O’Neal wins Eldora prelim; preps for Knoxville and Brownstown


Martinsville native Hudson O’Neal, who now resides in Hope, won a preliminary night feature Sept. 9 at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

O’Neal took home $12,000 for the win. Jonathan Davenport won the other 25-lap main event that night.

O’Neal was running second to Shane Clanton at Knoxville Raceway on Sept. 15 in a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series preliminary night when the rear end broke in the car.

O’Neal will be in action tonight with the 18th annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals on FloRacing starting at 7:30 p.m. The $50,000-to-win feature will be simulcast on the MAVTV Motorsports Network on Channel 214 on DirecTV starting at 10:30 p.m.

Next weekend, O’Neal will be joined by some of the biggest names in dirt late model racing at Brownstown Speedway for the Jackson 100 weekend. Friday night will be the Night Before the Jackson 100 paying $10,000 to win, and on Saturday night will be the 43rd annual Jackson 100 paying $20,000 to win. For ticket information, visit brownstownspeedway.com.

Davenport wins fifth World 100

In taking the checkered flag after dominating the second half of the 52nd annual World 100 on Sept. 10 at Eldora Speedway, Jonathan Davenport made sure everyone knew how many times he has won dirt late model racing’s most prestigious event.

His right hand grabbing the steering wheel that he would shortly be hoisting in victory lane, the 38-year-old Blairsville, Georgia, driver thrust his orange-gloved left hand out the window with four fingers and a thumb extended.

Gimme five. Five World 100s. Five in eight years. And just one World 100 victory shy of the all-time leader, Billy Moyer, the Hall of Famer who won his six globe trophies over 20 seasons, including his last at the age of 52.

With Davenport’s sixth heat victory providing a cruel twist of the knife for his competition by putting him on the pole position, he led 83 of 100 laps, his race in doubt only during 17 middle-stage laps when Overton slipped by on a restart. Davenport repaid the move on a Lap 55 restart and ran virtually unchallenged the rest of the way during a season where he owns sport’s richest victory (June’s Eldora Million) and the sport’s biggest victory (World 100).

“It’s just unbelievable to have my name up there with (four-time winner) Scott (Bloomquist) and Billy (Moyer) or (three-time winner Jeff) Purvis, any of those guys,” said the top-ranked Davenport, adding that the night could only have been better by having all of his family on hand. “I was not expecting this at all, and I’m sure a mom and dad wouldn’t either, but I love y’all. Brothers and sisters and everybody, just thanks for all the sacrifices getting me here. … I really appreciate everything.”

Overton, comforted by his rich consolation prize of his $128,000 Dream victory on Wednesday in the conclusion of a race halted by rain in June, finished 5.479 seconds behind at the finish with Chris Madden of Gray Court, South Carolina, in third while again falling short of his first major victory at Eldora (he was second in Wednesday’s Dream after leading most of the way).

Longhorn Chassis house car driver and 2018 World 100 winner Tim McCreadie of Watertown, New York, was fourth with Ricky Thornton Jr. of Martinsville rounding out the top five finishers in a caution-plagued race where 15 of 28 starters were running at the finish.

“I don’t know what it is about this place, but I just love it,” Davenport said. “I’ve just got a feel that I want here. Ever since I figured out what I need with my race car, it has just helped me learn even more. And the long laps around the top and around the bottom and around the middle, you know, me and Overton run about the same line around this place, so it was definitely going to be hard to pass him if it wasn’t on a restart.

“We weren’t great to start off with, and I kind of didn’t think we would be just right. But then as the tires kind of quit, our car got better and better. So I knew — Brandon got by me — that definitely worried me there, so I knew I had to get up on the wheel on a restart,” the winner said. “I hope I gave him plenty of room down here. I didn’t really go ahead and slide all the way across (the track), but I was just trying to just block a little air, and that way, I could get back down into Turn 3 first.”

Overton admitted in his postrace interview he “just didn’t have nothing for him. It is what it is. Congrats to J.D. and those guys. We’ll take our second and go on to the house. It was a fun weekend. Like I said, there are three good cars up here (on the podium), and there are good cars in the whole field, so to win one and run second, we’ll take it. I’m cool with J.D. winning the Worlds if he just keeps giving me the Dreams, you know?”

Madden started seventh and reached the third position on the 14th lap, holding it the rest of the way. He settled for third after his career-long quest for a major Eldora victory fell one spot shy when Overton overtook him late in Wednesday’s Dream Race.

Nine cautions slowed the World 100 action, the most serious for a scramble among back markers in Turn 2 after the lap-18 restart that damaged several cars and knocked Mason Zeigler, Stormy Scott, Spencer Hughes and Chris Ferguson out of the race.

The first caution blinked on after 17 laps were complete when a piece of Spencer Hughes’ car ended up on the track at the end of the frontstretch after passing through the right side of Davenport’s cockpit. Other cautions flew for slowdowns for Scott Bloomquist (laps 28 and 41), Josh Rice (Lap 35), Shannon Babb (Lap 38) and Kyle Strickler (Lap 66).

Two of the restarts proved key, but otherwise, the slowdowns didn’t make any difference to Davenport, who was soaking everything in while he ringed the track built by Earl Baltes and now owned by Tony Stewart.

Brownstown racing tonight

Brownstown Speedway will host its final event before next weekend’s Jackson 100.

Tonight’s schedule will include the pro late models, modifieds, super stocks and hornets. Friday night will the Night Before the Jackson 100 featuring the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series paying $10,000 to win. The Bowman 50 for pro late models also will be racing for a top prize of $2,000. Modifieds also will be racing Friday.

Lawrenceburg racing tonight

Lawrenceburg Speedway will be back in action tonight with the Dick Gaines Memorial for sprint cars. Also racing will be modifieds, pure stocks and hornets. For information, visit lawrenceburgspeedway.com.

This week in racing history

From 50 years ago in 1972 at Twin Cities, Johnny Robbins won the feature race over Phil Fultz, Hillbilly Ogle, Mike Stewart and Bob Ham.

Also, from 50 years ago, Columbus Kart Club winners were Randy Ragin, David Murray, Tom Hughey, Gene Wilbur and Frank Hoban.

From 40 years ago in 1982 at Brownstown, Noel Witcher won the late model feature over Ray Godsey, Gerald Dixon, Bob Fleetwood and Doug Ault. Danny Blackwell won the street stock feature over Troy Burton, Joe Glass, Dave Kerr and Bo Killey.

Also, from 1982 at Twin Cities, Steve Boley won the limited late model feature over Gregg Lyle, Jim Ruddick, Butch Isaacs and Chuck Gilpin. Willie Sallee won the street stock feature over Larry Gingery, Buford Burton, Bob Johnson and Clyde James.

From 30 years ago in 1992 at Brownstown, Scott Patman won the street stock special over Mark Barber, Earl Plessinger, Scott McKeand and Brad Schlehuser. Darren Davis took the bomber division special over Bret Ezzo, Bob Johnson, Murl Robinson and George Berry.

From 20 years ago in 2002 at Brownstown, Jimmy Owens won the modified special over Mike Marlar, Earl Plessinger, Matt Boknecht and Brad Erwin. Mike Fields won the super stock feature over Jay Deckard, Tim Clark, Lee Hobbs and Keith Deppe.

James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].

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