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Daily Dirt 04/15/2024 20:12:01

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January 20
Volusia Speedway Park,
Barberville, FL
Sanction: World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series (DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals) - $15,000
Information provided by: Kyle McFadden and track reports (last updated January 21, 3:02 pm)
O'Neal outduels Moran to take $15,000 at Volusia
DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals
  1. Hudson O'Neal
  2. Kyle Bronson
  3. Devin Moran
  4. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  5. Brandon Sheppard
  6. Bobby Pierce
  7. Dennis Erb Jr.
  8. Cade Dillard
  9. Chris Madden
  10. Nick Hoffman
  11. Ashton Winger
  12. Garrett Smith
  13. Tyler Bruening
  14. Ryan Gustin
  15. Tim McCreadie
  16. Tanner English
  17. Daulton Wilson
  18. Drake Troutman
  19. Cody Overton
  20. Max Blair
  21. Ethan Dotson
  22. Brian Shirley
  23. Brent Larson
  24. Dustin Walker
  25. Jimmy Owens
  26. Todd Cooney
  27. Dustin Sorensen
  28. Mike Marlar
  29. Dale McDowell
  30. David Breazeale
presented by
Trent Gower
Hudson O'Neal celebrates his first victory of the young 2024 season.
What won the race: Taking the point for good with a turn-three slide job past Devin Moran on lap 27, second-starting Hudson O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., led the remaining distance to win Saturday's 40-lap World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series feature to close the fifth annual DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. O'Neal led three separate times for 30 laps (1-14, 20-21, 27-40) en route to a $15,000 triumph that was the second of his career on the WoO tour and his first since last year's DIRTcar Nationals finale at Volusia.
Key notes: After winning Friday's $12,000 season opener, Moran led twice for 10 laps (15-19, 22-26) before being overtaken by O'Neal and fading to finish third. Moran was, however, crowned the DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals points champion. ... Saturday's feature lasted 28 minutes, with 21 competitors completing 40 laps and 24 running at the finish.
On the move: Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., started 23rd and finished fourth.
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, Fox 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.
Points chase: After Volusia Saturday: 1. Brandon Sheppard (586); 2. Bobby Pierce (580); 3. Cade Dillard (568); 4. Chris Madden (562); 5. Nick Hoffman (558); T6. Kyle Bronson (556); T6. Dennis Erb Jr. (556); 8. Tyler Bruening (550); 9. Ethan Dotson (546); 10. Ryan Gustin (544); 11. Cody Overton (516); 12. Brian Shirley (510).
Current weather: Clear, 46°F
Car count: 56
Fast qualifier: Devin Moran
Time: 15.753 seconds
Polesitter: Devin Moran
Heat race winners: Devin Moran, Hudson O'Neal, Chris Madden, Cade Dillard, Dale McDowell, Garrett Smith
Consolation race winners: Dennis Erb Jr., Jimmy Owens, Max Blair
Provisional starters: Cody Overton, Ryan Gustin, Brent Larson, Todd Cooney, Dustin Walker, Dustin Sorensen
Next series race: February 15, Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL) $12,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 20) — Hudson O’Neal didn’t storm out of the 2024 starting gate in Friday night’s DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals opener at Volusia Speedway Park.

One day later though? Well, the 23-year-old superstar from Martinsville, Ind., was back in fine form with his Rocket Chassis house car.

Rebounding from a quiet 19th-to-13th run on Friday, O’Neal outdueled opening-night victor Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, to grab the lead on lap 27 and march on to capture Saturday’s 40-lap World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series feature.

“Our (pre-season) tests went really good and then last night we just didn’t have the night we wanted,” O’Neal said after claiming the $15,000 top prize in the Sunshine Nationals finale. “I knew we had the car to do it (Saturday). We had it at the end of last night too. We just had to put all the pieces together and get qualified better, and that’s what led us here tonight.”

