UNION, Ky. — Without a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory since February, Tim McCreadie isn’t the best at putting a happy facing on losing, even with car owners Donald and Gena Bradsher encouraging the Watertown, N.Y., driver.
“They just say, ‘Hey, stay positive,’ and I’m probably the anti-positive guy when it comes to that,” McCreadie said. “When I’m running bad, most of the fans who come in probably know it … I can’t hide failure very well, that’s for sure.”
The 46-year-old racer didn’t have to worry about that Saturday night at Florence Speedway’s Sunoco Race Fuels North-South 100. McCreadie was the driver smiling big in victory lane — after some perfunctory, celebratory donuts on the shiny half-mile oval — in hoisting a $50,000 check and making Florence’s big race his first repeat crown jewel victory.
“I really don’t know what to say,” said McCreadie, whose previous North-South triumph came in 2017. “I won here before and you guys went crazy. You went crazy down the backstretch when we took the lead again. It’s awesome racing here, that’s for sure.”
The 20th-starting McCreadie triggered Florence’s excitable fans by winning a back-and-forth battle with Jimmy Owens late in the race, crossing the line side-by-side with Owens on laps 86-87 before edging ahead on lap 88 and cruising the rest of the way of a caution-plagued feature.
Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., who led laps 28-29, finished 1.928 seconds behind McCreadie at the checkers after taking second from Newport, Tenn.’s Owens with five laps remaining. Owens, who paced 85 laps but struggled to protect his lead from McCreadie and Overton during an avalanche of restarts — three on lap 82 alone — settled for third after opening four nights of Florence action Wednesday with a $12,000 victory in the Ralph Latham Memorial.
Pole-starting Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., finished fourth with fellow Bloomquist Race Cars driver Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., in fifth.
High-groove running Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., ran in the top five much of the way — and even briefly slipped ahead of Owens on lap 65 — but got shuffled back on a restart and ended up 19th.
Except for Overton’s two-lap stretch out front, Owens led comfortably through the first half of the race. But he labored during the brutal stretch of cautions in the final 20 laps as McCreadie, who could inch his car a bit higher than Owens exiting turn four, challenged on the outside with Overton ready to pounce on the inside.
Amid green-flag racing in the final laps, McCreadie turned up the heat on lap 86, battling side-by-side with Owens as Overton ran hot on their heels. Owens narrowly edged McCreadie at the line on laps 86 and 87, but McCreadie asserted control on lap 88, leaving Owens to battle with Overton the rest of the way.
“He’s an A-1 driver man,” McCreadie said of Owens, “and he’s got (crew) guys who kind of told him to arc it in (the turns) a little bit. I was so flat on entry unless I got it bent a little bit and could get my attitude right.
“I don’t know when I was gonna make the move … just any chance I could. He’s so fast right now you gotta try to fluster him a little bit and we got lucky tonight.”
Gunning for his fourth career North-South 100 win but first since 2011, Owens felt like he was undone by the yellow flags that robbed the race of any rhythm entering the late stages.
“It was just caution after caution after caution. That wasn’t helping us none. Any time we could extend the lead out a little bit, it would just get sucked right back up,” Owens said. “Timmy had a great car tonight. Hat’s off to him. I knew when he made it in through the consy there that this track, if they didn’t do nothing to it, it was gonna be slick, and he’s been really shining here in times like this.
“It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it, but we’ll accept it.”
While it turned out better for him, McCreadie wasn’t happy to see the yellow flag flying repeatedly either.
“Every time there was a yellow, I dropped a lot of F-bombs in the helmet. I didn’t want to see the yellows,” he said. “I tried to run the bottom for as long as I could because the tire combination we’re on, it’ll get a little hot, and once it gets hot it just slides along the left rear. It’s made the racing way better here. We used to bolt four (hard tires) and run right in the middle all the time, so kudos to the series for doing that.
“But the way I’ve been good here, I’ve had to wait and wait, and then late try to get up there and knock the wall down and if there wasn’t a big enough lip … (tonight) it could just momentum around.”
Overton was never out of the mix, but neither could he keep up with McCreadie the last dozen laps.
“Man, I really wanted them to get up there and race a little hard. I was really married to the same line Jimmy was and Timmy could kind of roll around that top. I was a little too soft … I’d go down there and bottom out and push a little bit,” said Overton, a $50,000 winner the previous Saturday in World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series action at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. “So I was just kind of playing a little defense. I was just hoping they’d get up there and dice it up, keep sliding each other, and I could slid by ’em maybe.
