ROSSBURG, Ohio — If Tim McCreadie had a rear-view mirror, it probably would’ve been difficult for the Watertown, N.Y., driver to focus on what was ahead of him over the final two laps of Saturday’s Dirt Late Model Stream Invitational at Eldora Speedway.
Fortunately McCreadie had clear vision — and clear sailing — in front of him for a green-white-checkered restart following the fourth and final caution of the 67-lap, $50,000-to-win main event. Pointing his Donald and Gena Bradsher-owned Longhorn Chassis toward the top of the track on the restart, McCreadie pulled away from a wild battle for the runner-up spot and beat Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., back to the line by 0.629 of a second for his second career big-money payday at the Big E.
McCreadie, who started 13th, drove to the inside of a high-flying Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., to take the lead on lap 64 and pulled away. But as he zipped down the backstretch on the white flag lap toward almost certain victory, the caution appeared for Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, who shredded a right rear tire, leaving debris strewn around the track.
That set up a 1-mile sprint to the finish and left the veteran McCreadie on the defense against two of sports hardest charging young talents, Sheppard in second and Pierce in third.
“I just figured you know, you got two of the best behind you on the cushion (Sheppard and Pierce) and the last thing I wanted to do was get beat because I didn’t at least try to go up there,” said McCreadie, who had primarily stuck to the low grove as he moved through the field. “I know I didn’t get all the way in the cushion, but I figured if I drove in hard enough and kept my speed up they wouldn’t be able to get that huge run off the corner because, you know, I was in their way.
“For 50-plus laps, I ran arced into the guardrail, arced into the guardrail and you know I was riding around there under the yellow and I thought, man, you know if I get beat because I don’t … you know, granted, I didn’t lay right on the cushion … but if I don’t just fly it off in there and try to do something, I just wouldn’t feel good about myself.
“So I just figured, well, if he’s under me, I can see him and then I can knock the deck out on the last lap if I got to to try and do something. I never seen him off of (turn) two so I did my normal line through (turns) three and four and in one and two I just tried to carry speed. Like I said, the two guys behind me are probably the two best at doing that.”
McCreadie beat both Sheppard and Pierce back to turn one and again darted away. As Pierce floated up the track ahead of Sheppard, Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., turned under to make a bid for the runner-up spot. Pierce, who started 17th, managed to drive back around the outside of McDowell, who settled for third.
“The last restart I was a little patient and those guys were hustling pretty good, so I was able to get me a few spots,” said McDowell, who started sixth and was running fifth with two laps remaining. “All in all, it was a good weekend for the E-Z-Go hot rod. We’re pleased with a podium finish.”
After leading laps 1-17 and 36-63 for a race-high 45 circuits, Sheppard, the 2019 Dream winner, finished fourth, a half-second behind McDowell, the 2019 Dream runner-up. Sheppard was slated to start third, but inherited the pole position when fourth heat winner and scheduled polesitter Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., couldn’t get his engine to fire in the staging grid. Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., the event’s overall fast qualifier on Thursday, rallied from 18th to complete the top five.
Pierce, who led the Stream’s points tally after two nights of preliminary features, was primed for a solid starting spot in the feature after leading the first eight laps of his heat. But then disaster. Mechanical failure while leading the 15-lap heat and a subsequent DNF forced him to use a provisional to start the main event. Stuck back on row nine in a race scheduled 33 laps shorter than the typical Eldora crown jewel, Pierce knew he had to try to move forward in a hurry.
He was in the top 10 by lap 17, entered the top five on lap 22 and moved into second on lap 38. His march toward the front wasn’t without its bumps though. He made contact with Kyle Strickler of Mooresville, N.C., resulting in Strickler getting into the fence in turn four while leaving Thursday’s $10,000 prelim winner a bit miffed.
“I know Kyle Strickler, he was mad, but like, that’s just the racing deal. When I got Devin (Moran’s) dirty air, I just slid a lot faster, right up, than I wanted to,” Pierce said. “I figured he’d probably been there, but at that point there was nothing I could do. I was trying to come to the front and I knew I had to get by guys. Any little chance I had, I had to take it because the track started taking rubber there right at the end.
“I told my crew it was gonna happen and they’re like, ‘You think?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah.’ It’s been way too hot today and the sun was beating on it. The track’s been getting drier and drier as the week went on. But all in all, the racetrack was really good … to provide racing like that. There’s nothing like Eldora Speedway. That’s why I love coming here.”
Pierce thought once he tracked down Sheppard, the two Illini drivers would be able to settle things themselves. Then McCreadie entered the fray. Running well down the track from the board-banging duo up front, the 2018 World 100 winner made up a lot of ground in a hurry.
