Story By: BEN SHELTON / ROCKET1 RACING – SHINNSTON, WV – Hudson O’Neal banked two victories last week at Volusia Speedway Park aboard his Rocket1 Racing / Valvoline / Seubert Calf Ranches No. 1 Ace Metal Works / XR1 Rocket Chassis / Durham Racing Engines, Inc. Super Late Model.
Included in the wins were a $7,000 triumph on Monday night in DIRTcar Super Late Model action along with a thrilling $20,000 victory from the 23rd-starting position in Saturday’s World of Outlaws (WoO) Case Late Model Series event. The Saturday WoO win was the first of his career and pushed his overall win total to four on the season.
“(We have) a great crew that never gives up man. I drove my heart out,” said O’Neal in Victory Lane on Saturday night after charging from the 23rd-starting spot to get the $20,000 victory. “I knew whenever we started passing cars there early, the first caution came out (on lap four) and I was running like 12th, and I was like, ‘Oh man!’ What an awesome crew I have. You know I messed up a little bit qualifying and just got us buried, fought it all night. And we just continued to work on the race car all night long and just continued to get it better and better and better. Finally, right before that feature, Mark (Richards) just said, he said, ‘You’ll just have to get up on the wheel. It’s up to you now.’
“Somebody told me earlier today (Saturday) that I had the chance to be the 100th winner,” O’Neal noted. “Yeah, it’s special. I’ve came close to winning these races before, just never have been able to quite pull it off and how fitting to do it with Mark (Richards) and the history he has with the World of Outlaws. It’s cool. We’re happy. It’s going to make the drive home a little bit better tonight for sure.”
Hudson O’Neal took the Rocket1 Racing No. 1 Late Model into battle at Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, Fla.) on Monday afternoon to compete in the 52nd annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals.
With the 46-car field split into four groups for qualifying, O’Neal recorded the third-fastest time in his group before placing second in his heat. Locked into the sixth-starting position for the feature, Hudson wasted no time working his way forward as he slid underneath Nick Hoffman following a lap-5 restart to overtake third.
Stealing the lead on lap 15 with a nifty third-to-first move in turns three and four, O’Neal controlled the remainder of the 25-lapper to claim his third straight victory and a $7,000 prize. He finished 0.977 seconds ahead of Tim McCreadie with Chris Madden, Nick Hoffman, and Ricky Thornton Jr. completing the Top-5 finishers.
For Tuesday’s $7,000-to-win preliminary night, Hudson’s second-place finish in his heat race positioned him on the sixth row for the feature. Climbing through the field eight positions, O’Neal recorded a third-place finish, which came behind Tim McCreadie and Bobby Pierce.
On Wednesday for a trio of preliminary features, O’Neal followed up the second-fastest qualifying effort with a third-place finish in the 20-lap prelim, despite having to overcome a flat tire late in the feature.
With the remainder of the week shifting under the World of Outlaws (WoO) Case Late Model Series sanction on Thursday, Hudson secured his spot into the show with a runner-up finish in his heat. Securing another top-five finish in the 40-lap feature, O’Neal advacing two spots to place fifth.
After taking part in time trials on Friday, wet weather axed the program before the start of the third heat.
Despite getting a slow start to the evening on Saturday, O’Neal raced his way into the DIRTcar Nationals finale with a runner-up finish in his B-Main. Charging from the 12th row, Hudson overtook late pacesetter Devin Moran on lap 45 and led the remaining five circuits to capture the $20,000 paycheck and his fourth win of the 2023 campaign. Moran, Ricky Thornton Jr., Tim McCreadie, and Brandon Sheppard trailed him across the line in route to his first-career World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series victory.
Full results from the events are available at www.DIRTcarNationals.com and www.WorldofOutlaws.com.
The team will be idle this week before traveling to Smoky Mountain Speedway (Maryville, Tenn.) on March 3 – 4 for the WoO Tennessee Tipoff doubleheader at the newly reconfigured oval. The program posts a $10,000 winner’s check on Friday and a $15,000 top prize on Saturday.