ROSSBURG, Ohio — After Brandon Overton won Thursday's $127,000 Dream at Eldora Speedway, he was soaking up the career-making victory so much that he said he didn't much care if he ever won another one.
Let's just say it didn't take the 30-year-old Evans, Ga., driver, long to recharge his competitive juices and, yes, get a bit greedy.
In the most unusual of seasons when drivers indeed got back-to-back opportunities at six-figure paydays, Overton went back to work on Saturday, outdueled Chris Madden in a lead-swapping battle in the final 25 laps, and completed a mindboggling $273,000 weekend at the historic half-mile oval owned by Tony Stewart.
"I always dreamed of winning this deal or winning at race at Eldora, and you get one, and there's such a short time to get (ready for the next one), I wanted to win this one worse than anything, you know?" Overton said Saturday in victory lane. "I'm like, damn, I didn't never think I was going to win one, now I'm getting a little greedy wanting two."
And now he's got two as he becomes just the fourth multitime winner of the event and only the second driver to win it back-to-back following Scott Bloomquist's 2017-18 victories.
The seventh-starting Overton added Saturday's $126,000 payday to Thursday's haul with a couple of $10,000 preliminary victories on Wednesday and Friday thrown in for good measure as Eldora ran last year's pandemic-postponed 26th Dream on Saturday just two days after Dream XXVII (don't ask).
The 10th-starting Madden did something few drivers did all week — overtake Overton — leading twice on laps 75-80 and again on laps 82-85, but Overton pulled away to finish 3.423 seconds ahead of the Gray Court, S.C., driver at the finish. Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., rallied from 13th to finish third ahead of Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., the 2003 Dream winner, led 52 laps from the pole but settled for fifth.
Making his fourth trip the Eldora victory stage in four days — perhaps an unprecedented feat in Eldora Late Model history — Overton nearly ran out of things to say to summarize one of the richest weekends in the history of the sport.
While struggling to find the words at one point, Overton paused and looked at announcer Ben Shelton: "Ask me something else, Ben."
Wondering "what I did to deserve all this," Overton's voice cracked slightly in trying to wrap his head around just how much better his Wells Motorsports No. 76 Longhorn Chassis was than the sport's best drivers. "This is awesome. A dream come true. I swore I wasn't going to get emotional, but this is bad-ass to leave here with all this money."
Lanigan jumped into the lead at the outset and commanded the field as Overton picked his way to the front in the early going, taking the second spot from Bronson on the 15th lap and keeping Lanigan within his sites up front through a stretch of four cautions periods into the middle stages.
Finally Overton began turning up the heat, using his lower line to slide past Lanigan exiting turn four on the 53rd lap and slowly building a straightaway lead. Madden continued his charge from the fifth row and dropped Lanigan to third on lap 70 as he suddenly put Overton's Double Dream quest in doubt after the race's final caution on lap 74.
Madden used the high groove on the restart to sweep ahead of Overton, who fought back to edge back ahead on lap 81 before Madden regained control and led four more laps. But Overton's steady car was too much for Madden as he regained the lead for good on lap 86 and pulled away.
"If he got down he could've blocked me I guess, but I just kept the tires under me, stuck to my plan, I didn't get excited," Overton said. "I didn't go after him, I just kept riding and kept riding, and he raced me really clean. So that's cool. I really don't even remember when I passed him back."
Madden, who failed to even crack the starting lineup for Thursday's 100-lapper, pulled off a big turnaround to challenge Overton's supremacy and grab a runner-up finish.
"We've come a long way this week. We struggled pretty much all week and today we hit on a few things and we were pretty good. Obviously, Brandon's been the best all week, so to be able to compete with him there for a little while, I'll take that," said Madden, perhaps the sport's most accomplished racer without an Eldora crown jewel victory.
"We had a real good race car. I got a little bit tight across the center (of the corners) especially when the rubber started coming. With my left-rear (tire) in the rubber, we'd just drive out of it, and Brandon's race car was a lot more neutral at that time, than I was. I raced him as clean as I could and tried to keep my momentum up and keep him back there. He had a better car all week, so congratulations to Brandon. That's a heckuva job."
