ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 9) — Hudson O’Neal felt like he let a victory slip away on Thursday night at Eldora Speedway when Tim McCreadie got around him on a late restart and went on to win the 25-lap preliminary feature for Saturday’s Dream XXIX.
With the roles reversed on Friday, O’Neal, of Martinsville, Ind., didn’t let a golden opportunity go unused. O’Neal, trailing polesitter McCreadie when the caution waved on lap 10, drove around him in turns one and two on the restart to grab the lead and never gave it back.
Despite four more cautions slowing the race over the final 15 circuits, O’Neal kept McCreadie at bay on each restart and led the rest of the way for his third career preliminary feature win at Eldora. O’Neal, who earned $12,000, finished .783 of a second ahead of seventh-starting Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., who rallied around the top to grab the runner-up spot.
“I was killing so much time getting down them straight aways, coming off of that bottom, I figured I'd try something a little bit,” said O’Neal. “About the time I did, I seen Bobby on the board really giving it hell up there. I was just waiting for the slider. Really I thought he was going to get close enough to me. I kept making mistakes down there. I was too tight to run the top. I figured he was going to be able to get a good enough run on me to (slide me) in (turns) one and two. But I was just lucky enough to be able to stay out front long enough.”
Twenty-four hours after his prelim win, McCreadie, of Watertown, N.Y., had to settle for third, 1.559 seconds behind Pierce. Milton, Fla.’s Joseph Joiner, the group’s fast qualifier, finished fourth after starting ninth and third-starting Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., lost two spots to finish fifth.
Pierce trailed O’Neal by less than a second when he moved around McCreadie on lap 20. He cut O’Neal’s advantage in half over the next five laps, but let the winner gain it all back on the final lap. He was happy to prove that his Longhorn Chassis was capable of getting to the outside lane to “bang the boards” as he maneuvered forward from the fourth row.
“Who says a Longhorn can't get up there and bang the boards too? We were definitely I think the fastest car at the end there,” said Pierce. “I was trying my hardest to save my stuff. I knew (Josh) Rice was making that top work and I saw how beat up his spoiler was, and I was like, man, the only way to run it might be to just tear the spoiler off it and I was trying to keep it on. But we saved our stuff till the end there.
“I think it was good timing and went for it. I made it really exciting there at the end. I don't think I was going to be able to clear Hudson. I backed off of it and everyone says, ‘Oh corner too soon.’ But you get such a bad arrow push there off of (turn) two that you just lose so much ground. So I figured that was gonna be my only shot at it. What an awesome turn around it has been from these last two nights.”
After giving up the lead, McCreadie got a chance to get repay the favor five laps later when the second yellow flag waved, a result of Josh Rice sliding into Mason Zeigler, sending Zeigler into the turn two wall while they battled for fourth. But unlike the day before when O’Neal allowed McCreadie to make a winning pass, O’Neal made sure to get a better restart.
“Hudson was good. I could see him on the TV screen, not right off the bat. I mean, that's actually better than a hand signal, so that's pretty cool, live TV to know where everybody's at going into turn one for the lead,” said McCreadie, tasking a poke at Eldora’s newly-implemented rule tightening the regulations on how teams can signal drivers. “We also got to make our car a little better. I just saw (O’Neal) under me, under me and I just thought, well, I’ll do the best I can. Then he got around me and then all the restarts I just didn't fire as good. But it's cool. We’ll work on it for tomorrow.”
Notes: O’Neal’s previous preliminary feature victories came in the 2019 and 2022 World 100. … The feature was slowed five times over the last 15 laps. Tyler Erb slowed to bring out a caution on lap 10. The collision between Rice and Zeigler brought out the yellow on lap 15. The third and fourth cautions waved while trying to restart the race on lap 15, the first when Ryan Gustin, Ricky Weiss, Tyler Erb and Tad Pospisil were collected in a wreck and the next when Garrett Alberson and Wil Herrington crashed. A right rear flat on Rice’s machine warranted the fifth caution. … Eldora favorites Dale McDowell and Chris Madden struggled. After winning the second consolation race, Madden started 22nd and climbed to 10th. McDowell never managed to get rolling, starting 15th and finishing 14th. He never ran higher than 12th. … After two nights of prelims, which featured a split field both nights, Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., is atop the point standings that help in setting the lineup for Saturday’s six heat races. Davenport spun the Wheel of Misfortune, which determines the invert for Saturday’s heats, and got a three, so the top three cars in each heat race will be inverted. … O’Neal, Jonathan Davenport and Ricky Thornton Jr., are the only three drivers to win a heat race both Thursday and Friday.
