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Daily Dirt 06/22/2024 06:51:09

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August 5
Cedar Lake Speedway,
New Richmond, WI
Sanction: World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series (USA Nationals) - $50,000
Information provided by: Kevin Kovac (last updated August 6, 6:20 pm)
O'Neal grabs $50,000 victory at USA Nationals
USA Nationals
  1. Don O'Neal
  2. Mike Marlar
  3. Bobby Pierce
  4. Brandon Sheppard
  5. Jimmy Owens
  6. Dennis Erb Jr.
  7. Scott Bloomquist
  8. Frank Heckenast Jr.
  9. Shannon Babb
  10. Brian Shirley
  11. Shane Clanton
  12. Devin Moran
  13. Chris Simpson
  14. Jason Feger
  15. Dale McDowell
  16. Earl Pearson Jr.
  17. Morgan Bagley
  18. Matt Furman
  19. Kent Robinson
  20. Eric Wells
  21. Chris Madden
  22. Brent Larson
  23. Darrell Lanigan
  24. Tyler Erb
  25. Kyle Bronson
  26. Chub Frank
  27. Rick Eckert
  28. Billy Moyer
presented by
Todd Boyd
Don O'Neal takes the checkers for his $50,000 payday.
What won the race: Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., emerged from a wild, four-car battle for the lead past halfway at Cedar Lake Speedway for a $50,000 victory in the 30th annual USA Nationals on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series. Winning Cedar Lake’s biggest race for the first time, O’Neal swapped the lead twice with polesitter Mike Marlar before taking command for good on lap 58, keeping Marlar in check the rest of the 100-lapper.
Key notes: O'Neal's victory was the richest for Clint Bowyer Racing. ... His teammate Darrell Lanigan, a previous USA Nationals winner (before he joined the Bowyer operation), was an early retiree. ... O'Neal had his biggest payday since his $50,000 North-South 100 triumph in 2013. ... Four cautions slowed the feature, the most serious for a Tyler Erb-Matt Furman tangle on lap 39.
On the move: Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., started 16th and finished third.
Winner's sponsors: O'Neal's Club 29 Race Car is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Peak Antifreeze and Coolant, Crawford Supply, iRacing, Cometic Gasket, Clint Bowyer Autoplex and Penske Shocks.
Points chase: After USA Nationals: 1. Brandon Sheppard (4,230 points), 2. Chris Madden (3,978), 3. Shane Clanton (3,936), 4. Tyler Erb (3,989), 5. Devin Moran (3,872), 6. Rick Eckert (3,852), 7. Eric Wells (3,776), 8. Chub Frank (3,720), 9. Frank Heckenast Jr. (3,700), 10. Morgan Bagley (3,666).
Car count: 41
Fast qualifier: Brian Shirley
Time: 13.470 seconds
Polesitter: Mike Marlar
Dash winner: Mike Marlar
Heat race winners: Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens, Eric Wells, Kent Robinson
Consolation race winners: Kyle Bronson, Scott Bloomquist
Provisional starters: Chub Frank, Morgan Bagley, Dale McDowell, Billy Moyer
Next series race: August 17, Georgetown Speedway (Georgetown, DE) $10,000
Editor's note: Corrects winning pass as lap 58.
From DirtonDirt.com staff reports

NEW RICHMOND, Wis. — Don O’Neal not only acquired one of the sport’s niftiest trophies for car owner Clint Bowyer at Cedar Lake Speedway, but the Martinsville, Ind., driver also gave the NASCAR driver his richest payday as a Dirt Late Model team owner by winning Saturday's 30th annual USA Nationals.

The 53-year-old O’Neal outdueled polesitter Mike Marlar in traffic in a feisty battle just past the halfway point of the 100-lapper, then edged away from the 28-car field for his first USA Nationals victory and a $50,000 payday at the 3/8-mile oval in northeastern Wisconsin.

“That’s probably going to go to Bowyer’s shop, I’d say,” O’Neal said in victory lane, admiring the event’s traditional wooden eagle trophy. “That’s cool. They don’t get neater than that. That’s awesome. … Man, I’m just tickled to death.”

O’Neal, who finished 19th in his only previous start in a Bowyer car at Cedar Lake in 2014, thanked his car owner, crew members and sponsors for helping his Club 29 Race Car reach victory lane for his second World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series victory of the season.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said O’Neal, a runner-up at Cedar Lake in 2013 the year before he joined CBR. “This means a lot. We’ve had good race cars here in the past. We haven’t been here the last couple of years, and they decided to let us come this year — and hopefully we’ll be back next year.”

In breaking out of a tight, four-car battle for the lead, O’Neal led the final 43 laps and kept Marlar in check during the race’s late stages. Marlar, the Winfield, Tenn., driver who led 49 of the first 57 laps, finished 1.691 seconds back at the checkers for his best career USA Nationals performance.

Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., struggled early before rallying from his 16th starting spot to third, making up most of his ground late. WoO points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., improved 10 positions to finish fourth and front-row starter Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., rounded out the top five after leading the first seven laps.

Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., the $6,000 winner in a WoO preliminary feature on Friday, wasn’t a factor and retired after 70 laps.

After Marlar took the lead from his long-time buddy and fellow Tennessean Jimmy Owens on the eighth lap, he set a torrid pace with Owens and then O’Neal trying to keep pace over the first half of the race.

With the fourth of four minor cautions coming on lap 39, Marlar was in control at halfway as O’Neal turned up the heat amid traffic. O’Neal slipped ahead to lead lap 54, but Marlar quickly went back in front as O’Neal slipped to third behind Owens on lap 55.

When Marlar had to check up to avoid Brent Larson’s slower car on lap 58, O’Neal went around in turn two for the winning pass. The eventual victor began edging away from Marlar, Owens, Shirley, Sheppard and other challengers including Shannon Babb, who snuck into the fourth spot on lap 63 and held a top-five position until lap 82.

O’Neal was glad his No. 5 was up to the task of handling the evolving track conditions at Cedar Lake.

“This place is so demanding. It starts off really fast early, and it slicks off, you know, starts slicking off the middle way through the race. Then you gotta finesse it. You’ve gotta (drive) 100 laps hard here,” O’Neal said, adding that he was the benefactor of Marlar’s struggles with a slower car. “Sometimes when you’re running second it pays off a little better in lapped traffic.”

Marlar, who was third at the USA Nationals in 2013, called the outcome “bittersweet” for his Ronnie Delk Motorsports team after he said Larson “messed me up bad” in costing him momentum in turn two when O’Neal took command for good.

“I had to knock (Larson) out of my way the first time," Marlar said, "and the second time he turned right in front of me and I had just had to slam the brakes and it let Don get by me.

“Congratulations to Don. He really raced me hard every lap there, and gave me plenty of respect. I was probably the squirrelly one in that traffic (between) the two of us. So congratulations to him on the win. It was a fun race.”

Pierce, who was running 18th on lap 22 and didn’t break into the top five until lap 86, finished the race wishing he could’ve joined the mid-race battle with O’Neal, Marlar and others — but he was mired in 10th place at the time.

“It was tough. Those first 30 laps, we took the green in slime and I was trying to get (officials) to call if off, ‘No, no, don’t go!’ But I think they just wanted to get (the race) going,” Pierce said. “I fell way back on the start, I think to like 20th, and with about 75 laps to go I finally started picking a (competitor) off about every five or 10 laps, and with about 40 (laps) to go I started coming on really strong.

“I wish the track (conditions) kind of started a little bit closer (to the way it ended). It still ended up really good. It had a bottom, a top — well, you could pull slide jobs, anyways.

“That was kind of one of the only ways you could pass, because for me, my car wasn’t great on the bottom, but I was really good on the top. I was just praying for a caution. I didn’t look up at the scoreboard until there was 10 laps to go … and I was like, ‘Man, this race went by so fast, it seems like.’ We were turning some really fast laps at the beginning and I was just trying to hang on to everything.”

