KOKOMO, Ind. – Tyler Erb won the biggest late model race in the 72-year history of Kokomo Speedway on Friday night in front of a packed house.
The race proved to be a barnburner, as Erb passed Hudson O’Neal on the 47th lap and then held off Jimmy Owens to score his sixth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the season.
Owens charged from 14th starting spot to finish right behind Erb at the checkers. Hudson O’Neal had taken the lead on lap eight from Billy Moyer Jr. and received constant pressure during the 50-lapper, making for an exciting race for the lead throughout the event.
Hudson O’Neal began showing signs of smoke and then jumped the cushion in turn four as he and Erb headed to the start-finish line to complete lap 47, putting Erb out in front for the first official time during the race.
Owens then got by Hudson O’Neal and began to track down Erb, while Don O’Neal squeezed by his son at the checkers to finish third. Tim McCreadie crossed fifth behind the O’Neal father and son combo.
Erb’s seventh career Lucas Oil victory came in a hotly contested race that saw three different leaders.
“Man, that was an exciting race. We were all slicing and dicing out there,” said Erb. “I have watched videos from this track and tried to emulate what some of the sprint car guys do here. We could get a great run off of turn two and a couple of times I had gotten by Huddy and then a caution would come out.
“Thanks to everyone at Best Performance for giving me this opportunity to race with them. It’s been a dream come true and hopefully we aren’t done winning the rest of the year.”
Owens, who won a week at ago at Knoxville, mostly used the low groove during Friday’s race to gain spots and take shot at Erb on the final lap.
“I swung the car out wide and I hoped to get a good bite off of (turn) four, but he [Erb] beat me to the finish line,” noted Owens. “That was a pretty good race with O’Neal and Erb. Once I got up there, I thought ‘here we go again, it’s going to be another close finish,’ and it was.”
Don O’Neal, who missed two and a half months during the summer recovering from knee surgery, earned a podium finish.
“It’s been a long-time since we’ve raced here,” the senior O’Neal said. “I am not sure what was happening with Hudson’s car … whether it was a motor or power steering, but I was able to get underneath him at the end.”
Tyler Erb, Jimmy Owens, Don O’Neal, Hudson O’Neal, Tim McCreadie, Stormy Scott, Billy Moyer Jr., Devin Moran, Bobby Pierce, Josh Richards, Earl Pearson Jr., Jay Morris, Jonathan Davenport, Chad White, Johnny Scott, Shanon Buckingham, Chris Madden, Frank Heckenast Jr., Steve Casebolt, Scott Bloomquist, Kyle Bronson, Devin Gilpin, Tanner English.