From Mike Warren / dirtcar.com
The Watertown, NY driver leads Hudson O’Neal by five points in Big Gator chase
After three straight runner-up finishes at Volusia Speedway Park, Tim McCreadie finally broke through at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”
The Watertown, NY driver powered around Bobby Pierce on Lap 12 of Tuesday’s DIRTcar Late Model Feature and held off a hard-charging Hudson O’Neal to score the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals victory—his first of 2023.
McCreadie said his choice of tires played a role in the finish.
“As competitive as we’ve been, man, it’s been fun to race here,” McCreadie said. “Our car’s been super-fast. I made some mistakes as a driver and maybe picked some tire compounds that weren’t the right ones. And tonight, I don’t know if it was the right one for 28 laps or 50, but it was the right one for 25.
“So, we’ll take that and move on to the next one.”
McCreadie led Lap 1 of the 25-lap race before Bobby Pierce slid past him in Turn 4 to take the lead on Lap 2.
Pierce pulled away until he reached traffic, allowing the Empire State driver to close back in.
As Pierce ran the inside lane, “T-Mac” swung his Longhorn to the top and thundered around the #32 car to re-take the lead.
McCreadie widened the gap between himself and the rest of the field until a caution for Brandon Overton’s flat right rear tire on Lap 21 gave him a new challenger—Hudson O’Neal.
The Martinsville, IN driver, quickly took his Rocket Chassis to the top of the track, picking off Brandon Sheppard and Bobby Pierce on the cushion to pull into second.
However, that cushion was his downfall as he bobbled in Turn 1 on Lap 24, ending his bid for a fourth consecutive win.
O’Neal’s bobble let McCreadie pull away to earn the $7,000 prize and take the lead in the chase for the Big Gator trophy.
McCreadie said he welcomed the race’s lone yellow flag as it allowed him to cool his tires for the final run.
“It’s more I know the compound we were on,” McCreadie said. “We’re on soft tires. Everybody knows what happens. They might not come apart. They might not blister. They might not break. But what they’ll do is get to a certain temperature, and they’ll slow down.
“I knew that Hudson had a stiffer tire than all of us, so it was more of a let’s cool things down, and hopefully, for a four or five-lap run, they’ll be able to carry me. I messed up in (Turn) 1 once, but once I found that lane into (Turn) 3, he might’ve still beat me, but at least I felt comfortable enough that I could charge.”
O’Neal crossed the line in third after Pierce took advantage of his bobble to finish second.
“The New Deal” said he felt he cost himself the win after his late-race charge didn’t lead to victory.
“I gave one away,” O’Neal said. “I just bobbled one time on the cushion getting into (Turn 1), and I just got my right rear hung over it and couldn’t come back across it.
“So, it is what it is. We started 11th, and I felt like we had a good race car there to be able to drive up through there like we did without any cautions. This Rocket XR1 is badass right now, and we just have to keep the ball rolling. We’re so, so good, and I think we got more wins to come this week.”
Pierce, who led 10 laps in the 25-lap Feature, grabbed the runner-up spot after finishing seventh on Monday.
The Oakwood, IL driver said his team is still trying to find the right balance on handling his Longhorn.
“We were kind of a third-place car, but we ended up second,” Pierce said. “We’re happy with it. I think we can build off this, and there’s a lot of ways to skin the cat trying to figure out what I like.
“It’s tough. T-Mac is really good here, and we’re glad to be right there. We’re finishing races, and we’re running up front and qualifying really well. So, we’re excited to go on to the next nights.”
Two-time Big Gator champion Brandon Sheppard finished fourth, while Kyle Bronson rounded out the top five.
After two races, Tim McCreadie leads the DIRTcar Nationals points standings by five points over O’Neal.
DIRTcar Nationals Points Standings
1. Tim McCreadie 155
2. Hudson O’Neal -5
3. Bobby Pierce -27
4. Chris Madden -40
5. Ricky Thornton Jr. -42
The DIRTcar Late Models return to Volusia Speedway Park for their final night of action at the 52nd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals. The field will be split into three 20-lap Features, each paying $5,000-to-win.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.
DIRTcar Late Models Feature (25 Laps):
1. 39-Tim McCreadie; 2. 32-Bobby Pierce; 3. 1-Hudson O’Neal; 4. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 5. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 6. 17M-Dale McDowell; 7. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr; 8. B1-Brent Larson; 9. 8-Brian Shirley; 10. 25Z-Mason Zeigler; 11. 44-Chris Madden; 12. 8S-Kyle Strickler; 13. 6-Kyle Larson; 14. 99T-Dylan Thompson; 15. 97-Cade Dillard; 16. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 17. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 18. 9-Nick Hoffman; 19. 96V-Tanner English; 20. 12-Ashton Winger; 21. 76N-Blair Nothdurft; 22. 76-Brandon Overton; 23. 16-Tyler Bruening; 24. 22*-Payton Freeman; 25. 111-Max Blair; 26. 25-Shane Clanton
See the full story and results:
Photo's: DIRTcar Racing / Josh James Artwork / Jim DenHamer / Tim McCreadie
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