“I really didn’t think (McCreadie) was gonna come from nowhere,” Pierce added. “I didn’t watch my dad the last five laps with the (signaling) sticks and then all of the sudden I seen a car there and I was like, ‘Well.’ I mean, there’s nothing I could do anyway ‘cause that wasn’t the line I was running. Honestly I was hoping there was a caution and I could have a chance like we did on that restart to do something with Brandon because (otherwise) I couldn’t with the air.”
While Pierce doggedly chased Sheppard — and the two youngsters navigated precariously on the edge of the treacherous cushion — McCreadie was licking his chops as he began to run them both down.
“To all the fans at home, man, I hope you were jumping up and down like I was the last few laps,” McCreadie said in victory lane. “I kept seeing them guys and keep thinking, ‘Man, they’re coming back to me.’ It was just our night.
“I really don’t know what to say. Thanks to Phil (Snellen) and Jeff (McGee) and Kevin (Rumley) that do all this. I don’t really do a lot anymore on these cars. These guys, they hear my upset part, where I’m thinking the car don’t roll right or there’s major issues with this or that and they just put their heads down and work and they ignore what I say half the time, so that’s probably why we’re good.”
Notes: McCreadie made his 24th special-event start at Eldora and recorded just his sixth top-five finish and just his second podium. His other podium was his 2018 World 100 triumph. … The win came after McCreadie suffered engines woes in his primary car and switched to a backup. “(We were) trying to get better and trying to get better and broke a motor in the other car the other night, so this is the one we’ve been running on the Lucas (Oil Late Model Dirt Series) stuff,” said McCreadie. “I guess we have two cars that are great. It’s pretty amazing we’re here for sure.” … Dale McDowell, the 2005 World 100 winner and 2014 Dream winner, is a perennial Eldora podium finisher. He said his Bloomquist Race Car developed a bewildering gremlin that derailed his hope for a third Eldora biggie. “I’m a little confused. We re-fired on one of the restarts and drove up through there and then it was like I started having a flat and I had a little tire shake. So I don’t know what went on. It kinda came and left.” … After suffering through dismal Thursday and Friday prelims, Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., was much more sporty on Saturday. He started fifth and grabbed the lead from Sheppard on lap 18. Davenport paced the field for 18 laps before fading from fourth to ninth on the final restart. … Cautions appeared on lap 17 for Kyle Strickler who tagged the wall after contact from Pierce; lap 29 for a slowing Scott James; on lap 35 for debris; and lap 66 for Tyler Erb. … Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., restarted sixth with two laps to go but tagged the wall on the final lap and dropped to 11th, the last car on the lead lap. … Two of the four alternates — Kyle Strickler and Tennessean Shanon Buckingham — and one of the fan vote entries — Rick Eckert of York, Pa. — qualified for Saturday’s feature. … Arguably the two hottest drivers in the country entering the event, Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., neither fared well on Saturday. Owen’s night ended when he pitted his smoking Ramirez Motorsports Rocket on lap 29 and Overton parked his Well & Sons Motorsports Longhorn two laps earlier after never getting up to speed in the feature. … Longhorn Chassis swept all three nights behind wins by Strickler, Overton and McCreadie. … Six of the seven invited drivers fielding a Bloomquist Race Car qualified for the finale. The lone driver who didn’t: Scott Bloomquist. … Bloomquist and fellow Hall of Famer Billy Moyer were non-factors all weekend. Moyer loaded up after Thursday’s prelim and didn’t compete on Friday and Saturday, while Bloomquist had consolation race results of seventh, 12th and eighth.
Stream Invitational finish
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $50,000
2. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Pierce, $10,000
3. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Bloomquist, $5,000
4. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $4,000
5. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., Bloomquist, $3,750
6. Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba, Bloomquist, $3,500
7. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., Bloomquist, $3,400
8. Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., Rocket, $3,300
9. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $3,250
10. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., Longhorn, $3,000
11. Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., Rocket, $2,750
12. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, Longhorn, $2,650
13. Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., Rocket, $2,600
14. Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., Longhorn, $2,575
15. Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, Rocket, $2,500
16. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., Rocket, $2,400
17. Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., Bloomquist, $2,300
18. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Rocket, $2,200
19. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., Rocket, $2,100
20. Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., Rocket, $2,000
21. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., Longhorn, $1,800
22. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., MB Customs, $1,700
23. Rick Eckert (0), York, Pa., Rocket, $1,600
24. Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., Longhorn, $1,500
DNS: Chris Madden (0M), Gray Court, S.C., Bloomquist, $1,500
Lap leaders: Sheppard 1-17, 36-63; Davenport 18-35; McCreadie 64-68
Fast qualifier (among 48 cars): Ferguson, 15.281 seconds
Heat race winners: Moran, Sheppard, Richards, Madden
Consolation winners: Junghans, Hoffman
Provisional starters: Pierce, Ferguson, Babb
Preliminary feature winners: Strickler, Overton
Lap-by-lap coverage and preliminary results:
10:05 p.m. | T-Mac wins $50,000
Tim McCreadie stayed ahead of a flurry of wild pursuers on a green-white-checkered restart for a $50,000 victory.
