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Daily Dirt 03/02/2024 21:24:52

Sponsor 743
September 7
Eldora Speedway,
Rossburg, OH
Sanction: DIRTcar Supers (First semifeature) - $12,000
Information provided by: Kevin Kovac, Kyle McFadden, series and track reports (last updated September 8, 10:52 am)
O'Neal captures opening World 100 semifeature
First semifeature
  1. Hudson O'Neal
  2. Jason Jameson
  3. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  4. Mike Marlar
  5. Shannon Babb
  6. Devin Moran
  7. Brian Shirley
  8. Daulton Wilson
  9. Garrett Alberson
  10. Kyle Bronson
  11. Earl Pearson Jr.
  12. Gregg Satterlee
  13. Dale McDowell
  14. Ryan Gustin
  15. Jimmy Owens
  16. Steven Roberts
  17. Wil Herrington
  18. Stormy Scott
  19. Matt Sheppard
  20. Ricky Weiss
  21. R.J. Conley
  22. Haiden Cowan
  23. Chris Ferguson
  24. G.R. Smith
presented by
Zach Yost
Hudson O’Neal emerges from his winning car at Eldora Speedway.
What won the race: Polesitter Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., overtook fellow front-row starter Jason Jameson on a lap-three restart and led the rest of Thursday’s opening semifeature at Eldora Speedway on World 100 weekend. O’Neal dove under Jameson in turn three and earned $12,000 for his 25-lap victory in the Rocket Chassis house car. O’Neal, who survived a lap-15 scrape with the slower car of Wil Herrington exiting turn four and had a flat right-rear tire in victory lane, took the checkers over fellow Indiana residents Jameson and Ricky Thornton Jr.
Quotable: "Once I got the lead I just kept going and going and going and I just tried to never slow down and be too patient with them lapped guys I tried to take advantage of them whenever I'd had them in a good spot,” O’Neal said.
Key notes: The World 100 returns with the sport's most prestigious event kicking off with twin 25-lap, $12,000-to-win preliminary features on Thursday and Friday with accrued preliminary points setting lineups for Saturday's heats. ... The 102-car field was split into two groups with time trials set for each group ... Each group then runs four eight-lap heat races per group with the top five transferring to a 25-lap feature. ... Two consolations are scheduled for each group with two drivers apiece transferring from each race to set the 24-car lineups. ... Watch live on FloRacing.
On the move: Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M., started 20th and finished ninth.
Winner's sponsors: O’Neal’s Rocket Chassis has a Durham Racing Engine and sponsorship from Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Rocket Chassis, Ace Metal Works, Gunter’s Honey, Hoosier Racing Tire, Integra Racing Shocks, Keyser Manufacturing Co., Petroff Towing, WR1 Sim Chassis, O’Neal’s Salvage & Recycling, Performance Grading, Slavic Shirts & Decals, Sunoco Race Fuels and Rocket Preowned Motors.
Current weather: Broken Clouds, 70°F
Car count: 102
Fast qualifier: Brian Shirley
Time: 15.334 seconds
Polesitter: Hudson O'Neal
Heat race winners: Mike Marlar, Earl Pearson Jr., Devin Moran, Ryan Gustin
Consolation race winners: Stormy Scott, Matt Sheppard
Next series race: September 8, Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH) $12,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

ROSSBURG, Ohio — There's nothing like a little last-second motivation from a car owner to get a driver focused and Hudson O'Neal's marching orders from Rocket Chassis co-founder Mark Richards final words were fresh in his mind Thursday night at Eldora Speedway.

"I just knew it was 25 laps," O'Neal said, "and Mark stuck his head in the window before I rolled out, and he said 'Don't stop.' "

The polesitter O'Neal didn't, not when outside front-row starter Jason Jameson got the lead, not when he got in a lap-15 scrape with a slower car, and not even when his right-rear tire was apparently deflating in the waning laps.

