UNION, Ky. (Aug. 8) — Unforgettable might be the best word to use in describing Wednesday’s 32nd annual Ralph Latham Memorial at Florence Speedway.
With rain starting to fall just a few laps shy of the feature’s halfway mark, competitors were sent to the pits under a weather delay, returning shortly thereafter to complete the shortened race’s final three circuits. Outrunning Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, it was Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., scoring a $12,000 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory at the Northern Kentucky oval.
“We’ll take it any way we can get it,” O’Neal said, as the rain fell over victory lane ceremonies. “Those last couple of laps I was like, ‘Man, just let it rain. Let it rain.’ I didn’t even know we were only running three laps there. I had no idea. Whenever we crossed the line there for that 25th lap, they said, ‘Checkered’s out.’ I thought we were going to finish the race. But obviously we weren’t going to. We’ll take it any way we can get it. It’s super sweet.”
Rolling off from the third starting spot, O’Neal powered to second on an early restart, quickly reeling in race leader Kyle Bronson of Bronson, Fla. With the pair racing side-by-side, O’Neal edged ahead out of turn four to assume the point on lap six of 25, leading the remaining distance for his second Lucas Oil Series victory of the season.
“(Bronson) was pretty good there around that bottom and I just happened to try up there one time and I got stuck out there,” O’Neal said. “I was like, ‘Man, this feels really good.’ It paid off and we were able to drive to the front there.
“I didn’t think it would race near that good. But they did a good job at packing it in there and it definitely made it a little bit better.”
As the top three cars distanced themselves from the field, second-running Bronson attempted to close the gap between himself and O’Neal on lap 13, only to slow with a right-rear flat three circuits later. Erb inherited the position, challenging O’Neal for the lead on the restart. As rain halted the action on lap 22, Erb’s charge was slowed, with the Texas driver settling for a runner-up finish at the checkered flag.
“Weather played a big role,” Erb said. “But congrats to Hudson. … This was definitely a wild race. You could run the top. That’s where he was running. I could make up a little ground through the bottom there. You just had to be careful not to turn this thing over. It was all in all a good night.”
Fourth-starting Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., finished third, with Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., improving from the ninth starting spot to run fourth. Rallying from the 18th starting spot, Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., rounded out the top five. Bronson finished 12th after leading the first three circuits.
Notes: O’Neal scored his second Lucas Oil Series victory of the season. His first career series victory came on June 16 at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, Miss. … The feature was originally scheduled for 50 laps but was shortened because of rain. … The race was slowed by five cautions. … The first yellow flag waved on lap three when Mason Zeigler slowed on the frontstretch. … Donald McIntosh spun on the backstretch to draw a caution on lap four. … A yellow flag flew on lap 16 when second-running Kyle Bronson slowed with a flat right-rear tire. … Fourth-running Jonathan Davenport drew a caution on lap 22 when he slowed on the frontstretch; a yellow flag flew on the ensuing restart when Scott Bloomquist and Kyle Bronson tangled on the frontstretch. … Ten of the 25 feature starters qualified for their first Ralph Latham Memorial.
Row 1: Nick Hoffman, Kyle Bronson
Row 2: Hudson O’Neal, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Donald McIntosh, Brandon Overton
Row 4: Tyler Erb, Mike Marlar
Row 5: Bobby Pierce, Mason Zeigler
Row 6: Zack Dohm, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 7: Jonathan Davenport, Doug Drown
Row 8: Michael Page, Darrell Lanigan
Row 9: Jared Hawkins, Josh Richards
Row 10: Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Owens
Row 11: Don O’Neal, Ricky Weiss
Row 12: Scott Bloomquist, Tim McCreadie
Row 13: Jesse Lay
First consolation (top two transfer): Earl Pearson Jr., Don O’Neal, Dale McDowell, Austin Rettig, Michael Chilton, Jeremy Conaway, Jesse Lay, Rob Anderzack, Tim McCreadie, Kenneth Howell, Josh Rice, Robby Hensley, Rob Mayea, Trevor Landrum, Billy Green. Scratched: Kent Robinson, Steve Casebolt.
