The Lucas Oil late Model Dirt Series made its way to Florence Speedway on Saturday night to sanction one of Dirt Late Model racing’s crown jewel events with the running of the North-South 100. When all was said and done, Chris Madden left the Walton, KY facility $50,000 richer as the reward for his efforts. The win proved to be Madden’s second consecutive crown jewel triumph after he captured the USA Nationals at Wisconsin’s Cedar Lake Speedway one week ago.
As a result of the passing points system used to establish the first eight rows of the starting grid for the feature race, Jimmy Owens would start from the pole position with fellow Tennessean Scott Bloomquist sharing the front row. Bobby Pierce, Stormy Scott, Hudson O’Neal, Ricky Weiss, Jonathan Davenport, Kyle Bronson, Mike Marlar and Chris Madden rounded out the top-10 of the lineup for the main event.
Mike Bendum, Nick Hoffman and Brandon Overton won the three B-main races used to set the remainder of the grid fr the big show.
At the start of the 100-lap feature it was Owens who went to the early lead with Pierce, Bloomquist, Scott and O’Neal following in his tire tracks. Bloomquist moved into second on lap 2 while a Pierce boble also allowed O’Neal and Scott to sweep by Pierce for third and fourth respectively.
Owens slipped away from the pack during the early going while Pierce and Scott continued to fight for positions within the top-5. Further back, Madden began to move forward as he challenged Davenport sixth on lap 13.
By lap 15 O’Neal and Pierce had moved up to take on Bloomquist for the runner-up position. At the same time, Owens had built a lead of almost a straightaway over that battle. However, a lap 18 caution would bunch the field once again.
Pierce made a big move on the ensuing restart and surged all the way to the top spot on the scoreboard. Madden cracked the top-5 on lap 20 when he moved around Bloomquist on a track that was allowing drivers to race on two very distinctly different grooves.
Owens challenged Pierce for the race lead and eventually regained the top spot on lap 34. A caution again slowed the action four laps later.
During the race’s middle stages Owens set the pace while O’Neal and Pierce engaged in an intense fight for second. Pierce ran very high on the track often banging off the cushion and even tapping the outside wall while O’Neal ran as low as possible, often brushing against the inside berm.
Marlar emerged as a threat as the race approached its halfway point as he and O’Neal traded slide job passes while swapping the third position. At the same time, tires began to play a major role in the event during the race’s second half as drivers would report to the hot pit area during each caution period for service from their crews.
Madden picked off positions one-by-one until he found himself in second with less than 30 laps remaining. And on lap 76 the No. 0M Sweet-Bloomquist car surged to the lead when the Gray Court, SC driver passed by Owens.
Madden then controlled the race for the rest of the way leaving Owens and O’Neal fight over who would finish second.
It was not only Madden’s second crown jewel win in as many weeks but also the second such victory of his career.
Feature Finish: 1. Chris Madden, 2. Hudson O’Neal, 3. Jimmy Owens, 4. Devin Moran, 5. Zack Dohm, 6. Tim McCreadie, 7. Ricky Weiss, 8. Kyle Strickler, 9. Brandon Overton, 10. Scott Bloomquist, 11. Shanon Buckingham, 12. Nick Hoffman, 13. Stormy Scott, 14. Jonathan Davenport, 15. Devin Gilpin, 16. Kyle Bronson, 17. Michael Norris, 18. Tyler Erb, 19. Earl Pearson, Jr., 20. Josh Richards, 21. Trevor Landrum, 22. Bobby Pierce, 23. Mike Marlar, 24. Mike Benedum, 25. Billy Moyer, Jr., 26. Dale McDowell, 27. Zak Blackwood