- Feb. 14 - Ocala Speedway by Sam Holbrooks


Don O'Neal - Ocala Speedway UMP/O'Reilly All Stars

Brian McLeod

UMP/O'Reilly All Stars: O'Neal Makes Dramatic Comeback For Ocala Checkers

by B.J. Cavin

OCALA, Fla. - Feb. 14. A chilly north central Florida night found Don O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind. come back from a near calamity to earn $8,000 in Sunday's "Battle Between the Coasts" at Ocala Speedway. O'Neal charged back from the rear of the lead lap after a mid-race scrape with another driver forced a tire change.

Qualifying among 36 druvers for the 50-lap race saw Josh Richards on top with a 15.014 second lap that earned him $300 for his efforts, but after four heat races and a pair of B Mains, Brad Neat wound up with the pole position.It was Bub McCool though, who would jump out to the early lead at the green flag as Austin Hubbard moved up to second with Scott Bloomquist hanging onto third place.

Scott Bloomquist - Josh Richards - Ocala

Scott Bloomquist survived rough racing conditions to reel in second, while Josh Richards (outside), was one of several drivers who were in winning contention until sidelined by tire problems. (Rick Warren)

Don O'Neal VL Ocala

Indiana's Don O'Neal after taking a rough ride to a comeback win at Ocala Speedway.(Rick Warren)

Hubbard found a route past McCool on lap 13 to take the lead, until Richards assumed it three laps later. Hubbard retook the lead, with McCool moving to second ahead of Bloomquist, and soon after, O'Neal almost saw his race end early when he got together with John Lobb, forcing the first caution. 29 laps had been raced under green.

O'Neal had a tire go down as the result of the contact, so a trip to the pits under caution led to his being relegated to the rear of the dwindling lead lap for the restart. Hubbard restarted with the lead while Richards gave chase. O'Neal wasted no time making his way back toward the front of the field, and quickly caught up with Bloomquist, who he passed for the fourth spot.

Brian Reese - Clint Smith - Ocala SW

Brian Reese and veteran Clint Smith (#44) duel for position at Ocala. (Rick Warren)

 Hubbard's place as the race leader looked very secure until lap 46, when a flat tire caused him to slap the backstretch wall, and at virtually the same time, Richards blew a right rear tire as well. After the resulting caution for Hubbard's problems, Don O'Neal found himself back in the lead.

Two more flats then resulted in top contenders, Shane Clanton and McCool also exiting to the pits in the final laps - McCool with just one to go, but O'Neal went on to notch the win after overcoming misfortune and a very unforgiving race track. After McCool and Clanton dropped from the top five, Bloomquist wound up claiming the second spot over Jonathan Davenport, Ryan Unzicker, and Richards.

Austin Hubbard - Josh Richards - Ocala

Austin Hubbard races #25 Josh Richards beforing securing the lead. It was all for naught as the young Delaware ace also fell out with a flat tire. (Rick Warren) 

Feb. 13 - Ocala Speedway O'Reilly All Stars UMP 1) 1) Don O'Neal, 2) Scott Bloomquist, 3) Jonathan Davenport, 4) Ryan Unzicker, 5) Josh Richards, 6) Brad Neat, 7) Bub McCool, 8) Shane Clanton, 9) Clint Smith, 10) Austin Hubbard, 11) Tyler Ivey, 12) Brandon Sheppard, 13) Ron Davies, 14) John Lobb, 15) John Garvin, 16) Boom Briggs, 17) Brian Reese, 18) Larry Wight, 19) Tim Fuller, 20) Freddie Carpenter, 21) Jason Feger, 22) Casey Roberts, 23) Rick Eckert, 24) Aaron Ridley (36 entries)

Drew England photo





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