ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 10) — The playbook that Brandon Overton used en route to his first career Dream victory wasn’t very thick. In fact, the Evans, Ga., driver’s plan was really quite simple.
“I just wanted to stay in front of the 49 (Jonathan Davenport) and the 39 (Tim McCreadie),” said Overton. “I kept seeing them coming. Kyle (Bronson) I really didn't care if Kyle passed me. You know he was giving it his all out there, so I just wanted to stay in front of the 39 and the 49.”
The 30-year-old Overton stuck to his plan, keeping pace with polesitter and early leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., through the first half of Thursday’s historic $127,000-to-win Dream XXVII at Eldora Speedway. But with one eye on Sheppard and one eye peered toward the leader board, Overton knew his fellow Longhorn Chassis campaigners McCreadie, who started 11th, and Davenport, who started 13th, were working their way to the front.
Finally, following a caution on lap 59 for Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., Overton knew it was time to go. So go he did. Taking the lead from Sheppard on lap 61, he led the final 40 laps to win the most lucrative Dirt Late Model event of the season, winning his first-ever Dream and his second career crown jewel event.
Overton finished a comfortable 2.189 seconds ahead of McCreadie, denying the Watertown, N.Y., star and winner of last year’s $50,000 Dirt Late Model Stream Invitational — the event that replaced the Dream during restrictions due to the pandemic — a coveted Dream triumph to go along with his 2018 World 100 victory.
Brandon, Fla.’s Bronson, who did indeed slip by Overton briefly on lap 30 before engaging in a three-way battle for the lead with Sheppard and Overton two laps later, settled for third, right where he started. Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., the event’s 2014 winner, finished fourth after starting ninth, while Sheppard failed to defend his 2019 Dream title, slipping to fifth after leading the first 60 laps from the pole position.
Davenport, of Blairsville, Ga., who ran as high as third but never managed to wrangle second away from Overton, was less of a factor after having to get hard on the brakes to avoid a turn-two slider by Bronson on lap 55. He slowly lost touch with the leaders and settled for seventh behind 25th-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill.
Overton never forced the issue, despite making a couple of early attempts to grab the lead. He looked under Sheppard on lap 46, but Sheppard was ahead when the caution waved for Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., on lap 47. Five laps later, Overton did forge ahead and was leading as they reached the flag-stand, but a lap-52 caution for Iowa’s Chad Simpson negated the pass and restored Sheppard to the lead.
“Hell I don't know man, I just try to do the best I can, right or wrong,” said Overton of his game plan. “Like I said, I told them before I went out there, I said I just need to get in line and ride. I’ve seen this race won too many times right there at the last little bit. I don't know what the hell to say honestly. This is so cool. I can't think everybody enough to help us with this deal.”
It’s a career-defining triumph for Overton’s Wells & Sons Motorsports team, the Hazard, Ky.-based operation that Overton won 26 features with in 2020, their inaugural season together.
“I definitely say (joining Wells Motorsports) is going to be a career changer for me,” said Overton. “It’s probably the best decision I've ever made in my life. I hope we race for a long time together because (David Wells) and Eric are great. I couldn't ask for anything else. They put it all in my hands and they trust me enough with all this stuff. I don't know … it's awesome. I know this is where I should be.
“All them years I run and beat up and down the road with nothing learning how to do this, you know, it makes it all worth it. I told my buddy Mitch there before the race, ‘If we win, we win. If we don’t, it’s honestly bad ass just to think that we have just a little slim chance of getting it done.’ If that's all I’m gonna do, I'm cool with it. These are the best drivers and the best car owners. It's such a talented group of people that we race with week in and week out, so to beat ‘em, that's pretty cool for me.”
While McCreadie’s runner-up finish, worth $20,000, may not have been his richest June payday at Eldora Speedway, it was still a career-best Dream finish, topping his fourth-place run in the 2017 event. His move forward from 11th was done in typical, methodical McCreadie fashion. He was up to seventh by lap 24 and cracked the top five by lap 32.
“We probably could have did a little more to help the attitude (of the car),” said McCreadie. “I just got tight in the center (of the corner) and when I get tight in the center I can't enter on the cushion because I'm running flat so then I get tight over there. Every time I moved up I lost time, so the best thing to do is try to dump it on the right rear and load it and if I could keep posture I can get a good bite, but that stuck me in one lane.
“Once we caught lap traffic … you know, Brandon Overton is one of the best. For our guys the way the weekend started, I mean we've clawed every race. We never started near the front yet. It's cool to get out of this car and I feel like a couple small adjustments and we're going to be better and that's what it takes. Like I said, (the crew) did all the hard work and I just got lucky enough to drive it.”
Bronson’s third-place finish was a career-best as well. He finished 15th in 2019, his only other start in the event. The hard-charging Floridian ran as high as second after starting third, though he did make an occasional bid for the lead, like his two three-wide attempts with Overton and Sheppard on laps 32 and 58.
“My car was really good there,” said Bronson. “On that restart I spun my tires there little bit and the 49 just turned dead left and knocked my tie rod off there, so it was really tough there at the end. But I drove my ass off there for 100 laps and I hope I gave the fans something to watch. Overall I think we had a pretty good piece. I just got to thank everybody that helps me out here.”
