Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Mike Marlar drove away from Jonathan Davenport on a restart with three laps to go to win the season opener for the Flo Racing Night in America at Eldora Speedway in Ohio Tuesday (April 18).
Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment(s): Marlar’s win, however, came thanks to heartbreak for Hudson O’Neal, who cut a tire down while leading the feature and driving away from the field.
Prior to the tire going down, O’Neal literally stole the show at Eldora, storming from to erase a multi-second lead in the blink of an eye, blasting by Marlar in a race where no other car in the field ever remotely challenged the No. 157.
What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning
So which late model team will be the first to first to migrate back to Rocket Chassis for 2024? It was shocking to hear, as the DirtonDirt crew said prior to Tuesday’s feature, that only two Rocket cars made the field, but O’Neal was in another zip code at Eldora. O’Neal has made it abundantly clear that Mark Richards and his Rocket outfit are still capable of putting, well, rockets on a dirt track.
And on that note, before getting into some surprising shortfalls in Tuesday’s season opener for Flo Racing’s flagship property, is there anything that long green-flag runs won’t cure on a racetrack? O’Neal’s pursuit of Marlar was masterclass and even with Marlar dominant up front, there was no shortage of racing through the top 10 this Tuesday night. Two cautions in a 50-lap feature? Yes please.
If there’s a late model race at an empty Eldora, does it make a sound? Take the dates off the screen and one would be forgiven for thinking Tuesday’s program was a 2020 COVID replay. Here’s hoping the track wasn’t relying on a big gate to break even on this one.
I don’t think I can remember a Flo Racing Night in America program that felt flatter or slower than Tuesday’s program at Eldora. Having two support classes for a weeknight program with over 50 late models entered was complete overkill and sapped tons of momentum from the headliner class. Between hot laps and qualifying, heat races didn’t start until well after 8 p.m. local time. That’s absurdly late for a weeknight program with over 120 cars in the pits.
Compare and contrast Tuesday’s program to either the Kyle Larson Late Model Challenge at Volunteer two weeks ago or the XR Workin’ Man event that also ran at Volunteer last Tuesday for an example of just how efficient a weekday late model program can run.
Speaking of Kyle Larson racing properties, Tuesday’s late model program at Eldora brought back unpleasant memories of last Tuesday’s High Limit Racing Series debacle of a broadcast at Lakeside. Namely, that Flo Racing’s Roku app crashed in the middle of competition for the second straight major event on the streaming service. Flo’s service is still a gem for dirt race fans, but I’ve had more quality issues with the service in the last two weeks than I had in my first two years as a subscriber.
And one more note on Larson, who finished at the back of the top 10 in the late model race and never contended for the win. Tuesday night marked his debut in a dirt modified, where he won his first career heat race and feature in commanding style, going from sixth to first in six laps and never being challenged again. For those keeping score, Larson has now won features at Eldora in seven types of racecar (winged and non-wing sprint, midget, Silver Crown, late model, NASCAR truck and modified).
Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day
Marlar was dominant on the stat sheet but the second-best car in Tuesday’s field, so we’re going to shutout to Tanner English, the hard charger of Tuesday’s late model feature. Going 17th to third and besting both Davenport and Brandon Sheppard in the closing laps at Eldora is a job well done.
Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night
O’Neal. He was lightyears faster than any car in the field Tuesday and a flat tire was literally the only was he was defeated. Look out for the blue Rocket when the late model ranks return to Eldora for the Dream this summer.
Number of dirt tracks that ran an oval track program in the U.S. Tuesday night (Eldora).
The nation’s top car count Tuesday night, the Flo Racing Night in America program at Eldora
The nation’s top purse Tuesday night, paid to the the late model winner at Eldora (Marlar)
Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Thursday morning (April 19) with continued coverage of the Flo Racing Night in America tour at Brownstown Speedway in Indiana
About the author
Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.