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Hudson O’Neal Stops Illini at Lincoln Amid Multiple Closures

Hudson O'Neal

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Hudson O’Neal got past Tyler Erb early and drove away from the field to score a comfortable Illinois Speedweek win at Lincoln Speedway Thursday night (May 11).

O’Neal’s two-second lead did evaporate in the closing laps thanks to a persistent pursuit by Brandon Sheppard, but a treacherous cushion would derail Sheppard’s momentum inside of 10 to go. O’Neal’s win was sealed with a one-lap run to the checkers after Ricky Thornton Jr. brought out the yellow on the white-flag lap.

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: Ashton Winger capped the most exciting heat race of the evening with a slider display that would have made the local White Castle blush.

Not only was Winger’s heat race win a sneak preview of just how racy the black dirt of Lincoln was Thursday night, it set the stage for one of the most memorable interviews dirt racing has seen in 2023 (more on that later).

What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

I’m sure there’s more to it than this, but I’d be willing to spend serious coin to help racetracks all across the country truck Midwestern black dirt to spread on their respective surfaces. The volume of side-by-side racing the first two nights of Illinois Speedweek have seen has been top-notch.

The continual side-by-side racing hasn’t been the only highlight of the Speedweek … the competition level also been ridiculous. It was crazy enough that powerhouse Brandon Overton missed the field at Spoon River last night, but to see Wednesday’s race winner (and defending Lincoln victor) Dennis Erb Jr. miss the field this evening put an exclamation point on just how deep the late model fields have been for the fledgling Flo Racing tour. And the lack of provisionals made the preliminary action at Lincoln all the more exciting.

Kyle Larson was nowhere to be found Thursday (Tim McCreadie scored a fifth-place finish in the Rumley late model) but he immediately made waves on social media soon after the checkers flew at Lincoln, calling for a ban on the signal sticks many super late model teams use to communicate with their drivers during green-flag racing.

I’ve written about this on numerous occasions, but it’s rare that I disagree with Larson so we’ll revisit the issue. Let’s say signal sticks are banned tomorrow. What’s to stop a team from sending hand signals using neon-colored gloves? From sending light signals using a…

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