Notes: It was Overton's 13th win of the season and fifth in his last eight starts. He hasn't finished worse than fourth in his last nine features. ... In victory lane, Overton apologized to his engine builder, Clements Race Engines, saying the engine temperature crept up to “around about 260 (degrees), 270 the last 30 laps. I just kind of quit looking at it and was going, ‘Don't blow up. Don't blow up,’” he said. … It was difficult for drivers to get in a rhythm early as the race was slowed by nine cautions total, including eight in the first 62 laps. The race went caution-free following a lap-63 yellow for a spin in turn two by NASCAR star Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif., who was running fifth at the time. … When asked if he planned to celebrate his victory deep into the night, even though competitors will be back in action Friday and Saturday for the running of Dream XXVI, which will pay $126,000-to-win, Overton said he’d already warned West Virginian Zack Dohm. “I parked beside Dohm and (Zack) said, ‘Go win it,’ and I said., ‘If I do, y'all probably won't go to sleep tonight.’” … On a humid night and a heavy track, some drivers were concerned about their engines. After pitting on lap 20, Ricky Thornton Jr., of Chandler, Ariz., the feature’s first retiree, reported he “killed a motor.”
Preliminary notes and results:
Dream XXVII finish
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., Longhorn, $127,000
2. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $20,000
3. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., Rocket, $12,500
4. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Team Zero, $10,000
5. Brandon Sheppard (1), Shinnston, W.Va., Rocket, $8,750
6. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., Rocket, $7,500
7. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $6,500
8. Zack Dohm (17), Cross Lanes, W.Va., Longhorn, $6,000
9. Nick Hoffman (6), Mooresville, N.C., Team Zero, $5,500
10. Hudson O'Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., Longhorn, $5,000
11. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., Capital, $4,000
12. Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba, Sniper, $3,000
13. Kyle Larson (6), Elk Grove, Calif., Longhorn, $2,950
14. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., Team Zero, $2,900
15. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., Rocket, $2,875
16. Jacob Hawkins (37), Fairmont, W.Va., Rocket, $2,850
17. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, Longhorn, $2,825
18. Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., Rocket, $2,800
19. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Pierce, $2,775
20. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., Team Zero, $2,750
21. Chad Simpson (1), Mount Vernon, Iowa, Black Diamond, $2,725
22. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Rocket, $2,700
23. Kody Evans (4G), Camden, Ohio, Longhorn, $2,675
24. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., Capital, $2,650
25. Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., Longhorn, $2,625
26. Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., Rocket, $2,600
27. Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., Rocket, $2,550
28. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., Longhorn, $2,500
Lap leaders: Sheppard 1-60; Overton 61-100.
Fast qualifier (among 76 cars): Davenport, 14.978 seconds
Heat race winners: Larson, Hawkins, Overton, Bronson, Simpson, Sheppard
Consolation winners: Hoffman, Scott
Scramble winners: Moyer, James
Provisional starters: Weiss, Babb
Preliminary feature winners: Overton, Davenport
Lap 100: Brandon Overton wins Dream XXVII by 2.189 seconds over Tim McCreadie.
Lap 95: Overton extends lead over McCreadie to 2.757 seconds.
Lap 90: Overton still leads McCreadie, Bronson, McDowell, Sheppard, Davenport, Erb Jr., Dohm, Hoffman and O’Neal.
Lap 80: Overton leads McCreadie, Bronson, McDowell, Sheppard, Davenport, Erb, Dohm, Nick Hoffman and Hudson O’Neal.
Lap 70: Overton leads McCreadie by 2.320 seconds.
Lap 63: Kyle Larson spins in turn turn two trying to pass McDowell, loses the fifth spot as caution waves. Overton still leads with Sheppard second, McCredie third, followed by McDowell and Bronson.
Lap 61: Overton grabs the lead from Sheppard and eases away.
Lap 59: Caution waves for Chris Ferguson. Sheppard's lead: 0.237 of second. Zack Dohm up to ninth.
Lap 58: Bronson makes it three-wide for the lead with Sheppard and Overton but Sheppy holds them noth off at the line.
Lap 55: Davenport on the brakes to avoid Bronson's slider in turn two.
Lap 52: Overton wrestles lead from Sheppard but a caution for Simpson negates the pass.
Lap 50: Sheppard leads at halfway. Overton second with J.D., Bronson and McDowell close.
Lap 47: Restart is a no-go as caution waves again. Jimmy Owens ducks into the pit area giving up the ninth spot. Crew working on Owens's right front suspension.
Lap 47: Sheppard beats Overton back to the line as Pierce slows to bring out a caution. Sheppy leads Overton, Davenport, Bronson, McCreadie, McDowell, Larson, Erb Jr., Owens and 19th-starting Ricky Weiss.
Lap 46: Overton looks for lead but can't get by.
Lap 40: Three-car battle for the lead with Overton and J.D. chasing Sheppy.
Lap 35: Davenport up to third from 13th.
Lap 33: Erb cracks top five.
Lap 32: Devin Moran has a flat, draws a caution as Sheppard leads Overton, Bronson, Davenport, Tim McCreadie, McDowell, Larson, Erb, Simpson and Owens.
Lap 32: Overton challenged Sheppard for the lead with Bronson there also.
Lap 30: Two-time Dream winner Billy Moyer parks.
Lap 30: Bronson second. Davenport fourth. Erb up to seventh. Caution waves for Billy Moyer. Bobby Pierce heads back to pit area during caution.
Lap 27: Caution waves for Bobby Pierce who slows. Teams looks under Pierce's hood. Kyle Bronson chasing Sheppard and Overton. Dennis Erb Jr. rolling as he’s moved from 25th to 12th.
Lap 27: Bronson up to third.
