Harry O’Neill Comes From Last To Score $1000 Win In Evergreen Raceway Enduro 150; Tony Hilliard Is Best On Roval

Harry O’Neill of Wapwallopen is well-known for his signature No. 126 which has been the trademark car number that has carried him to many a victory. However, there may be some consideration to that of 34 and for good reason.

At Saturday afternoon’s Gut-N-Go Enduro 150 at Evergreen Raceway presented by the Wire Guys of Hazle Township, O’Neill came from 34th and last, took the lead for the first time by lap 34, then held off a very determined TJ Kapish en route to a big $1000 payday. Oh, and one more thing, he started out the day with 34 career Evergreen wins.

The race was a distance of 150 laps and notwithstanding the stout field of cars, it came down to two drivers who battled back and forth as O’Neill and Kapish would take their fight right down to the finish. The race would see 10 lead changes between four drivers but in reality it was all about O’Neill and Kapish.

At the outset Mackenzie Adams jumped into the early lead before Mark Spencer assumed the top spot on lap seven.

Incredibly, O’Neill was already in the top-10 by this time and within the next 10 trips around the 1/3-mile oval he was shown third. Five laps later he was now runner-up and making the best of lapped traffic. He set-up his bid for the lead by getting inside of Spencer while navigating his way by slower traffic on lap 33. By the time the lap was completed, the lead was his.

At the same time Kapish – the Enduro winner here last month – was also on the charge as he too was picking off cars and heading towards the front in haste, making his way up to O’Neill by lap 51.

On laps 62 and 63 the race was halted for a safety concern and with Kapish stopped right alongside O’Neill. Once back underway Kapish used the restart to get ahead but it would be short lived as one lap later O’Neill was back in control.

Still, Kapish kept glued to O’Neill and at the 70 lap mark he once more moved to the lead but again it was not a long stay as O’Neill was returning the favor just three tours afterwards.

The red flag was displayed once more on lap 79 and just as he did prior, Kapish used the ensuing restart to get by O’Neill, yet just as before, it was a quick stint as they exchanged spots the next time around.

From this point O’Neill was slowly extending his lead, keeping Kapish a few cars lengths back. However, when things appeared to be well in hand, Kapish suddenly closed in on O’Neill and with just nine laps to go passed for the lead. But as luck would have his stay at the helm was again a brief one, only this time not coming at the hand of O’Neill but rather that of a lapped car.

Heading into turn one with eight to go, Kapish encountered a slower moving car, made contact and actually got up on two wheels, He then veered towards the wall and somehow kept from hitting it and continued on, but in second spot as O’Neill was able to dart below the situation. O’Neill then stayed the course and picked up the sweet $1000 victory.

“I had no idea TJ (Kapish) was there and I have to thank Jeff Ingler, he’s the one who made me come back out. I had sold everything and I was just done. But he just kept bugging me to let’s go out and do this and we just finished things up very late last night,” said O’Neill from Fairway Motors Victory Lane and recalling how he was passed with nine laps remaining.

“I really didn’t want to see that happen to him and wanted it to be a fair race. It would have been good to race each other right down to the wire when you saw how even we were.”

He and Kapish would be the only drivers to run the entire distance. Chris Olivari was third, three laps down. Jason Bentzoni notched fourth and Mike Green fifth, those two coming home at 145 laps.

O’Neill, although having to deal plenty with Kapish, did a splendid job of working traffic and proving himself the most worthy opponent.

“It was just laps and laps of seeing what other cars are doing and you kind of know where they’re going to be and a lot of patience,” he noted.

“I couldn’t believe how fast this car was today. We were just here to have fun and the first couple laps I thought, hey we have something here and it just went wherever we wanted it to go,”

The win puts O’Neill into a tie all-time for Small Car Enduro’s with Sam Ryan at 10 each.

“To be mentioned with Sam Ryan you are in good company,” said O’Neill.

The popular Evergreen Roval was put into use following the 150 and in the 25-lap contest there was no denying the key performance of Tony “Hitman” Hilliard of Drums who led from flag to flag.

Hilliard charged to the lead at the drop of the green and with each passing lap would pull further away from his counterparts. Never turning a wheel wrong through the twists and turns of the technically laid out course, Hilliard would beat runner-up Scott Adams by nearly the-and-a-half seconds.

It also marked the end of a decade long dry spell for Hilliard, winning for the first time since 2014.

Enduro feature finish (150-laps): 1. Harry O’Neill, 2. TJ Kapish, 3. Chris Olivari, 4. Jason Bentzoni, 5. Mike Green, 6. Jason Koch, 7. Paul Mercante, 8. Ray Kennedy, 9. Jake Oswald, 10. Mackenzie Adams, 11. Philip Levering, 12. Adam Kratzer, 13. Pete Verwys, 14. Eric Platt, 15. AJ Light, 16. David Olivari, 17. Victoria Burd, 18. Tyler Neiman, 19. Adam Snyder, 20. Scott Adams, 21. Mark Rittenhouse, Jr., 22. Tony Hilliard, 23. Chris McCarr, 24. Justin Riegel, 25. Jason Birch, 26. Adam Steigerwalt, 27. Allen Such, 28. Mark Spencer, 29. Blake Snyder, 30. Brandon Farver, 31. Daniel Baker, 32. Ethan Paul, 33. Larry Spencer III, 34. Mark Rittenhouse

Roval feature finish (25-laps): 1. Tony Hilliard, 2. Scott Adams, 3. Paul Mercante, 4. Larry Spencer III, 5. Ry Kennedy, 6. Jake Oswald, 7. Sean Burd, 8. Blake Snyder, 9. Mark Rittenhouse, Jr., 10. Tyler Niemen, 11. Chris McCarr

Evergreen Raceway PR