“I’ve got a second here, a third here and a fourth here, I just want that win one of these days.”

Four cautions slowed the action, the most serious when Tyler Erb and Matt Furman tangled exiting turn two on lap 39.

The first yellow appeared on lap 21 when provisional starter Billy Moyer slowed shortly after going a lap down, and Kyle Bronson slowed with problems a lap later. A lap-38 caution came out for debris before the Erb-Furman tangle..

Preliminary results and notes:

Main event updates

Lap 100: O'Neal takes the checkered flag 1.691 seconds in front of Marlar, earning his first-ever USA Nationals triumph. Pierce, Sheppard and Owens follow.

Lap 90: O'Neal leads Marlar by 2 seconds ... Owens third, Pierce charging in fourth, Sheppard fifth ...

Lap 70: O'Neal leading Marlar by several car lengths ...

Lap 39: Caution quickly returns for backstretch tangle that leaves Furman backwards and Tyler Erb stopped on track needing wrecker service. Marlar leads O'Neal, Owens, Babb (shot from seventh to fourth on lap-38 restart) and Shirley ... 10th-place Lanigan pits during caution period.

Lap 38: Caution flies for debris on the backstretch ... Marlar leads O'Neal, Owens, Shirley, Sheppard, Heckenast, Babb, Clanton, Dennis Erb and Lanigan.

Lap 35: Sheppard cracks top five, passing Heckenast for fifth.

Lap 22: Bronson stops on inside of homestretch with right-rear bodywork damage for second caution ... Marlar leads Owens, O'Neal, Heckenast, Shirley, Clanton, Sheppard, Dennis Erb, Babb and Robinson.

Lap 21: First caution flies for Billy Moyer slowing in turn four ... Marlar leads Owens, O'Neal, Heckenast, Shirley, Clanton, Babb, Sheppard, Dennis Erb and Robinson.

Lap 8: Marlar grabs leads from Owens in traffic ...

Lap 1: Owens outguns Marlar to lead first circuit ...

10:25 p.m.: The 28-car begins rolling off for pace laps ...

Pre-feature notes

Cedar Lake’s famed USA National driver introductions — with the track lights turned out and fans waving blinking plastic mugs they were given upon entering the speedway, drivers drove out onto the track one-by-one with a spotlight illuminating their cars —  ended at 10:20 CT, setting the stage for the start of the weekend’s $50,000-to-win headliner. … Provisional starters for the 100-lapper include Chub Frank and Morgan Bagley (WoO points); Dale McDowell (FANSFund); and Billy Moyer (track).

USA Nationals lineup

Row 1: Mike Marlar, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Frank Heckenast Jr., Don O'Neal
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Kent Robinson
Row 4: Shane Clanton, Eric Wells
Row 5: Shannon Babb, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 6: Dennis Erb Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 7: Matt Furman, Darrell Lanigan
Row 8: Chris Madden, Bobby Pierce
Row 9: Kyle Bronson, Scott Bloomquist
Row 10: Tyler Erb, Chris Simpson
Row 11: Devin Moran, Jason Feger
Row 12: Brent Larson, Rick Eckert
Row 13: Chub Frank, Morgan Bagley
Row 14: Dale McDowell, Billy Moyer

NASCAR Late Model feature

Ricky Weiss of Headingly, Manitoba, turned back a late challenge from polesitter Darrell Nelson of Germantown, Minn., and captured the 40-lap NASCAR Late Model feature.

Nelson settled for second, 1.180 seconds behind the victor. Jake Redetzke of Eau Claire, Wis., finished third, followed by 10th-starter Nick Anvelink of Bonduel, Wis., and A.J. Diemel of Elk Mound, Wis.

The NASCAR Late Model A-main was checkered at 9:05 p.m., leaving only the USA Nationals 100-lapper on the evening’s schedule. Track prep and pre-race ceremonies — including fireworks and Cedar Lake’s driver introductions during which the track lights are shut down and fans are asked to wave the blinking plastic mugs they received upon entering the speedway — will lead into the weekend finale.

