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Daily Dirt 03/30/2023 15:25:04

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September 5
Portsmouth Raceway Park,
Portsmouth, OH
Sanction: Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (Bob Miller Memorial River Days Rumble 50) - $12,000
Information provided by: Series and track reports (last updated September 6, 10:20 am)
O'Neal celebrates 20th birthday with PRP victory
Bob Miller Memorial River Days Rumble 50
  1. Hudson O'Neal
  2. Jimmy Owens
  3. Tanner English
  4. Jared Hawkins
  5. Shane Clanton
  6. Kyle Bronson
  7. Jonathan Davenport
  8. Josh Richards
  9. Kody Evans
  10. Tyler Bruening
  11. R.J. Conley
  12. Robby Hensley
  13. Stormy Scott
  14. Earl Pearson Jr.
  15. Devin Moran
  16. Rod Conley
  17. Billy Moyer Jr.
  18. Tim McCreadie
  19. Steve Casebolt
  20. Dustin Linville
  21. Zack Dohm
  22. Tyler Erb
  23. Shannon Thornsberry
  24. Brandon Fouts
presented by
Heath Lawson/heathlawsonphotos.com
Hudson O'Neal enjoys victory lane at Portsmouth Raceway Park on his 20th birthday.
What won the race: Returning to the spotlight for the first time in nearly a year, Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., overtook race-long pacesetter Jimmy Owens for the lead on lap 37 and controlled the remainder of the distance to capture Saturday night’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned Bob Miller Memorial River Days Rumble 50 at Portsmouth Raceway Park. Racing on his 20th birthday, O’Neal beat Owens to the finish line by 0.930 of a second for the $12,000 top prize in a caution-plagued event.
Key notes: The race honored Bob Miller, the late racing sponsor and supporter from Leburn, Ky., who passed away in 2014. Miller’s businesses, Miller Brothers Coal and Miller Brothers Construction, adorned a number of cars through the years, including Jack Boggs, Scott Bloomquist, Ronnie Johnson and Eddie Carrier Jr. … The series is scheduled to return to Portsmouth for the Dirt Track World Championship on Oct. 16-17.
On the move: Tanner English of Benton, Ky., started 15th and finished third.
Winner's sponsors: O’Neal PPC Motorsports Rocket car is powered by a Cornett Racing Engine and carries sponsorship from Professional Concrete Cutting & Drilling LLC, Tarpy Trucking, Bob and Tammy Burton, O’Neal’s Salvage, Roth Heating & Cooling, WR! Sim Chassis and Slicker Graphics.
Points chase: After Portsmouth: 1. Jimmy Owens (7,110); 2. Tim McCreadie (6,485); 3. Jonathan Davenport (6,405); 4. Josh Richards (6,305); 5. Tyler Erb (6,175); 6. Shane Clanton (5,960); 7. Kyle Bronson (5,880); 8. Devin Moran (5,835); 9. Billy Moyer Jr. (5,630); 10. Tanner English (5,575); 11. Earl Pearson Jr. (5,420); 12. Tyler Bruening (4,970).
Current weather: Clear, 68°F
Car count: 28
Fast qualifier: Tim McCreadie
Time: 14.301 seconds
Polesitter: Jonathan Davenport
Heat race winners: Jonathan Davenport, Stormy Scott, Jimmy Owens, Devin Moran
Consolation race winners: Kody Evans
Provisional starters: R.J. Conley, Shannon Thornsberry
Next series race: January 22, Golden Isles Speedway (Brunswick, GA) $12,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From series reports

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (Sept. 5) — Happy birthday, Hudson O’Neal.

Indeed, turning 20 on Saturday was a joyous occasion for the talented young racer from Martinsville, Ind., who celebrated his life milestone in style — with a slump-busting victory in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned Bob Miller Memorial River Days Rumble presented by Pepsi at Portsmouth Raceway Park.

Returning to the national tour’s spotlight for the first time in nearly a year, O’Neal came on late in the caution-plagued 50-lap feature to pass race-long pacesetter Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., for the lead on lap 37 and march on to the $12,000 top prize. The Hoosier beat Owens to the finish line by 0.930 of a second to register his first Lucas Oil Series triumph since Sept. 21, 2019, in the Jackson 100 at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway.

Lucas Oil rookie Tanner English of Benton, Ky., finished a season-best third after starting 15th, followed by 14th-starter Jared Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va., in Tim Logan’s machine and ninth-starter Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga.

O’Neal’s seventh career Lucas Oil Series checkered flag was his first that didn’t come in an SSI Motorsports car fielded by Todd Burns. O’Neal departed that ride last fall and then struggled to find speed this season with the reformed MasterSbilt house car team, leading to a split after July 18’s Show-Me 100 and his debut less than a month later with Hope, Ind.-based PCC Motorsports owned by Craig and Shannon Sims, the parents of O’Neal’s girlfriend Tessa.

