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O’Neal outruns Ross to win Thunderbird Speedway Ross Memorial

By John Rittenoure (Kelten Weaver photo)

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (June 28, 2024) - A break in the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series schedule allowed Hudson O’Neal to travel to Thunderbird Speedway for the first time on Friday and take part in the Hayden Ross Memorial event.

O’Neal became friends with the Ross family after selling them a race car in 2021 for Hayden to drive. Hayden lost his life in 2022 and in 2023 younger brother Eli Ross took over the ride. When the Ross family invited him to the Memorial race O’Neal felt he wanted to be there.

“I enjoy the Ross family and Eli is filling the shoes really good,” explained O’Neal. “We are proud to be a part of it. I hope we can stay part of the family for a long time.”

O’Neal felt right at home on the Thunderbird half-mile and raced to a $6,600 payday in the APEX Healthcare Partners Sooner Late Model Series sanctioned main event. And chasing him to the finish was 16-year old Eli Ross.

O’Neal started fourth in the 20-lap main event and quickly raced into a first lap lead with Ross giving chase.

“I thought the race track turned out to be really good,” O’Neal said of the Thunderbird Speedway surface. “It had a little bit of a cushion up there and you could get up against it and run it and when you had to get down the race track a little bit.”

O’Neal got out of the groove once midway through the race and then had to battle between two lapped cars in the closing laps.

“I had a little but of a scare there with some electrical issues, but it turned out to be ok,” O’Neal said. “I jumped the cushion one time in (turns) 1 and 2 and got a little bit tight. I got my right rear tire over it and something came up and hit the starter wire and knocked it off. With the electrical stuff going on it made it a little bit hairy, but we were able to hang on.”

Finishing behind O’Neal and Ross was BJ Robinson who drove from eighth to third. Kip Hughes came from 19th to finish fourth and defending Sooner Series champion Brett Hansen rounded out the top five.

Sooner Late Model Series Results

Thunderbird Speedway - Muskogee, Oklahoma

June 28, 2024

APEX Healthcare Partners A Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. 71-Hudson O'Neal[4]; 2. 66-Eli Ross[1]; 3. 1-BJ Robinson[8]; 4. 60-Kip Hughes[19]; 5. 7H-Brett Hansen[6]; 6. 55-Zach Nickell[9]; 7. 17-Jarret Stuckey[7]; 8. 31-Gary Lowe[21]; 9. 9M-Nik Morgan[14]; 10. H2-Chris Hewitt[22]; 11. 88S-Richard Shepler[13]; 12. 81-Troy Bynum[12]; 13. 36-Logan Martin[3]; 14. 14R-Jeff Roth[10]; 15. 229-Damian Patocka[11]; 16. 9XX-Dakota Dellinger[24]; 17. 49-Andy Bryant[18]; 18. 4X-Dalon Helm[16]; 19. 27X-Ron Brown[17]; 20. 7D-Dusty Leonard[5]; 21. 0-Kort Morgan[15]; 22. 9-Joseph Gorby[2]; 23. (DNS) 2B-Jordan Barbee; 24. (DNS) 36T-Kent Taylor

Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. 7D-Dusty Leonard[3]; 2. 36-Logan Martin[7]; 3. 17-Jarret Stuckey[4]; 4. 14R-Jeff Roth[8]; 5. 88S-Richard Shepler[6]; 6. 4X-Dalon Helm[2]; 7. 60-Kip Hughes[1]; 8. H2-Chris Hewitt[5]

Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. 71-Hudson O'Neal[4]; 2. 7H-Brett Hansen[3]; 3. 1-BJ Robinson[5]; 4. 229-Damian Patocka[1]; 5. 9M-Nik Morgan[2]; 6. 27X-Ron Brown[8]; 7. (DNF) 2B-Jordan Barbee[6]; 8. (DNS) 36T-Kent Taylor

Heat 3 (10 Laps): 1. 66-Eli Ross[5]; 2. 9-Joseph Gorby[6]; 3. 55-Zach Nickell[7]; 4. 81-Troy Bynum[2]; 5. 0-Kort Morgan[1]; 6. 49-Andy Bryant[4]; 7. 31-Gary Lowe[8]; 8. 9XX-Dakota Dellinger[3]

Lap Leaders: 1-20 Hudson O’Neal.

Margin of Victory: 3.900.

2024 Winners: 4/6 - Kip Hughes, Enid Speedway; 4/13 - Jon Herring, Jr., Beaver County Raceway; 5/11 - Joe Godsey, Caney Valley Speedway; 5/17 - Kip Hughes, Longdale Speedway; 5/18 - Eli Ross, Oklahoma Sports Park; 5/26 - Geoff Aitken, Crawford County Speedway; 6/8 - Brandon Conkwright, 81 Speedway; 6/28 - Hudson O’Neal, Thunderbird Speedway.

2024 Top 10: 1. Dalon Helm, 2960; 2. Zach Nichell, 2765; 3. Dakota Dillinger, 2760; 4.Eli Ross 2490; 5. Troy Bynum, 2025; 6. Steve Hewitt Sr., 1845; 7. Damian Patocka, 1500; 8. Kip Hughes, 1455 9. Jon Herring, Jr., 1335; 10. Ron Brown, 1260.

Sooner Late Model Series

The Sooner Late Model Series was formed in 2016 by Enid Speedway co-promoter Mark Brill. Brill felt there was not many opportunities for late model competitors to race in Oklahoma and the Sooner Late Model Series was formed. Now the series has grown beyond the borders of Oklahoma with events held in the neighboring states of Kansas, Texas and Arkansas.

APEX Healthcare Partners

Specializing in Multidisciplinary Care Across Specialties, at APEX Healthcare Partners, a team of skilled and experienced providers, therapists, and support staff work together to provide personalized and compassionate care for patients with spinal and neurological conditions in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas.

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