Last Chance Qualifier

Brent Larson grabbed the lead at the initial green flag and never looked back en route to winning the 15-lap event by 1.278 seconds over Rick Eckert. Chase Junghans finished third, falling one spot short of transferring.

Finish: Brent Larson, Rick Eckert, Chase Junghans, Jimmy Mars, Dale McDowell, Ricky Weiss, Jordan Yaggy, Lance Matthees, Tyler Bruening, A.J. Diemel, Michael Lake, Chub Frank, Justin Duty, Jeff Massingill.

Last Chance Qualifier lineup

(15 laps; top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Brent Larson, Rick Eckert
Row 2: Chub Frank, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Jordan Yaggy, Chase Junghans
Row 4: Jimmy Mars, Lance Matthees
Row 5: Billy Moyer, Justin Duty
Row 6: Jeff Massingill, A.J. Diemel
Row 7: Dale McDowell, Michael Lake

Second B-main

Scott Bloomquist led the entire 15-lap distance to secure a berth in the 100-lapper, but he had to turn back heavy pressure from Chris Simpson in the final circuits to emerge victorious over the Iowa by a slight 0.125 of a second. Jason Feger claimed the third and final transfer spot.

Finish: Scott Bloomquist, Chris Simpson, Jason Feger, Rick Eckert, Ricky Weiss, Chase Junghans, Lance Matthees, Justin Duty, A.J. Diemel, Michael Lake, Austin Theiss, Nick Anvelink.

First B-main

Kyle Bronson rode the extreme outside lip of the speedway to score a flag-to-flag victory and earn a starting spot in the 100-lap USA Nationals finale for the first time in his career. Tyler Erb turned back challenges from Devin Moran to finish second, but Moran's third-place run moved him on to the feature.

Finish: Kyle Bronson, Tyler Erb, Devin Moran, Brent Larson, Chub Frank, Jordan Yaggy, Jimmy Mars, Billy Moyer, Jeff Massingill, Dale McDowell, Morgan Bagley, Tyler Bruening (DNS) Scott Ward.

Pole Dash

Mike Marlar dominated the 8-lap sprint for Friday night’s heat winners and runners-up, leading all the way to emerge victorious and earn the pole position for the USA Nationals 100. Jimmy Owens moved up from the fourth starting spot to finish second, putting him on the outside pole for the A-main.

Finish: Mike Marlar, Jimmy Owens, Frank Heckenast, Don O’Neal, Kent Robinson, Shane Clanton, Eric Wells.

Pole Dash lineup

Row 1: Frank Heckenast Jr., Mike Marlar
Row 2: Eric Wells, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Kent Robinson, Brian Shirley
Row 4: Shane Clanton, Don O’Neal

Pre-race notes

A slight chance of showers remains in the forecast for Saturday night’s finale — in fact, some menacing black clouds skirted past the track behind the pit area late in the afternoon — but the radar looked promising as hot laps began at 6:30 p.m. Temperatures are certainly comfortable with a high in the low 70s this afternoon. … The only former USA Nationals already locked into the 100-lapper through Friday night’s heats are Jimmy Owens and Darrell Lanigan. Past champs running a B-main are Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Mars, Dale McDowell, Billy Moyer and Rick Eckert. … No driver felt more fortunate to win a Friday-night heat than Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., whose weekend nearly came to a screeching halt earlier in the evening when his car bicycled on its right-side wheels into turn one at the start of a heat for Thursday’s postponed World of Outlaws program. “I don’t ever want to have that feeling again,” Robinson said of his near-flip, which still left his car with significant front suspension and steering damage that he had to repair before the USA Nationals heats. … Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, is hoping for better luck after experiencing a rough Friday night. He broke a transmission in the preliminary feature and then had to replace his car’s rearend after a heat-race incident in which he hit Scott Ward’s machine as it came off the backstretch wall. … Brandon Sheppard’s spectacular bid for victory in Friday night’s feature was effectively snuffed out when he lost his car’s brakes on the lap-28 restart. It appeared that the left-rear brake caliper wore through from so much mud getting packed into that corner of the car, preventing him from mounting a challenge to eventual winner Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C. … Just one of the 16 drivers who transferred to the 100-lapper through a Friday heat will make his first-ever start in the USA Nationals finale: Matt Furman, a native of Iowa City, Iowa, who now resides in Portland, Ore. … Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, and his Tye Twarog-owned team are hoping Saturday night’s program doesn’t run long. They are making a 14-hour overnight drive to enter Sunday’s $12,000-to-win Jim Dunn Memorial at Midway Speedway in Crooksville, Ohio, a track just 45 minutes from the team’s home base.

