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Knoxville Raceway

Notes: Third a surprise for T-Mac at Knoxville

September 29, 2013, 3:15 am
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor
Third-place Tim McCreadie (right) talks with runner-up Josh Richards. (thesportswire.net)
Third-place Tim McCreadie (right) talks with runner-up Josh Richards. (thesportswire.net)

KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Sept. 28) — With 10 laps remaining in Saturday’s 10th annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals, former race winner Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., was simply hoping he’d hang on to the seventh spot at Knoxville Raceway.

Then things got crazy with a pair of lap-94 red flags when a Don O’Neal-Eddie Carrier Jr. collision sent Carrier’s car tumbling over in turn three, and an O’Neal-Jason Feger collision sending Feger’s car over between turns one and two, shuffling the field up front.

With Feger, O’Neal and innocent victim Dale McDowell eliminated, and Scott Bloomquist pitting after sustain damage in the melee, McCreadie found himself restarting fourth with six laps remaining.

While he couldn’t stay in touch with the Darrell Lanigan-Josh Richards battle up front that saw Lanigan collect a $40,000 payday, McCreadie took third from Billy Moyer and ended up earning a solid $10,000 paycheck.

“It’s always nice when you get lucky,” McCreadie said. "I think before the first red flag ... the first red flag knocked Dale McDowell’s rear spoiler off, and it got me a spot there. The next one crashed three more cars. Like I said, I’m sitting here running seventh, hoping I don’t get passed by whoever’s behind me because I hanging the last 40 laps. I was just on jacks.

“It’s nice. The longer we waited, the better I got. If we could’ve had another one — maybe (Lanigan and Richards) could’ve did what they did last night and I could’ve got a little more money,” McCreadie joked.

The 2008 race winner got a poor start from the third row, but he hung near the top five much of the race with a car that he had struggled with most of the weekend.

“The first 40 (laps) we were good. I kinda got behind Darrell on the first corner and lifted my nose up and jumped the cushion, and I don’t know how far I felt back, but it was like eighth or ninth in the first corner,” McCreadie said. "Before the first yellow (on lap 32) came out, we worked out our way back up to sixth, and I thought, we’re really good. I could see everybody but Josh ... or whoever, Darrell was leading at that time. I could see Josh and all them, so I thought we were doing OK.

“My car’s just not stuck hard enough. It’s a good car and it’s fun to drive, but they fired off them restarts mid-race, and man, we were hung. ... So I just did what I could do. Unfortunately when you’re right-rear’s unstuck, you can’t do no better. It’s been a lot of help from them guys and I’m happy to put a Warrior car in the top three.”

Sneaking up to fourth

Likewise Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., wasn’t in the mix in the top five until the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race’s final moments. Last year’s winner even took his Clint Bowyer Racing Barry Wright house car to the pits during red-flag delays with six laps remaining, but ended up finishing fourth in the 100-lapper.

“We were probably the fifth-place car toward the end of the race, but we had used so much stuff trying to get up through everybody and all that,” said Francis, who started 22nd and cracked the top 10 at halfway. “Then those last few cautions, we were probably going to run eight with a fifth-place car just because everything was happening having to get there, then all this stuff happened at the end and we wound up fourth, so we probably got a free one or two (positions) out of it, too.”

The high-speed surface soaked by five hours of rain weren’t his favorite conditions.

“It’s Knoxville. I wish it hadn’t have rained today,” Francis said. "The racetrack (surface) is right now (after the race) about like I’d have seen it start for the race, but we got out of here with a top-five. I don’t know what we gained on (series points leader) Jimmy (Owens), but we gained a little bit on him to at least keep this thing interesting. I’m not happy, but not disappointed either.

“I don’t know how much it rained today, but it seemed like an inch. We still got the race in tonight and the racetrack didn’t get rough. Just credit the track crew at Knoxville — that’s about all you can do.”

Moyer settles for fifth

Starting 14th at Knoxville’s half-mile oval, Iowa native Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., didn’t have much hope of contending in a race where Josh Richards, winner of Thursday and Friday’s preliminary features, was starting near the front along with eventual race winner Darrell Lanigan.

“Back there where we started, as fast as this place is, I never did think I’d ever see the leaders, to tell you the truth,” Moyer said. “The good cars starting in the front, they get clean air and are gone ... when you’re running this fast and you’ve just gotta lift a couple of times for somebody you’re racing with or something, and they’re out there running wide open, they put a straightaway on you in the blink of an eye.”

Moyer indeed was more than a straightaway behind the leaders much of the race, but past the race’s midpoint, he was up to third and turning the fastest laps on the track while slowing gaining on the two-car breakaway of Lanigan and Richards.

The lap-94 slowdowns gave Moyer a chance to start right behind the frontrunners, but instead of making a late challenge, Moyer slipped to fifth after his car “went away there the last couple of laps.”

Upon returning to the pits, his crew found the culprit — his right-rear tire had just 4 pounds of pressure, likely from a slow leak that prevented it from maintaining the ideal 10 pounds of pressure.

“So that kind of makes me feel a little better (about) what went wrong,” Moyer said.

“I didn’t do a few things right there right there at the end either that I just screwed up, myself, I guess,” Moyer said. “I hit that hole getting into (turn) three and the car would bottom out, and run me up the track. That kind of allowed (Tim) McCreadie and (Steve) Francis (to) get by me. I just hit that hole wrong and screwed up.”

The lengthy red-flag cleanups on lap 94 probably allowed more air to seep out of his tire than if he’d continued racing, but Moyer couldn’t complain too much after tallying a top-five finish.

“Overall, from where we started, we were coming to 'em there, they said, pretty good,” he said after signing autographs and getting a photo take with a few young fans. “I know the car felt pretty darn good. This place ... tonight it was just lightning fast. It’s a lot of work to get around that place.”

Odds and ends

Five former race winners finished among the top eight (Tim McCreadie, Steve Francis, Billy Moyer, Brady Smith and Scott Bloomquist). ... Modified ace Ryan Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa, a favorite among Knoxville fans all weekend, ran as high as seventh but pulled out with 15 laps remaining while competing in his first 100-lap Late Model race. ... Four-time Lucas Oil Series champ Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., ran as high as fifth but was pushed off the track with engine problems on lap 41. ... Chad Simpson of Mount Vernon was the top home-state finish, a lap down in 10th and one spot ahead of Jason Utter of Columbus Junction, who made just his second Knoxville start. ...  Knoxville favorite Brian Birkhofer missed Knoxville’s main event for the first time in the event’s 10-year history when he blew a tire on the last lap of the B-main while running in a transfer spot. ... Knoxville is back on the Lucas Oil Series schedule next season for Sept. 25-27.

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