O'Neal tops 64 qualifiers for the North-South 100
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
UNION, Ky. (Aug. 10) — Winningest Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series driver Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., topped 64 qualifiers Friday at Florence Speedway for the $50,000-to-win Sunoco Race Fuels North-South 100.
The 48-year-old O’Neal, who turned a lap of 16.501 seconds at the smallish half-mile oval, will be gunning for his first victory in Kentucky’s richest Dirt Late Model race after his near-miss in 2009. | Complete North-South coverage
While O’Neal, a 10-race winner on the series, topped the first Red Buck Cigars qualifying group after the field was split in half, series points leader Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., was quickest in the second qualifying group. Owens won the night's Red Buck Cigars Fast Dash, pocketing $500 in a race among the top three qualiifers in each group. Randy Weaver was second followed by Steve Francis, O'Neal, Jonathan Davenport and Greg Johnson. The dash doesn't affect Saturday's heat lineups.
With a three-car inversion in Saturday’s heat races, heat polesitters are: Dustin Linville of Bryantsville, Ky.; Tim Rivers of Salem, Ind.; Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C.; Freddy Smith of Seymour, Tenn.; Mike Jewell of Scottsburg, Ind.; and R.J. Conley of Wheelersburg, Ohio.
Action continues Saturday at Florence with six heats, consolation races and the 100-lap main event. Saturday’s racing is preceded by the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at 6 p.m. Driver inductees are Mike Balzano of Parkersburg, W.Va., Kenny Brightbill of Sinking Springs, Pa., Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., Don Hobbs of Bloomington, Ind., and Doug Ingalls of Longview, Texas.
Other inductees include chassis builders Keith and Tader Masters of MasterSbilt Race Cars along with late Maryland-based sponsor and car owner Raye Vest. Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., will received the Sportsman award and the family of late Kentucky racer Walter Combs will receive a Lifetime Achievement award.
After a hot summer seemingly everyone, teams got a reprieve had Florence with temperatures in the 70s most of the afternoon. ... A brief rain shower blew through the speedway with some gusty winds before 6 p.m., but weather didn’t delay delay the program or leave much moisture. ... Lucas Oil Series points leader Jimmy Owens is going for his fourth North-South 100 victory in six years. ... Other previous race winners entered include Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., Steve Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., John Gill of Mitchell, Ind., and John Mason of Millersburg, Ohio. ... One of the surprise non-entries is hometown driver Darrell Lanigan, who is on a record-setting six-race win streak on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. After victories Monday (Independence, Iowa) and Tuesday (Shawano, Wis.), Lanigan headed for vacation in Miami, Fla. ... Lanigan's crew chief Jason Jameson is piloting his John Weber-owned No. 12 and Lanigan's cousin is in his No. 29, a lookalike car to Darrell's usual ride. .... Kenny Hyde Jr., a title contender in the figure-8 division at asphalt's Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, piloted Gordon Bernzott's No. 47 at Florence. Bernzott formerly raced with Hyde's father in New York but relocated to northern Kentucky 10 years ago. Hyde didn’t appear to get out of first gear in qualifying. ... Jesse Lay piloted Jeff Alsip's No. 78. ... Tyler Reddick spun on his first qualifying lap. ... Among first-time Florence racers: Walker Arthur of Forest, Va., and Michael Asberry of Crossville, Tenn. ... Besides Late Models, modifieds and pure stocks were in action.
Saturday's heat race lineups
(12 laps; top three transfer to main event)
Row 1: Dustin Linville, Chad Stapleton
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Dustin Neat
Row 3: Eddie Carrier Jr., Joe Janowski
Row 4: Josh McGuire, John Mason
Row 5: Michael Asberry, Morgan Bagley
Row 6: Brian Gray
Row 1: Tim Rivers, Rick Eckert
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 3: Jason Jameson, Chad Smith
Row 4: John Blankenship, Chris Combs
Row 5: Josh Scott, Danny Hatcher
Row 6: Mason Combs
Row 1: Ray Cook, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Greg Johnson, Justin Rattliff
Row 3: Brian Birkhofer, Jared Landers
Row 4: Jimmy Mars, James Rice
Row 5: John Gill, Mick Sansom
Row 1: Freddy Smith, Steve Casebolt
Row 2: Jimmy Owens, Josh Williams
Row 3: Jesse Lay, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Tyler Reddick, Stephen Breeding
Row 5: D.J. Wells, Jim Price
Row 6: Tommy Carlton
Row 1: Mike Jewell, Brad Neat
Row 2: Steve Francis, Billy Moyer
Row 3: Walker Arthur, Mike Marlar
Row 4: Terry Lanigan, Nick Latham
Row 5: Mike Unger, Jason Barrett
Row 6: Kenny Hyde Jr.
Row 1: R.J. Conley, Steve Shaver
Row 2: Randy Weaver, Eric Wells
Row 3: Robby Hensley, Scott James
Row 4: David Spille, Tim Prince
Row 5: Billy Gullion, Vern LeFevers