WHEATLAND, Mo. – Tim McCreadie, in search of his first Show-Me 100 victory, wasted little time in taking a first step toward it Friday night in leading all 45 laps of the Cowboy Classic at Lucas Oil Speedway.
McCreadie started third and had the lead by the conclusion of lap one. He never gave it back, beating Hudson O’Neal by 1.225 seconds at the finish of the first of two qualifying events Friday night for Saturday’s 29th annual Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com.
“This is an amazing weekend to be out here and to be patriotic,” said McCreadie, whose car was covered with a military-themed “Honor for Heroes” wrap. “If you see anybody from the military, give them a thanks. They’re way tougher than I am.”
McCreadie said it was nice to bank some valuable points toward Saturday night with the strong start in a race delayed from Thursday due to rain. He earned $6,000 for the victory in the Longhorn-chassis house car.
“It helps the bank account,” the 47-year-old veteran driver from Watertown, N.Y., said. “Money’s money, no matter what you do. We need to perform.”
McCreadie, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series season points leader, fought off pressure from fifth-starting Bobby Pierce midway through the event as Pierce worked the inside groove to cut McCreadie’s lead to .038 by lap 23.
But Pierce, the 2017 Show-Me 100 winner, was unable to keep pace and it was the 20-year-old O’Neal – after falling back from his pole-starting position to fifth for a time – who tried to mount a late charge.
“By the time I got to second, everybody was spread out,” O’Neal said. “Not that I was any faster than Timmy, but I would have liked to have had a chance to race him a little bit.
“It took me about 15 laps to fire,” O’Neal added. “I was a little too tight early. The car came around as the race track blacked over a little bit. It’s nothing to complain about. We had a solid second-place finish behind an amazing guy. It’s an honor to be on the podium and hopefully we can get one more spot, later.”
McCreadie said that despite what might have looked like a smooth, decisive drifve to the finish he maintained an aggressive mind-set as he weaved through lapped traffic.
“When you see the 32 on the board (Pierce) and then Hudson, those guys don’t take laps off,” McCreadie said. “I just knew the best shot I had was to not wait around and catch a guy and pass. I got beat about a month ago by being a little too cautious at the end of a race.”
Pierce said he can drive more aggressively in the second qualifying program, after getting solid points with his third-place run.
“We already know we’re in good position, but I really wanted to get that win,” Pierce said. “We were closing on T Mac and he moved down and pulled away from me. After that, I tried some things. Maybe the top was still there. Before I knew it Hudson was there and there was nothing I could really do.”
Brandon Sheppard ran second in the early going and wound up fourth with Josh Richards in fifth and Ryan Gustin sixth.
Four-time Show-Me 100 winner Jimmy Owens charged from 22nd to seventh. Scott Bloomquist, who’s won the Show-Me 100 a record six times, finished 10th in his first action in six weeks.
A total of 58 late models checked into the pits for the doubleheader program, necessitated by postponement of Thursday’s scheduled action due to rain. The originally scheduled Friday portion of the action, the “Tribute to Don and Billie Gibson,” was running later Friday night.
Drivers were accumulating points through their finishes in the preliminary events to help set the field for Saturday night’s 100-lap, $30,000-to-win Show-Me 100.
The first and only caution occurred on lap seven as Earl Pearson Jr. slowed on the speedway. McCreadie had a two-car-length lead over Sheppard at the time, with a five-car gap back to Pierce in third.
Brandon Sheppard set fast overall qualifying time at 16.478 seconds.
Defending Show-Me 100 champion Payton Looney of Republic scratched from Friday’s action with a motor problem following qualifying. Looney does, however, have a past champion’s provisional to use for the feature on Saturday night if he’s able to make repairs.
Randy Timms made the fifth and final lead change of the race stick – coming out of turn four on the final lap – to nip Lucas Gibbs for the Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modified feature victory.
1. 39-Tim McCreadie; 2. 71-Hudson O’Neal; 3. 32-Bobby Pierce; 4. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 5. 14-Josh Richards; 6. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 7. 20-Jimmy Owens; 8. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 9. 2S-Stormy Scott; 10. 0-Scott Bloomquist; 11. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr; 12. 12C-Scott Crigler; 13. 56JR-Tony Jackson Jr; 14. 25-Shane Clanton; 15. 18B-Shannon Babb; 16. 49-Jonathan Davenport; 17. 22F-Chris Ferguson; 18. 157-Mike Marlar; 19. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 20. 0E-Rick Eckert; 21. 21-Billy Moyer Jr; 22. 49T-Jake Timm; 23. 3S-Brian Shirley; 24. 1-Earl Pearson Jr