Rainy weather causing racing drought

Hudson O’Neal left Florida on a roll but hasn’t raced since

Odd as it may sound, recent rains and other weather conditions experienced around the country over the past few weeks have brought on a drought. Not a drought in the sense of weather conditions that would impact crops and water tables, but rather, a drought of the racing kind. Significant dirt racing events have been few and far between over the past several weekends as series and tracks have been forced to cancel or postpone a number of races because of adverse conditions.

As a result, some drivers and teams have not been on track for a month or more since leaving Florida following SpeedWeeks. This could be both good and bad.

For those who came out of the ‘Sunshine State’ on a good roll such as Hudson O’Neal and the Rocket Chassis house car team. The No. 1 machine ended SpeedWeeks red hot winning four features and ending eight of their last nine nights on the podium. However, the ‘New Deal’ and his crew have not had an opportunity to capitalize on that momentum having not raced since February 18th.

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, where O’Neal plans to do most of his racing in 2023, has not sanctioned a race since February 10th at Florida’s East Bay Raceway Park. That national touring series was scheduled to contest a pair of events this past weekend at Atomic Speedway in Alma, Ohio and Brownstown(IN) Speedway. However, both of those shows fell victim to unfavorable conditions.

The LOLMDS is not scheduled to be back on track again until April 21st and 22nd in Illinois at Tri-City Speedway and Macon Speedway. By that time, it will have been more than two full months since their last race.

At the same time, the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series isn’t having any better luck. So far, that tour has completed five of the six contests they had scheduled(all at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park). Since their last race there on February 18th the series has experienced two weekends worth of action at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN and Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, GA wiped away by weather.

Their next races on the slate are a pair of shows in Illinois at Farmer City Raceway on March 31st and April 1st. It will be their first time rolling through a pit gate in six weeks.

What were those teams who travel with either of those two series supposed to have done in the absence of their chosen tour?

Whether regulars with the WoO Late Models or not, many would have likely competed in those events at Smoky Mountain and Boyd”s. And almost certainly, most of the sport’s biggest stars would have made their way to Bulls Gap, TN and the Volunteer Speedway this coming weekend for the $100,000-to-win XR Super Series event. Unfortunately, those races too have fallen victim to adverse weather conditions.

The XR shows at Volunteer has been rescheduled for April 14th and 15th.

There have been a limited few to dodge the ill-intentioned Mother Nature during there late winter and early spring weeks. For example, Chris Ferguson scored a $20,000 victory in the Southern All-Stars-sanctioned March Madness affair at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC and Cory Hedgecock picked up $15,000 for his win in a Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals show at 411 Motor Speedway.

While these postponed and cancelled races may have been frustrating to some, others may have welcomed the reprieve. Not everyone got off to a great start to the year as was the case for O’Neal.

Those who suffered mechanical failures or damaged sheet metal in Georgia and Florida have had time to rebuild and regroup. Perhaps some have had more carefully considered their plans for the upcoming campaign after studying the results they have already compiled. Decisions to run a series or to drop off one may have been made during the hiatus from racing.

Whether a team needed this time off or not, these race-less weekends will be forgotten when the dog days of summer and the meat of the racing schedule set in.

For now, however, this racing drought has proven to be an unfortunate situation for those who love and follow the sport.

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