“But hat’s off to Timmy, and you know Jimmy’s been on a tear this year. To be up there with ’em, I’ll take it.”
The feature was slowed by 14 cautions, none for serious incidents and five for debris (laps 31, 51, 57 for Thornton’s quarterpanel, 79 for a wheel cover and 82 for Josh Rice’s spoiler).
Mike Marlar slowed on the seventh lap with a flat left-rear tire and Tyler Bruening drew a lap-13 yellow and ducked into the pits.
Bobby Pierce slowed on the 37th lap to head pitside and Hudson O’Neal slowed for a lap-47 caution.
Jonathan Davenport slowed for a lap-73 yellow, Ross Bailes drew a yellow a lap later and Jason Jameson came to rest on the homestretch on lap 78. Billy Moyer Jr. slowed (and Shanon Buckingham spun) for another lap-82 yellow. The final caution appeared on lap 82 for Buckingham again.
Notes: McCreadie clicked off his 18th career series victory. His previous triumphs on the tour this season came when he won twice during February's Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. … Both Bobby Pierce and Josh Rice made high-side charges that briefly brought them into contention. Pierce was on the verge of breaking into the top five when he slowed on lap 81 because his car's right-rear wheel was packed with mud; Rice ran the top to reach sixth on lap 81, but contact with the wall two laps earlier left his spoiler dangling off his car and, after an official couldn't pull it off on lap 81, if fell off one circuit later. Rice finished 14th and Pierce was 21st. ... The feature started about 9:30 p.m. and ended about 75 minutes later. … Among drivers failing to make the feature was two-time winner and 23-time race starter Scott Bloomquist, who retired early in a consolation race. He joined Bob Dilner and James Essex for a brief period in calling the race for Lucas Oil Racing TV. … Also missing the feature cut was 2018 North-South 100 champion Ricky Weiss, who fell one spot short in a B-main. The Canadian salvaged a payday by capturing the non-qualifier race's $2,000 top prize. ... Mason Zeigler also missed the 100-lapper after spinning in a consolation race while battling with Kyle Strickler. Officials tagged Strickler for the caution and he was sent to the tail along with Zeigler.
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $50,000
2. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., Longhorn, $10,000
3. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Rocket, $7,000
4. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., $6,000
5. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Bloomquist, $5,000
6. Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., Rocket, $4,000
7. Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., Rocket, $3,750
8. Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., Black Diamond, $3,500
9. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., Capital, $3,250
10. Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., Capital, $3,000
11. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $2,750
12. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, Rocket, $2,500
13. Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky., Rocket, $2,250
14. Josh Rice (11), Verona, Ky., Rocket, $2,200
15. Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, Rocket, $2,150
16. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., Rocket, $2,100
17. Ross Bailes (1), Clover, S.C., Rocket, $2,050
18. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, Capital, $2,000
19. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., Longhorn, $2,000
20. Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., Longhorn, $2,000
21. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Rocket, $2,000
22. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., Rocket, $2,000
23. Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., Rocket, $2,000
24. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., MB Customs, $2,000
25. Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., Rocket, $2,000
26. Tyler Carpenter (28), Parkersburg, W.Va., Kryptonite, $2,000
Lap leaders: Owens 1-27, 30-87; Overton 28-29; McCreadie 88-100
Heat race winners (among 53 cars): Clanton, Ferguson, McCreadie, Bruening, Pearson, Buckingham, Davenport, O’Neal, Zack Dohm, Rice
Consolation race winners: Rice, Jameson
Provisional starters: Davenport, Moran, English, Scott
Non-qualifiers’ race winner: Ricky Weiss
Lap updates of the 100-lapper:
Lap 100: Stretching his lead the final 10 laps, McCreadie wins $50,000 by 1.928 seconds over Overton with Owens third.
Lap 90: McCreadie won a back-and-forth battle with Owens over three laps and took the lead on lap 88 after they crossed side-by-side two laps in a row..
Lap 82: Rice's spoiler falls off; another yellow; then another yellow for a slowing Billy Moyer Jr. and spinning Shanon Buckingham on the restart in turns one and two; then Buckingham slowed again for the third caution on a single lap. Sigh.