O’Neal won the second heat and drew the outside pole for the A-main. He proceeded to lead three separate times for 30 laps, gaining command for good with a slider past Moran on lap 27 that propelled him to victory by 0.914 of a second over Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla.

Moran, who led laps 15-19 and 22-26, settled for a third-place finish that left him short of sweeping the Sunshine Nationals for the second consecutive year but still gave him the weekend points championship. Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., charged through the field from the 23rd starting spot to finish fourth after taking the position on lap 39 from ninth-starter Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who completed the top five.

O’Neal, whose only previous WoO triumph came in last year’s DIRTcar Nationals finale at Volusia, worried that he had blown his chance at Saturday’s winner’s trophy after Moran seized the lead from him for a second time on lap 22. He regained his composure, however, and moved back in front for good with his deciding slider on lap 27.

“I led the first part of it and then Devin passed me and I kind of lost my cool for about a lap,” O’Neal said. “I was like, ‘All right, you got a good car, you just kind of got caught up in a bad spot on the racetrack trying new grooves and stuff.’

“Then we got to lapped traffic and I could really make that bottom work off of two, and I think that’s what got me back to the lead.”

Moran, 29, couldn’t match O’Neal’s moves on this night. His loss brought back memories of last October’s Dirt Track World Championship at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, where Moran was upended for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship when O’Neal passed him for second place on the final lap.

“Good job to Hud,” said Moran, who started from the pole position. “We were racing like crazy. We’ve had a couple wars out there the last couple months and he’s taught me on both of them, so hopefully I just keep on going and get a better race car and I can win one of those like that.”

Moran was unable to even hang on for a runner-up finish after losing the spot to Bronson on a lap-33 restart. He looked back with disappointment over his lane choice for that restart.

“The outside’s always real good to start from here, but the problem is, the (surface) crown’s just so far down the track and I got pushed up a little over the crown,” Moran said of ceding second to Bronson. “Just messed up on my part I guess. I guess I probably should’ve picked the bottom.”

Bronson, 32, never seriously challenge O’Neal over the final circuits but was very pleased with his bridesmaid finish. He rebounded well from an opening-night outing that saw him use a provisional to start the feature and go a lap down before finishing 20th.

“I felt like we struggled yesterday but we were hitting on all eight today,” said Bronson, who started seventh. “We had a couple little issues there in the race, but I felt like we closed our losses. We’re gonna stay here and test tomorrow and hopefully get a little better for the DIRTcar Nationals (Feb. 12-17).”

Five caution flags slowed the feature. The first came on lap four for Mike Marlar, who later slowed again to bring out a lap-32 caution. David Breazeale slowed with apparent trouble under his car’s hood, while Tim McCreadie drew a caution on lap nine and Jimmy Owens spun on lap 36 and collected Todd Cooney with both their nights ending early.

Notes: O’Neal praised the Volusia track crew for bringing the racing surface around for the feature. “Hat’s off to the whole Volusia Speedway Park for just working all night long,” he said. “They kind of got behind early and they just kept working it, working it, working it. We all had our doubts, but man, did they prepare a heck of a racetrack for us.” … O’Neal mentioned in victory lane that his Rocket1 team made a “big change” for 2024 by welcoming Fox Shocks to their effort. … Tenth-starting Bobby Pierce ran as high as fourth before slipping to sixth in the final rundown. ... Garrett Smith ran as high as second early in the race before fading to a 12th-place finish. … WoO rookie candidate Cody Overton required a tow to the infield before green flag and his crew did some work to the left-front corner and hood of his car. He started from the rear and finished 19th. … Brandon Sheppard left the Sunshine Nationals leading the WoO points standings by six points over Pierce. … The series resumes with three features (Feb. 15-17) during the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia.

Feature lineup

(40 laps)

Row 1: Devin Moran, Hudson O'Neal
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Cade Dillard
Row 3: Chris Madden, Garrett Smith
Row 4: Kyle Bronson, Daulton Wilson
Row 5: Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce
Row 6: Mike Marlar, Tim McCreadie
Row 7: Ethan Dotson, Ashton Winger
Row 8: Nick Hoffman, David Breazeale
Row 9: Tanner English, Brian Shirley
Row 10: Dennis Erb Jr., Jimmy Owens
Row 11: Max Blair, Tyler Bruening
Row 12: Ricky Thornton Jr., Drake Troutman
Row 13: Cody Overton, Ryan Gustin
Row 14: Brent Larson, Todd Cooney
Row 15: Dustin Walker, Dustin Sorensen

Consolation results

(10 laps; top two transfer)

First consolation finish: Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Bruening, Mark Whitener, Tristan Chamberlain, Daniel Hilsabeck, Nick Panitzke, Carson Brown, Boom Briggs. Scratched: Todd Cooney, Kyle Bryant, Dustin Walker, Mike Benedum, Austin Smith

Second consolation finish: Jimmy Owens, Ricky Thornton Jr., Blair Nothdurft, Trey Mills, Ryan Gustin, Cody Overton, Jason Garver, Mike Spatola, Max McLaughlin, Donnie Chappell, Jason Papp. Scratched: Jeff Mathews, Amanda Robinson

Third consolation finish: Max Blair, Drake Troutman, Mack McCarter, Parker Martin, Jack Riggs, Haiden Cowan, Jackson Hise, Dustin Sorensen, Brent Larson. Scratched: Stacy Boles, Brenden Smith, Mitch Thomas

Heat race recap

Devin Moran led all eight laps and won the first heat race by 1.260 seconds over Kyle Bronson, with fourth-starting Ethan Dotson finishing third. … Second-starting Hudson O’Neal dominated heat two, leading the entire distance and winning by 3.787 seconds over Brandon Sheppard, with Nick Hoffman completing the podium. … Second-starting Chris Madden led green-to-checkered to win heat three by 1.542 seconds over Mike Marlar, with fourth-starting Tanner English taking third. … Prevailing after an opening-lap battle with Daulton Wilson, Cade Dillard led the entire distance to win heat four by 3.308 seconds; Ashton Winger started and finished third. … Second-starting Dale McDowell got the early jump on Bobby Pierce and led all eight laps to win heat five by 1.467 seconds, with sixth-starting David Breazeale rounding-out the podium finishers. The lone caution flew at the initial start when Brenden Smith tangled with Brezeale and spun, nosing into the inside wall; Smith was unable to continue and required a tow to the pits. … Garrett Smith cruised to win the sixth and final heat race by 1.320 seconds over third-starting Tim McCreadie, with Brian Shirley settling for third. The only yellow came out on lap four when sixth-running Dustin Sorensen slowed with a flat right-front; Sorensen finished eighth after changing the tire.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top three transfer)

First heat finish: Devin Moran, Kyle Bronson, Ethan Dotson, Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Bruening, Tristan Chamberlain, Todd Cooney, Kyle Bryant, Dustin Walker. Scratched: Austin Smith

Second heat finish: Hudson O'Neal, Brandon Sheppard, Nick Hoffman, Mark Whitener, Boom Briggs, Daniel Hilsabeck, Nick Panitzke, Carson Brown, Mike Benedum.

Third heat finish: Chris Madden, Mike Marlar, Tanner English, Jimmy Owens, Blair Nothdurft, Trey Mills, Mike Spatola, Max McLaughlin, Donnie Chappell.

Fourth heat finish: Cade Dillard, Daulton Wilson, Ashton Winger, Ryan Gustin, Ricky Thornton Jr., Cody Overton, Jeff Mathews, Amanda Robinson, Jason Garver, Jason Papp.

Fifth heat finish: Dale McDowell, Bobby Pierce, David Breazeale, Max Blair, Drake Troutman, Haiden Cowan, Brent Larson, Stacy Boles, Brenden Smith.

Sixth heat finish: Garrett Smith, Tim McCreadie, Brian Shirley, Mack McCarter, Jack Riggs, Parker Martin, Jackson Hise, Dustin Sorensen, Mitch Thomas.