Second consolation (top two transfer): Jimmy Owens, Ricky Weiss, Jason Miller, Devin Gilpin, Chris Shannon, Chad Stapleton, Austin Burns, Duane Chamberlain, Nick Latham, Joey Moriarty, Kody Evans, James Rice. Scratched: Jason Jameson, Craig Vosbergen, Scott Bloomquist, Shanon Buckingham, Austyn Mills, Scott James.
(12 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Austin Rettig
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Jimmy Mars
Row 3: Michael Chilton, Dale McDowell
Row 4: Josh Rice, Kenneth Howell
Row 5: Jesse Lay, Rob Mayea
Row 6: Jeremy Conaway, Rob Anderzack
Row 7: Billy Green, Tim McCreadie
Row 8: Kent Robinson, Trevor Landrum
Row 9: Steve Casebolt, Robby Hensley
Row 1: Jason Miller, Duane Chamberlain
Row 2: Jimmy Owens, Jason Jameson
Row 3: Craig Vosbergen, Ricky Weiss
Row 4: Scott Bloomquist, Devin Gilpin
Row 5: Kody Evans, Nick Latham
Row 6: Chris Shannon, Austin Burns
Row 7: Shanon Buckingham, Joey Moriarty
Row 8: Chad Stapleton, Austyn Mills
Row 9: Scott James, James Rice
Post-heat race notes
Former Florence track champion Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., wildly rolled his No. 12 machine while running third in the fourth heat race. After coming to a rest in turn two, he was able to climb from the car on his own. … Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., retired early from that same heat when his car started billowing smoke. He'll pull out a backup car and use a series provisional to start Wednesday's feature. … Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., was running in a transfer spot when he suffered a flat tire in the second heat. … Defending Sunoco North-South 100 winner Tim McCreadie retired early from his heat after slowing with mechanical issues. … Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., was among the biggest movers in heat race action, rallying from the seventh starting spot to win the sixth heat. … Winning the first heat race, Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C., will make his first-ever Ralph Latham Memorial start. … Scott James of Bright, Ind., is sporting a throwback paint scheme in tribute to his father Bubby James, who is being inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame on Saturday. … Among drivers making their first-ever appearance at Florence are Rob Anderzack of Swanton, Ohio, Jeremy Conaway of Rochester, Ill., Rob Mayea of Bend, Ore., and Austin Burns of Morgantown, Ind.
Heat race results
First heat finish (top three transfer): Nick Hoffman, Tyler Erb, Jonathan Davenport, Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Mars, Josh Rice, Rob Mayea, Trevor Landrum, Billy Green.
Second heat finish (top three transfer): Hudson O’Neal, Bobby Pierce, Michael Page, Austin Rettig, Michael Chilton, Kenneth Howell, Jeremy Conaway, Tim McCreadie, Steve Casebolt.
Third heat finish (top three transfer): Donald McIntosh, Zack Dohm, Jared Hawkins, Don O’Neal, Dale McDowell, Jesse Lay, Rob Anderzack, Kent Robinson, Robby Hensley.
Fourth heat finish (top three transfer): Kyle Bronson, Mike Marlar, Doug Drown, Jason Miller, Jason Jameson, Scott Bloomquist, Nick Latham, Shanon Buckingham, Austyn Mills.
Fifth heat finish (top three transfer): Gregg Satterlee, Mason Zeigler, Darrell Lanigan, Duane Chamberlain, Craig Vosbergen, Devin Gilpin, Chris Shannon, Joey Moriarty, Scott James.