Lap 81: Pierce slows and pits again with more mud in his right-rear wheel. Owens is still in control but his crew his concerned about sheetmetal rubbing on a wheel. Local favorite Josh Rice has risen to sixth, but he knocked his spoiler off on lap 79; it's barely hanging on the car's left corner. An official tried to rip it off but gave up and sent him back out.
Lap 79: More debris in turn four after a feisty restart; no one is holding back.
Lap 78: Jameson stops on the frontstretch for another yellow. Mike Marlar calls it a night under caution after cutting a left-front tire earlier in the race. With Owens still holding on, Bobby Pierce is suddenly up to seventh. The top six: Owens, McCreadie, Overton, Thornton, McDowell and Ferguson.
Lap 76: Another caution (spoiler debris). Owens still leads, but while he appeared edge up the track a bit to protect against McCreadie, Overton was right there on the inside. The three were in a tight pack crossing the line on lap 75. Early pitter Mike Marlar is up to sixth.
Lap 74: Another caution appears (Bailes), but not before McCreadie moves to second and makes an outside bid for the lead exiting turn four. For the lap-74 restart, McCreadie selected the outside groove with Overton to his inside and Owens out front. Thornton is fourth and McDowell fifth.
Lap 73: Jonathan Davenport slows to draw a yellow; all the frontrunners are hub-hugging minus Thornton, who is persistent in the high groove. Cars pitting: Bronson, Moyer, Davenport, Bailes and Jameson.
Lap 70: Owens leads Overton with McCreadie moving into third. McDowell drops Thornton to fifth.
Lap 65: Thornton dives under Owens in turn three to briefly lead, but when he washed up in turn four, Owens goes right back ahead and the commotion allows him to pull away a bit. The move allows Overton to draw closer and McCreadie is suddenly in the mix.
Lap 60: The second-running Thornton plugs away with his wall-skimming ride, but he loses ground off turn four virtually every lap. Owens has led every lap.
Lap 57: The Thornton quarterpanel finally fell off and caused a debris caution; Jason Jameson pitted with a mud-packed wheel and Erb came in again, too.
Lap 53: Thornton goes around Overton for second and makes up ground on Owens; no driver that's pitted is in the top 10.
Lap 51: Another caution for debris. Scott pits again and Tyler Erb gets two new rear tires.
Lap 50: Ferguson is shuffled back to sixth on the restart with the high-running Thornton closing in on Overton. Thornton's right-rear quarterpanel is trailing his car, held on by a single brace. McCreadie breaks into the top five.
Lap 47: Hudson O'Neal, who ran as high as seventh, slows in turn two. The Owens-Overton parade continues with Thornton and Ferguson nearly side-by-side not far behind. McDowell holds fifth as McCreadie's rally has stalled. During the caution, O'Neal, Pierce (new right-rear tire), Bruening, Bailes and Stormy Scott pit.
Lap 41: Owens and Overton, who got second on the restart, again pull away. Ferguson drops to fourth behind Thornton, who is running higher on the track than the other frontrunners.
Lap 37: Bobby Pierce slows to draw a yellow after knocking off most of his right-rear quarterpanel; after removing mud from the right-rear wheel, the crew considers putting a cover on the wheel but decides it's too late and sends him out. ... Ross Bailes ducks into the pits and needs a push getting back to the track.
Lap 35: Tim McCreadie, who started 20th, is closing in on the top five.
Lap 32: Ferguson gets around Overton on the restart to take second with Owens still leading. Thornton is fourth.
Lap 30: Owens regains the lead after Overton led laps 28-29; the slower car of Bruening took Overton's line and Owens went wide to go back ahead. A lap-31 caution for apparent backstretch debris slows the action.
Lap 25: It's a two-car breakaway with Owens and Overton edging away from Ferguson by nearly a straightaway. Overton is content in the leader's tire tracks, a half-dozen lengths back approaching traffic.
Lap 16: Ricky Thornton Jr., who started 10th after missing Wednesday and Thursday features, breaks into the top five. Owens still leads over Overton, Ferguson and McDowell.
Lap 13: Bruening slows for a caution; before the yellow, Owens was cruising out front with Overton and Ferguson content to keep pace behind him.
Lap 7: The first caution appears as Thursday winner Mike Marlar slows with a flat left-rear tire; he pits for new rubber and Tyler Bruening also ducks in the infield to the attention of his crew. Owens leads Overton, Ferguson, Pearson and Richards.
Lap 4: Sixth-starting Brandon Overton moves into the second spot, taking the position from Ferguson.