Time trial results

Group A
Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)
1. Devin Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 15.753
2. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 15.770
3. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.802
4. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.882
5. Hudson O’Neal (1), Martinsville, Ind., 16.079
6. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 16.100
7. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.120
8. Nick Hoffman (9), Mooresville, N.C., 16.155
9. Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 16.184
10. Ethan Dotson (174), Bakersfield, Calif., 16.269
11. Daniel Hilsabeck (22), Earlham, Iowa, 16.300
12. Tanner English (96v), Benton, Ky., 16.332
13. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.390
14. Mark Whitener (5), Middleburg, Fla., 16.469
15. Trey Mills (14jr), St. Augustine, Fla., 16.531
16. Tristan Chamberlain (20tc), Richmond, Ind., 16.654
17. Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.833
18. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.841
19. Todd Cooney (30), Des Moines, Iowa, 16.993
20. Mike Benedum (25B), Salem, W.Va., 17.092
21. Donnie Chappell (25), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.124
22. Kyle Bryant (79), Navarre, Fla., 17.126
23. Nick Panitzke (22p), Lonsdale, Minn., 17.191
24. Blair Nothdurft (76), Renner, S.D., 17.568
25. Dustin Walker (14w), Polk, Mo., 17.638
26. Carson Brown (28B), New London, N.C., 17.699
27. Max McLaughlin (22*), Mooresville, N.C., no time
28. Austin Smith (11), Rome, Ga., no time
Group B
1. Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 15.782
2. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.789
3. Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 15.886
4. Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 16.007
5. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.011
6. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 16.051
7. Ashton Winger (12w), Hampton, Ga., 16.060
8. Max Blair (111), Centerville, Pa., 16.121
9. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.122
10. Ryan Gustin (19R), Marshalltown, Iowa, 16.138
11. Drake Troutman (7), Hyndman, Pa., 16.171
12. Mack McCarter (51), Gatlinburg, Tenn., 16.493
13. Jeff Mathews (33), Brandon, Fla., 16.496
14. Brenden Smith (17ss), Dade City, Fla., 16.503
15. Jack Riggs (81J), Nolensville, Tenn., 16.525
16. Amanda Robinson (4), Georgetown, Del., 16.547
17. David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 16.561
18. Jackson Hise (388), Ocala, Fla., 16.610
19. Cody Overton (97c), Evans, Ga., 16.631
20. Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.703
21. Dustin Sorensen (19), Rochester, Minn., 16.849
22. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 16.877
23. Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 16.884
24. Parker Martin (6jr), Miledgeville, Ga., 16.965
25. Jason Garver (01), Starke, Fla., 17.029
26. Haiden Cowan (214), Rincon, Ga., 17.384
27. Mitch Thomas (97T), Oakland, Md., 17.682
28. Jason Papp (1J), Palm Bay, Fla., 18.107

Saturday’s schedule

(All times local)
Noon - Pits open
3 p.m. - Grandstands open
4 p.m. - On-track activity begins
- Late Model hot laps
- 602 Crate heats (10 laps)
- Late Model group qualifying (2 laps)
Opening ceremonies
- Late Model heats (8 laps)
- CRUSA heats (10 laps)
- Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- 602 Crate consolation (10 laps)
- CRUSA consolations (10 laps)
Feature events
- Late Models (40 laps)
- 602 Crates (20 laps)
- CRUSA (30 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Moran, O'Neal
Row 2: McDowell, Dillard
Row 3: Madden, Smith
Row 4: Bronson, Wilson
Row 5: Sheppard, Pierce
Row 6: Marlar, McCreadie
Row 7: Dotson, Winger
Row 8: Hoffman, Breazeale
Row 9: English, Shirley
Row 10: Erb Jr., Owens
Row 11: Blair, Bruening
Row 12: Thornton Jr., Troutman
Row 13: C. Overton, Gustin
Row 14: Larson, Cooney
Row 15: Walker, Sorensen
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