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Daily Dirt 12/08/2022 17:09:53

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May 18
Marshalltown Speedway,
Marshalltown, IA
Sanction: Castrol FloRacing Night in America - $22,022
Information provided by: Staff and series reports (last updated May 19, 12:22 am)
O'Neal races to $22,022 victory at Marshalltown
  1. Hudson O'Neal
  2. Brandon Sheppard
  3. Mike Marlar
  4. Ryan Gustin
  5. Tyler Erb
  6. Tim McCreadie
  7. Garrett Alberson
  8. Chris Simpson
  9. Bobby Pierce
  10. Billy Moyer Jr.
  11. Earl Pearson Jr.
  12. Tyler Bruening
  13. Jake Timm
  14. Ross Robinson
  15. Spencer Hughes
  16. Ashton Winger
  17. Devin Moran
  18. Charlie McKenna
  19. Logan Martin
  20. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  21. Chad Simpson
  22. Spencer Diercks
presented by
Mike Ruefer/mikerueferphotos.photoreflect.com
Hudson O'Neal heads for a $22,2022 Marshalltown victory.
What won the race: Spoiling Ryan Gustin's hometown run, Hudson O'Neal raced into the lead on the 31st lap and led the rest of Wednesday's 50-laper Castrol FloRacing Night in America event for a $22,022 victory. O'Neal's first victory of the season came by 0.809 of a second ahead of series points leader Brandon Sheppard with polesitter Mike Marlar third and lap 1-30 leader Ryan Gustin in fourth.
Key notes: Ryan Gustin led the first 30 laps. ... O'Neal had a couple of tense moments when he nearly slipped over the high-side banking, including with just a few laps to go. ... Sixth-running Ricky Thornton Jr.'s car rolled when he slipped over the turn-two banking; the car was upside down when he climbed out, but he wasn't injured. ... The only other slowdown came on the second lap for a Chad Simpson-Spencer Diercks tangle. ... Mike Marlar's quick time lowered the Super Late Model track record. ... Modified ace Jeff "Bone" Larson entered in a Jeff Curless-owned Late Model but failed to crack the feature lineup. ... Hometown driver Ryan Gustin plans on making an overnight run to Pennsylvania to compete in a World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series tripleheader starting at Bloomsburg Fair Raceway. … Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., had a tough trip to Iowa when his team's hauler struck a deer and required a new radiator to continue the trip.
On the move: Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, started 16th and finished fifth.
Winner's sponsors: O’Neal’s Double Down Motorsports Rocket Chassis is powered by a Cornett Racing Engine and sponsored by Lazydays RV, O’Neal’s Salvage and Recycling, 2150 Enterprises, WR1 Sim Chassis, Smoky Mountain Speedway, VP Racing Fuels, Tarpy Trucking, Integra Racing Shocks, Matco Tools, Midwest Sheet Metal, FK Rod Ends and Lucas Oil.
Points chase: After Marshalltown: 1. Brandon Sheppard (390); T2. Hudson O'Neal (312); T2. Mike Marlar (312); 4. Tyler Erb (261); 5. Ricky Thornton Jr. (249): 6. Bobby Pierce (242); 7. Stormy Scott (237); 8. Ryan Gustin (217); 9. Garrett Alberson (202); 10. Ashton Winger (177).
Current weather: Clear, 72°F
Car count: 29
Fast qualifier: Mike Marlar
Time: 13.758 seconds
Polesitter: Mike Marlar
Heat race winners: Mike Marlar, Ryan Gustin, Hudson O'Neal
Consolation race winners: Devin Moran
Next series race: June 1, Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL) $22,022
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff and series reports

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Hudson O’Neal says his Double Down Motorsports team has been inching toward success in recent weeks. So perhaps it’s fitting O’Neal's car was within inches of slipping over the razor-thin cushion Wednesday evening at Marshalltown Speedway.

Surviving a few close calls on the high groove at the wall-free oval, the 21-year-old driver from Martinsville, Ind., raced to his first victory of the season, earning $22,022 for a Castrol FloRacing Night in America triumph. O’Neal slid past race-long leader and hometown driver Ryan Gustin on the 31st of 50 laps and fought off Gustin, runner-up Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., as well as polesitter and third-place finisher Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., in scoring his first victory since Oct. 2, 2021, at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway in Imperial, Pa.

"I couldn't see behind me, but my guys were giving me a pretty close signal, so it had to be a pretty good race behind me,” the third-starting O’Neal said in victory lane. “It was a good race for the lead.”

The seventh-starting Sheppard, who struggled with what he called “gremlins” during the main event, finished 0.809 of a second behind O’Neal at the checkers followed by Marlar’s body-damaged car, Gustin and 16th-starting Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas.

Erb put himself into position for the main event with a heat race victory, after which he discussed his lackluster season.