Leading all but the first two laps, the 23-year-old Martinsville, Ind., driver grabbed a $12,000 payday in the opening semifeature on opening night of the 53rd annual World 100 weekend, establishing his team as one to watch heading into Friday's preliminaries and then Saturday's $56,000-to-win main event and a globe trophy, the sport's most prestigious prize.

"Every time we come back (to Eldora) I just feel like we build upon it and just keep getting a little bit better and a little bit better. All day, I kept bragging to Mark about how comfortable I was and how good and maneuverable I was and could do anything," said O'Neal, making his third trip to the Tony Stewart-owned track in his first year with the team. "Mark has never-give-up attitude and it's a blessing to be a part of it and to be a part of something so special with the Rocket Chassis organization and all my guys."

O'Neal lapped all but 11 competitors and took the checkers 2.561 seconds ahead of Lawrenceburg, Ind.'s Jameson, making a one-off return to the Rattliff Racing operation with a standout runner-up showing. Arizona native Ricky Thornton Jr., also a resident of Martinsville, Ind., gave Indiana the top three finishers while Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., edged Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., on the final lap for the fourth position.

Jameson grabbed the lead on the restart from outside the front row, but the race's lone caution appeared after two laps when Jimmy Owens got sideways after contact with Kyle Strickler in turn one before his car straightened back out by ensuing contact from Marlar.

O'Neal pounced on the restart, diving under Jameson entering turn three and taking command for a lead he'd never give up.

"I didn't get the lead there and I was able to thankful for restart and able to kind of get him back on the restart, but man it worked out," O'Neal said. "Once I got the lead I just kept going and going and going and I just tried to never slow down and be too patient with them lapped guys I tried to take advantage of them whenever I'd had them in a good spot."

But O'Neal found himself in a tight spot with 10 laps remaining while trying to work past the slower car of Wil Herrington, who drifted high exiting turn four and pinched O'Neal's Rocket1 into the concrete wall. The slowing O'Neal brushed the wall and quickly return to speed, no worse for wear except for damage to his right-rear spoiler brace and, perhaps, a tire that maintained enough air for O'Neal to race to the checkers by a 2.561-second margin over Jameson.

"Did that make you nervous? It made me nervous," O'Neal said to announcer Ben Shelton in victory lane regarding the Herrington incident. "He went to the bottom and I thought, 'Ok, man, I can get a run,' and I think he just missed the bottom (and) didn't know I was there. Whoo, my butt puckered for a minute. I thought I was gonna give it away right there and I was able to slow down enough before I hit the wall, I got it a little bit."

O'Neal, who won a World 100 preliminary last season with Double Down Motorsports and in 2019 with SSI Motorsports, hopes this year's semifeature victory leads to success later in the weekend.

"I've won prelims here before and just come up short on Saturday," he said. "So hopefully Saturday we can build upon what we got for the short-run races and build something for the 100-lapper."

Semifeature lineup

(25 laps)

Row 1: Hudson O'Neal, Jason Jameson
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Haiden Cowan
Row 3: Ricky Thornton Jr., Brian Shirlieoy
Row 4: Mike Marlar, Chris Ferguson
Row 5: Jimmy Owens, Devin Moran
Row 6: Earl Pearson Jr., Daulton Wilson
Row 7: Ryan Gustin, Steven Roberts
Row 8: Kyle Bronson, G.R. Smith
Row 9: Gregg Satterlee, Dale McDowell
Row 10: Wil Herrington, Garrett Alberson
Row 11: Stormy Scott, Matt Sheppard
Row 12: R.J. Conley, Ricky Weiss

Consolation race results

(10 laps; top two transfer)

First consolation: Stormy Scott, R.J. Conley, Austin Kirkpatrick, Casey Noonan, Gordy Gundaker, Seth Daniels, Mike Benedum, Tyler Nicely, Brian Ruhlman, Jake Timm, Freddie Carpenter, Jon Hodgkiss, Jeremy Cropper, John Tweed, Bryant Dickinson, Tyler Carpenter. Scratched: Gilbert Hess.

