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  • Travis Dockery

History Made At Tri County

(Photo by Deango Motorsports Photography) Hudson O'Neal, center, celebrates his win with third place finisher Ricky Thornton Jr., left, and runner-up Bobby Pierce, right.

The best-of-the-best came to Brasstown on Thursday, Oct. 12 for the highest paying race in the history of Tri-County Racetrack. The point-leaders for both national touring series were in attendance, along with 32 other Super Late Model drivers. The event was the second visit to the track for the Castrol Oil FloRacing Night in America tour.

For qualifying, the funny cars of dirt were divided into to groups. Lucas Oil Late Model Series points leader Ricky Thornton Jr. topped group A while "The New Deal" Hudson O'Neal was the fastest in group B.

With qualifying in the books, it was time for four heat races to set the starting line-up for the $23,023 to win feature. Heat one went to "The Smooth Operator" Bobby Pierce. Brent Dixon saw the checkered flag for heat two and O'neal took the heat three win. Heat four saw the hometown hero, "Superman" Jonathan Davenport take the top spot.

The final chance to make the show came in the form of a B-main. Veteran Dennis Erb Jr. won the first B-main and the "Newport Nightmare" Jimmy Owens took the checkered flag in the final preliminary event of the evening.

As the field came to the green for the feature event, the crowd rose as one to watch the best dirt drivers in the country take on the "Tiger Pit." O'Neal got a great start to move into the top spot and Davenport followed him to grab second. However, Davenport was soon challenged by Pierce, who used a slide-job pass to put his No. 32 into the runner-up spot.

(Photo by Deango Motorsports Photography) Fans filled the stands to see superstar Johnathan Davenport return to his home track.

Lap traffic and caution flags put Pierce on the rear spoiler of O'neal, but the Rocket house car was just too hard to handle and O'Neal led every lap on his way to the big-money win. Pierce maged to hang on to second and Ricky Thornton Jr. got by Davenport on lap 49 to claim the final podium spot.

“We had a terrible miss (in the engine),” O’Neal said. “It started about halfway. I don’t know that it really hurt me, but it was making me nervous." the driver said with a grin in victory lane. "I thought that eventually it was just gonna get worse and worse and worse and we were gonna be out of it.”

In other action on the night, Dylan Beaver proved too strong for the other Interstate Welding 602 Late Model drivers as the No. 117 used a pole position start to drive to yet another victory.

Jim Exum did what he had to do the claim the Front Wheel Drive championship. Exum put his No. 32 into victory lane which gave him a narrow 2-point advantage in the final standings over runner-up Shannon Jones.

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