]; 2. 10-Garrett Smith[1]; 3. 1T-Tyler Erb[4]; 4. 7-Ross Robinson[5]; 5. 14JR-Trey Mills[6]; 6. 4G-Bob Gardner[8]; 7. 75-Daniel Adam[7]; 8. 16-Tyler Bruening[3]

Fast Shafts B-Main Race #1 Finish (10 Laps, Top 2 Transfer): 1. 157-Mike Marlar[4]; 2. 39-Tim McCreadie[1]; 3. 111-Max Blair[3]; 4. 3S-Brian Shirley[5]; 5. 99B-Boom Briggs[8]; 6. 76N-Blair Nothdurft[6]; 7. 19M-Spencer Hughes[2]; 8. 214-Haiden Cowan[7]; 9. 8-Dillon McCowan[11]; 10. 111R-Steven Roberts[13]; 11. 66C-Matt Cosner[12]; 12. 81J-Jack Riggs[15]; 13. 17SS-Brenden Smith[14]; 14. 93-Cory Lawler[16]; 15. 388-Jackson Hise[17]; 16. 81-Jason Riggs[9]; 17. 3-Brennon Willard[10]

UNOH B-Main Race #2 Finish (10 Laps, Top 2 Transfer): 1. 5-Mark Whitener[1]; 2. 7-Ross Robinson[3]; 3. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[7]; 4. 96V-Tanner English[2]; 5. 97-Cody Overton[4]; 6. 25-Tony Jackson Jr[5]; 7. 14X-Wil Herrington[8]; 8. 19R-Ryan Gustin[13]; 9. 174-Ethan Dotson[10]; 10. 14JR-Trey Mills[6]; 11. 4G-Bob Gardner[9]; 12. 28B-Carson Brown[14]; 13. 75-Daniel Adam[12]; 14. (DNS) 99T-Dylan Thompson; 15. (DNS) 42-Terry Casey; 16. (DNS) 16-Tyler Bruening

Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series PR

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