Don O’Neal (right) congratulates his son, Hudson O’Neal, in victory lane at Eldora Speedway. (photo by Pablo Arco)
ROSSBURG, Ohio — Two drivers took their first step toward conquering “The World” Thursday night at Eldora Speedway.
After 107 cars entered the first night of the 52nd World 100, Jonathan Davenport and Hudson O’Neal stood their ground earning $12,000 in preliminary wins and gained valuable momentum into Saturday’s main event.
One night after finishing fourth in the Dirt Late Model Dream, Jonathan Davenport wasted no time returning to Eldora Speedway’s iconic victory lane.
Davenport edged out Jimmy Owens in the sixth round of Thursday’s Group A feature to claim the $12,000 prize on the first night of the 52nd World 100.
The four-time World 100 winner said his team made changes throughout the day, helping to get his car back into winning form.
“I think we’re one adjustment away from being perfect,” Davenport said. “We changed quite a few things today. We just couldn’t strike a good balance.
“I wish the race track was like this last night. We could have been back up here. It’s a phenomenal job, by my guys, Jason, Vinny and Tyler. We all put our heads together and constantly switch on this thing. We changed things on the car, and it messed up the balance a bit, and I think we got it back pretty good.”
Owens, a two-time World 100 winner, finished second after leading the first five laps of the race.
“I was talking to my guys about how we can be a little bit more stable in the corners,” Owens said. “I felt like we were good, but the 49 has been phenomenal all year. Another great year for those guys. Kudos to them.
“We have work to do, and maybe we can make some improvements for the big race.”
Hudson O’Neal had one goal in his World 100 preview role: get into clean air quickly.
O’Neal dominated the Group B show at Eldora to earn the $12,000 win.
“I got off to a really good start there, and I knew I just needed to get the lead there and get to the clean air as fast as I could,” O’Neal said. “First [Feature] it was warning free so I thought the second one would too.
“The air plays a very important factor here. I swear it felt like I slowed down for two seconds when I hit traffic.”
Clanton crossed the line in second place after winning a heat race earlier in the night.
“Our car was good, we had a good starting point and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow,” Clanton said. “This Capital Race Car is pretty good right now. Hopefully, we can continue like this.”
Chris Ferguson completed the podium one night after making an early start in the Dirt Late Model Dream.
Ferguson switched to a backup car and said he was delighted with how well the car performed.
“I just want to give a special thanks to my team for all the hard work,” Ferguson said. “The car was really good. I could hang out with Shane and Hudson, but I couldn’t get the boost we needed.
“I’m ticklish; This is the first time I have raced this car here since 2018.”
Tim McCreadie finished fourth and Garrett Smith completed the top five.
Feature 1 (25 laps): 1.49-Jonathan Davenport; 2. 20-Jimmy Owens; 3. 76-Brandon Overton; 4. 44-Chris Madden; 5. 1st-Johnny Scott; 6. 1-Brandon Sheppard; 7. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr.; 8. 157-Mike Marlar; 9. 11H-Spencer Hughes; 10. 8-Kyle Strickler; 11. 1T-Tyler Erb; 12. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 13. 58-Garrett Albertson; 14. 23-John Blankenship; 15. 22S-Gregg Satterlee; 16. 88-Trent Ivey; 17. 42H-Tyler Carpenter; 18. 83F-Jensen Ford; 19. 25F-Jason Feger; 20. 5 Brand Bleach; 21. 31K-Kye Blight; 22. 21K-Dakota Knuckles; 23. 99-Marlar Shrimp; 24. 10-Joseph Carpenter
Feature 2 (25 laps): 1. 71-Hudson O’Neal; 2. 25-Shane Clanton; 3. 22-Chris Ferguson; 4. 39-Tim McCreadie; 5. 10S-Garrett Smith; 6. 9-Devin Moran; 7. 7-Ricky Weiss; 8. 32-Bobby Pierce; 9. 9Z-Mason Zeigler; 10. 19M-Wil Herrington; 11. 11R-Josh Rice; 12. 2S-Stormy Scott; 13. 46-Earl Pearson Jr.; 14. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 15. 18-Shannon Babb; 16. 97-Michael Chilton; 17. 17-Zack Dohm; 18. 16-Tyler Bruening; 19. 18C-Chase Junghans; 20. 21-Billy Moyer Sr.; 21. 23H-Cory Hedgecock; 22. 11K-Austin Kirkpatrick; 23. C9-Steve Casebolt; 24. 57-Zack Mitchell