O’Neal Tops Castrol® FloRacing Night in America at Marshalltown Miniseries
O’Neal Tops Castrol® FloRacing Night in America at Marshalltown
Miniseries Rolls into Davenport Speedway on Wednesday, May 17
MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (May 16, 2023) — Castrol® FloRacing Night in America rolled into Marshalltown Speedway on Tuesday night and for the second-straight year the Iowa oval did not disappoint.
Hudson O’Neal and Rocket1 Racing have undeniably found the winning formula of late, especially when they show up at Marshalltown Speedway.
The Martinsville, Ind., driver who earlier Tuesday reigned another week atop DirtonDirt.com's Top 25 poll maintained the status quo at the entertaining Iowa oval, leading 48 of 50 laps for a second straight Castrol FloRacing Night in America triumph at the track.
It’s also O’Neal’s second straight FloRacing Series victory this season and the third of his career, which ties Jonathan Davenport and Bobby Pierce for most all-time in the series three-year history.
“This race car was awesome,” O’Neal said. “We were able to get out front early there and really move around on the racetrack. I was pretty good on the bottom and it just widened out really wide, and you either had to be way up, or way down there. They said Bobby was coming. Yeah, it’s awesome, man. Marshalltown has been good to me. Hopefully we can come back next year and have the same success.”
O’Neal finished 1.112 seconds ahead of Pierce, who didn’t go down without a fight from the sixth-starting position. Pierce triggered the highlight of the race with 23 laps to go when he unleashed a wide-eyed slidejob through turns three and four that about ran O’Neal and himself off the track. Eventual third-place finisher Brandon Overton, meanwhile, nearly puttered around O’Neal and Pierce in the lead battle using the bottom.
“I knew (Pierce) was close. I’ve seen him a couple times,” O’Neal said. “The lapped traffic was tough because I didn’t really feel like I could get off of that top and make any ground around the bottom or anything. I figured worst case scenario, if he slides me or something, maybe if I keep running that top we’ll be able to cross him over.”
Outside that, and pole-starting Max Blair leading the second and third laps, O’Neal did everything he needed to do for his seventh overall victory of the season. He did, however, mention a blemish in victory lane interview that not many likely noticed in the closing laps.
“I made a huge mistake with two to go. I slid (Tyler) Bruening and clobbered the wall,” O’Neal said. “I don’t know what I was doing. I said to myself, if I lose this race, I’ll be real mad. Yeah, it was worth it, man.
“You were either hitting the tire, or hitting the cushion (running the top in turns three and four),” O’Neal added. “There was a pretty good-sized tire barrier against the wall right there. I hit it a couple times. You just had to set yourself up through the center of the corner, make sure you have the right angle to be able to miss that tire. Yeah, man, this racetrack was really technical, and that’s what makes it for a fun race.”
Pole-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., failed to lead lap in his sixth-place performance. O’Neal made his go-ahead move on lap four by powering around Blair using the top of the racetrack. O’Neal raced out to a two-second lead, then saw it vanish when a caution for Daniel Hilsabeck arose with 23 laps left.
Pierce never let O’Neal runaway with it upon resumption, but he also couldn’t do a whole lot to make up ground from behind.
“Track position is huge. With these Late Models, aero is so big,” Pierce said. “He didn’t make many mistakes. He stayed pretty solid up there. He was using all the cushion there was up there. It made it really hard for me. It’s hard when you follow a guy, and you’re a lot better out front in clean air when you’re by yourself when you can see the racing line. It was a challenge.
“We were right there the whole time, and he moved up (midway through the race off the bottom). I figured he would have (because) all the signal guys on the backstretch. I figured that was my time. I kind of hesitated because at first it looked like he wasn’t going to, then he did. Just a little hesitation probably cost me. I should’ve jumped in the heat race because, you know, that’s how that went. All in all a great night and we’ll take a second.”
Overton, on the other hand, wish the lap-27 caution never happened. If it were to stay green a little longer, perhaps his effort from the seventh-starting spot would have ended more jubilantly.
“I don’t know if I was flying or if they were driving the hell out of there’s and just got their stuff hot. I was coming back to them,” Overton said. “We didn’t need that caution. When Bobby came around me, I was like, thank God. He’ll get Hudson back off the bottom. So, I didn’t need that caution. Yeah, we restarted back, and I think I got my rear tires clean and not my right-front. I just shoved for probably six or seven laps. Once I got my steering, I came back to him. Helluva race. First time here, I’ll take it.
“I still suck in Illinois, but I’m all right in Iowa. We’ll go to Davenport tomorrow.”
Article Credit: Ben Shelton
Submitted By: Jerry Vansickel