Breaking through to reach victory lane in just his seventh start with his newly-formed effort was no doubt a relief for O’Neal, who managed just a single top-five finish in his 29 starts with the MasterSbilt house car team.

“I can’t thank Craig and Shannon Sims, my girlfriend Tessa and (fellow racer-turned-crewman) Dustin Nobbe enough for their help,” said O’Neal, who dropped off the Lucas Oil circuit after his run in the MasterSbilt mount ended in July. “This has been a long seven or eight months. I didn’t think I was ever going to do it again.”

O’Neal showed immediate speed when he returned to action last month in the Simses’ Cornett-powered XR1 Rocket, finishing fifth in Aug. 12’s Lucas Oil Series feature at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky. — tying his season-best run — and ending the meet at the half-mile oval with a seventh-place result in the North-South 100. He was a contender again in the tour’s Aug. 27-29 Rumble by the River weekend at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway, though his finishes of sixth and 14th didn’t entirely reflect his strength.

Portsmouth brought back the driver who not so long ago appeared to be on the fast track to stardom in Dirt Late Model racing. Starting from the eighth spot, O’Neal moved into the top five by the race’s halfway mark, inherited second place when Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., tossed a rear wheel on lap 33 and then turned up the pressure on Owens.

O’Neal made his move on lap 37, diving underneath Owens — the runaway Lucas Oil Series points leader and 10-time winner on the tour this season — through turns three and four to assume command. He never looked back, pulling away to lead by as much as 2 seconds before caution flags on laps 47 and 49 kept his final winning margin over the 48-year-old Owens to under a second.

“That one late restart helped me,” O’Neal said of the green flag that followed McCreadie’s demise. “I was able to capitalize. I don’t think I had the best race car, but I just think I found a line that worked for me.”

The late-race surge carried O’Neal to victory on his birthday for the second consecutive year. He celebrated his 19th birthday a year ago by capturing a World 100 preliminary feature at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Owens didn’t hang his head after falling short of yet another checkered flag.

“The cautions were good for us for a while,” said Owens, who started from the outside pole and outgunned front-row mate Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., for the lead at the initial green flag. “The top side was getting higher and higher. There was a lot of thrashing the cushion up there tonight; there were people knocking quarter-panels off, (and) I was waiting for one of mine to get knocked off.

“Hudson just had a good car tonight,” he added. “Congratulations and happy birthday to him.”

English, 27, wore a satisfied smile after advancing 12 positions to garner by far his best finish of his first full Lucas Oil campaign driving for Riggs Motorsports. His best previous finish this season was seventh, on July 4 at Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Ohio, and July 13 at 300 Raceway in Farley, Iowa.

“(O’Neal) got up to the top pretty quickly,” said English, who leads the tour’s Rookie of the Year standings. “I was racing with him side-by-side and the next thing I knew he was out in front. He had a good car. Congratulations to him. It’s been a long year for him so it’s good see him get a win.

“It’s been a long year for us as well. We have been up-and-down and all around and we finally got a good result tonight.”

Ten caution flags slowed the race, which took more than 50 minutes to complete. There were no serious accidents, but the lap-32 caution period was an extended one because officials were unable to immediately go back racing due to a medical situation with a fan in the stands.

Several contenders experienced trouble:

• Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, slowed on lap nine and retired after his crew looked under the Best Performance Motorsports car’s hood.

• Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., was running fourth on lap 22 when he shredded a right-rear tire. He pitted and rallied to finish eighth.

• Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., charged from 18th to fifth before his bid to slide by Clanton for fourth on lap 25 resulted in him smacking the turn-four wall, ending his night.

• Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, was running second on lap 32 when a blown left-rear tire caused him to fall off the pace. He settled for a 15th-place finish after developing another flat tire on lap 47.

• McCreadie relinquished second on lap 33 when his Paylor Motorsports car lost a wheel in turn three.

Other caution flags were caused by Brandon Fouts (lost a wheel on the first lap); debris (lap 11); and Billy Moyer Jr. (mud-packed wheel on lap 14 and a right-rear flat on lap 49.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Davenport, Owens
Row 2: Scott, Moran
Row 3: McCreadie, Erb
Row 4: Richards, O'Neal
Row 5: Clanton, Bronson
Row 6: Dohm, Pearson
Row 7: Bruening, Hawkins
Row 8: English, Moyer Jr.
Row 9: Evans, Casebolt
Row 10: Hensley, Rod Conley
Row 11: Linville, Fouts
Row 12: R.J. Conley, Thornsberry

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