Pre-race setup

The 30th annual USA Nationals weekend concludes on Saturday night at Cedar Lake Speedway with the running of the 100-lap feature paying $50,000 to win.

Last-chance races and the pole dash — for the top two finishes in each of Friday night’s four heat races to set the first eight starting positions in the 100-lapper — on the agenda for the WoO Late Models. The twin 15-lap B-mains will transfer three drivers from each to the feature, while an additional 15-lap last-chance race will send two more racers to the headliner.

The USA Nationals field will be rounded out by two WoO points provisionals; a FANS Fund provisional (first FANS Fund driver in the last-chance race who doesn't qualify); a track provisional; and any WoO regulars who eligible for an emergency provisional.

The program, which also includes a 40-lap NASCAR Late Model feature, is scheduled to begin with hot laps at 6:30 p.m. CT.

B-main lineups

(15 laps; top 3 transfer)
First B-main
Row 1: Tyler Erb, Kyle Bronson
Row 2: Jimmy Mars, Devin Moran
Row 3: Jordan Yaggy, Brent Larson
Row 4: Dale McDowell, Chub Frank
Row 5: Tyler Bruening, Jeff Massingill
Row 6: Morgan Bagley, Billy Moyer
Row 7: Scott Ward
Second B-main
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Chris Simpson
Row 2: Ricky Weiss, Jason Feger
Row 3: Rick Eckert, Lance Matthees
Row 4: Chase Junghans, Austin Theiss
Row 5: Michael Lake, Justin Duty
Row 6: A.J. Diemel, Nick Anvelink

Schedule of events

6 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
6:30 p.m.: Hot laps (NASCAR Late Models/Pole Dash/B-mains)
7 p.m.: Opening ceremonies/flyover
- NASCAR Late Model heats (12 laps)
- USA Nationals Pole Dash (8 laps)
- USA Nationals B-mains (15 laps)
- USA Nationals A-main hot laps
- USA Nationals Last-Chance Qualifier (15 laps)
- NASCAR Late Model feature (40 laps)
- Track prep
- USA Nationals driver introductions
- USA Nationals 100

Past USA Nationals winners

2016: Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.
2015: Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.
2014: Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
2013: Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
2012: Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.
2011: Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.
2010: Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
2009: Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.
2008: Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
2007: Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
2006: Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
2005: Dale McDowell, Rossville, Ga.
2004: Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
2003: Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
2002: Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
2001: Dale McDowell, Rossville, Ga.
2000: Davey Johnson, Greensburg, Pa.
1999: Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
1998: Donnie Moran, Dresden, Ohio
1997: Rick Aukland, Fargo, N.D.
1996: Jimmy Mars, Elk Mound, Wis.
1995: Jack Boggs, Grayson, Ky.
1994: Jack Boggs, Grayson, Ky.
1993: Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
1992: Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
1991: Rick Aukland, Fargo, N.D.
1990: Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
1989: Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
1988: Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Marlar, Owens
Row 2: Heckenast, O'Neal
Row 3: Shirley, Robinson
Row 4: Clanton, Wells
Row 5: Babb, Pearson
Row 6: D. Erb, Sheppard
Row 7: Furman, Lanigan
Row 8: Madden, Pierce
Row 9: Bronson, Bloomquist
Row 10: T. Erb, Chris Simpson
Row 11: Moran, Feger
Row 12: Larson, Eckert
Row 13: Frank, Bagley
Row 14: McDowell, Moyer

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