10 p.m. | T-Mac? Then a caution
Taking the lead on lap 64, Tim McCreadie had a $50,000 victory in grasp and had taken the white flag when Tyler Erb slowed with damage caused by a shredded right-rear tire, bringing out a caution flag. It appears there'll be a two-lap shootout with McCreadie restarting out front with Brandon Sheppard and Bobby Pierce second and third.
9:58 p.m. | B-Shepp still in control
Brandon Sheppard nearly slipped up on lap 60 in turns one and two, but Bobby Pierce couldn't capitalize. Tim Tim McCreadie is still catching the high-running drivers who scrape the wall nearly lap. Six laps remain.
9:57 p.m. | T-Mac on move
With Brandon Sheppard and Bobby Pierce in first and second, 13th-starting Tim McCreadie is stalking the frontrunners in the low groove with 13 laps remaining.
9:53 p.m. | Illinois showdown brewing?
Brandon Sheppard holds the lead with 25 laps remaining with Bobby Pierce hot on his heels in the high groove. Those two Illinois drivers are pulling away from the field with 23rd-starting Mason Zeigler up to fifth.
9:51 p.m. | B-Shepp back out front
Brandon Sheppard regained hte lead on the 36th lap and Bobby Pierce moved into second with Jonathan Davenport back to third. Dale McDowell also nosed into contention in the extreme low groove, but Tim McCreadie dropped McDowell to fifth on the 39th lap.
9:49 p.m. | Lap-35 reset
Jonathan Davenport will lead the field back to green with Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce, Dale McDowell and Tim McCreadie in the top five. Tail-starting Shannon Babb is 10th.
9:47 p.m. | Wild restart
Jonathan Davenport stayed ahead of a wild fray on the lap-29 restart with Brandon Sheppard and Bobby Pierce moving up to second and third.Tyler Erb, who restarted third, faded from contention and back to ninth by lap 35, when a caution appeared for debris.
9:44 p.m. | James slows on lap 29
The second caution appeared on lap 29 for Scott James, who had a flat tire. In the meantime, second-running Jimmy Owens was showing smoke and headed pitside. His car was pushed back to his pit area. "It was just not our weekend, it seems like," Owens told FloRacing announcer Mike Norris.
9:42 p.m. | Pierce still charging
Bobby Pierce, who started 17th, brushed past Tyler Erb in turn one on the 26th lap to move into the fourth spot behind leader Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens and Brandon Sheppard, who was feeling lots of heat from Pierce.
9:40 p.m. | J.D. takes command
Slipping under Brandon Sheppard in turns three and four just after the lap-17 restart, Jonathan Davenport took command as Sheppard was shuffled back to third with Jimmy Owens moving into the second spot. Tyler Erb slipped back to fourth and Bobby Pierce began rolling on the high side, moving into the fifth spot onl ap 22.
9:38 pm. | Field reset
After 17 laps down, Brandon Sheppard leads Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Jimmy Owens and Dale McDowell.
9:32 pm. | Davenport giving chase
After having a miserable two nights of prelims, three-time World 100 winner Jonathan Davenoprt finds himself in second early as he and leader Brandon Sheppard navigate the extreme high groove. It was turning into a top-two breakaway when a caution appeared on lap 17 for Kyle Strickler, who was running 10th when he came to a stop outside turn four after a tangle with Bobby Pierce. "I'm sure he'll get what's coming to him," Strickler told the FloRacing audience, upset with Pierce's tactics. Brandon Overton, who started eighth and dropped to 18th, pitted under the caution.
9:30 p.m. | Sheppard leads early
Third-starting Brandon Sheppard grabbed the lead at the outset and built a 2.4-second lead after eight laps with Jonathan Davenport giving chase and Tyler Erb up to third.
9:27 p.m. | Madden can't go
The four-wide parade lap didn't include polesitter Chris Madden. With ignition problems near the prerace tech area, his and many other crews scrambled to replace the ignition, but he didn't make it out for the green flag when the replacement ignition also didn't work. ... Scott Bloomquist was the only driver of a Bloomquist Race Car failing to make the feature. “It would hurt a lot more if everybody was here,” he said. ... Shannon Babb, who weighed in light after finishing fourth in a heat race, was added to the tail of the field as a promoter's provisional by Eldora general manager Roger Slack.
