2024 Castrol FloRacing Night in America at Macon Speedway

Chaos And Calamity On Wild Castrol FloRacing Night At Macon Speedway

Chaos And Calamity On Wild Castrol FloRacing Night At Macon Speedway

Mighty Macon was mighty wild during Castrol FloRacing Night in America at Macon Speedway on Tuesday night.

May 29, 2024 by Todd Turner

Mighty Macon was mighty wild.

Tuesday's Castrol FloRacing Night in America opener at Macon (Ill.) Speedway included four multicar pileups, a lengthy cleanup for Brandon Sheppard's rollover accident, Tim McCreadie accidentally running into a stalled competitor under caution and Myles Moos seemingly calling it a night after one lap before climbing back in to finish fourth.

Oh, and lest we forget, there was $20,000 winner Ricky Thornton Jr.'s slide job that sent race-long leader Bobby Pierce spinning out of contention.

Thornton wasn't sure if he won "a race or a demolition derby." Runner-up Jason Feger called the track "pretty weird." Bobby Pierce described the fifth-mile oval as "rough and tumble." And Brandon Sheppard spoke for many drivers: "We got caught in the middle of some crap we didn't need to be in."

Somehow 11 drivers completed 50 laps in one of the wildest nights in the history of tiny Macon Speedway, a track where the action is always tight but rarely as frenetic and destructive as it was this night.

It took over half an hour to complete more than one lap starting with Garrett Smith's near-spin spoiling the first start — an incident that damaged the right-front corner of Thornton's machine when his No. 20RT nosed into Smith to likely prevent a worse catastrophe. Timmy Dick's turn-three spin triggered another multicar caution, then a red flag appeared after the next turn-three mess, the worst of the night when contact between Moos and Tyler Erb lit the match for calamity that ended up with Sheppard's car upside down atop Garrett Alberson's ride, the adjacent Brian Shirley No. 3s on its side and an array of competitors getting a piece of it.


HIGHLIGHTS: Castrol FloRacing Night in America at Macon Speedway

Sheppard's predicament meant he was hanging by his safety belts for several minutes while series and track workers — along with Alberson and Shirley, who suffered a small laceration above his left eye — struggled to get him out.

And still only one lap had been scored.

"This was the second night on this car and it sure was a good one," said New Berlin, Ill.'s Sheppard. "I'm sure it's probably fine, but hanging upside down is no fun, I can tell you that."

It's unlikely many drivers had fun, and certainly crew members watching Super Late Models continuously abused by contact and the rugged track conditions had to be wincing — or looking the other direction altogether.

In all, there were 13 slowdowns including two red flags. Alberson's car spent the better part of 30 minutes sitting in turn three between two separate incidents, yet somehow the Roberts Motorsports driver managed to finish seventh.

"The track was pretty weird tonight," said the pole-starting Feger of Bloomington, Ill., the lone driver who maintained a top-five position all the way. "The car's in one piece. I feel pretty lucky for that after there was a lot of carnage tonight. That's Macon: You never know what's gonna happen here. It's exciting. That's definitely the most stuff I've seen torn up here in a while.

"We just kept digging. You always gotta hold on here because you know there's gonna be some yellows and you don't know what's going to happen."

After it was all over, cars weren't the only thing hurt. Some feelings were bruised, too. Moos, who battled ignition woes, ended up angry with Tyler Erb. Thornton took a verbal shot at Garrett Smith in his victory lane interview. And Pierce made a cryptic reference to seeking revenge against Thornton after what turned out to be the most consequential contact in a night full of it.

Pierce had dominated the race from outside the front row, helping him avoid the destruction behind him. But when he slowed while trying to put a lap on Tyler Erb on the 37th lap, it opened the door for Thornton to take his best shot.

"Obviously, I didn't mean to get into Bobby there and turn him around," said Thornton, the Chandler, Ariz., driver who's leading the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. "I got a good run down the front straightaway and I thought for sure he'd see me under him and and (just) cross me over. But I think he was already too committed at that point. Obviously it sucks for him. You never wanna take the guy out of the win, especially Bobby."

The 50-lapper reminded Pierce of the Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals held inside The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Mo., the only track rivaling Macon in such small size regularly hosting Super Late Model events.

"I guess it messed me up when I was trying to lap Terbo," Pierce said of the 37th lap. "I got under that turn-three hole and I didn't really know it was that rough down there. I biked it up on two wheels and that really lost all my momentum after that.

"The next thing I know I went down the frontstretch and I saw (Thornton's) blue nose there and, you know, I mean, he's not one of the most fun drivers to race against right now. I would've liked a little more respect. But hey, it's Macon, and it happens. Like I said, just a racing deal. We'll have some more racing deals like that in the near future."

Despite the contact with Pierce and despite damage to his Longhorn tabbed Darlene — "she's still got some kick in her," he said — Thornton was able to cash the night's biggest check.

"I had to get up on the wheel a little bit tonight. I got a little mad there the first couple of laps," Thornton said. "This place is just so technical. I about flipped one time getting turn one. Spencer (Hughes) did about the same thing in turn three over there. It was tough."