ST. LOUIS — Hudson O’Neal capitalized on a stroke of good fortune Friday night inside The Dome at America’s Center, putting himself in the right place at the right time to win the first of two 20-lap preliminary features during the second annual Gateway Dirt Nationals.
The 17-year-old from Martinsville, Ind. took command after then-leaders David Breazeale and Rusty Schlenk tangled while racing for the top spot in turns three and four with four laps to go, holding off a last-ditch effort from outside polesitter and early leader Billy Moyer to notch his first win at The Dome and his seventh feature victory of the year.
O’Neal’s victory was worth $5,000 and his enthusiasm was evident as he climbed from his car.
“I just won at the Dome. Oh my gosh!” exclaimed O’Neal. “I can hardly keep my hands steady right now. This is amazing.”
Moyer led the first nine circuits before giving way to Schlenk on the 10th round, but it was a slowly-softening right-rear tire — after contact with the outside barriers — that ultimately bit Schlenk and led to his tangle with Breazeale in the closing stages.
Breazeale led for a moment after passing a slowing Schlenk, but spun when he tried to slow in the corner and collected Schlenk in the process, allowing O’Neal to skirt the chaos and slip through for a lead he wouldn’t relinquish again.
Moyer hung tough behind O’Neal to finish second, followed by Jason Welshan and Bobby Pierce. The top four finishers from each of Friday’s two preliminary features earned guaranteed starting spots for Saturday’s finale.
Brandon Sheppard and Scott Bloomquist clawed their ways from 17th and 18th on the grid to finish fifth and sixth, respectively.
Allen Weisser, Michael Kloos, Casey Montague and Randy Timms capped off the top-10.
Gordy Gundaker raced to victory in the second preliminary feature to close the program.
RESULTS: Gateway Dirt Nationals; The Dome at America’s Center; Dec. 15, 2017
A-Feature (20 laps): 1. Hudson O’Neal, 2. Billy Moyer, 3. Jason Welshan, 4. Bobby Pierce, 5. Brandon Sheppard, 6. Scott Bloomquist, 7. Allen Weisser, 8. Michael Kloos, 9. Casey Montague, 10. Randy Timms, 11. Billy Moyer Jr., 12. Timothy Culp, 13. Bob Gardner, 14. Freddie Carpenter, 15. Tim Manville, 16. Kolby Vandenbergh, 17. Levi Ashby, 18. David Breazeale, 19. Austin Hubbard, 20. Rusty Schlenk.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network, as well as a periodic contributor to SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
Email Race Chaser Online: [email protected]
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews