The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series headed to the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Motor Speedway on Saturday night for the 33rd annual Pittsburgher 100. After coming back from having to come out of a B-main then a mid-race pit stop in which his crew made a pivotal adjustment, it would be Hudson O’Neal who claimed the victory at the track located in Imperial, PA. The Rocket Chassis driver from Martinsville, Indiana earned $20,000 for his efforts in a race shown live by MavTV Plus.
A total of 34 cars were signed in for competition.
Tim McCreadie paced Group A qualifying with a lap of 18.324 seconds around the half-mile clay oval to better the efforts of Jonathan Davenport, Michael Norris, Stormy Scott and Jacob Hawkins.
Earl Pearson Jr. posted the fastest time in Group B time-trials with a mark of 18.683 seconds to top Tyler Erb, Gregg Satterlee, Shane Clanton and Kyle Bronson.
Tim McCreadie took the first heat race of the evening over Michael Norris, Jared Hawkins and Spencer Hughes then Jonathan Davenport outran Stormy Scott, Chris Ferguson and Ricky Thornton Jr. in the second preliminary.
Earl Pearson Jr. claimed the third heat ahead of Jimmy Owens, Gregg Satterlee and Kyle Bronson just before Tyler Erb bested Devin Moran, Shane Clanton and Jared Miley in the fourth and final heat.
Hudson O’Neal and Mason Zeigler won the two B-main races used to set the remainder of the starting lineup.
At the start of the 100-lap feature it would be Pearson who would go to the early lead with McCreadie, Erb, Davenport and Owens in his tire tracks. Owens moved by Erb for fourth on lap 5 as Pearson began to slip away from the pack.
Michael Norris slowed on lap 8 to bring out the first caution of the night. Davenport used the restart to jump into second while Owens looked to move forward as well. The No. 20 machine eventually would get by McCreadie to seize the third spot on lap 10.
Another yellow flag for the slowing car of Satterlee on lap 11. When green flag racing resumed, Moran bolted into the top-5 then looked to wrest fourth away from McCreadie but the No. 39 car would hold the spot. Further ahead, Pearson again looked to separate himself from his pursuers.
There was a lull in the action at the quarter mark as the top-5 of Pearson, Davenport, Owens, McCreadie and Moran appeared to be in tire conservation mode as they clicked off laps. However, Davenport and Owens closed in on the leader at lap 30.
Owens briefly passed by Davenport for second but Davenport’s crossover move regained him the runner-up position on lap 42.
A caution for a planned refueling stop on the big half-mile track came on lap 50 with Pearson leading Davenport, Owens, McCreadie, Moran, Scott, Erb, Bronson, Hughes and Thornton making up the top-10.
Soon after the fuel stop, Moran moved up a spot when he took fourth away from McCreadie. However, O’Neal slowed on lap 54 to bring out a yellow flag. Some drivers and teams then took advantage of the caution period to come to the hot pit for a tire change.
McCreadie regained fourth from Moran on the lap 54 restart. The current series points leader the took third away from Owens on lap 56. O’Neal began to take advantage of a shock adjustment his crew employed under the previous caution as he charged from the tail into the top-5 by lap 61.
Pearson’s domination continued as he put some distance between himself and Davenport with 35 laps remaining. Meanwhile, O’Neal and Moran continued to fight for fifth as they ran side-by-side for multiple laps. O’Neal then broke free from that battle and took fourth from Owens on lap 71 just before a caution came out for Owens as the No. 20 car suffered a flat tire.
McCreadie moved to second on the lap 72 restart pushing Davenport back to third. Soon thereafter, O’Neal took third away from Davenport. The No. 71 then moved to second place as he passed McCreadie on lap 78.
A caution flag was displayed on lap 79 when the door gate on the fence just under the flag stand swung open.
As the laps began to add up on the scoreboard, Pearson, O’Neal and McCreadie ran in close formation with Clanton flying into the top-5 with a fresh right rear tire. O’Neal’s persistence paid off with seven laps remaining as he went to the inside and grabbed the race lead.
The No. 71 machine then began to pull away from the race-long leader and ultimately drove under the checkered flag to claim the win. His father, Don O’Neal, had previously won the Pittsburgher 100 twice.
Feature Finish: 1. Hudson O’Neal, 2. Earl Pearson Jr., 3. Tim McCreadie, 4. Spencer Hughes, 5. Shane Clanton, 6. Devin Moran, 7. Tyler Erb, 8. Jonathan Davenport, 9. Jimmy Owens, 10. Kyle Bronson, 11. Chris Ferguson, 12. Ricky Thornton Jr., 13. Stormy Scott, 14. Josh Richards, 15. Kyle Lukon, 16. Jacob Hawkins, 17. Jared Miley, 18. Matt Cosner, 19. Logan Zarin, 20. Mason Zeigler, 21. Gregg Satterlee, 22. Trever Feathers, 23. Alex Feree, 24. Michael Norris