Second consolation: Matt Sheppard, Ricky Weiss, Richie Stephens, Will Roland, Ross Bailes, Benji Hicks, Kaede Loudy, Jason Riggs, Jerry Bowersock, Brad Dyer, Forrest Trent, Justin Cooper, Donnie Jeschke, Jeff Kohn, Jeff Robertson.

Consolation race lineups

(10 laps; top two transfer)

First consolation
Row 1: Casey Noonan, Stormy Scott
Row 2: Austin Kirkpatrick, Tyler Carpenter
Row 3: Seth Daniels, Gordy Gundaker
Row 4: R.J. Conley, Jon Hodgkiss
Row 5: John Tweed, Mike Benedum
Row 6: Freddie Carpenter, Tyler Nicely
Row 7: Jeremy Cropper, Brian Ruhlman
Row 8: Jake Timm, Bryant Dickinson
Second consolation
Row 1: Richie Stephens, Matt Sheppard
Row 2: Ross Bailes, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Benji Hicks, Will Roland
Row 4: Jason Riggs, Kaede Loudy
Row 5: Justin Cooper, Brad Dyer
Row 6: Forrest Trent, Jerry Bowersock
Row 7: Donnie Jeschke, Jeff Kohn
Row 8: Jeff Robertson

Heat race notes

Mike Marlar marched to a flag-to-flag victory in the first heat driving his Delk Motorsports car that sports a wrap inspired by a World War II fighter plane, which led him to make an interesting postrace comment. “This is an airplane, but I’m gonna keep it on the ground,” he quipped. … G.R. Smith finished fifth in Heat 1, putting into the preliminary feature in his first start since mid-March. … Earl Pearson Jr. led all the way to capture the second heat. … Mike Benedum ran second for the first five laps of Heat 2 before slipping backward and finishing 10th. … Noting that “the track still has a lot of grip,” Devin Moran controlled the third heat from start-to-finish to win by 0.498 of a second over Hudson O’Neal, who overtook Steven Roberts for second on lap six. … Ryan Gustin became the fourth wire-to-wire winner in as many heats, taking the fourth prelim by 1.532 seconds over Ricky Thornton Jr. … Northeast big-block modified star Matt Sheppard missed transferring by one spot in Heat 4; he ran fifth for one lap before settling into sixth place for the remainder of the distance.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top five transfer)

First heat: Mike Marlar, Daulton Wilson, Brian Shirley, Chris Ferguson, G.R. Smith, Casey Noonan, Austin Kirkpatrick, Seth Daniels, R.J. Conley, John Tweed, Freddie Carpenter, Jeremy Cropper, Jake Timm.

Second heat: Earl Pearson Jr., Jason Jameson, Kyle Bronson, Haiden Cowan, Wil Herrington, Stormy Scott, Tyler Carpenter, Gordy Gundaker, Jon Hodgkiss, Mike Benedum, Tyler Nicely, Brian Ruhlman, Bryant Dickinson.

Third heat: Devin Moran, Hudson O'Neal, Steven Roberts, Shannon Babb, Garrett Alberson, Richie Stephens, Ross Bailes, Benji Hicks, Jason Riggs, Justin Cooper, Forrest Trent, Donnie Jeschke, Jeff Robertson.

Fourth heat: Ryan Gustin, Ricky Thornton Jr., Jimmy Owens, Dale McDowell, Gregg Satterlee, Matt Sheppard, Ricky Weiss, Will Roland, Kaede Loudy, Brad Dyer, Jerry Bowersock, Jeff Kohn.