9:20 p.m. | Feature lineup
Row 1: Chris Madden, Josh Richards
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Devin Moran
Row 3: Jonathan Davenport, Dale McDowell
Row 4: Kyle Strickler, Brandon Overton
Row 5: Tyler Erb, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 6: Jimmy Owens, Kyle Bronson
Row 7: Tim McCreadie, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 8: Ricky Weiss, Shanon Buckingham
Row 9: Bobby Pierce, Chris Ferguson
Row 10: Chase Junghans, Nick Hoffman
Row 11: Rick Eckert, Scott James
Row 12: Mason Zeigler, Kent Robinson
Row 13: Shannon Babb
8:59 p.m. | Overton's wild ride
Brandon Overton’s saw his hopes for a 50-grand triumph flash before his eyes on the first lap of Heat 4 when he dived into turn one underneath leader Chris Madden and nearly flipped. His Wells Motorsports machine bicycled on its right side for a moment before coming down on all four wheels as he slid up the track.
“It’s so choppy (in turn one) and I just caught it right,” said Overton, the winner of Friday’s preliminary feature and a consensus favorite to capture the 67-lap Stream Invitational. “I almost killed Madden (running above him) in the process. I went up (on two wheels) and I was like, ‘Oh s---!’”
Overton went on to finish second in the heat, giving him the eighth starting spot for the feature.
“Once I got by (Kyle) Bronson for second I just slowed down and took second,” Overton said. “You can’t drive in there (hard on the inside) or you’re gonna barrel-roll.”
8:54 p.m. | And your polesitter ...
When Chris Madden’s Scott Bloomquist Racing car suddenly lost power exiting turn two as he was rolling around the track on a pace lap before the start of the fourth heat, he thought his history of bad luck in major Eldora events was continuing. He was starting on the pole position in the prelim and a victory would put him on the pole for the $50,000-to-win A-main.
“It just shut off,” Madden said later. “It got flooded and shut off.”
Fortunately for Madden, after he switched over to a second battery while sitting on the inside of the backstretch, his car refired with a push from a safety truck. He went on to capture the heat to earn him the catbird’s seat for the A-main.
“Hopefully we can make the right adjustments for the feature and finally pick us up a win here (in a major race),” Madden said.
8:53 p.m. | Hoffman wins second consy
Zipping from fifth into the lead at the outset of a slowly-paced start, Nick Hoffman led all the way in the final 15-lap consy. Deep-starting Indiana drivers Kent Robinson (starting ninth) and Scott James (starting 11th) dueled for second late with James getting the spot as both transferred. Finishing fourth was Jason Feger, who was up to second at halfway but slipped back after a restart. Jason Jameson had the second spot in hand when he cut low exiting turn four and made contact with Feger and faded. He rallied back to second with a wild slide job before getting into the turn-one wall to draw a lap-eight caution.
Second consolation finish: Nick Hoffman, Scott James, Kent Robinson, Jason Feger, Zack Dohm, Steve Casebolt, Donald McIntosh, Shannon Babb, Jerry Bowersock, Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer Jr., Jason Jameson, Dennis Erb Jr.
8:47 p.m. | Babb's disqualification
Shannon Babb was at a loss to explain how he weighed in about 12 pounds light after finishing fourth in Heat 4, disqualifying him from a transfer spot to the Stream Invitational finale.
“This car has not been light any time we’ve raced it this whole weekend,” Babb said of his Bloomquist Race Car that he debuted last month. “We’ve been at 2,400, 2,385 the whole time. They said I was 2,338 (when 2,350 pounds is the minimum).”
Babb talked to DIRTcar and World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series officials who are administering the event and said he remarked that he would like WoO officials to be at the scales to guide cars onto them and make sure they are positioned correctly. He added that many competitors had noticed that the track scales seemed to be registering lighter numbers today.
DIRTcar director Sam Driggers could only say that all the other cars officials have weighed on Saturday “were OK” and that “the scales were open all day” if anyone wanted to check how their car was registering.
Furthering the story, however, WoO officials have pulled out their own scales and set them up to weigh cars if there are any further questions with the track scales.
8:40 p.m. | Junghans wins first consy
Chase Junghans led all 15 laps in the first consolation while Rick Eckert nabbed the runner-up spot in his first visit to Eldora since 2014. A Pennsylvania clash between Mason Zeigler and Michael Norris ended with Zeigler edging away for the third and final transfer spot. Jeep Van Wormer ran second early but faded after brushing the backstretch wall on the sixth lap.