Lap 24: It’s Sheppard leading Overton, Simpson, Bronson, McDowell, Jimmy Owens, Tim McCreadie, Hawkins, Jonathan Davenport and Kyle Larson.
Lap 20: During caution Thornton reports that he "killed a motor."
Lap 20: Scott James and Mason Zeigler slow. Zeigler has a flat as first caution comes out. Sheppard leads Overton by a half second, with Simpson third and McDowell up to fourth from ninth.
Lap 20: Sheppard leads Overton by nearly 2 seconds, with Simpson and Hawkins still in tow. Dale McDowell runs sixth.
Lap 17: Ricky Thornton Jr. off the pace.
Lap 10: Sheppard leads Overton, Chad Simpson, Jacob Hawkins and Kyle Bronson as leaders near black of the field.
12:07 a.m.: Dream goes green. Brandon Sheppard leads opening lap over Brandon Overton. .
11:43 p.m. | Disqualification for Bailes
A last-minute rule change announced during Thursday’s drivers meeting was partly to blame for Ross Bailes’s car coming up light after the scales after he charged from 11th to finish in the third and final transfer spot in the night’s first consolation race.
Bailes, who had his transfer finish disqualified after missing the minimum weight of 2,350 pounds by just eight pounds, said he decided to pull a piece a lead off his car after DIRTcar officials announced teams would be allowed a one-pound-per-lap fuel burnoff in Thursday’s feature and would only need to weigh 2,250 pounds at the end of the 100-lapper.
Bailes knew the new rule didn’t apply to preliminary races, but he didn’t think he’d be at risk of not making weight.
“My guy, he put led on today, but I told him to take it off because I knew we got the burnoff in the feature and I just didn’t think we’d be cutting it close at all in the heat races and stuff,” Bailes said. “If they hadn’t said nothing about it, we probably would’ve left it on. But when they said we’d get burnoff, I just never thought it would be an issue.”
11:42 p.m. | Feature lineup stats
Three first-time Dream starters are in the lineup: Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif., Stormy Scott of Las Cruces, N.M., and Kody Evans of Camden Ohio. ... Ten Longhorn Chassis drivers are in the field along with nine Rocket Chassis drivers. Four Team Zero cars are in the field with two Capitals and one apiece from Sniper, Pierce and Black Diamond. ... Four drivers apiece from West Virginia and Illinois lead the way with three from Georgia. Two drivers apiece are from Tennessee, North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio with a single driver from California, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, New York and Canada.
11:34 p.m. | Feature lineup
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Chad Simpson
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Brandon Overton
Row 3: Jacob Hawkins, Kyle Larson
Row 4: Ricky Thornton Jr., Jimmy Owens
Row 5: Dale McDowell, Brian Shirley
Row 6: Tim McCreadie, Mike Marlar
Row 7: Jonathan Davenport, Josh Richards
Row 8: Zack Dohm, Bobby Pierce
Row 9: Kody Evans, Devin Moran
Row 10: Ricky Weiss, Shannon Babb
Row 11: Nick Hoffman, Stormy Scott
Row 12: Hudson O'Neal, Mason Zeigler
Row 13: Dennis Erb, Chris Ferguson
Row 14: Billy Moyer, Scott James
11:30 p.m. | James wins second scramble
Scott James earned the final transfer spot in the second scramble in a race marred by Jason Feger's scary rollover accident. Feger was OK but his car required double-tow truck removal.
Finish (winner transfers): Scott James, Max Blair, Shane Clanton, Frank Heckenast Jr., Spencer Hughes, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Michael Brown, John Baker, Kyle Strickler, Jason Feger, Darrell Lanigan.
11:29 p.m. | B-Shepp on the point
Rocket Chassis co-owner Mark Richards offered his driver, Brandon Sheppard, a simple comment before send him out to lead the sixth-heat field to the green flag.
“I told him, ‘Either the pole or 12th,’” Richards said, noting that a victory would Sheppard on the pole position for the feature while finishing second would leave him on the outside of the sixth row.
Sheppard came through, rolling to a flag-to-flag triumph in the heat. The winner of the last Dream in 2019 finds himself in a great spot considering the earlier rain has added an air of uncertainty to the track conditions.
When asked how long it will be before the speedway slows down, Sheppard quipped, “not for a while.”
11:13 p.m. | Scott storms to consolation win
Stormy Scott topped Mason Zeigler and Chris Ferguson to win the last consolation race. Jeep Van Wormer and Jerry Bowersock crashed on the frontstetch on the opening lap, resulting in a complete restart. Scott Bloomquist brought out a yellow on lap two when he slowed and coasted to the infield pit area. Chris Ferguson was docked two positions during a lap-two caution for jumping an early start and restarted in third. Boom Briggs slowed on lap 11 to bring out a yellow. With three laps remaining G.R. Smith got against the wall to draw a caution.
Finish (top three transfer): Stormy Scott, Mason Zeigler, Chris Ferguson, Max Blair, Scott James, Shane Clanton, Frank Heckenast Jr., Darrell Lanigan, Kyle Strickler, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Spencer Hughes, John Baker, Michael Brown, Jason Feger, G.R. Smith, Brian Nuttall, Boom Briggs, Ryan Scott, Dustin Nobbe, Scott Bloomquist, Jeep Van Wormer, Jerry Bowersock. DNS: Steve Casebolt.
11:11 p.m. | Challenge awaits J.D.