Heat race lineups

(Eight laps; top five transfer)

First heat
Row 1: Daulton Wilson, Mike Marlar
Row 2: Chris Ferguson, Brian Shirley
Row 3: G.R. Smith, Casey Noonan
Row 4: Austin Kirkpatrick, Jake Timm
Row 5: Seth Daniels, R.J. Conley
Row 6: Freddie Carpenter, John Tweed
Row 7: Jeremy Cropper
Second heat
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Mike Benedum
Row 2: Jason Jameson, Haiden Cowan
Row 3: Kyle Bronson, Stormy Scott
Row 4: Wil Herrington, Gordy Gundaker
Row 5: Tyler Carpenter, Jon Hodgkiss
Row 6: Tyler Nicely, Brian Ruhlman
Row 7: Bryant Dickinson
Third heat
Row 1: Steven Roberts, Devin Moran
Row 2: Hudson O'Neal, Shannon Babb
Row 3: Richie Stephens, Forrest Trent
Row 4: Garrett Alberson, Ross Bailes
Row 5: Benji Hicks, Donnie Jeschke
Row 6: Justin Cooper, Jason Riggs
Row 7: Jeff Robertson
Fourth heat
Row 1: Ryan Gustin, Matt Sheppard
Row 2: Jimmy Owens, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 3: Gregg Satterlee, Dale McDowell
Row 4: Ricky Weiss, Will Roland
Row 5: Jerry Bowersock, Brad Dyer
Row 6: Kaede Loudy, Jeff Kohn

Pre-race notes

The 53rd World 100 weekend opens Thursday under mostly cloudy skies with comfortable temperatures that topped out in the low 70s during the afternoon. Some drizzle did fall a few times during the day but never hard enough to threaten the 6:30 p.m. start time for heats — though the track surface does have plenty of moisture in it. … The car count of 102 cars is down a minimal five entries from 2022. … Numerous teams were told to snip some sheet metal after going through tech inspection for the first time on Wednesday and early Thursday, but DIRTcar officials reported no major issues. … Northeast big-block modified star Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, N.Y., is back in the Niece Motorsports Dirt Late Model that he ran in Aug. 24’s Lucas Oil Series event at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway, but his first World 100 attempt got off to an inauspicious start. Before he even hit the track, Sheppard’s No. 42 fell off the team’s trailer liftgate as it was being unloaded and landed rearend-first on the concrete pits; the car appeared to escape serious damage, but team manager Cody Sommer — the promoter of the Gateway Dirt Nationals — also fell of the liftgate and suffered a cut on his left elbow and also complained of a sore chest and back. … Normally the Rocket Chassis house car team’s big blue trailer is parked on the front row of Eldora’s pit area directly next to the media center, but this weekend the Mark Richards operation is situation in the middle row alongside the concession stand. … Among the drivers in Group A sporting special World 100 weekend wraps: Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn. (a World War II plane-themed scheme); Daulton Wilson of Fayetteville, N.C. (a duplicate of Earl Pearson Jr.’s 2006 World 100-winning Dunn Benson Racing No. 1); and Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio (the light blue color on his Double Down Motorsports car represents Dementia Awareness). … G.R. Smith of Cornelius, N.C., is making his first competitive start since mid-March when he was involved in a controversial incident with Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., at Southern Raceway in Milton, Fla. Racing as a teammate to Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba — the winner of Sunday’s Baltes Classic at Eldora — Smith is driving a new Sniper Chassis that he tested recently at I-75 Raceway in Sweetwater, Tenn. … Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., is back with Rattliff Racing as a temporary teammate of Daulton Wilson driving a Longhorn car that the team purchased from Eli Beets after it was run just twice. Jameson is making his third start of 2023 with Rattliff Racing, including Sunday’s Baltes Classic. … While Stormy Scott of Las Cruces, N.M., is in the World 100 field, his twin brother Johnny Scott is sitting the weekend out while recovering from concussion and a sore neck and back he suffered two weeks ago in a heat-race accident at Davenport (Iowa) Speedway. … Modified ace Tyler Nicely of Owensboro, Ky., is making his World 100 behind the wheel of the Hatcher Motorsports No. 6, a car that has performed well at Eldora in the past with driver Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C.