Ferguson didn't crack the top 10 until a shuffling of the lineup on a lap-33 caution, but steadily made his way forward to better his previous best Dream finish of fourth in 2019.
"Last night we got better at the end, so we knew in a 100-lapper we'd be pretty good," Ferguson said. "I just took my time there at the beginning with a lot of guys, then at the end when it was time to go, we went."
But it was too late to have any designs on catching Overton, whose lone scare after regaining the lead from Madden for the final time came with 10 laps remaining as he was approaching the slower cars of Bobby Pierce and Mason Zeigler at the flagstand.
"Mason darted out behind Bobby and I was like, 'Oh s---, here we go.' Anyway, I kind of seen it coming, and I could hear Mason so I went ahead and yanked her left," Overton said. "I said everything has to play your way to win these races. There's so, so many good race car drivers here and such good equipment. Like I said, this is unreal."
Six cautions slowed the action, all for single-car incidents except for a turn-one scramble on a lap-32 restart when Ricky Weiss and Bobby Pierce tangled, triggering a melee that caught Mike Marlar and Ricky Thornton Jr. up in the mess. Weiss retired while the others were able to continued and Pierce briefly broke into the top 10 with 24 laps remaining.
Other cautions appeared for fourth-running Kyle Bronson's flat tire (lap 32), Thornton (lap 37), Brandon Sheppard's smoking car (lap 44), a slowing Scott Bloomquist (lap 67) and lastly for Jimmy Owens (lap 74).
Dream XXVI finish
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Brandon Overton, Evans, Ga., Longhorn, $126,000
2. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., Rocket, $20,000
3. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., Team Zero, $12,500
4. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $10,000
5. Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., Club 29, $8,750
6. Kyle Larson (6), Elk Grove, Calif., Longhorn, $7,500
7. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., Capital, $6,500
8. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $6,000
9. Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., Rocket, $5,500
10. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Team Zero, $5,000
11. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, Capital, $4,000
12. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Rocket, $3,000
13. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, Longhorn, $2,950
14. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., Rocket, $2,900
15. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Pierce, $2,875
16. Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., Rocket, $2,850
17. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., Capital, $2,825
18. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., Team Zero, $2,800
19. Earl Pearson Jr (1), Jacksonville, Fla., Black Diamond, $2,775
20. Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., Team Zero, $2,750
21. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., Longhorn, $2,725
22. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $2,700
23. Zack Dohm (17), Cross Lanes, W.Va., Longhorn, $2,675
24. Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba, Sniper, $2,650
25. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, Rocket, $2,625
26. Nick Hoffman (6), Mooresville, N.C., Team Zero, $2,600
27. Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., Longhorn, $2,550
28. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., Team Zero, $2,500
Lap leaders: Lanigan 1-52; Overton 53-74, 81, 86-100; Madden 75-80, 82-85
Fast qualifier (among 74 cars): Overton, 15.154 seconds
Heat race winners: Kyle Larson, Ricky Thornton Jr., Jonathan Davenport, Kyle Bronson, Devin Moran, Darrell Lanigan
Consolation winners: Marlar, McDowell
Scramble winners: Bruening, Hughes
Provisional starters: Owens, Babb
Preliminary feature winners: Overton, Satterlee
Lap by lap
Lap 100: Overton wins.
Lap 95: Overton leads Madden by 1.944 seconds. Ferguson up to third.
Lap 86: Overton regains the lead as Madden slips high in turn four.
Lap 82: Overton leads lap 81 but Madden answers to lead lap 82.
Lap 80: Madden leads Overton by two-tenths of a second.
Lap 75: Madden rolls ro the outside of Overton on the restart to grab the lead.
Lap 74: Overton's lead baloons to 2.176 seconds over Madden, but the sixth caution of the night flies, this time for Jimmy Owens, who pits to get fresh rubber and a chassis adustment.
Lap 70: Madden goes to second around Lanigan.
