Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Hudson O’Neal, Kyle Larson Score 5-Figure Paydays at Atomic

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Hudson O’Neal got past Jonathan Davenport shortly past the halfway point and held off Brandon Overton in the closing laps to win the Buckeye Spring 50 at Atomic Speedway in Ohio Thursday night (May 4), marking his third consecutive win in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series competition dating back to Florida Speedweeks.

O’Neal’s victory also carried points ramifications with it, as current series leader Ricky Thornton Jr. spun early in the feature after contact racing with Mike Marlar. O’Neal now leads the series heading to Ponderosa Speedway Friday.


Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: Jake Timm tangled with a lapped car on the white-flag lap of the first World of Outlaws late model feature at Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Wisconsin, all but handing the race win to Brandon Sheppard on the ensuing restart.

The incident fell squarely on Timm’s shoulders, as he drove into the lapped car after sustained pressure from Sheppard on the preceding lap.

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

Yes, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series is still a thing. For those keeping track Thursday’s race was the first race the series has contested in more than two months. 

For as long as it’s been since the LOLMDS contested a race, a surprisingly longer streak was snapped Thursday night when Kyle Larson bested defending All-Star Circuit of Champions titlist Tyler Courtney to win his first sprint car race in 238 days. I had to actually check The Third Turn to confirm that when I saw it.

Scheduled tweet. Tyler Erb hates the droop rule. For the record, the Texas driver failed the droop check after winning the second late model heat race at Atomic and had to win a B-main to transfer into Thursday’s feature (he finished sixth).

Pretty much everyone associated with Flo Racing was gushing over the double ticket at Atomic Thursday that saw both the Lucas Oil late models and the All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars on the same evening. And predictably, a race that had two national touring series on the ticket (and stacked fields for both at that) resulted in a large crowd.

The question that I would ask is whether the double ticket is a benefit to either of the touring series. Lucas Oil shows draw pretty much everywhere they go. 410 sprint cars draw pretty much everywhere in Ohio. And given just how many rainouts Atomic has already endured in 2023, a field of junk cars may well have packed the place this Thursday. It certainly made for an attractive stream for Flo Racing, I just hope Atomic turns a healthy profit on it.

Flo Racing’s Dirt documentary series finally resurfaced, only not on the streaming site. Rather, the series is now slated to air on FOX Sports 1 on May 16.

For those that didn’t catch the first episode after Flo’s Wild West Shootout coverage back in January, the documentary is essentially a dirt racing version of Netflix’s Formula 1 program Drive to Survive, with the first episode focusing on Larson, Justin Grant and others tackling the Chili Bowl Nationals. The production values are excellent, but the show at times felt a bit too close to Madhouse territory, trying to hint at rivalries between drivers rather than letting the events themselves tell the story. Either way, dirt racing is about to get some real visibility.

The High Limit Racing Series ultimately saw their scheduled race this week at Kokomo Speedway delayed until August thanks to rain-saturated grounds, but that didn’t keep the tour out of the headlines, with Larson defying sprint car traditionalists from coast-to-coast with advocacy for finding a way to put starters on the cars that have been push-started for their entire existence.

I’ve written about this more than once, but Larson’s words as a promoter have to carry some weight here. Despite being pretty much a sprint car copy of Flo Racing’s Night in America late model tour with comparable car counts, both High Limit races contested in 2023 have been lengthy programs, with headline features running till past 11 p.m. ET, far later than many of their counterpart late model programs. That may fly in sprint car country, but if the sport ever intends to grow past its current hotbeds that will have to be addressed.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

This one’s going to the winner of hard charger honors in the Buckeye Spring 50, Max Blair. The Pennsylvanian, who’s taken over as Boom Briggs’s teammate in 2023, will compete to be the LOLMDS Rookie of the Year and as such has led Briggs’s longtime WoO operation to LOLMDS competition. Blair made that transition pay off Thursday night, going from 22nd to eighth in his first race as a LOLMDS regular.

Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night

Timm’s misfortune in the first WoO late model race at Mississippi Thunder has already been documented, so this dubious honor instead goes to Brent Larson, who also found trouble while leading Thursday night. Battling for the lead with Cade Dillard in the second late model feature on the evening, Larson certainly appeared to cut across Dillard’s nose without being clear on the backstretch, slapping the backstretch wall as a result.

Dillard addressed the incident from victory lane after winning the second feature.

Brent Larson finished 20th of 21 starters.

Numbers Game


Number of dirt tracks that contested an oval track racing program in the U.S. Thursday night.


The nation’s largest car count Thursday night, at Atomic.


The nation’s largest purse Thursday night, paid to the winner of the Atomic Spring 50 (O’Neal)

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Monday morning (May 8) with coverage of the weekend in dirt, highlighted by the World of Outlaws late models Dairyland Showdown at Mississippi Thunder. Coverage can be found on DirtVision.

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.

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Roxy D

Sprint cars SHOULD be push start cars. The direct drive with no clutch, flywheel or throw out bearings contribute to their extreme performance. Push starting is just part of the sprint car experience. It is up to the track and promoters to provide enough push trucks.