“We’ve struggled,” he said while sitting behind the wheel in the infield. “I don’t think that’s any secret. We just haven’t been ourselves. We’ve struggled just trying to get back to where we were last year.”

In stalking Gustin and sliding into the lead on the 31st lap, O’Neal took a step toward getting back to the Tennessee-based team’s level of an impressive 11 victories last season, including an unprecedented sweep of the Show-Me 100 and Topless 100.

"I'm just so, so, so, so happy for all my guys. We've all worked so hard and (crewman) Trevor Crittenden couldn’t be here tonight, and I hate it man. I know he's probably pumped up sitting at home Washington. I wish you were here buddy. But I just can't think Trevor, Eric, Mason, my girlfriend Tessa, or Roger Sellers car owner, Tom Buckingham, just everybody pitches in on this thing,” said O'Neal, who was coming off a pair of third-place weekend finishes in Illinois on the MARS Racing Series. “It’s been pretty awesome just to see the progression. We've just been inching our way. Unfortunately we haven't just made a huge stride to get that much better, but we've just been inching our way. So I'm so, so happy and proud of this team.

“We're really really good right now and arguably the best I've been. You know, we've been able to qualify good, which is something I've struggled at. So, you know, we'll just try and keep the ball rolling. It's hard to stay on top of these racetracks every night and to make the right decisions and especially tonight, we were a little tight and it was just hard to make the right decision.”

After O’Neal took the lead, he had a couple of tense moments on the cushion, slipping up with 15 laps remaining and allowing Gustin to pull alongside on the backstretch. After edging back away, O’Neal also had a near slipup with two laps remaining but held on for the victory.

"I was having a hard time hitting (the cushion) down here. It was so thin around that top probably, just a foot — if a foot — up there left. I spent most of the time through the middle and then Gustin moved down and I knew I had to get up there to pass him,” O’Neal said. “Man, this car was just awesome all night long. You know being able to qualify good from a deep position like we did and capitalize on starting up front. I knew just running around there pacing them first 20 laps, I knew I had a good race car. I was just trying to keep the tires underneath me for a while.”

Sheppard said he didn’t want to make excuses, but he was fighting issues that didn’t quite allow his Rocket Chassis house car to be at its best.

"We were fighting a few gremlins there in the heat race, and in the feature there. I think, if we could’ve had our stuff running there … I was stopped in the middle of (turns) three and four a couple of times there, so it was definitely a crazy race,” he said. “I was a little bit leery to drive in too hard, because (the engine) would almost die in the middle of the corner. But once it started to slicken off, (the problems) started to go away a little bit and then I could start maneuvering around a little bit and trying to pass some cars. Man, we had a really maneuverable race car again tonight. It was just a heck of a night for me and the team and congratulations to Hud. That was a heck of a race, a really fun racetrack. Hopefully get to come back soon.”

Marlar never led a lap despite starting on the pole and managed to salvage a third-place finish.

"I kind of beat myself on the tire. I don't have an actual tire guy who picks ‘em — I have to pick them and I don't want to pick them,” he said. “So I picked the tire tonight, and these guys were just softer (on tire compound). So I committed to the cushion after I seen I was kind of too hard on tire, and then tore the quarter(panel) off, so that definitely didn't help.”

A red-flag appeared on the ninth lap when sixth-running Ricky Thornton Jr. slipped over the turn-two banking, his car slowing rolling over the banking. The car was upside down when he climbed out, but the Chandler, Ariz., driver wasn’t injured.

The only other slowdown came on the second lap when Chad Simpson collected fellow home-state driver Spencer Diercks in turn two.

Notes: After his fourth-place finish, Marshalltown’s Ryan Gustin quickly loaded up to head to Pennsyvlania for the three-race World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series weekend. The first race is more than 900 miles and a time zone away in Bloomsburg, Pa. … Todd Cooney's night ended early when he got the worst of a second-heat race tangle. ... Tyler Bruening was also an early retiree in that heat race but returned for the consolation race. … Devin Moran rebounded from a flat tire in his heat race to win the B-main. … Mike Marlar's quick time lowered the Super Late Model track record. ... Jason Utter of Columbus Junction, Iowa, won the KMJ Performance Miller Lite 50 sanctioned by the Corn Belt Clash series at Marshalltown in 2013, the previous Super Late Model event at the track. ... Modified ace Jeff "Bone" Larson entered in a Jeff Curless-owned Late Model but failed to crack the feature lineup. ... Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., had a tough trip to Iowa when his team's hauler struck a deer and required a new radiator to continue the trip.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Marlar, Gustin
Row 2: O'Neal, McCreadie
Row 3: Pearson, Thornton
Row 4: Sheppard, Moyer Jr.
Row 5: Alberson, Winger
Row 6: Robinson, Chris Simpson
Row 7: Pierce, Timm
Row 8: Chad Simpson, T. Erb.
Row 9: McKenna, Hughes
Row 10: Moran, Martin
Row 11: Bruening, Diercks

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