Lap 68: Eighteenth-running Scott Bloomquist slows to bring out the caution, the fifth of the race. Overton still leads, but has changed his line a bit, going closer to the inside wall.
Lap 65: Overton pulling away, leading Lanigan by two seconds. Madden rides in third, with J.D. fourth and McCreadie up to fifth. Dale McDowell has cracked the top 10.
Lap 53: Overton grabs the lead from Lanigan.
Lap 50: Darrell Lanigan continues to lead at the halfway mark, with Overton in second and J.D. third. Madden, McCreadie, Larson, Clanton, Mason Zeigler, Ferguson and Gregg Satterlee trail.
Lap 44: The fourth caurtion appears. Sheppard heads pitside ith the Rocket Chassis house car trailing blue smoke. The 2019 Dream winner parks for the night. Lanigan still leading Overton. Bloomquist pits for tires.
Lap 37: Ricky Thornton Jr. draws the feature's third caution, heads into the pits with nose damage, erasing Lanigan's 1.064-second advantage over Overton. Davenport runs third.
Lap 32: On the restart, Ricky Thornton Jr., Bobby Pierce, Ricky Weiss involved in turn-two melee. Second caution waves. Lanigan leads Overton, Davenport, Madden and Larson. McCreadie up to sixth with Bronson and Pierce pitting. Clanton will bump up to seventh, followed by Fergusion, Owens and Brandon Sheppard.
Lap 32: Third-running Kyle Bronson slows with a flat to draw the first caution.
Lap 30: Former Dream winners Shane Clanton (10th), Jimmy Owens (13th), Scott Bloomquist (18th), Dale McDowell (19th) not a factor so far
Lap 25: Lanigan paces the field ahead of Overton, Davenport, Bronson, Chris Madden, Kyle Larson, Bobby Pierce, Thornton, Ricky Weiss and Tim McCreadie.
Lap 20: Lanigan still leads Overton by 0.560 seconds. Davenport runs third.
Lap 14: Overton goes by Bronson for second.
Lap 12: Leader Lanigan catches rear of the field.
Lap 10: Polesitter Darrell Lanigan leads Kyle Bronson, Brandon Overton, Jonathan Davenport and Ricky Thornton Jr.
9:27 p.m. Dream XXVI goes green. Darrell Lanigan grabs the lead.
9:05 p.m. | Feature lineup
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Devin Moran
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Jonathan Davenport
Row 3: Ricky Thornton Jr., Kyle Larson
Row 4: Brandon Overton, Ricky Weiss
Row 5: Brandon Sheppard, Chris Madden
Row 6: Kyle Strickler, Tim McCreadie
Row 7: Chris Ferguson, Gregg Satterlee
Row 8: Bobby Pierce, Scott Bloomquist
Row 9: Ryan Gustin, Shane Clanton
Row 10: Jimmy Owens, Shannon Babb
Row 11: Mike Marlar, Dale McDowell
Row 12: Earl Pearson Jr., Mason Zeigler
Row 13: Zack Dohm, Nick Hoffman
Row 14: Tyler Bruening, Spencer Hughes
8:59 p.m. | Hughes grabs last spot
Winning the final five-lap scramble and the final prelim of the night, Spencer Hughes beat John Blankenship and Brent Larson to gain entry in Dream XXVI, the first Dream start for the Mississippi native.
8:53 p.m. | McDowell joins the show
Dale McDowell rolled to a victory in the final consolation race, topping Mason Zeigler and Nick Hoffman.
Finish (top three transfer): Dale McDowell, Mason Zeigler, Nick Hoffman, Spencer Hughes, John Blankenship, Brian Shirley, Jacob Hawkins, Chad Simpson, Chase Junghans, Trent Ivey, Brent Larson, Mike Benedum, Steven Roberts, Boom Briggs, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Jeff Mathews. DNS Dennis Erb Jr., Jensen Ford, Ryan Missler.
8:49 p.m. | Abrupt end
Max Blair’s first-ever weekend of Super Late Model racing at Eldora had its moments — namely, starts in two preliminary features. But he couldn’t nab a starting spot in the two Dream headliners.
The Pennsylvania appeared positioned well to put his Viper Motorsports mount in Saturday’s 100-lapper as he ran fourth early in the fifth heat, but a blown right-rear tire on lap five snuffed out his hopes. He stopped in turn four and needed to be towed back to the pit area because the explosion caused a plethora of right-rear bodywork and suspension damage.
“I think we could’ve gotten by (Nick) Hoffman (who was third at the time),” Blair said while leaning on the rear of his car and talking with car owner Shawn Martin. “At the least we would’ve been on the first row of a B-main.”
8:42 p.m. | Bruening wins scramble
Tyler Bruening topped Josh Richards to win the first five-lap scramble, punching his ticket into his first career Dream.
8:39 p.m. | Expiring engines
The heat races proved rough on Josh Rice, Dennis Erb Jr. and Kody Evans, all of whom saw their weeks at Eldora end without a Saturday-night Dream feature start due to terminal motor trouble.
Evans was the first to fall, going out with problems under the hood in the first heat. The mechanical malfunction dive-bombed his hopes of duplicating his Thursday effort when he made his first Dream headliner and finished 23rd.
Next was Rice, the young Kentucky driver whose already rough week (spectacular blown engine on Wednesday, DNQ on Thursday) concluded with another failed powerplant as he held third place halfway through the second heat.
Finally came Erb, the 2016 Dream champion who made a superb 25th-to-sixth run in Thursday’s 100-lapper and was hoping for even better results on Saturday. His car began to smoke halfway through the fourth heat as he ran third and he eventually limped powerless into the pit area, leaving him a spectator for just the third time in the last 12 Dream headliners.
8:36 p.m. | Marlar transfers
Mike Marlar finished 3.156 seconds ahead of Earl Pearson Jr. to win the first consolation. Zack Dohm finished third as all three transfer to the feature. Stormy Scott slid into the turn one wall hitting hard while collecting Scott James, Johnny Scott and John Baker. Ross Bailes was also caught up in a crash.
Finish (top three transfer): Mike Marlar, Earl Pearson Jr., Zack Dohm, Tyler Bruening, Josh Richards, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jason Feger, Robby Hensley, Ryan King, Travis Stemler, Ryan Scott, Jerry Bowersock, Jerry Bowersock, Ross Bailes, Stormy Scott, Scott James, Johnny Scott, John Baker, Dustin Nobbe. DNS: Logan Roberson, Kody Evans, Brian Nuttall, Josh Rice, Billy Moyer.
8:31 p.m. | Regrouping McDowell
Dale McDowell wasn’t thrilled with the track’s dominant cushion that developed throughout the night’s heat races. Known for his low-side charges at Eldora, the fifth-starting McDowell never really got rolling in the fourth heat race and ended up fourth, one spot out of a feature transfer.
“It’s not what I wanted to see, but that’s just part of it,” McDowell said. “You’re probably going to have to be good up there to run with these guys.”
Even with the top-dominant conditions, McDowell still felt that he would’ve been good enough to grab a feature transfer, but damage from early contact with Scott Bloomquist slowed his car.
“I think we still could’ve gotten in, but when I got together with Scott there it knocked my deck off. We just weren’t very good after that,” McDowell said.
McDowell and his crew quickly repaired the cosmetic damage, and he’ll start from the pole of the night’s second consolation race.
8:22 p.m. | Consolation lineups
(20 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Frank Heckenast Jr., Zack Dohm
Row 2: Mike Marlar, Ross Bailes
Row 3: Jason Feger, Stormy Scott
Row 4: Earl Pearson Jr., Jerry Bowersock
Row 5: Travis Stemler, Scott James
Row 6: Ryan King, Johnny Scott
Row 7: Josh Richards, John Baker
Row 8: Logan Roberson, Kody Evans
Row 9: Robby Hensley, Ryan Scott
Row 10: Dustin Nobbe, Josh Rice
Row 11: Brian Nuttall Jr., Tyler Bruening
Row 12: Billy Moyer
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Nick Hoffman
Row 2: Brian Shirley, Chase Junghans
Row 3: Spencer Hughes, Mason Zeigler
Row 4: Chad Simpson, John Blankenship
Row 5: Jacob Hawkins, Mike Benedum
Row 6: Brent Larson, Steven Roberts
Row 7: Jeff Matthews, Jimmy Sharpe Jr.
Row 8: Boom Briggs, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 9: Trent Ivey, Ryan Missler
Row 10: Jensen Ford, Michael Brown
8:16 p.m. | Satterlee, Weiss come together
Gregg Satterlee was headed toward a runner-up finish in the second heat less than 24 hours after his first-ever victory at Eldora — and then along came Ricky Weiss.
Making a final bid for the spot, Weiss dived underneath Satterlee rounding turn four heading to the checkered flag. Contact between the two — Weiss’s right-rear corner to Satterlee’s left-front — sent Weiss to a second-place finish and left Satterlee to settle for third.
Satterlee felt Weiss had instigated the contact, noting, “I got out of the gas a little bit and he didn’t.” Friday’s second preliminary feature winner returned to the pit area with left-front nose and door damage, which his crew chief, Robby Allen, quickly went to work repairing; at one point Allen laid down on the concrete on his back and push up on Satterlee’s battered fender with both of his legs.
Weiss, meanwhile, had right-rear bodywork to fix on his Sniper Race Car. His engine builder, Vic Hill, was also in his pit tuning on his powerplant.
8:03 p.m. | Lanigan wins final heat, Dream pole
Holding off Tim McCreadie’s charges over the final five laps, Darrell Lanigan win the final heat of the night by 0.733 of a second to earn the pole for Dream XXVII. Lanigan squeezed by polesitter Jimmy Owens and McCreadie on the opening lap and held on for all 15 circuits. Shane Clanton finished third despite getting into the wall on lap three, while Owens fell to fourth but can use a points provisional to make the feature.
Finish (top three transfer): Darrell Lanigan, Tim McCreadie, Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens, Brian Shirley, Mason Zeigler, Jacob Hawkins, Steven Roberts, Boom Briggs. DNS: Ryan Missler, Jeep Van Wormer, G.R. Smith
7:56 p.m. | Moran easy fifth heat winner
Polesitter Devin Moran won the fifth heat by 3.359 seconds ahead of Kyle Strickler. Moran pulled away from Nick Hoffman on the opening lap to gain control. Max Blair had right rear flat and brought out a caution on lap five. Strickler went from fourth to second on the restart following Blair’s trouble, using a slider in turn four two grab the spot from Ryan Gustin, who got by Hoffman as well and grabbed the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Devin Moran, Kyle Strickler, Ryan Gustin, Nick Hoffman, Spencer Hughes, John Blankenship, Brent Larson, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Trent Ivey, Michael Brown, Max Blair. DNS: Parker Martin, Freddie Carpenter.
7:41 p.m. | Bronson leads all of fourth heat
Winning a two-lap shootout following a caution for Dennis Erb Jr.’s heavily smoking machine, race-long leader Kyle Bronson held on to win the fourth heat with a win over Chris Madden. Madden finished 0.388 seconds back, while Scott Bloomquist used the late caution as a reprieve after he had slipped back to fifth. Bloomquist beat Dale McDowell for the final transfer spot. Bloomquist was running second on a lap-two restart but drifted up the hill to open the door for a gaggle of challengers. He then made contact with Dale McDowell exiting turn two as they all ran out of room. The lap-two caution was for Jensen Ford.
Finish (top three transfer): Kyle Bronson, Chris Madden, Scott Bloomquist, Dale McDowell, Chase Junghans, Chad Simpson, Mike Benedum, Jeff Mathews, Dennis Erb Jr., Jensen Ford. DNS: Hudson O'Neal, Dean Bowen, Duane Chamberlain.
7:35 p.m. | J.D. tops B-Shepp in third heat
Taking the lead from the pole position ahead of second-starting Brandon Sheppard on the first lap, Jonathan Davenport won the third heat by 2.384 seconds. Davenport and Sheppard made contact on a restart on lap five, but Davenport pulled away nonetheless as Sheppard slid high, giving Travis Stemler and opportunity to look underneath him. Sheppard battled back to finish second, while Bobby Pierce finished third. Brian Nuttall stopped in turn three on lap four to bring out a caution.
Finish (top three transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce, Mike Marlar, Stormy Scott, Travis Stemler, Johnny Scott, Logan Roberson, Ryan Scott, Brian Nuttall Jr. DNS: Kent Robinson, Richie Edwards, Jason Riggs.
7: 23 p.m. | Thornton wins second heat
Second-starting Ricky Thornton Jr. pulled ahead of polesitter Gregg Satterlee at the start of the second lap of the second heat and led all 15 circuits, winning the heat by a straightaway ahead of Ricky Weiss. Weiss moved forward from fifth, giving Satterlee a slight elbow as they exited turn four to grab the runner-up position on the final lap. Josh Rice slowed on lap seven with engine trouble to bring out a caution, giving up the third position while compounding an already tough week for the Kentucky native.
Finish (top three transfer): Ricky Thornton Jr., Ricky Weiss, Gregg Satterlee, Shannon Babb, Zack Dohm, Jason Feger, Jerry Bowersock, Ryan King, John Baker, Robby Hensley, Josh Rice. DNS: Billy Moyer, Jimmy Mars.
7:14 p.m. | Larson dominates first heat
NASCAR interloper Kyle Larson wrestled the lead from polesitter Brandon Overton on the opening lap and rolled to a convincing victory in the evening’s first heat. Larson finished 6.284 seconds ahead of Overton in the race slowed by one caution. Tyler Bruening slowed on lap two to draw the only yellow. Chris Ferguson briefly nosed ahead of Overton on lap three but fell back and settled for the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Kyle Larson, Brandon Overton, Chris Ferguson, Frank Heckenast Jr., Ross Bailes, Earl Pearson Jr., Scott James, Josh Richards, Kody Evans, Dustin Nobbe, Tyler Bruening. DNS: Steve Casebolt, Austin Kirkpatrick.
6:47 p.m. | Pumped up for Saturday
It’s not like Brandon Overton needed any extra incentive to complete a spectacular sweep of the double Dream week. The chance to net another $126,000 check serves as a suitable lure for a hungry driver.
But the 30-year-old standout had his focus for this evening’s action intensified by the rumors circulating through the pits that his dominance can be attributed to a traction-control system on his Longhorn Race Car.
The speculation is one reason Eldora and DIRTcar officials announced that the top three finishers in tonight’s Dream XXVI will have their cars impounded — perhaps until 12 noon on Sunday — in Eldora’s all-purpose building to undergo an extensive post-race technical inspection.
In a pre-race discussion with DirtonDirt.com’s Derek Kessinger, Overton expressed renewed determination to claim one more win.
“When I seen all that (news about the post-race impound and gossip about his speed), it just kind of fired me up,” Overton said. “I was like, ‘God, I hope more than anything I can win where they can tear this damn thing all apart.’
“I honestly probably want to win this race more than I’ve wanted to win anything — not because of the money, just because of the fact that whoever wins it, they’re gonna go up there and tear it down. Like, I’m ready.”
6:36 p.m. | Ford navigates dirty air
Looking to cap his first visit to Eldora in a Super Late Model with his first crown jewel start, Jensen Ford of Johnson City, Tenn., is happy to be starting third in tonight’s fourth heat race. More specifically, he’s happy to not be starting from the fourth position.
Ford, whose only previous experience at Eldora prior to this week came in a Crate Late Model more than a decade ago, struggled to get going after starting his heat race from the fourth position during both Wednesday’s prelim action and Thursday’s Dream XXVII finale. Struggling to adjust to the effects air has on cars at Eldora’s high speeds, Ford failed to finish in a transfer spot in both prelims.