First consolation finish: Chase Junghans, Rick Eckert, Mason Zeigler, Michael Norris, Jeep Van Wormer, Gregg Satterlee, Chris Simpson, Scott Bloomquist, Michael Page, Ashton Winger, Bobby Pierce. Scratched: Shane Clanton.
8:21 p.m. | Consolation lineups
(15 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Chase Junghans, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 2: Rick Eckert, Mason Zeigler
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Gregg Satterlee
Row 4: Michael Norris, Michael Page
Row 5: Ashton Winger, Chris Simpson
Row 6: Shane Clanton
Row 1: Jason Jameson, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 2: Steve Casebolt, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 3: Nick Hoffman, Zack Dohm
Row 4: Jason Feger, Donald McIntosh
Row 5: Kent Robinson, Jerry Bowersock
Row 6: Scott James, Shannon Babb
Row 7: Earl Pearson Jr.
8:12 p.m. | Madden wins Heat 4
Chris Madden kept runner-up Brandon Overton in check for a victory in the fourth heat while Kyle Bronson and Shanon Buckingham got the other two transfer spots. Shannon Babb actually crossed the line fourth, but he failed to meet the 2,350-pound requirement postrace. The fifth-starting Shanon Buckingham came alive early to grab the third spot before slipping back to finish fifth in the 15-lapper, but he got a transfer spot when Babb was disqualified.
Fourth heat finish: Chris Madden, Brandon Overton, Kyle Bronson, Shanon Buckingham, Billy Moyer Jr., Dennis Erb Jr., Zack Dohm, Donald McIntosh, Jerry Bowersock. Disqualified (from fourth): Shannon Babb.
8:09 p.m. | Scare for Overton
Going into turn one on the second lap, Brandon Overton's car wildly bounded on two wheels, appearing like he could've rolled over. He gathered it in while his car skittered up toward the turn-two wall, but leader Chris Madden was able to slip between Overton and the wall to maintain command.
8:07 p.m. | Madden issues?
Fourth heat polesitter Chris Madden's car came to a stop when he pulled on the track for the prelim, but he with a push he was able to join the field.
8:03 p.m. | Richards wins Heat 3
Pulling away after inheriting the pole, Josh Richards captured the third heat to earn a front-row starting spot for the feature. Kyle Strickler, was knocked off the pole when he jumped the first start, ran third most of the race but blew around third-place finisher Jimmy Owens on the backstretch with a lap and a half remaining to grab the second spot. Ricky Weiss was the final transferring driver in the fourth spot while Scott James ran fifth the first half of the race before fading to 10th.
Third heat finish: Josh Richards, Kyle Strickler, Jimmy Owens, Ricky Weiss, Jason Jameson, Steve Casebolt, Nick Hoffman, Jason Feger, Kent Robinson, Scott James, Earl Pearson Jr.
8 p.m. | Clanton's weekend over
Shane Clanton’s Stream Invitational weekend began in promising fashion with a runner-up finish in Thursday’s 30-lap preliminary feature. But after absorbing a DNQ on Friday, he trip ended abruptly just one lap into Saturday’s second 15-lap heat.
The former Dream and World 100 winner from Zebulon, Ga., made hard contact with Dale McDowell’s sideways car in turn four as the heat’s field came around to complete the first circuit. Clanton immediately slowed with heavy damage to the nose of his Greg Bruening-owned Capital car, including some apparent frame damage.
“You couldn’t see nothing over there,” Clanton said of racing into a bright setting sun in turn four. “And all of a sudden there (McDowell) was, parked in front of me.”
After a quick assessment of his machine’s battered front end, Clanton made the decision to load up and scratch from further competition.
7:58 p.m. | Break for Richards
Josh Richards took the lead early in the third heat when he inherited the pole. The heat's initial start was called back, dropping penalized Kyle Strickler to third from his original pole starting spot for jumping the start.
7:52 p.m. | B-Shepp wins second heat
Brandon Sheppard cruised unchallenged to win the second heat over Dale McDowell and Ricky Thornton Jr. while eighth-starting Frank Heckenast Jr. charged to a fourth-place finish to transfer to the main event. Jeep Van Wormer improved five positions and will head to the front row of a consolation race. Chris Ferguson, the weekend's overall fast qualifier, ended up eighth but would be a possible provisional starter depending on the outcome of the final two heats.
Second heat finish: Brandon Sheppard, Dale McDowell, Ricky Thornton Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Jeep Van Wormer, Mason Zeigler, Gregg Satterlee, Chris Ferguson, Michael Page, Chris Simpson, Shane Clanton.
