CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Tim McCreadie secured his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship at Ohio’s Portsmouth Raceway Park earlier this year, it was the end of a long road back to the mountain top.
McCreadie, 47, captured the World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship in 2006, but what people often forget is he spent the next few seasons not chasing dirt late model championships for one reason or another.
“When we won that thing way back when, the next year I didn’t even run late models,” said McCreadie, who spent the 2007 season pursing NASCAR opportunities that never fully materialized. “A couple years after that I wasn’t really running tours. I was bouncing around and then I broke my back and was out a year.
“So there was a five-plus-year stretch where we didn’t do anything. When we did, it was just tough. We really didn’t have the same type of team. The team was there, but the guys had left. It just took us awhile.”
The veteran dirt late model and big-block modified driver said one of the keys to his recent success was the switch to Longhorn Chassis a few years ago.
“When we went to Longhorn we showed instant success,” McCreadie said. “That was probably the catalyst, taking our stuff to Longhorn and doing a house-car program.”
Another key move for McCreadie was teaming with Donald and Gena Bradsher, the owners of Paylor Motorsports, prior to the 2020 season.
“When Donald and Gena came along, my new owners, it was a fresh influx of everything and that just seemed to put us over the top,” McCreadie said.
The partnership with the Bradsher family has proven fruitful for McCreadie. This year he earned nine wins, including five with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series that helped catapult him to the season championship.
Those five wins, combined with a consistent season that saw him earn 27 top-five results and 32 top-10 finishes, left him 540 points clear of Hudson O’Neal for the title.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said McCreadie, who along with Scott Bloomquist and Josh Richards is one of three drivers to win both major touring dirt late model championships. “I’ve been at it a good bit on that tour for four or five years and we’ve been so close. Just to be able to do it for these guys and this team, it’s truly awesome.”
Despite his successful year, McCreadie said he felt like the one thing that was missing from his season was a crown jewel victory.
“We’ve been able to get some of them every year, big money wins,” McCreadie said. “We’ve had a lot of success. We were saying the other day we had five or four or six seconds in races that were $50,000 and up. So we were there, but we didn’t win any.”
McCreadie opens his racing season with a return trip to the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., on Jan. 10-15. The 2006 Chili Bowl winner will drive for Daugherty Motorsports as he attempts to make his sixth Saturday night A-Main and first since 2016.