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Hudson O'Neal in victory lane at Atomic Speedway. (Jim DenHamer photo)

O’Neal Keeps Rolling With Atomic Score

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Hudson O’Neal regained the lead on lap 27 and went on to win during the return of “The Night the Stars Come Out Thursday night at Atomic Speedway.

The victory marks O’Neal’s third consecutive Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series triumph.

O’Neal will head to Friday night’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at Ponderosa Speedway sporting the Midwest Sheet Metal orange spoiler indicating he is the new series points leader by 35 points.

Brandon Overton made it close at the finish coming home just .303 seconds behind the winner to take the runner-up spot – he now moves to second place in the standings.

Mike Marlar in his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race of 2023 rounded out the podium in third. Kyle Larson, who won the All-Star Circuit of Champions A-Main rallied from 14th to finish fourth. Jonathan Davenport, who led laps 2-26, came home in fifth.

O’Neal and Davenport started on the front row of the 50-lap main event with O’Neal leading the first circuit following several slide jobs between the two. Davenport would gain the lead on lap two and hold it until O’Neal got around him for good with 23 laps remaining in the race.

The 22-year-old Indiana native picked up his 21st career series win breaking a tie with Tyler Erb for 10th place on the all-time win list.

“What a race that was. That cushion was treacherous. I made a bunch of mistakes on it, but it was just so big,” O’Neal explained. “It was built up there on the wall and it was real forgiving. If you made a little mistake it wasn’t going to hurt, you. That break was killing us, we have been sitting around and ready to get going again.”

Regarding his battle early on with Davenport, O’Neal said it was important to get the lead on the first lap. 

“We were driving our tails off. It’s fun whenever you get to race like that. We had a good race car from the beginning. I was a little too forgiving at the beginning and I got into a pace where I was a little bit slower than I wanted to be. My guys told me to just get up on the wheel. These guys build an awesome piece where you can bang off the cushion like that.” 

Overton came home in second after tracking down O’Neal in the closing laps.

“I knew I wasn’t going to pass him [O’Neal] because we were running the same line,” Overton said. “So, we just got a run through the middle there and did everything we could. We had a good run and we almost got him. Traffic was slowing him down a little bit. We could make up a little time in three and four. We just were a couple of little tweaks away from diving right by him.”

Marlar survived a skirmish with Ricky Thornton, Jr. to round the podium. 

“I had just got by him [Thornton] a couple of laps before then. I was kind of using the diamond line down there in three and four. He couldn’t see that I was doing that behind him. So, I passed him and cleared him. We slid each other for a lap or two and got sorted out and then I come out ahead of it. I then went back to my diamond line, and he wasn’t ready for it, I guess. So, it was probably just as much my fault as his.”

The finish:

Hudson O’Neal, Brandon Overton, Mike Marlar, Kyle Larson, Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Camaron Marlar, Max Blair, Josh Rice, Tim McCreadie, Ricky Thornton Jr., Earl Pearson Jr., Jensen Ford, Tyler Caprenter, Jimmy Owens, Tyler Bruening, Daulton Wilson, Spencer Hughes, Ross Robinson, Boom Briggs, Garrett Smith, Devin Moran, Garrett Alberson, Rod Conley, Logan Roberson, Adam Stricker, Todd Brennan.