By CAREY FOXTimes Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE — The last month of June has been one to remember for Martinsville, Ind. native, Don O’Neal.
“The Real Deal” has earned his moniker over the last week by winning three of his four starts during the DIRTcar Summernationals. O’Neal came in with wins on Friday at Farmer City Raceway in Illinois followed by a victory on Sunday at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. On Monday evening, O’Neal showed the field the way to the finish line once again despite a heated challenge over the final 10 laps from Shannon Babb.
“I want to say I really appreciate everyone coming out,”O’Neal said after his third win in four Summer Nationals dates. “It’s nice to be able to go home and sleep in my own bed tonight.”
While such a high rate of success this week might tempt some drivers to continue the tour, O’Neal had a more pressing date to uphold when asked if he would follow the Summer Nationals to Michigan last night and then back to the Midwest for dates in Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky leading up to the weekend.
“No, I’ve got a boy that’s got a birthday coming up and we’re going to go to a theme park and I’ve got to be in West Virginia on Thursday night for a Lucas Oil race.
O’Neal lead all 40 laps in the feature, but lapped traffic held up his march to the win long enough for Babb to make a serious run over the final laps. A night after he ran the middle groove to perfection and a $5,000 win at Tri-State, O’Neal hammered the cushion for the quickest line while holding the competition at bay. Jason Feger figured into the mix late too as the 2009 DIRTcar Late Model National champion seemed to get better as the race went on. Jeep Van Wormer settled in for fourth ahead of three-time defending Summer Nationals champion, Dennis Erb Jr.
Babb maintains his 2010 points lead with 854 and added an eighth top-five finish in 13 feature appearances during “The Hell Tour.” He leads Erb Jr. by 25 points with Feger in third and Van Wormer in fourth.
The UMP Modifieds never disappoint in providing a hair-raising thrill ride of a feature each week and Monday’s main event will be hard to top.
Kenny Wallace was on hand with his modified, adding just one more top driver to the mix for the winner’s share of $800 and with UMP National Points leader, Devin Gilpin, on hand, the competition was assured of being stout.
The fans weren’t disappointed.
Gilpin and Wallace put on a side-by-side war on the bottom over the final laps as Paul Bumgardner blasted around the high groove much to the delight of the home town fans. Gilpin lead the entire race though Wallace advanced into the battle, showing his nose underneath Gilpin over the final laps.
Meanwhile, Bumgardner stayed up top and had the straightaway power to pull alongside Wallace down the backstretch with one lap remaining. He caught a huge bit coming off the fourth turn and pulled even with Gilpin down the frontstretch as Wallace looked for an opening on the extreme bottom as the group took the white flag.
Coming out of turn two, a blanket could have been thrown over all three cars and Bumgardner made a huge run off the cushion in turn two and he and Gilpin briefly brushed quarter panels. Both drivers stayed on the gas, door-to-door into turn three, but Bumgardner blasted off the cushion in turn four and outgunned the pair to the finish line. Wallace barely edged Gilpin off the bottom in turn four to take the runner-up spot in a wild race that had even the typically stoic Bumgardner pretty pumped up after the race.
Afterwards he dedicated the win to his mother, Thelma, who was in attendance and had just been released from the hospital that day.
Rusty Griffaw placed fourth ahead of Craig Conyer, Bradley Sterrett, Josh Boller, Gabe Menser, Brad Robinson and Chris Brewer in the top-10.
In the UMP Super Stock feature, Steve Peeden was able to hold off Brad Cummings in another door-to-door thriller for the fans. Peeden powered his Townsend Transmission, Drapalik Surveying & Engineering, Davis Automotive, Paragon Liquor Store, Indiana Dirt Scoops.net sponsored machine into victory lane after he and Cummings fought to the wire for the victory.
Bumgardner wasn’t far behind the two, finishing third in the main event with early leader, Bretty Smedley taking fourth ahead of Kenny Carmichael Sr.
The final race of the night had a familiar winner as Dustin Shoulders narrowly held off Lloyd Walls and Kenny Carmichael Jr. down the stretch for the win. C.J. Bryan held down fourth-place followed by Ron Wallen Sr., Jared Litton, Gordon Parsons Jr., Kevin Kemp, Larry Shelley Jr. and Josh Presley.
On Saturday, Lincoln Park Speedway will celebrate Independence Day with the annual Fireworks Spectacular on Saturday with sprints, UMP Modifieds, UMP Super Stocks and bombers on the card.
DIRTcar Summer Nationals
“The Hell Tour” at Lincoln Park Speedway A-Main 40-Laps:
(1) Don O’Neal, (2) Shannon Babb, (3) Jason Feger, (4) Jeep Van Wormer,
Dennis Erb Jr., (6) Billy Moyer Jr., (7) Steve Casebolt, (8)
Melvin, (9) Jack Sullivan, (10) Brandon Sheppard, (11) Richie
Hedrick, (12) Donny Walden, (13) Chad Stapleton, (14) Marty Cooper, (15)
Brandon Thirlby, (16) Kenny Carmichael, (17) Jim Moon, (18) Ryan Unzicker,
(19) Rusty Schlenk,(20) Jason McBride, (21) Dillan White.
Consolation race:Jack Sullivan, Jason McBride, Jim Moon, Marty O’Neal, Rusty Schlenk, Brandon Thirlby, Kenny Carmichael, Scott Schmitt, Josh Scott, Mitchell Lankford. Scratched: Jon Dome
First heat:Jeep Van Wormer, Shannon Babb, Dillan White, Billy Moyer Jr., Marty Cooper, Jason McBride, Jim Moon, Rusty Schlenk, Bob Robinson.
Second heat:Steve Casebolt, Jason Feger, Ryan Unzicker, Dennis Erb Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Jack Sullivan, Scott Schmitt, Brandon Thirlby, Josh Scott.
Third heat:Don O’Neal, Rodney Melvin, Richie Hedrick, Chad Stapleton, Donny Walden, Marty O’Neal, Kenny Carmichael, Mitchell Lankford. Scratched: Jon Dome.
UMP Modified feature
1. Paul Bumgardner, 2. Kenny Wallace, 3. Devin Gilpin, 4. Rusty
Griffaw, 5. Craig Conyer, 6. Bradley Sterrett, 7. Josh Boller, 8. Gabe
Menser, 9. Brad Robinson, 10. Chris Brewer, 11. David Baldwin, 12. Clint
DeMoss, 13.Derrick Hufford, 14. Jared Bailey, 15. Phil VanSant, 16. Dan
Lewellen, 17. Brad Barrow, 18. John DeMoss, 19. Carlos Bumgardner,
20. Travis Shoulders
UMP Super Stock feature
1. Steve Peeden, 2. Brad Cummings, 3. Paul Bumgardner, 4. Brett
Smedley, 5. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 6. Doug McCullough, 7. Kenny Carmichael
Jr., 8. Travis Heramb, 9. Jamie Adams, 10. Kris Starks, 11. Slick
12.Brandon Engler, 13. Chris Hillman
1. Dustin Shoulders, 2. Lloyd Walls, 3. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 4.
C.J. Bryan, 5. Ron Wallen Jr., 6. Jared Litton, 7. Gordon Parsons,
8. Kevin Kemp, 9. Larry Shelley Jr., 10. Josh Presley, 11. Kenny Treash,
12. Jake Hodge, 13. Blake Cross, 14. Richard Watkins, 15. Billy Tarrh,
16. David Wallen, 17.Scott Bennett, 18. Gerald Bennett Jr., 19. Sean Yakel, 20. Frank Cotto