Dustin Neat earns $2,000 at Pete Abell Memorial
By Mike SullivanDirtonDirt.com correspondent
JUNCTION CITY, Ky. (June 23) — Dustin Neat of Dunnville, Ky., continued his winning ways at the Ponderosa Speedway, going flag-to-flag Saturday to capture the 17th annual Pete Abell Memorial and a $2,000 check.
“Our car was absolutely awesome tonight,” Neat said of his Longhorn Chassis. “It’s been really good all year, but I talked to Earl Pearson this afternoon and we made a few changes, and now it’s coming off the corners a lot straighter than it has been and as good as it’s been, it’s even better.
“At the start I tried to set a pretty good pace and as long as I didn’t have anybody all over me I didn’t drive off into the lapped traffic. Then when (brother and runner-up) Brad (Neat) got to me, I had to pick it up a little. At the end I saw him diving to the bottom, but there wasn’t a lot down there so I just stayed as straight as I could and stay in the same line.”
Grabbing the lead from the pole at the start of the main event, Neat darted to the lead ahead of fellow heat winner Todd Coffman and third-starting Michael Chilton. As Neat eased out to a straightaway lead in the opening laps, Chilton moved to second as fifth-starting Brad Neat pressured Coffman for third. With Neat entering lapped traffic, Victor Lee, Dustin Linville and Justin Rattliff ran multiple grooves in battling for fifth.
At the front of the field, Brad Neat worked past Chilton for second and closed on his older brother. As the lead duo entered lapped traffic, Coffman pressured Chilton for third, taking the spot briefly only to have the pass negated by Jason Hinkle’s lap-19 caution.
On the restart, Brad Neat took a peek under the leader in turn three. Behind them, Friday night’s winner Linville moved to third with a slide job exiting turn four while Rattliff, Coffman and Chilton battled three-wide for fourth. As Brad Neat pressured the leader into lapped traffic, the second and final caution flew on lap 30 when Dustin Linville and Adam Bowman tangled on the back straightaway.
On the final restart, the lead duo inched away from Rattliff while Coffman moved under Chilton for fourth. In the closing laps Brad Neat made one final challenge on the bottom of turns three and four only to see his brother’s momentum carry him to victory.
The younger Neat, while happy with a strong finish, bristled about a heat-race start that forced him to start fifth.
“The start of our heat race killed us,” the runner-up said. “We had such a slow start then and wound up running second that it knocked us from the outside front row to fifth. Fortunately we were able to come up through there and race Dustin for the win. I (tried) my best to make a desperation move on the bottom, but when it didn’t work it wound up costing me some time.”
Rattliff finished third followed by Coffman and Chilton.
Pete Abell Memorial: (1) Dustin Neat, (2) Brad Neat, (3) Justin Rattliff, (4) Todd Coffman, (5) Michael Chilton, (6) David Webb, (7) Victor Lee, (8) Dusty Maybrier, (9) Johnny Wheeler, (10) Larry Greer, (11) Clarence Belcher, (12) Tommy Carlton, (13) Dustin Linville, (14) Adam Bowman, (15) Joey Daniel, (16) Wesley Brummett, (17) Jason Hinkle, (18) Tommy Bailey, (19) Michael Coontz, (20) Brandon Hardgrove. Fast qualifier (among 20 cars): Linville, 14.208 seconds. Heat race winners: D. Neat, Coffman, Chilton.