O’Neal Collects Conococheague 50

Don O'Neal (71) charges under Steve Francis at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway during Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action in 2012. (Julia Johnson photo)
Don O'Neal (71) charges under Steve Francis en route to his 10th Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series victory of the season Saturday night at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway. (Julia Johnson photo)

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Don O’Neal earned the victory in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series 31st annual Conococheague 50 Saturday night at Hagerstown Speedway.

O’Neal withstood a furious rally by Steve Francis to take the $10,000 victory; his 10th series win of the year. Francis finished second followed by 12th-starting Jimmy Owens, 18th starter Tyler Reddick and Scott Bloomquist.

O’Neal, whose night started off on the wrong foot as he developed water pump problems in his main ride, had to bring out his back-up car in which he qualified third fastest in group A. O’Neal then finished second in his heat, earning the inside of the third row starting position for the feature event.

Francis, the pole sitter, led the first five laps of the race until O’Neal zipped past him on lap six for the lead. O’Neal pulled away from Francis as the two drivers opened up a several car length advantage over the rest of the field. Francis started to make a late-race charge as he went to the top side of the track, chasing down O’Neal, who kept his car on the bottom side of the track.

O’Neal and Francis then put on a show over the last ten laps of the race. O’Neal and Francis exchanged the lead at least a half-dozen times with Francis officially leading 8 laps. O’Neal regained the lead for good on lap 46 and pulled away from O’Neal and went on to become the seventh different winner in the seven Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events at Hagerstown.

“I have to thank the crew, they did a tremendous job getting the back-up car ready after hot laps. I hadn’t run that car much since the Icebreaker at Brownstown back in March. We had to change a lot on the car, and it was fast all night, we took off real good and I knew when I got past Scott (Bloomquist) there early we would have a good car. I had to move up on the track there at the end, because he (Francis) was fast on the outside,” said O’Neal.

The finish:

Don O’Neal, Steve Francis, Jimmy Owens, Tyler Reddick, Scott Bloomquist, Gary Stuhler, Eric Wells, John Blankenship, Gregg Satterlee, Jerry Bard, Rick Eckert, Jonathan Davenport, Daniel Stone, Jared Landers, Austin Hubbard, Earl Pearson Jr., Jason Covert, Marvin Winters, Steve Shaver, Jamie Lathroum, Brandon Sheppard, Jeremy Miller, Ronnie DeHaven Jr., Alan Sagi.


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