Tyler Erb landed the Best Performance Motorsports ride during the off-season and has immediately paid dividends to the team for investing in him after that organization had parted ways with Josh Richards. On Saturday afternoon the Texas native scored a $12,000 victory in the season opener for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at Golden Isles Speedway. It was the third consecutive win at the Brunswick, GA track for Best Performance and their fourth triumph there in their last five attempts.
The race had originally been slated for Friday evening and much of the program was completed before the rain started to fall. However, track and series officials were forced to put off the second of two B-main races and the feature off until Saturday afternoon when it became obvious that Mother Nature would not relent.
Hudson O’Neal led the way in Group A qualifying and overall as he bested the GIS track record with a lap of 14.864 seconds to beat out Earl Pearson, Jr., Ryan King and Jimmy Owens in that group.
Brian Shirley led the way in Group B time-trials when he toured the speedway in 14.944 seconds to best the times posted by Tyler Erb, Josh Richards and Scott Bloomquist.
Hudson O’Neal earned the pole position for the feature by claiming the first heat race of the night by beating out Brandon Sheppard, Brandon Overton and Tim McCreadie while Pearson won the second preliminary of the evening ahead of Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens and Chase Junghans.
Josh Richards would start the feature from the outside of the front row by virtue of his win in the third heat over Devin Moran, Brian Shirley and Devin Gilpin just before Tyler Erb grabbed the checkered flag in the fourth and final heat race ahead of Chris Ferguson, Kyle Bronson and Scott Bloomquist.
Of note from the fourth was that Ferguson blew an engine right at the finish line. However, he would be able to start the feature in a Bloomquist backup car.
Jason Jameson and Shanon Buckingham won the two B-main races used to set the remainder of the starting lineup.
O’Neal bolted to the lead at the start of the 50-lap feature with Richard’s, Erb, Pearson and Moran in tow. Shirley made an early move forward as he passed by Moran to take fifth on the third circuit. Davenport soon followed suit as he swept by Moran to grab sixth on the next lap.
The race’s first caution flag waved on lap six when Ferguson slowed on the track and ultimately retired from the race.
But it would be on the the next restart at lap 12 when what would prove to be the deciding move of the race was made. As the cars roared into turn 1 just after the green flag waved Erb split between Richards and O’Neal to assume the top spot. One lap later Pearson took advantage of O’Neal as he wrested the third position away from the second generation driver.
Some of the race’s top contenders found trouble as the race neared its midway point. McCreadie spun to bring out a caution on lap 19. Just one lap after that incident contact between Davenport and Owen’s sent Owen’s bouncing off the turn 3 wall.
But the biggest mishap of the day came on the lap 20 restart when Shirley got crowd ed d into the backstretch wall which sent his car barrel rolling multiple times. The driver was reported to be in good condition following the crash.
From that point Erb asserted control of the race while the likes of Richards, Davenport a d Pearson battled for positions behind him.
Although Pearson closed the gap late, Erb sailed under the checkered flag to score the victory.
Feature Finish: 1. Tyler Erb, 2. Earl Pearson, Jr., 3. Jonathan Davenport, 4. Josh Richards, 5. Brandon Sheppard, 6. Don O’Neal, 7. Scott Bloomquist, 8. Devin Moran, 9. Chase Junghans, 10. Dennis Erb, Jr., 11. Kyle Bronson, 12. Tim McCreadie, 13. Jimmy Owens, 14. Brandon Overton, 15. Devin Gilpin, 16. Matt Cosner, 17. Jason Jameson, 18. Hudson O’Neal, 19. Brian Shirley, 20. Ryan King, 21. Shanon Buckingham, 22. Stormy Scott, 23. Chris Ferguson, 24. Gregg Satterlee
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