Lap 1: The green flew at 9:33 p.m. with Jimmy Owens pulling out to an early lead over fellow front-row starter Chris Ferguson.
North South 100 lineup
Row 1: Chris Ferguson, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Josh Richards, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Earl Pearson Jr., Brandon Overton
Row 4: Shane Clanton, Kent Robinson
Row 5: Tyler Erb, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 6: Hudson O'Neal, Shanon Buckingham
Row 7: Tyler Bruening, Kyle Bronson
Row 8: Billy Moyer Jr., Ross Bailes
Row 9: Josh Rice, Jason Jameson
Row 10: Mike Marlar, Tim McCreadie
Row 11: Tyler Carpenter, Bobby Pierce
Row 12: Jonathan Davenport, Devin Moran
Row 13: Tanner English, Stormy Scott
(15 laps; top three transfer)
First consolation: Josh Rice, Mike Marlar, Tyler Carpenter, Devin Moran, Jonathan Davenport, Zack Dohm, Robby Hensley, Trevor Landrum, Joey Moriarty, Todd Brennan, Jason Miller, Tristan Chamberlain, Colton Horner, Kirk Phillips, Tanner English, Skyller Lewis, Scott Bloomquist. Scratched: Devin Gilpin, David Webb.
Second consolation: Jason Jameson, Tim McCreadie, Bobby Pierce, Ricky Weiss, Scott James, Kyle Strickler, Stormy Scott, Billy Green, Mason Zeigler, Daulton Wilson, Connor Meade, Shannon Thornsberry, Tim Vance, Jesse Lay, Curt Addison, Chad Stapleton, Drew Armstrong. Scratched: Kyle Hardy.
(15 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Tyler Carpenter
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Josh Rice
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Zack Dohm
Row 4: Devin Moran, Colton Horner
Row 5: Todd Brennan, Joey Moriarty
Row 6: Jason Miller, Skyller Lewis
Row 7: Robby Hensley, Trevor Landrum
Row 8: Kirk Phillips, Tristan Chamberlain
Row 9: Devin Gilpin, Tanner English
Row 10: David Webb
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Jason Jameson
Row 2: Bobby Pierce, Drew Armstrong
Row 3: Mason Zeigler, Kyle Strickler
Row 4: Ricky Weiss, Scott James
Row 5: Stormy Scott, Daulton Wilson
Row 6: Billy Green, Shannon Thornsberry
Row 7: Conner Meade, Tim Vance
Row 8: Chad Stapleton, Jesse Lay
Row 9: Curt Addison, Kyle Hardy
Heat race results (second round)
First heat: Shanon Buckingham, Chris Ferguson, Kyle Bronson, Mason Zeigler, Shane Clanton, Tyler Bruening, Tim McCreadie, Stormy Scott, Trevor Landrum, Tanner English, Chad Stapleton.
Second heat: Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Tyler Carpenter, Kent Robinson, Colton Horner, Joey Moriarty, Shannon Thornsberry, Jason Miller, Kirk Phillips, Tristan Chamberlain. Scratched: David Webb.
Third heat: Hudson O'Neal, Josh Richards, Scott James, Earl Pearson Jr., Bobby Pierce, Ross Bailes, Daulton Wilson, Billy Green, Todd Brennan, Curt Addison. Scratched: Devin Gilpin.
Fourth heat: Zack Dohm, Brandon Overton, Jimmy Owens, Kyle Strickler, Billy Moyer Jr., Mike Marlar, Jason Jameson, Robby Hensley, Conner Meade, Skyller Lewis.
Fifth heat: Josh Rice, Dale McDowell, Ricky Weiss, Ricky Thornton Jr., Scott Bloomquist, Drew Armstrong, Tim Vance, Devin Moran, Jesse Lay. Scratched: Kyle Hardy.
Rain postpones program
Rain that hit Florence Speedway after the first round of heats, then returned about 10:20 p.m. while track workers tried to whip the surface back into shape, has postponed preliminaries for the North-South 100.
The completion of Friday's program will begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday with three modified heat races, five Late Model heat races and a modified consolation on the card. Friday's armbands and tickets will be honored for the afternoon makeup, after which the grandstands will be cleared and fans be readmitted for the regularly schedule Saturday evening program highlighted by the $50,000-to-win North-South 100.
Through the first round of Late Model heats, Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., was the top points earner. The points will be recalculated after Saturday afternoon's second round of heats, setting the lineups for the main event and consolation races. For more information on Saturday's tickets, visit florencespeedway.com or the track's Facebook page.
First round heat recap
Polesitter Bobby Pierce slipped back to finish fifth in the first heat, while 10th-starting Brandon Overton rallied to fourth. ... Seventh-starting Chris Ferguson won the second heat, which was slowed by three cautions. Ferguson was the top points earner overall after the first round of heats. ... Kyle Hardy got into the wall hard exiting turn two trying to get around Kyle Strickler, ending his run in the second heat. ... On the ensuing restart, Tanner English got into the wall at the end of the frontstretch and twirled into turn one after contact Todd Brennan. The resulting scramble Jonathan Davenport, Jason Miller and Kyle Strickler tangled up in turn two. ... Davenport drew a late caution when he broke a driveshaft and coasted to the infield. ... In the third heat, pole-starting Tim McCreadie cruised to victory in a race slowed by a lap-12 caution for a Scott James spin; Billy Moyer Jr. advance from eighth to third. ... Making his North-South debut, Tyler Bruening won the fourth heat while all eyes were on Jimmy Owens, who got into the wall hard in hot laps. Owens looked strong with his sixth-to-second run in the prelim. ... In the caution-free fifth heat, Earl Pearson Jr. matched McCreadie as a polesitting winner. Dale McDowell rallied from ninth to third. ... Heat race distances were two laps more than entries (either 12 or 13 laps).
Heat race results (first round)
First heat: Shane Clanton, Mike Marlar, Josh Richards, Brandon Overton, Bobby Pierce, Mason Zeigler, Colton Horner, Ricky Weiss, Devin Gilpin, Josh Rice, David Webb.
Second heat: Chris Ferguson, Kent Robinson, Ross Bailes, Todd Brennan, Scott Bloomquilst, Jason Miller, Kyle Strickler, Jonathan Davenport, Zack Dohm, Tanner English, Kyle Hardy.
Third heat: Tim McCreadie, Jason Jameson, Billy Moyer Jr., Drew Armstrong, Stormy Scott, Shanon Buckingham, Daulton Wilson, Shannon Thornsberry, Scott James, Kirk Phillips, Tim Vance.
Fourth heat: Tyler Bruening, Jimmy Owens, Devin Moran, Tyler Erb, Hudson O'Neal, Billy Green, Connor Meade, Joey Moriarty, Trevor Landrum. Scratched: Jesse Lay.
Fifth heat: Earl Pearson Jr., Ricky Thornton Jr., Dale McDowell, Kyle Bronson, Tyler Carpenter, Skyller Lewis, Robby Hensley, Chad Stapleton, Tristan Chamberlain, Curt Addison.
Tentative numerical roster
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn.
Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas
Vic Hill (1), Mosheim, Tenn.
Connor Meade (1), Clay City, Ky.
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla.
Devin Gilpin (1G), Columbus, Ind.
Stormy Scott (2), Las Cruces, N.M.
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind.
Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba
Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C.
Curt Addison (8A), Florence, Ky.
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio
Josh Rice (11), Verona, Ky.
Drew Armstrong (11j), Alexander, Ark.
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind.
David Webb (13), Nicholasville, Ky.
Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va.
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa
Zack Dohm (17), Cross Lanes, W.Va.
Shannon Thornsberry (17), Martin, Ky.
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga.
Trevor Landrum (18), Erlanger, Ky.
Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C.
Todd Brennan (20), Zanesville, Ohio
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn.
Tristan Chamberlain (20c), Richmond, Ind.
Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz.
Kirk Phillips (21), Ashland, Ky.
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark.
Robby Hensley (21H), Walton, Ky.
Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C.
Skyller Lewis (22), Brownstown, Ind.
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga.
Tim Vance (25), Clover, S.C.
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa.
Mike Simpson (28), Berry, Ky.
Tyler Carpenter (28), Parkersburg, W.Va.
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill.
Chad Stapleton (32), Edinburgh, Ind.
Jesse Lay (33), Walton, Ky.
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y.
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla.
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga.
Billy Green (49), Walton, Ky.
Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn.
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz.
Colton Horner (56jr), Katy, Texas
Ross Bailes (58), Clover, S.C.
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind.
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga.
Kyle Hardy (79), Stephens City, Va.
Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky.
Scott James (83), Bright, Ind.
Jason Miller (94), Winchester, Va.
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn.