Whynot, Mississippi (10/13/12) — Don O’Neal made himself right at home while making a guest appearance with Childress Racing during Whynot Motorsports Park’s 18th annual Coors Light Fall Classic.
O’Neal, the Martinsville, Ind., driver who normally pilots the MasterSbilt Race Cars house car owned by Keith and Tader Masters, led all but the first lap of Saturday night’s 100-lap main event at Whynot’s third-mile oval, earning $15,000 for his second victory in the unsanctioned special event.
Starting from the outside of the front row in a brand new MasterSbilt Race Car, O’Neal drove around polesitter Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., on the second lap and cruised for the majority of the race. He built more than a straightaway advantage at times before pulling away from Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., after a lap-66 restart.
“We’ve had fun all weekend whether we won or lost. It’s just been a good weekend,” said O’Neal, who drove a brand new MasterSbilt car for the Louisiana-based Childress team. “We were fast right out of the box and ain’t done much to the race car all weekend. It’s just one of those good weekends you always hope for.”
The ninth-starting Marlar scored the runner-up finish only after holding off a late challenge from 11th-starting Dane Dacus of Lakeland, Tenn. Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., finished fourth after running as high as second while Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., rounded out the top five in a race slowed by just two cautions. Moyer, who was looking for his first Fall Classic victory, faded to a seventh-place finish.
O’Neal’s toughest challenge came in the form of lapped traffic. Slower cars raced in nearly every groove on a surface that was black from top to bottom, making selecting the right lane through traffic difficult. But O’Neal deftly handled the slower cars and never allowed his competitors the opportunity to move within striking distance.
“There early, I had no idea to run low or high,” O’Neal said. “It was just so tough to pass because of the momentum. But when I passed those lap cars low in one and two, I kinda figured out it was probably the best place to stay.”
It didn’t matter where O’Neal ran on the racetrack, he always seemed by far faster than any of his competitors. He pulled away from Moyer running the high groove early, then maintained a healthy advantage over a charging Smith through the middle portions of the race. Finally, O’Neal ran a low line through turns one and two and the high groove at the other end of the track while pulling away from Marlar late.
“The car was actually pretty good wherever I had to run it,” O’Neal said. “We hadn’t put hard tires on yet, so we really didn’t know what we were gonna have (for the feature). We really figured as good as we were on the soft stuff, just tighten up a little bit and we’d be OK. And we was.”
While O’Neal checked out, the multi-grooved racetrack produced plenty of close racing action behind him. Marlar was often in the thick of the battles, at times going three wide while making his run toward the front.
“This is a really fun place to race because you’ve gotta chase the groove on the racetrack all over,” said Marlar, who finished in the top five at Whynot for the second straight year. “Literally, every part of that track was better than the other parts at some point in the race. So not only are you chasing the racetrack, but you’re also trying to pass people too while you’re doing that.”
Marlar stuck with O’Neal briefly following the lap-66 restart, even looking under the leader a few laps after the restart. But O’Neal picked up his pace and easily pulled away.
Struggling to keep up with O’Neal through traffic, Marlar settled into second and held off the hard-charging Dacus in the closing laps to score the runner-up finish by less than a car length.
“I showed (O’Neal) my nose there and he changed his line. It was over with them. I couldn’t do nothing with him,” Marlar said. “The harder I drove my car, the better it worked. So once I got my tires fired up and gripping, I kinda stayed after it. But after that caution they cooled back off and I was too free again.”
Dacus was one of the fastest cars at the end of the race. After restarting sixth on lap 66, he began picking up spots running the low groove and tracked down Marlar in the closing laps. He was hoping for a caution to reset the field for a run to the finish, but that never came.
“I’d like to had a caution there toward the end to kinda bunch us back up,” Dacus said. “I feel like we were coming pretty good. But you never know if O’Neal and Marlar were taking it easy toward the end. Either way though, it’s a good run for our team.”
The M-D Metals Crate Late Model division saw Justin McRee continue his winning ways at the 1/3 mile oval by powering to the $2,000 victory over Jimbo McDuffie, Wayne Murphy, Tim Dees, and Chance Inman.
The Country Pleasin’ Street Stock finale saw Jeremy Idom and Landon Frith waging war for the top spot during the first half of the event before mechanical woes led to the demise of Frith. Idom went on to claim the win over Michael Williams, Jeffrey Walker, Donnie Monk, and James Elfring.
The Etheridge Race Parts UMP Open Wheel Modified finale was topped by local standout Randy King with Cade Dillard, Timothy Culp, Gregg Hollingsworth, and Jason Brock completing the top five in the $2,000-to-win finale.
The Robinson Electric Pure Stock division held a complete program on Saturday evening, and when the checkered flag dropped it was Landon Hembree, who claimed the victory, over Ray McKay, Mindi Sisson, Josh Carpenter, and Jennifer Cooper.
Charles and Jannie Thrash along with Rodney and Cassie Wing would like to thank everybody for their support of the 18th Annual Coors Light Fall Classic. Over 170 competitors took part in the program over the course of the beautiful weekend, and the event went down in the history books as one of the most successful ever.
Coors Light Fall Classic Super Late Model Finish: (1) Don O’Neal, (2) Mike Marlar, (3) Dane Dacus, (4) Clint Smith, (5) Steve Francis, (6) Dennis Erb Jr., (7) Billy Moyer, (8) Bub McCool, (9) Shane Clanton, (10) Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, (11) Klint Byars, (12) Chris Wall, (13) Eric Cooley, (14) Jack Sullivan, (15) Morgan Bagley, (16) Kyle Beard, (17) Robbie Stuart, (18) Brian Birkhofer, (19) Jason McBride, (20) Jeremy Broadus, (21) Wendell Wallace, (22) Jimmy Cliburn, (23) Neil Baggett, (24) Mike Boland. Fast qualifier (among 55 cars): Francis, 12.996 seconds. Heat race winners: Moyer, O’Neal, Smith, McBride, Byars, Clanton. Consolation race winners: Beard, Broadus, Cliburn.
M-D Metals Crate Late Model Finish
1)Justin McRee 2)Jimbo McDuffie 3)Wayne Murphy 4)Tim Dees 5)Chance Inman 6)Randy Boyd 7)Chase Washington 8)Shannon Lee 9)Josh Banes 10)Wiley Williams 11)Jeremy Shaw 12)Jamey Boland 13)Doug Sanchagrin 14)Daniel Bridgmon 15)Nick Thrash 16)Brent Barrett 17)Monte Skinner 18)Kyle Shaw 19)Tody Ratcliff 20)Evan Ellis 21)Steve Bryan 22)Michael Arnold 23)Michael Blount 24)Jeffrey Lawson
Etheride Race Parts UMP Modified Finish
1)Randy King 2)Cade Dillard 3)Timothy Culp 4)Gregg Hollingsworth 5)Jason Brock 6)Jason Taylor 7)Ricky Idom 8)Toby Hodge 9)Tracy Brown 10)Preston Seratt 11)Noah Daspit 12)Riley Brown 13)Ryan Allday 14)Cameron Parker 15)Rusty Harrison 16)Josh Trammell 17)Cole Griffith 18)Rodney Etheridge 19)Chris Rutherford 20)Dary Resmondo 21)Rusty Cooper 22)Jeffrey Lawson 23)Race Taylor 24)Brandon Parker 25)Chad Shivers 26)Michal Sojourner 27)Tommy Moore 28)Bill Taylor 29)Glendale Shoemake
Country Pleasin Street Stock Finish
1)Jeremy Idom 2)Michael Williams 3)Jeffrey Walker 4)Donnie Monk 5)James Elfring 6)Artis Bunyard 7)Rodney Barber 8)David Easterling 9)Sam Maxie 10)Tony Crosby 11)Brandon Leftwich 12)J.C. Pearson 13)Scotty Vowell 14)Stacy Robinson 15)Brian Holley 16)Kevin Bruce 17)Kevin Spears 18)Landon Frith 19)Wayne Medders 20)Trey Bright 21)Wayne Gunn 22)Tony Silvestri 23)Mike Hudler 24)Bubba Trotter
Robinson Electric Pure Stocks
1)Landon Hembree 2)Ray McKay 3)Mini Sisson 4)Josh Carpenter 5)Jennifer Cooper 6)David Franklin 7)Jay Walker 8)Bryant Reynolds 9)Logan Hembree 10)Brian Cannon 11)Stephen Griffith 12)Jason King
Ben Shelton, Owner
MSR Mafia – www.MSRMafia.com
The Midsouth Racing Scene – www.MidSouthRacing.com
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