Time trials

Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)

  1. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 15.334
  2. Haiden Cowan (214), Rincon, Ga., 15.339
  3. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.340
  4. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 15.349
  5. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 15.402
  6. Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 15.404
  7. Hudson O’Neal (1), Martinsville, Ind., 15.409
  8. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.422
  9. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.450
  10. Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., 15.488
  11. Devin Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 15.501
  12. Matt Sheppard (42), Waterloo, N.Y., 15.517
  13. Daulton Wilson (1), Fayetteville, N.C., 15.519
  14. Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.533
  15. Steven Roberts (111), Sylvester, Ga., 15.549
  16. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 15.567
  17. G.R. Smith (22x), Cornelius, N.C., 15.581
  18. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.590
  19. Richie Stephens (00), Phenix City, Ala., 15.595
  20. Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.609
  21. Casey Noonan (1N), Sylvania, Ohio, 15.654
  22. Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.661
  23. Forrest Trent (101), Morristown, Tenn., 15.667
  24. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.681
  25. Austin Kirkpatrick (11), Harrisburg, N.C., 15.693
  26. Wil Herrington (19m), Hawkinsville, Ga., 15.702
  27. Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.705
  28. Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 15.716
  29. Jake Timm (49), Winona, Minn., 15.736
  30. Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 15.764
  31. Ross Bailes (5B), Clover, S.C., 15.804
  32. Will Roland (22), Jasper, Ga., 15.882
  33. Seth Daniels (s1), Jackson, Ohio, 15.999
  34. Tyler Carpenter (28), Parkersburg, W.Va., 16.004
  35. Benji Hicks (55), Mount Airy, N.C., 16.021
  36. Jerry Bowersock (95j), Wapakoneta, Ohio, 16.029
  37. R.J. Conley (71C), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 16.053
  38. Jon Hodgkiss (69), Kennedy Township, Pa., 16.057
  39. Donnie Jeschke (99J), Dayton, Ohio, 16.074
  40. Brad Dyer (0), Mohawk, Tenn., 16.118
  41. Freddie Carpenter (c4), Parkersburg, W.Va., 16.144
  42. Tyler Nicely (6), Owensboro, Ky., 16.156
  43. Justin Cooper (00), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 16.173
  44. Kaede Loudy (126), Rogersville, Tenn., 16.356
  45. John Tweed (5), Greeneville, Tenn., 16.477
  46. Brian Ruhlman (49), Clarklake, Mich., 16.544
  47. Jason Riggs (81r), College Grove, Tenn., 16.562
  48. Jeff Kohn (25), Sheridan, Mich., 16.716
  49. Jeremy Cropper (7c), Ringgold, Ga., 16.741
  50. Bryant Dickinson (5*), Ionia, Mich., 16.949
  51. Jeff Robertson (P3), Defiance, Ohio, 17.714

Thursday’s schedule

7 a.m.-11 a.m. - Breakfast served (turn four concession building)
9 a.m. - Gates open
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
Noon-4:30 p.m. - Technical inspection
3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. - Billy Chez Cheese concert (fan zone)
5 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
6:30 p.m. - Hot laps
8 p.m. - Opening ceremonies
- Late Model time trials
- Late Model heats (8 laps)
- Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- Late Model first feature (25 laps)
- Late Model second feature (25 laps)

Semifeature lineup

Row 1: O'Neal, Jameson
Row 2: Babb, Cowan
Row 3: Thornton, Shirley
Row 4: Marlar, Ch. Ferguson
Row 5: Owens, Moran
Row 6: Pearson, Wilson
Row 7: Gustin, Roberts
Row 8: Bronson, G.R. Smith
Row 9: Satterlee, McDowell
Row 10: Herrington, Alberson
Row 11: S. Scott, M. Sheppard
Row 12: R.J. Conley, Weiss

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