Starting 13th in the 100-lap Dream XXVIII wouldn’t overly concern Jonathan Davenport if the Eldora surface was identical to the track he raced on to win Wednesday’s second 25-lap preliminary feature. But Thursday’s rain delay has added a degree of difficulty to his road forward.
“It’s warp speed right now,” Davenport said while the first B-main was about to start. “I don’t know how much it’s gonna slow down. They just went 15.0 (seconds) in the last heat, which is what we qualified at yesterday.”
Davenport offered just one certainty: “I know it’s gonna be around the top (of the track) for a long time.”
11:02 p.m. | More trouble for Rice
Any hopes Josh Rice had for a storybook rebound from the smoke-filled blown engine that ended his Wednesday outing evaporated during the second heat due to another quirk of fate.
While battling for position in the prelim, a clod of mud kicked up off the track and smashed through his car’s radiator. The machine’s fan was also damaged, prompting Rice and his team to load up for the night and look toward a new beginning with Friday’s preliminary program for the 26th Dream.
“We’re just gonna regroup for the rest of the weekend,” said Rice’s older brother James, who added that the team will get some sleep following a late night spent changing powerplants and come back strong in the morning.
10:56 p.m. | Moyer wins first scramble
Winning the first five-lap scramble, two-time Dream winner Billy Moyer advances to the 100-lap feature, while runner-up Earl Pearson Jr. earns $1,000.
Finish (winner transfers): Billy Moyer, Earl Pearson, Tyler Bruening, Chase Junghans, Johnny Scott, Ryan King, Brent Larson, Kent Robinson.
10:56 p.m. | Weiss frustrated
Canadian Ricky Weiss appeared primed for at least a runner-up finish as the fifth heat wound down. Then something went awry in the final laps, causing him to slip to fifth in the final rundown.
Weiss could only shake his head when asked afterward what caused his fade, but his crew member and Sniper Chassis partner, J.R. Haley, remarked that a heavily chunked right-rear tire likely contributed to it.
While Weiss lost his shot at a starting spot as high as second in the Dream headliner, he nevertheless wasn’t required to run a B-main because his points accumulation on Wednesday earned him a provisional and the 19th position in the feature.
10:49 p.m. | Hoffman wins first consolation
Nick Hoffman outran Hudson O’Neal to win a wild first consolation race. Ross Bailes crossed the line in third, but was eight pounds light at the scales, giving the final transfer spot to 2016 Dream winner Dennis Erb Jr., who started 21st. Jensen Ford slapped the backstretch wall on the opening lap to draw the first caution. On the restart, as the first lap was being completed, polesitter Jason Riggs and Billy Moyer got together in turn two, with Riggs’s disabled car getting clipped by John Blankenship and Ryan Gustin. Chris Madden and Robby Hensley were also involved. Kent Robinson spun on lap nine. Billy Moyer won the ensuing scramble to get the final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Nick Hoffman, Hudson O’Neal, Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Bruening, Billy Moyer, Earl Pearson Jr., Chase Junghans, Ryan King, Johnny Scott, Kent Robinson, Brent Larson, Austin Kirpatrick, Logan Roberson, Gregg Satterlee, Jason Riggs, Ryan Gustin, John Blankenship, Chris Madden, Jensen Ford, Ross Bailes. DNS: Josh Rice, Dean Bowen, Mike Benedum.
10:48 p.m. | T-Mac makes owner smile
Donald Bradsher, the owner of Tim McCreadie’s Paylor Motorsports Longhorn house car, wore a wide grin as he leaned his team’s pit box after the completion of Thursday’s heat races.
“Pretty good!” Bradsher said, reflecting on McCreadie’s surge forward from the fourth starting spot to grab a runner-up finish in the fifth heat. “We’ll see what happens.”
McCreadie was chasing down winner Chad Simpson when the prelim concluded; gaining one more would have handed him the outside pole for the 100-lap feature rather than the 11th starting spot he now has. But Bradsher liked what he saw, giving him hopes of a rich victory lane celebration with T-Mac after not being in attendance for McCreadie’s $50,000 victory in last year’s Stream Invitational because he was racing himself in the Southeast.
10:46 p.m. | Consy polesitter done
Jason Riggs started on the pole of the first consolation but his race ended on the second lap in a turn-two scramble. The Illinois native wasn't hurt, but "it killed this car," Riggs said. "It was really fast. I hate it for all these guys that'd been working ... that's part of it."
Riggs was battling Billy Moyer for third and chasing Nick Hoffman and Hudson O'Neal when Riggs and Moyer made apparent contact. "He hit me and all hell broke loose from there," Riggs said.
Moyer acknowledged that he pushed up into Riggs’s line, but he felt that he had Riggs cleared well enough that Riggs should’ve lifted.
“I got a little tight, but I still had him cleared," Moyer said. “That’s what happens at Eldora. No one wants to lift and s--- happens.”
10:37 p.m. | Evans breaks through
Kody Evans got plenty of hugs — including from fellow drivers Dustin Nobbe and Josh Rice — after he grabbed the third and final transfer spot with two laps remaining in the fifth heat. That gave the 22-year-old Camden, Ohio, driver his first berth in an Eldora 100-lapper.
"It's just 45 minutes from the house but I can't seem to get a hold off the place," Evans said. "To make one of these things means a lot to me."
Starting fifth in the heat dominated by Chad Simpson, Evans ran fifth most of the but made up ground with Ricky Weiss, Tim McCreadie and Chris Ferguson battling for third. Evans grabbed fourth on the 12th lap and went around Weiss to grab third on the 14ht lap.
"I knew I had him when I got to him," Evans said adding that Weiss left a lane just above him. "I was good. We touched a little but it was one of them deals."
10:33 p.m. | Fifth heat battle
Chris Ferguson wasn’t happy with Tim McCreadie after their back-and-forth battle in the fifth heat race left Ferguson one spot out of a transfer spot.
“Tim McCreadie’s one of the best of all time, but he was driving like a windshield wiper there,” said Ferguson, who got the jump on his fellow second-row starter but lost the third spot when McCreadie made an aggressive move on a lap-three restart.
Ferguson battled back and briefly took the position back from McCreadie, but McCreadie threw a slider to take the spot back in the next corner. Ferguson’s own slide job attempt a few laps later came up short, forcing him to check up to keep from sliding into McCreadie. That allowed Kody Evans to grab fourth, putting him in line for the third and final transfer spot when Ricky Weiss faded badly in the closing laps.
Ferguson settled for the fourth spot and will start from the front row of a consolation race coming up.
10:31 p.m. | Consolation lineups
(20 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Jason Riggs, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Nick Hoffman, Billy Moyer
Row 3: Hudson O'Neal, Tyler Bruening
Row 4: Ryan Gustin, Jensen Ford
Row 5: Chris Madden, Kent Robinson
Row 6: Ross Bailes, John Blankenship
Row 7: Chase Junghans, Austin Kirkpatrick
Row 8: Ryan King, Robby Hensley
Row 9: Josh Rice, Dean Bowen
Row 10: Brent Larson, Johnny Scott
Row 11: Gregg Satterlee, Logan Roberson
Row 12: Dennis Erb Jr., Mike Benedum
Row 1: Stormy Scott, Chris Ferguson
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan, Shane Clanton
Row 3: Mason Zeigler, Scott James
Row 4: Michael Brown, Kyle Strickler
Row 5: Scott Bloomquist, Max Blair
Row 6: Frank Heckenast Jr., Boom Briggs
Row 7: Dustin Nobbe, Jerry Bowersock
Row 8: Jason Feger, G.R. Smith
Row 9: Jeff Mathews, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 10: Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Ryan Scott
Row 11: Spencer Hughes, John Baker
Row 12: Steve Casebolt, Brian Nuttall Jr.
10:18 p.m. | Sheppard wins final heat
Reigning Dream winner Brandon Sheppard dominated the final heat, winning by 0.856 of a second ahead of Mike Marlar to earn the pole starting position for Dream XXVII. Sheppard cruised to an easy win in the caution-free 15-lapper. Marlar finished second with Devin Moran third ahead of Darrell Lanigan and Scott James. Eight-time Dream winner Scott Bloomquist finished sixth after starting 11th.
Finish (top three transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Mike Marlar, Devin Moran, Darrell Lanigan, Scott James, Scott Bloomquist, Boom Briggs, Jason Feger, Jeep Van Wormer, Spencer Hughes, Brian Nuttall Jr. DNS: Freddie Carpenter.
10:11 p.m. | Simpson wins entertaining fifth heat
Polesitter Chad Simpson grabbed the lead from Canadian Ricky Weiss on the opening lap but the duo hardly had time to battle for the point as Steve Casebolt, the 2007 Dream winner, slowed to draw a caution on lap two. On the restart, third-running Chris Ferguson slid way up the track giving Tim McCreadie room to get by on the inside. McCreadie and Ferguson battled of the final 13 circuits for the final transfer spot. Tim McCreadie finally broke away from Ferguson and took the runner-up spot from Weiss, while Ferguson slipped back to fourth in a battle with Wiess, allowing Kody Evans to power by on the high side and steal away the third and final transfer spot to deliver Evans his first-ever Dream starting spot. Simpson won by 0.493 of a second ahead of McCreadie.
Finish (top three transfer): Chad Simpson, Tim McCredie, Cody Evans, Chris Ferguson, Ricky Weiss, Mason Zeigler, Kyle Strickler, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jerry Bowersock, Jeff Mathews, Ryan Scott, Steve Casebolt.
10:02 p.m. | Bronson powers to heat win
Kyle Bronson powered ahead of Brian Shirley from his outside front row starting spot and went on to dominate the fourth heat. The Floridian cruised to a 2.499-second heat victory on the eve of his birthday. Shirley keep fellow Illinoian Bobby Pierce easily at bay, while Stormy Scott finished fourth.
Finish (top three transfer): Kyle Bronson, Brian Shirley, Bobby Pierce, Stormy Scott, Shane Clanton, Max Blair, Dustin Nobbe, G.R. Smith, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., John Baker, Parker Martin, Jimmy Mars.
9:55 p.m. | Overton still fast
Backing up Wednesday’s preliminary feature win, outside front row starter Brandon Overton pulled away to win the third heat by 0.933 seconds over 2014 Dream winner Dale McDowell. Overton stretched his lead to nearly a straight-away over the final 13 laps following a caution on lap two, though McDowel managed to close in slightly at the finish. Fifth-starting Zack Dohm surged forward after the caution to grab the final transfer spot ahead of Nick Hoffman.
Finish (top three transfer): Brandon Overton, Dale McDowell, Zack Dohm, Nick Hoffman, Shannon Babb, Tyler Bruening, Chris Madden, John Blankenship, Ryan King, Dean Bowen, Gregg Satterlee, Mike Benedum, Travis Stemler.
9:44 p.m. | Hawkins wins delayed second heat
Polesitter Jacob Hawkins jumped into the lead ahead of Jimmy Owens on the start of the second heat but couldn’t pull away from the 2009 Dream winner. Owens stayed in the leader’s tracks and trialed by just 0.403 of a second when the heat was slowed on lap six due to precipitation falling around the speedway. Josh Richards, Jensen Ford and Earl Pearson Jr. trailed in third through fifth as cars headed into the infield to wait out the shower. After a 90-minute delay, Hawkins resumed command when the race went back green, leading the rest of the way to win ahead of Owen and Richards.
Finish (top three transfer): Jacob Hawkins, Jimmy Owens, Josh Richards, Earl Pearson Jr. Hudson O'Neal, Jensen Ford, Ross Bailes, Austin Kirkpatrick, Josh Rice, Johnny Scott, Dennis Erb Jr., Steven Roberts. DNS: Duane Chamberlain.
9:41 p.m. | Rain delay over
The 90-minute rain delay concluded when the second heat resumed action with Jacob Hawkins out front.
9:40 p.m. | Dohm's rear-end leak
Zack Dohm was in staging for the third when the rain hit the track, delaying the action. Teams were cautioned not to work on their cars during the red flag, but Dohm was given permission to put a pan under his car's leaking rear end.
The rear end seal was leaking in connection to the loss of his car's driveshaft in one of Wednesday's preliminary features, but the team didn't have time to fix it when they noticed it after Thursday's hot laps. They took the rear end fluid from the pan and dumped it back in the car before going out on the track to help whip the surface into shape.
Dohm's younger brother Nick wasn't confident there'd be much racing on the fast track. "It'll be whoever messes up is the only way you'll see a pass," he said.
9:35 p.m. | Can Hawkins complete win?
As cars began to refire engines after the rain delay, second-heat leader Jacob Hawkins isn't crazy about returning to a track freshly watered by Mother Nature. He'll survive "as long as I don't (mess) up terribly and slip out of the groove," he said. Hawkins said the surface was slickening as rain started but he wasn't sure if it was just his tight-handling car or the track itself.
8:57 p.m. | Rain delay continues
Light sprinkling rain continues with no activity on the track so far. The pack trucks hit the track a few moments later as the rain lightened up.
8:10 p.m. | Rain delays second heat
A bit of rain that popped up halted the second heat after six laps with Jacob Hawkins leading Jimmy Owens and Josh Richards. Teams quickly covered cars that pulled to the infield.
8:03 p.m. | Kyle Larson wins first heat
With a pair of Longhorn jockeys Kyle Larson and Jonathan Davenport leaning on each other heavily as the first heat came to green, Ricky Thornton Jr., squirted by to lead the opening lap, but after the two traded sliders, it was Larson who assumed command and began to pull away from Thornton. The race was slowed on lap five by caution, after which Larson pulled away again to win by 4.448 seconds ahead of Thornton. Davenport followed in third, which Jason Riggs fourth.
Finish (top three transfer): Kyle Larson, Ricky Thornton Jr., Jonathan Davenport, Jason Riggs, Billy Moyer, Ryan Gustin, Kent Robinson, Chase Junghans, Robby Hensley, Brent Larson, Logan Roberson, Ryan Missler, Trent Ivey.
7:57 p.m. | Issues for Bailes
Making his third visit to Eldora with all three visits coming with different teams, Ross Bailes hoped the third try would be a charm for him this week. So far, that hasn’t been the case.
Bailes and his team battled fuel pressure issues all night Wednesday and didn’t make one of the nights two prelim features. The crew diagnosed the issue as a problem with the fuel regulator and have it fixed for tonight.
Set to start 10th in his heat race, Bailes said he’ll try to make his way forward and transfer into tonight’s 100-lapped, but said his realistic plan is to use tonight as practice to get faster for the 26th Dream Thursday and Friday.
7:47 p.m. | EPJ takes a hit
After finishing 13th in Wednesday’s first 25-lap preliminary feature, former World 100 winner Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., emerged from his Black Diamond house car feeling like he had absorbed a punch to his upper body – because, in a manner of speaking, he had.
Pearson was heading into turn three one lap of the event when a softball-sized clod of mud flew up, squeezed between the protective bars in front of him and slammed into his chest. The mud ball also pushed up the bottom of his helmet and lodged underneath it for about a circuit until he was able to grasp what had hit him and pull it away. It remained on the car’s floorboard when he returned to the pits afterward.
“You don’t know if they’re telling the truth (about how hard the clod impacted) until you see the evidence,” Black Diamond owner Ronnie Stuckey said. “He showed me, and he’s got a welt there. It’s tender.”
7:33 p.m. | Hitting the highways
Max Blair’s Eldora Super Late Model debut on Wednesday night came after a hectic stretch of back-and-forth trekking from west to east and back west again.
The Centerville, Pa., driver made his first national-tour appearance since joining Shawn and Lisa Martin’s Viper Motorsports team with a trip to last weekend’s World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series doubleheader in Indiana. But rather than stay in the Midwest, Blair drove back to his native western Pennsylvania to compete in Sunday’s Zimmer’s United Late Model Series North Region event at Bradford Speedway in Rew, Pa.
“We had to basically drive right past Eldora to go back to Bradford,” said Blair, who made his final preparations for Eldora at his shop before pointing his hauler west again around 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Blair made the field for Wednesday’s first preliminary feature, finishing 17th.