7:47 p.m. | Nose damage for Clanton
On the first lap of the second heat, Shane Clanton got into the rear of Dale McDowell's car in turn four, causing significant nosepiece damaged to Clanton's car. Clanton steered into the turn-three infield exit and headed for his pit area. Brandon Sheppard built a three-second lead through the first six laps until another caution flew for Michael Page's flat left-front tire.
7:42 p.m. | Moran wins first heat
Pulling away after a lap-eight restart, Devin Moran pulled away to win the first heat by 2.601 seconds over seventh-starting Jonathan Davenport. Also transferring to the main event were third- and fourth-finishing Tyler Erb and Tim McCreadie. Chase Junghans started third and fell back as far as eighth before finishing fifth and he'll be on the pole of the first consolation race.
First heat finish: Devin Moran, Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Tim McCreadie, Chase Junghans, Rick Eckert, Scott Bloomquist, Michael Norris, Ashton Winger, Bobby Pierce.
7:37 p.m. | Pierce heartbreak
After dominating the first eight laps of the first heat, Bobby Pierce's car lost fire in turn two and he rolled too a stop apparently with a broken driveshaft. He's in line for a provisional if he can't get going again. That hands the lead in the first heat to Devin Moran with seventh-starting Jonathan Davenport already up to second.
7:33 p.m. | Pre-heat notes
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., is entered in Saturday’s program driving the same Donald and Gena Bradsher-owned Longhorn house car that he pulled out of the team’s trailer for Friday’s feature after his primary machine was sidelined by engine trouble after he finished fourth in a heat race. … Rick Eckert of York, Pa., has struggled to find speed with his Allen Murray-owned XR1 Rocket car in the preliminary shows, failing to qualify for both features in what is his first Eldora appearance since 2014 when he drove the Rocket Chassis house car in the Dream and World 100. He said he changed a carburetor and made several other alterations under the hood and in other spots on the car in hopes of picking up the pack in the finale. … Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., was sitting on his four-wheeler contemplating his night ahead in his Billy Franklin-owned car when he was asked if, in his second year racing major events at Eldora, he’s getting the hang of the half-mile oval. The 20-year-old shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t think anybody ever does. I mean, just when you think J.D. (Jonathan Davenport) does, he’s starting right next to me in a heat race tonight (sharing the fourth row of the first heat). … Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., appeared to have a top-10 run going in Friday’s 30-lap feature before a late caution flag led to his right-rear tire sealing over, causing him to fade to an 18th-place finish. The drop left him saddled with an eighth-place starting spot in tonight’s third heat.
7:22 p.m. | Bowersock's tale
Racing in front of an empty Eldora grandstand is of course a unique occurrence. But for a veteran like Jerry Bowersock of Wapakoneta, Ohio, who has been a stalwart competitor at the track for decades, this isn’t exactly a first-time experience.
“I won a 360 sprint car race (that finished at) 6:30 in the morning, and I won the Four Crown (Nationals) modified race at 6:30 in the morning (after a rain delay),” Bowersock said. “There weren’t many people who stayed to the end of those races, so I’ve basically seen on people in the stands here before.”
Bowersock, whose longtime support of Eldora Speedway helped earn him an invite to the weekend’s action, has struggled with mechanical trouble during the preliminary programs. He’s hoping the work he and his crew have put into his XR1 Rocket car — a machine that was previously one of Tyler Erb’s family-owned No. 91 mounts — will bring better results this evening.
7:11 p.m. | Quiet pit area
At about 5 p.m. on Saturday — a time when the crowd and the buzz in Eldora’s pit area would normally be building dramatically on the final night of a normal crown jewel weekend — 2019 Dream champion Brandon Sheppard was leaning on the rear deck of his Rocket Chassis house car checking his cell phone. There were no fans asking him to take selfies or sign autographs, and there weren’t even many other racers stopping by to chat.
“It’s crazy quiet,” Sheppard said, shaking his head as he gazed across the unusual Eldora landscape.
With most teams already having their pre-race car prep done, there weren’t many wrenches clanging off metal. Many drivers and crew members weren’t even outside, opting to stay out of the warm sun and take it easy inside their toterhomes or trailers.
The more laid-back atmosphere has been a relief for some crewmen who don’t have to deal with the throngs of people who crush up against cars as they’re working on them. Take, for instance, the curmudgeonly veteran crew chief Robby Allen, who quipped while sitting behind his driver Gregg Satterlee’s car that he considered this his “favorite Eldora weekend ever” because haulers aren’t parked close together and the pit area isn’t crawling with people.