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Tyler Erb
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Hudson O’Neal
Row 3: Mason Zeigler, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 4: Bobby Pierce, Nick Hoffman
Row 5: Joseph Joiner, Carson Hocevar
Row 6: Garrett Alberson, Josh Rice
Row 7: Chad Simpson, Ricky Weiss
Row 8: Dale McDowell, Ryan Gustin
Row 9: Cory Hedgecock, Benji Hicks
Row 10: Tad Pospisil, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 11: Michael Brown, Chris Madden
Row 12: Wil Herrington, Tanner English
(Top two transfer)
First consolation: Michael Brown, Wil Herrington, Donald McIntosh, Rob Anderzack, Jason Jameson, Kaede Loudy, Kye Blight, Curtis Roberts, Sam Seawright, David McCoy, Josh Putnam, Brandon Thirlby, Mike Bargo, Terry Rushlow.
Second consolation: Chris Madden, Tanner English, Adam Stricker, Daniel Hilsabeck, Shannon Babb, Mike Benedum, Dustin Nobbe, Jerry Bowersock, Robby Hensley, Brent Vosbergen, Freddie Carpenter, Brad Dyer, Brandon Moore, Dwight Falcon Jr.
(12 laps, top two transfer)
Row 1: Michael Brown, Wil Herrington
Row 2: Rob Anderzack, Kæde Loudy
Row 3: Jason Jameson, Kye Blight
Row 4: David McCoy, Curtis Roberts
Row 5: Brandon Thirlby, Mike Bargo
Row 6: Donald McIntosh, Josh Putnam
Row 7: Terry Rushlow, Sam Seawright
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Tanner English
Row 2: Chris Madden, Dustin Nobbe
Row 3: Adam Stricker, Daniel Hilsabeck
Row 4: Mike Benedum, Freddie Carpenter
Row 5: Brent Vowbergen, Brad Dyer
Row 6: Robby Hensley, Jerry Bowersock
Row 7: Brandon Moore, Dwight Falcom Jr.
Heat race notes
Brandon Sheppard charged around the outside of Chad Simpson for the lead on lap four and went on to defeat Mason Zeigler by 1.731 seconds in the first heat. He thanked Longhorn Chassis’s Kevin Rumley, Matt Langston and Steve Arpin for helping him dial in his machine. … Joseph Joiner executed a last-lap pass off the outside of turn four to grab the third finishing position from Simpson in Heat 1. … Hudson O’Neal blazed from fourth to the lead on the opening lap of Heat 2 and cruised to victory by 3.627 seconds over Dennis Erb Jr. “I need to get one back,” the 22-year-old said, referring to his late-race loss to Tim McCreadie in Thursday’s first 25-lap preliminary feature. “I felt like I gave that one away last night. Hopefully the driver doesn’t give it away tonight.” … Coming to life after engine problems on Thursday forced him to swap motors, Tyler Erb slid three-wide underneath Dale McDowell and Bobby Pierce on the opening lap of Heat 3 and dominated the remainder of the distance. … First-time Eldora visitor Tad Pospisil outdueled Shannon Babb and Chris Madden in the final circuits of Heat 3 to finish fourth. Babb settled for fifth while Madden fell one spot short of transferring. … Polesitter Tim McCreadie led all the way in the fourth heat, beating Nick Hoffman by 1.495 seconds to become the only driver to win a Friday heat from the front row. … Josh Rice bounced off the backstretch wall while passing Earl Pearson Jr. for third on the first lap of Heat 4 but maintained control and went on finish in the position.
Heat race results
(Top five transfer)
First heat: Brandon Sheppard, Mason Zeigler, Joseph Joiner, Cory Hedgecock, Michael Brown, Rob Anderzack, Jason Jameson, David McCoy, Brandon Thirlby, Donald McIntosh, Terry Rushlow, Chad Simpson.
Second heat: Hudson O’Neal, Dennis Erb Jr., Carson Hocevar, Ricky Weiss, Benji Hicks, Wil Herrington, Kaede Loudy, Kye Blight, Curtis Roberts, Mike Bargo, Josh Putnam, Sam Seawright.
Third heat: Tyler Erb, Bobby Pierce, Garrett Alberson, Dale McDowell, Tad Pospisil, Shannon Babb, Chris Madden, Adam Stricker, Mike Benedum, Brent Vorbergen, Robby Hensley, Brandon Moore.
Fourth heat: Tim McCreadie, Nick Hoffman, Josh Rice, Ryan Gustin, Earl Pearson Jr., Tanner English, Dustin Nobbe, Daniel Hilsabeck, Freddie Carpenter, Brad Dyer, Jerry Bowersock, Dwight Falcon Jr.