Sixth heat finish (top three transfer): Brandon Overton, Dennis Erb Jr., Josh Richards, Jimmy Owens, Ricky Weiss, Kody Evans, Austin Burns, Chad Stapleton, James Rice.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Nick Hoffman, Tyler Erb
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Josh Rice
Row 3: Earl Pearson Jr., Jimmy Mars
Row 4: Rob Mayea, Trevor Landrum
Row 5: Billy Green
Row 1: Bobby Pierce, Hudson O’Neal
Row 2: Michael Chilton, Austin Rettig
Row 3: Michael Page, Steve Casebolt
Row 4: Tim McCreadie, Kenneth Howell
Row 5: Jeremy Conaway
Row 1: Donald McIntosh, Zack Dohm
Row 2: Jared Hawkins, Don O’Neal
Row 3: Dale McDowell, Kent Robinson
Row 4: Jesse Lay, Robby Hensley
Row 5: Rob Anderzack
Row 1: Austyn Mills, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Mike Marlar, Jason Jameson
Row 3: Kyle Bronson, Shanon Buckingham
Row 4: Doug Drown, Nick Latham
Row 5: Jason Miller
Row 1: Gregg Satterlee, Joey Moriarty
Row 2: Devin Gilpin, Mason Zeigler
Row 3: Darrell Lanigan, Duane Chamberlain
Row 4: Scott James, Craig Vosbergen
Row 5: Chris Shannon
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Ricky Weiss
Row 2: Jimmy Owens, Kody Evans
Row 3: Josh Richards, Chad Stapleton
Row 4: Brandon Overton, Austin Burns
Row 5: James Rice
Florence Speedway kicks off its Sunoco North-South 100 weekend with the 32nd running of the Ralph Latham Memorial. The $12,000-to-win Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event was added to the crown jewel weekend after its original May 5 date was rained out.
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., enters the weekend as the fourth-time and defending Ralph Latham Memorial winner. Devin Gilpin of Columbus, Ind., and Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., are among drivers picking up big victories at Florence earlier this season.
Wednesday’s program will include hot laps, time trials, six heat races, two consolations and the 50-lap main event. The top three cars from each heat race will transfer to the feature, with the top two transferring from each consolation. Provisionals will set the final row of the feature lineup. Modifieds will also be in action.
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 15.546
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.557
Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 15.586
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 15.586
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 15.703
Zack Dohm (17), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 15.734
Josh Rice (12), Verona, Ky., 15.781
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.790
Michael Chilton (97), Salvisa, Ky., 15.808
Jared Hawkins (11), Fairmont, W.Va., 15.809
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 15.814
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.876
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.898
Michael Page (18), Douglasville, Ga., 15.907
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.916
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 15.922
Steve Casebolt (C9), Richmond, Ind., 15.949
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 16.001
Rob Mayea (37), Bend, Ore., 16.024
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.067
Jesse Lay (33), Walton, Ky., 16.068
Trevor Landrum (18L), Erlanger, Ky., 16.148
Kenneth Howell (21), Inez, Ky., 16.217
Robby Hensley (21H), Walton, Ky., 16.221
Billy Green (49G), Walton, Ky., 16.267
Jeremy Conaway (F15), Rochester, Ill., 16.283
Rob Anderzack (8a), Swanton, Ohio, no time
Austyn Mills (1AM), Alexandria, Ky., 15.703
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.771
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.772
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.772
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 15.773
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 15.796
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.814
Devin Gilpin (1G), Columbus, Ind., 15.834
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.868
Jason Jameson (16), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 15.874
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.902
Kody Evans (4G), Camden, Ohio, 15.932
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.952
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 15.955
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.976
Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 16.001
Duane Chamberlain (20c), Richmond, Ind., 16.004
Chad Stapleton (32), Edinburgh, Ind., 16.032
Doug Drown (12), Wooster, Ohio, 16.071
Scott James (1J), Bright, Ind., 16.114
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.194
Nick Latham (31), Winchester, Ohio, 16.324
Craig Vosbergen (8), Perth, Australia, 16.477
Austin Burns (22B), Morgantown, Ind., 16.562
Jason Miller (94), Winchester, Va., 16.617
Chris Shannon (9s), Bethel, Ohio, 17.591
James Rice (11r), Verona, Ky., no time