7:22 p.m. | Rice ready to go
Josh Rice, his brother James and their fellow team members can be excused if they’re a bit bleary-eyed today. They didn’t climb into bed and pull up their covers to get some sleep until the sun was already rising over Eldora Speedway.
The Rick Jones-owned team’s long night (and, uh, early morning) was created by the memorable — and expensive — explosion of the engine in Rice’s car during a Wednesday heat. He was running second on the final lap when the motor let loose off turn two in a cloud of smoke; he then limped into the pit area with the motor still screaming and smoke and oil pouring out of it.
Rice’s machine finally rolled to a stop just past the infield stage, but the engine kept running at full tilt even after Rice hit the kill switch. Hot oil kept pouring into the pistons to keep the motor sparked and firing, producing a huge plume of smoke due to a condition known as “dieseling.” The engine was finally shut off when the air cleaner was sprayed with fire-extinguishing foam to choke off its air.
Rice and Co. soon went to work removing the destroyed engine (it was put in a friend’s pickup truck to take away) and cleaning out the XR1 Rocket car and its various lines. They finished installing their backup engine — a standard-bore piece that Rice used in last September’s Intercontinental Classic at Eldora — and loaded up the car shortly after 6 p.m.
“We had to have a beer after all that,” said James Rice, who headed to bed about 7 a.m. and was back up barely three hours later. Josh, who said the oil that gushed from the exploded engine “stank up this whole end of the pit area,” slept in until 11 a.m.
7:07 p.m. | Odds and ends
Don't make too much about the showdown between Longhorn Chassis drivers and front-row starters Kyle Larson and Jonathan Davenport in the first heat. One reason: the heat winner starts sixth in the while the heat runner-up starts seventh. ... Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., struggled with a new MB Customs on Wednesday because his car's nosepiece was digging into the track. They’ve made improvements for Thursday’s action. ... Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist debuted a new car in Wednesday’s prelims, but he’s gone back to an older machine — the car sporting a green throwback scheme from 2013 that he ran in last weekend’s Historic 100 at West Virginia Motor Speedway — for Thursday’s action. That normally comes with a penalty of starting on the back of your next race, but Bloomquist is already scheduled to start in the last row of the sixth heat. ... Two new drivers have joined Dream XXVII action and will tag the tail in heat races. Mike Benedum of Salem, W.Va., will start 13th in the third heat and teenager Parker Martin of Milledgeville, Ga., 13th in the fourth heat. ... Zack Dohm returns after breaking a driveshaft in Wednesday’s second preliminary feature. ... No drivers scratched after Wednesday action although there were question marks about Jimmy Mars, Duane Chamberlain and Robby Hensley. ... Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, is suspended from DIRTcar competition, but he’s been in the pits helping his buddy Steven Roberts of Jesup, Ga., who ran into his share of problems in Wednesday’s action. ... Check out the DirtonDirt.com reporters' vlog shot and edited by Joshua Joiner. It’s a joint piece appearing on DirtonDirt.com, FloRacing and Hunt the Front.
6:38 p.m. | Avoiding disaster
Before Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, drove his 2-race-old Sniper Race Car to a fourth-place finish in Wednesday’s first 25-lap preliminary feature, he experienced a scary moment en route to winning the second heat.
A fuel leak was discovered when Weiss returned to the pit area following the heat — a situation that J.R. Haley, Weiss’s crew member and Sniper Chassis partner, said “could’ve been bad.”
According to Haley, contact from the car’s fluttering hood loosened a fuel line under the hood. Weiss noticed drops of moisture coming toward him during the heat, leading him to find the leaking fuel.
Weiss starts from the outside pole in Thursday’s fifth heat driving the Sniper machine he debuted in May 30’s Johnny Appleseed Classic at Eldora.
6:36 p.m. | Weight rule change
In an effort to bring rules for major Dirt Late Model tours and events more in line with each other, officials with DIRTcar and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series jointly announced on Thursday changes to the weight rule for both the Lucas Oil Series and this week’s DIRTcar-sanctioned double Dirt Late Model Dreams at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
The change, which will allow teams a one-pound-per-lap burnoff for feature events only, was announced during the drivers meeting for Thursday’s Dream action at Eldora and went into effect for the night’s 100-lap, $127,000-to-win feature for the 27th Dream as well as Saturday’s feature for the 26th Dream. That move means instead of having to weigh a minimum of 2,350 pounds after both of the week’s 100-lap Dream features, cars will need to only meet a 2,250-pound weight minimum.
The move brings both the Lucas Oil Series weight rule and the Dream weight rule in line with the weight rule employed by the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, which like DIRTcar is owned by World Racing Group. DIRTcar officials said the change would not apply to the DIRTcar Summer Nationals and said they had not decided if it would apply to Eldora’s other crown jewel event, the World 100 in September.
6:15 p.m. | Chamberlain tries again
Duane Chamberlain didn’t even complete a qualifying lap on Wednesday due to a broken motor in his Mike Weinle-owned car. But Weinle, who also constructs the engines in his cars, had a replacement powerplant trucked in to Eldora from his shop in Cincinnati, Ohio, so the veteran racer from Richmond, Ind., could return to competition this evening.
As the 6:30 p.m. start time for hot laps approached, however, Chamberlain wasn’t quite finished buttoning the engine into his No. 20c.
“We’re hoping to get out there for at least a few laps,” Chamberlain said, his eyes more focused upon starting the second half of the double Dream week with a clean slate on Friday because he is scheduled to take the green flag from the rear of Thursday’s second heat.