Heat race lineups
(10 heats, top five transfer)
Row 1: Chad Simpson, Michael Brown
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Joseph Joiner
Row 3: Mason Zeigler, Cory Hedgecock
Row 4: Jason Jameson, Donald McIntosh
Row 5: Rob Anderzack, Brandon Thirlby
Row 6: David McCoy, Terry Rushlow
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Wil Herrington
Row 2: Carson Hocevar, Hudson O’Neal
Row 3: Josh Putnam, Ricky Weiss
Row 4: Benji Hicks, Curtis Roberts
Row 5: Kye Blight, Sam Seawright
Row 6: Kaede Loudy, Mike Bargo
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Tyler Erb, Chris Madden
Row 3: Garrett Alberson, Shannon Babb
Row 4: Adam Stricker, Robby Hensley
Row 5: Tad Pospisil, Brent Vosbergen
Row 6: Brandon Moore, Mike Benedum
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Nick Hoffman, Josh Rice
Row 3: Ryan Gustin, Tanner English
Row 4: Dustin Nobbe, Daniel Hilsabeck
Row 5: Freddie Carpenter, Jerry Bowersock
Row 6: Brad Dyer, Dwight Falcon
Weather conditions for Friday’s second night of Dream XXIX action are once again spectacular: afternoon highs reached the upper 70s with clear skies. … Tim McCreadie tops the event points standings following the first preliminary program with 595 points, leading Mike Marlar (573), Jonathan Davenport (572), Mason Zeigler (564) and Ricky Thornton Jr. (556). … Officials offered some further clarification on where crew members are allowed to hand-communicate with their drivers, telling teams they still can’t signal while standing against the inside pit wall but can do it from atop their trailers or the stands. … Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., and his team determined that the flat right-rear tire he developed while running ninth on lap nine of Thursday’s second 25-lap preliminary feature resulted from a loose bead-lock. The tire gradually lost air before overheating and blowing; Pierce finished one lap down in 21st and sits 23rd in the event points standings. … Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C., was felled by a right-rear flat tire during his Thursday heat due to a mechanical malfunction that cut into the rubber. He recovered to finish 13th and is 20th in the event points. … NASCAR Truck Series driver Carson Hocevar of Portage, Mich., has his Late Model’s bodywork patched back together much of its rear portion was mangled from encounters with the wall he had during a Thursday B-main. … Wil Herrington of Hawkinsville, Ga., is hoping for better results after a rough opening night saw him slowed during qualifying by a flat tire and knocked out of his heat by a broken axle. … Australian Kye Blight, who made the cut for a Thursday feature despite a loss of brakes in his new Paul Stubber-owned Rocket car during heat action, remarked before the start of Friday’s action that he’s very excited to have his team’s hauler parked in the infield. “Last year for the Dream we were parked on the outside (off turn three),” he said. “It’s nice being in here on the front row. You feel like you’re more part of the show.”
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)
Joseph Joiner (10), Milton, Fla., 16.498
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 16.505
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 16.546
Josh Rice (11), Verona, Ky., 16.705
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.877
Carson Hocevar (42), Portage, Mich., 16.985
Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 17.040
Nick Hoffman (9), Mooresville, N.C., 17.045
Michael Brown (24-D), Pageland, S.C., 17.098
Wil Herrington (19M), Cochran, Ga., 17.118
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 17.137
Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 17.181
Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 17.190
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 17.231
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 17.240
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 17.256
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 17.283
Josh Putnam (212), Florence, Ala., 17.286
Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 17.295
Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 17.349
Cory Hedgecock (23), Loudon, Tenn., 17.369
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 17.396
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 17.397
Tanner English (96V), Benton, Ky., 17.407
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 17.421
Benji Hicks (55h), Mount Airy, N.C., 17.441
Adam Stricker (68), Batavia, Ohio, 17.473
Dustin Nobbe (5N), Batesville, Ind., 17.476
Donald McIntosh (7m), Dawsonville, Ga., 17.599
Curtis Roberts (9r), Coleman, Mich., 17.612
Robby Hensley (21H), Walton, Ky., 17.672
Daniel Hilsabeck (22), Earlham, Iowa, 17.712
Rob Anderzack (8), Swanton, Ohio, 17.721
Kye Blight (31K), Katanning, WAU, 17.749
Tad Pospisil (04), Norfolk, Neb., 17.782
Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 17.888
Brandon Thirlby (69), Traverse City, Mich., 17.927
Sam Seawright (16), Rainsville, Ala., 17.938
Brent Vosbergen (AUS1), Perth, Australia, 18.046
Jerry Bowersock (95j), Wapakoneta, Ohio, 18.152
David McCoy (187), Franklin, N.C., 18.303
Kaede Loudy (126), Rogersville, Tenn., 18.427
Brandon Moore (39m), Pioneer, Ohio, 18.497
Brad Dyer (20D), Mohawk, Tenn., 18.524
Terry Rushlow (63), Holland, Ohio, 18.538
Mike Bargo (316), Corbin, Ky., 18.687
Dwight Falcon (995), Pine Grove, La., no time
Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., no time
(Subject to change)
10 a.m.: Ticket office opens (ticket and pit pass sales)
11 a.m.: Grounds cleared and secured
Noon: All gates, suites and concessions open
12:30 p.m.: Technical inspection begins
5 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
6:30 p.m.: Hot laps
7:30 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- Late Model time trials
- Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Late Model consolations (12 laps)
- Late Model first feature (25 laps)
- Late Model second feature (25 laps)