6:59 p.m. | Strickler's challenge
Two days after celebrating his first-ever Dirt Late Model victory at Eldora in Thursday’s 30-lap preliminary feature, Kyle Strickler is well positioned for more success on Saturday’s big stage. He will start from the pole position in the third heat with the red-hot Jimmy Owens alongside him and five-time national champion Josh Richards right behind him.
“All we gotta do is outrun the best guys in the country and win the heat and we’ll start on the front row (of the 67-lap feature),” Strickler said with a smile, well aware of the challenge facing him.
The Mooresville, N.C., driver finished 20th in Friday’s feature, which he ended with his Longhorn car sporting significant rear bodywork damage from several slaps of the outside wall.
“I’ve been pretty consistent in knocking the deck out of it this weekend,” said Strickler, who won Thursday’s A-main despite running more than half the distance with crushed right-rear bodywork.
6:52 p.m. | Scramble for James
Scott James and his Dolhun Motorsports crew worked overtime to repair significant right-front suspension, rear end and bodywork that their XR1 Rocket car sustained when a blown right-front tire sent James hard into the turn-three wall during time trials.
“It messed up a lot of stuff,” said James, whose smaller team has only one car and thus were unable to simply pull out a backup machine. James did salvage some points by starting his heat and B-main with a hastily patched mount and will take the green flag from the fifth starting spot in tonight’s third heat.
The 48-year-old James is also still feeling some effects from his hard impact with the wall. He said his neck and right hamstring are both sore; he noted that he hit the concrete with his right leg hard on the gas and fully extended, causing a muscle pull that initially made him think he tore a hamstring.
6:46 p.m. | Analyzing heat lineups
Of the eight front-row starters in heat races, three drivers have Eldora crown jewel victories (Bobby Pierce, Brandon Sheppard and Jimmy Owens). … Eldora’s winningest crown jewel entrants, Scott Bloomquist (12) and Billy Moyer (8), haven’t been factors. Moyer withdrew from competition Friday and Bloomquist starts outside the fifth row in the first heat. … Preliminary winners Kyle Strickler (pole of third heat) and Brandon Overton (outside front row of fourth heat) are among front-row heat starters. … Among drivers listed in heat lineups but not expected to compete are several drivers who had engine or other problems: Moyer, Rusty Schlenk, Tanner English, Tyler Carpenter, Freddie Carpenter and Darrell Lanigan.
6:37 p.m. | Traditional format tweaked
Tonight’s Stream lineup format is similar to Eldora’s traditional crown jewels with a few tweaks. For starters, there are four heat races instead of the traditional six, and there are 24 available starting spots, the fewest for an Eldora biggie since 24 cars started the 2009 Dream.
The heat winners will be inverted as usual, meaning the fourth heat winner will be on the pole position for the 67-lap feature with the third heat winner, second heat winner and first heat winner filling spots 2-4 on the grid.
Two ninth-row provisionals will come from the drivers who accrued the most Thursday-Friday preliminary points without transferring through heat races, and the remainder of the field will be set with the top three finishers from each of two consolation races.
The Dream has started 28 cars since 2013 and the World 100 has started at least 30 cars since 2011 (there were 32 starters in 2013-14).
6:28 p.m. | Rare race distance
The Stream's 67-lap main event, which matches Eldora Speedway’s 67th birthday, is a rare lap count. As DirtonDirt.com statistician Andy Savary pointed out, nine of the last 10 crown jewel winners at Eldora in 100-lappers were leading on the 67th lap (the exception was last year’s Dream, with Earl Pearson Jr. leading on the 67th lap of a race won by Brandon Sheppard.
The 67th lap been critical on occasion, including last year’s World 100 when winner Jonathan Davenport went past Bobby Pierce and Ricky Weiss for a third-to-first move en route to victory. In the 2005 Dream, Jackie Boggs led the first 67 laps before Matt Miller took command and led the rest of the way for a $100,000 payday.
The 67-lap count is a rare one in Dirt Late Model circles, but it has been used frequently for runnings of the Doug Walters Memorial at Sunset Speedway. Walters was a longtime Oregon racer (of car No. 67) and later owner of the Banks, Ore., track, who died in 2008. His son, Late Model racer Greg Walters, was a 2007 entrant in the Johnny Appleseed Classic at Eldora.
6:04 p.m. | Drivers' meeting over
The virtual drivers' meeting is over and we're about an hour away from hot laps for tonight's event with 40 or so drivers competing in a program that includes four heat races, two consolation races and the 67-lap main event. Hot laps were originally scheduled for 6:30 but have been pushed back to 7 p.m. followed by opening ceremonies and the first 15-lap heat race. We'll have live updates and notes all evening long.