Alas, shortly thereafter Chamberlain fired up the newly-installed engine and it immediately developed problems, forcing him to scratch from further Thursday action.
6:05 p.m. | New life for the Big Show
Robby Hensley thought he might be headed back to Walton, Ky., without turning a lap under racing conditions after experiencing terminal problems with his only engine during Wednesday’s qualifying. His car was loaded into his trailer and his team members stood glumly in the pit area for the remainder of the program.
But Hensley found a way to extend his weekend. After calling back to his home state and talking to Wells Motorsports’ Eric Wells, the son of Brandon Overton’s team owner David Wells, the elder Wells learned of Hensley’s situation and offered to sell one of his team’s spare Clements engines (after consultation with Overton, of course). Hensley made the purchase and has the powerplant in his machine for tonight’s action; he has plenty of work to do, however, because he’s saddled with the last starting spot (13th) in the first heat.
5:57 p.m. | Thanks, Blane
Jonathan Davenport’s soon-to-be 9-year-old son, Blane, proved to be a popular youngster as he walked around Eldora Speedway’s grounds on Thursday afternoon.
“We went up to the slot-car track (outside turns three and four) and like five people came up and told him, ‘Good job picking the 2!’” Davenport’s wife, Rachel, said. “He didn’t realize why everybody kept talking to him until I told him everybody was happy about the number he spun on the wheel last night.”
Indeed, after Blane’s father captured Wednesday’s second 25-lap preliminary feature, Blane joined him on the winner’s stage and was asked to spin the casino-style wheel that determines the number for the inversion of Thursday’s Dream XXVII heats. The wheel stopped on No. 2 pleasing the high points earners — especially his dad, who will start from the outside pole in the first heat.
5:47 p.m. | B-Shepp needs more speed
Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who won the last Dream finale contested in 2019, showed a flash of strength with his Rocket Chassis house car Wednesday when he slid into ninth place from his 14th starting spot on the 10th circuit of the first 25-lap preliminary feature. But then his advance stalled and began to go the other way, ultimately leaving 12th in the final rundown.
But while Sheppard’s machine was found to have a leaking right-rear tire after the race, he didn’t use that as an excuse for his disappointing result. “There was a pinhole in the tire,” he said, “but we weren’t good enough.”
Sheppard’s finish did give pay off in one respect: with a two-car inversion for tonight’s heats, he starts from the pole in the sixth prelim, giving him the opportunity to land the Dream feature’s pole with a victory.
5:45 p.m. | Rookie awards
Pre-race ceremonies are set to include rookie awards with Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif., earning $500 as the best finisher in Thursday's prelims (eighth) with Jensen Ford picking up $300 and Logan Roberson ($200).
Heat race lineups
(Based on points from Wednesday's prelims with two-car invert; 15 laps, three transfer)
Row 1: Kyle Larson, Jonathan Davenport
Row 2: Ricky Thornton Jr., Ryan Gustin
Row 3: Billy Moyer, Logan Roberson
Row 4: Jason Riggs, Brent Larson
Row 5: Kent Robinson, Chase Junghans
Row 6: Trent Ivey, Ryan Missler
Row 7: Robby Hensley
Row 1: Jacob Hawkins, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Josh Richards, Jensen Ford
Row 3: Johnny Scott, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 4: Austin Kirkpatrick, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Hudson O'Neal, Ross Bailes
Row 6: Steven Roberts, Josh Rice
Row 7: Duane Chamberlain
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Nick Hoffman
Row 3: Zack Dohm, Tyler Bruening
Row 4: John Blankenship, Chris Madden
Row 5: Travis Stemler, Gregg Satterlee
Row 6: Dean Bowen, Ryan King
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Kyle Bronson
Row 2: Bobby Pierce, Stormy Scott
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Dustin Nobbe
Row 4: Max Blair, G.R. Smith
Row 5: Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Michael Brown
Row 6: John Baker, Jimmy Mars
Row 1: Chad Simpson, Ricky Weiss
Row 2: Chris Ferguson, Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Kody Evans, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 4: Mason Zeigler, Steve Casebolt
Row 5: Kyle Strickler, Jeff Mathews
Row 6: Jerry Bowersock, Ryan Scott
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Mike Marlar
Row 2: Devin Moran, Darrell Lanigan
Row 3: Scott James, Boom Briggs
Row 4: Jeep Van Wormer, Brian Nuttall Jr.
Row 5: Spencer Hughes, Jason Feger
Row 6: Scott Bloomquist, Freddie Carpenter
Correction: Fixes day of preliminaries.
6 a.m.-6 p.m.: Showers open (front of Lot 2)
7-11 a.m.: Breakfast at turn four concessions
10 a.m.-8 p.m.: Turn-three race registration opens (pit passes and media credential sign-in)
10 a.m.: Main gate ticket office opens (tickets, pit passes and will call)
10 a.m.: Turn-four ticket office opens (tickets and pit passes)
10 a.m.: All ADA parking opens (permit required)
11 a.m.: Grandstand cleared and secured for grand opening
Noon: All admission gates/suites/concessions open
Noon: Hillside markings may begin
Noon-4:30 p.m.: Technical inspection for Late Models
TBA: Driver autograph session (Fan Zone)
TBA: Drivers’ meeting
6:30 p.m.: Hot laps
8 p.m.: Racing begins
- Six heat races (15 laps)
- Two consolation races (20 laps) and two scrambles (5 laps)
- Dream XXVII (100 laps)