“I went into (turn) one on the first lap and I couldn’t see or hear Josh (Richards) no more, so I just figured the cushion would be good and I eased up, turned it sideways because it was kind of slimy and A.J. just blew right on by me,” said McCreadie. “I thought, Oh man. So I just settled in and I was trying to run easy, but it’s hard to run easy here. Then Don O’Neal passed me (for second on lap 12) and that was it for me. I just got up and ran as hard as I could until it was over with.
“We had that one restart (on lap 42) and I stayed with (Diemel),” he continued. “I couldn’t stay with him before, but I stayed with him and I thought, Oh man, we might have a chance. I kept nosing beside him a little bit on the outside of (turns) three and four, but before he broke I lost a little bit of ground. I thought, Maybe we can hang on to second. That’s really kind of what I was hoping for. Then (Diemel) just had bad luck.
“I don’t think or know for sure if we could’ve passed him. I’m not gonna pretend or say I was taking it easy (while in second place), because I was running as hard as I could. I hate it for him because he is a real good guy. I’ve been around him a little bit and he’s first-class. His day will come, that’s for sure.”
With his right planted firmly to the floor once in command, McCreadie kept O’Neal at bay for the remainder of the distance. The former DIRTcar Northeast Big-Block Modified regular never let O’Neal get closer than a few car lengths.
“The closer it got to the end, the harder we ran,” said O’Neal, who started eighth. “At one point there when I started going into (turn) three real hard and sliding up to the top of four, I thought, Well, maybe I found something. We closed the gap there a little bit (on McCreadie), but then that sort of went away and I had to fend off the 29 car (Lanigan) from then on.”
O’Neal, whose best finish in four previous USA Nationals A-Main starts was 13th in 2012, remained winless for his career in WoO LMS competition.
“I keep getting that $500 (WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ for being the highest-finishing non-regular who hasn’t won a tour event), but I’d like to get a win,” said O’Neal. “We’ll go to (Iowa’s) Independence (Motor Speedway on Mon., Aug. 5) and see if maybe we can’t pull one off.”
Lanigan ducked underneath O’Neal often during the race’s second half, but the reigning WoO LMS champion wasn’t quite able to complete a pass.
“We just needed him to mess up one time so we could clear him,” Lanigan said of O’Neal. “He kept coming back on me and I really didn’t have the lane to get up on him.
“I would’ve liked to get to (heavier) lapped traffic because I was better on the bottom than them guys (McCreadie and O’Neal). They were kind of married to the top, so I think if I could’ve raced with them in lapped traffic it would’ve been interesting.”
McCreadie slickly handled all the slower cars he had to deal with in the closing circuits, keeping him on top and preserving the party at his trailer that he had promised fans the previous night if he were to win the race. Not surprisingly, after McCreadie’s post-race picture-taking ceremonies were completed, he was greeted in the pits by a huge throng of well-wishers.
“I pulled in and it was just as loud as when I was in victory lane,” said McCreadie, whose best finish in seven previous USA Nationals starts was third in 2009. “These fans up here are amazing, that’s for sure.”
Tim McCreadie, Don O’Neal, Darrell Lanigan, Josh Richards, Brandon Sheppard, Chad Simpson, Rick Eckert, Jimmy Owens, Billy Moyer, Bobby Pierce, Eric Wells, Brady Smith, Donnie Moran, Kent Robinson, Shane Clanton, Gregg Satterlee, Jason Feger, Dillon Wood, Tim Fuller, Shannon Babb, Scott Bloomquist, Chub Frank, A.J. Diemel, Chris Simpson, Morgan Bagley, Jonathan Davenport, Dale McDowell, Bub McCool.