Noon: Hauler staging in Camping Lots 1 and 2 (any hauler that left following Friday’s event)
12:30 p.m.: Medical screening (manufacturers, support and vendors)
1 p.m.: Medical screening (race teams at haulers)
1:15-4 p.m.: Hauler parking
1:30-4:30 p.m.: Inspection and registration
2:30 p.m.: Medical screening (broadcast team)
5 p.m.: Virtual drivers’ meeting
7 p.m.: Hot laps
- Opening ceremonies
- Four heat races (15 laps; top four transfer)
- Two consolation races (15 laps; top three transfer)
- Main event (67 laps)
Saturday heat lineups
(15 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Devin Moran, Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Michael Norris, Tyler Erb
Row 4: Jonathan Davenport, Ashton Winger
Row 5: Rick Eckert, Scott Bloomquist
Row 6: x-Rusty Schlenk, x-Tanner English
Row 1: Chris Ferguson, Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Shane Clanton
Row 3: Ricky Thornton Jr., Mason Zeigler
Row 4: Michael Page, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 5: Gregg Satterlee, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 6: Chris Simpson, x-Tyler Carpenter
Row 1: Kyle Strickler, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Josh Richards, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Scott James, Kent Robinson
Row 4: Steve Casebolt, Jason Jameson
Row 5: Jason Feger, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 6: Nick Hoffman, x-Billy Moyer
Row 1: Chris Madden, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Shannon Babb
Row 3: Shanon Buckingham, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 4: Donald McIntosh, Zack Dohm
Row 5: Billy Moyer Jr., Jerry Bowersock
Row 6: x-Darrell Lanigan, x-Freddie Carpenter
x-Not expected to compete.
Correction: Reverses outside front-row starters for third and fourth heats.
Preliminary point totals
Pos. Driver - Total (Thursday-Friday)
1. Bobby Pierce - 1,402 (713-689)
2. Brandon Sheppard - 1,399 (686-713)
3. Jimmy Owens - 1,377 (642-735)
4. Brandon Overton - 1,354 (657-697)
5. Devin Moran - 1,354 (634-720)
6. Chris Ferguson - 1,347 (714-633)
7. Kyle Strickler - 1,340 (728-612)
8. Chris Madden - 1,337 (677-660)
9. Chase Junghans - 1,330 (634-696)
10. Dale McDowell - 1,329 (640-689)
11. Josh Richards - 1,324 (590-734)
12. Kyle Bronson - 1,313 (612-701)
13. Tim McCreadie - 1,307 (687-620)
14. Shane Clanton - 1,305 (729-576)
15. Ricky Weiss - 1,304 (666-638)
16. Shannon Babb - 1,280 (646-634)
17. Michael Norris - 1,263 (697-566)
18. Ricky Thornton Jr. - 1,255 (685-570)
19. Scott James - 1,246 (700-546)
20. Shanon Buckingham - 1,245 (588-657)
21. Tyler Erb - 1,238 (652-586)
22. Mason Zeigler - 1,230 (582-648)
23. Kent Robinson - 1,222 (578-644)
24. Dennis Erb Jr. - 1,218 (624-594)
25. Jonathan Davenport - 1,218 (622-596)
26. Michael Page - 1,216 (548-668)
27. Steve Casebolt - 1,213 (647-566)
28. Donald McIntosh - 1,212 (596-616)
29. Ashton Winger - 1,210 (578-632)
30. Frank Heckenast Jr. - 1,196 (614-582)
31. Jason Jameson - 1,186 (560-626)
32. Zack Dohm - 1,174 (584-590)
33. Rick Eckert - 1,148 (562-586)
34. Gregg Satterlee - 1,142 (564-578)
35. Jason Feger - 1,136 (586-550)
36. Billy Moyer Jr. - 1,136 (564-572)
37. Scott Bloomquist - 1,130 (574-556)
38. Jeep Van Wormer - 1,126 (556-570)
39. Earl Pearson Jr. - 1,118 (558-560)
40. Jerry Bowersock - 1,104 (544-560)
41. Rusty Schlenk - 1,102 (540-562)
42. Chris Simpson - 1,002 (388-614)
43. Nick Hoffman - 586 (0-586)
44. Darrell Lanigan - 566 (566-0)
45. Tanner English - 554 - (554-0)
46. Tyler Carpenter - 536 (536-0)
47. Billy Moyer - 186 (186-0)
48. Freddie Carpenter - 0 (0-0)
Editor’s note: Ties broken by better qualifying time.