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Hudson O'Neal (1) races under Clay Harris at Ocala Speedway. (Mike Ruefer photo)

O’Neal Keeps Rolling In Lucas Late Models

OCALA, Fla. — Hudson O’Neal, the reigning Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion picked up his second series victory of the season Wednesday night at Ocala Speedway.

O’Neal led 30 of the 40 laps for his 26th Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory earning $10,000 for the win.

Clay Harris, who led 10 laps during the race, finished 1.093 seconds behind the winner.  Harris, who has made only four career starts in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (all this year), was followed by Brian Shirley who rounded out the podium in third.

Ricky Thornton Jr. and Kyle Bronson rounded out the top-five finishers.

O’Neal grabbed the lead at the start of the race and led the first seven laps of the event. Harris, who was looking for his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win then challenged O’Neal for the lead getting past him down the back stretch on lap eight. The race was slowed multiple times with five caution flags over a three-lap span.

The final caution of the race came out with 10 laps complete as Harris still was showing the way. Harris tried to stretch his lead out over the field but as he approached the tail end of the field, O’Neal was able to squeeze by him coming off of turn four to regain the lead on lap 18.

O’Neal went on for the win, his second of the year after scoring an opening night win at Golden Isles last Thursday.

It was O’Neal’s first victory at Ocala, which was formerly known as Bubba Raceway Park.

“I just got behind a lapped car down here and he kind of pinched me and I just completely messed up and about spun out. I just tried to move to get by those lapped cars and just couldn’t move you know,” he said. “I was lucky the caution came back out and let us get back to second there and give it a run. Man, that Clay [Harris] drove a good race and I was just able to sneak by him. There was one time he kind of messed up and got up there and I think he grabbed the backstretch wall.”

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Hudson O’Neal in victory lane at Ocala Speedway. (Mike Ruefer photo)

Harris came home in the runner-up spot.

“I should have hugged the bottom there, you know at first, I thought I could run up high and do something, because last night you could,” Harris said. I” should have known better, in fact that’s when I passed him the first time. I still think it was good run. We’ve run four races this year and made every show so far. We only did a handful of super racing last year. So, I think it is a win in our book.”

Shirley finished third.

“We haven’t been giving our sponsors what they deserve here the last couple of weeks, but that’s the good thing about Bob [Cullen] and them guys behind me is that they don’t give up on me,” Shirley said. “They just let me keep doing what I do and keep racing here and get into the groove. We are just trying to play catch up.”

The finish:

Hudson O’Neal, Clay Harris, Brian Shirley, Ricky Thornton Jr., Kyle Bronson, Devin Moran, Ashton Winger, Tim McCreadie, Brandon Sheppard, Tyler Erb, Jonathan Davenport, Earl Pearson Jr., Boom Briggs, Daulton Wilson, Ross Robinson, Dennis Erb Jr., Spencer Hughes, Garrett Alberson, Cody Overton, Tony Jackson Jr., Max Blair, Bob Gardner, Drake Troutman, Mark Whitener, Donald McIntosh, Mike Marlar, Blair Nothdurft, Tanner English.