“It seems like fourth is a horrible place to start here and I started fourth in both the heat races before (Friday), and that was just the wrong place both times,” Ford said. “The air’s really dirty. I was talking to Davenport and he said it’s like there’s a big hole behind every car. You’ve got to find where the hole isn’t.
“We deal with that some at other places like Smoky Mountain, but it’s just a whole other level here. When you approach a car, you really gotta think about where you’re at compared to them. It’s just something I’ve gotta get used to. I’m used to it some, but just not as much as I think I need to be.”
Luckily for Ford, starting from the pole of a heat race on Friday produced a much better experience. He finished second in that race and capped the night with a solid sixth-place finish in the second prelim feature.
6:22 p.m. | Hall of Fame spectator
With the start of Saturday’s program less than two hours away, eight-time Eldora crown jewel winner Billy Moyer sat in a chair behind his trailer chatting with several other people. His iconic No. 21 was inside, loaded up early because Moyer decided to call off his weekend after a broken driveshaft during Friday’s hot laps hampered his points-collecting and left him scheduled to start eighth in a heat this evening.
Moyer is sticking around to take in Saturday’s finale, though, and he will have his eye on one particular driver.
“I’m gonna watch my buddy Overton win another one,” Moyer said with a smile about the Evans, Ga., driver who ran one of Moyer’s Victory Circle cars early in his career.
Like everyone else in the Dirt Late Model world, Moyer has been amazed by Overton’s romp to three consecutive wins to put him in position for a $273,000 sweep of the double Dreams.
“I was down there talking to him last night and told him he’s stealing my (nick) name,” said Moyer, who is known as Mr. Smooth. “He’s silky-smooth, doesn’t get excited. He’s gonna be tough to beat.”
Moyer also noted with a smile that Overton is in position to top Moyer’s spectacular 2010 sweep of the three-race Knoxville Late Model Nationals.
5:53 p.m. | Grueling week claims victims
Everyone knew four straight nights of racing at Eldora would be a test of man and machine. Several entrants didn’t quite pass the test.
The field for Saturday’s finale has been trimmed by a good half-dozen competitors who have scratched from further action. The most notable of the group are Hall of Eldora Billy Moyer, who loaded up after being slowed by mechanical trouble on Friday; Hudson O'Neal, whose Double Down Racing team opted to save their equipment after a broken rearend in a Friday heat left him buried in a heat lineup this evening; and veteran Jeep Van Wormer, who called off his horrible week after being involved in a multi-car accident during a Friday B-main that left him with two battered cars in three days.
Other racers whose weeks have ended early include Austin Kirkpatrick (wreck), Ryan Missler (wreck), Parker Martin (engine), G.R. Smith (engine) and Dean Bowen (opted not to race after a Friday tangle with Jeff Mathews).
5:49 p.m. | Gustin on the upswing
Ryan Gustin credited his impressive prelim event performance on Friday to the experience he’s gained by following the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series this season. The national tour rookie contender and former modified standout has steadily improved on the series in recent weeks before leading nine laps and finishing second behind Brandon Overton in Friday’s first Dream XXVI prelim feature.
“We’ve been learning a lot running a national tour,” said Gustin, who's currently sixth in WoO points with four top fives and 11 top 10s. “Sometimes you struggle a lot, but that’s part of learning. You take your ups and downs and learn from them and keep getting better every night.”
While his WoO experience is helping his performance at Eldora, he also hopes success at the Dream can in turn boost him when he returns to his WoO travels.
“A good run in this deal, that would be a huge confidence booster for sure,” said Gustin, who’s competing at Eldora this week for the first time since making two trips to the track more than five years ago. “This is the toughest field of cars in the world. If we can get our of here a top five we’d definitely take it.”
5:46 p.m. | Lanigan's having fun
Darrell Lanigan is feeling good about his final night at Eldora’s double Dreams week. Besides starting from the front row of the sixth heat race, which puts its winner on the pole of the night’s 100-lap feature, Lanigan is also enjoying being back in one of his self-built Club 29 Race Cars owned by Mississippi car owner Randy Thompson.
“This car’s been really good since we got in it,” Lanigan said of his 2019 mount that Thompson offered to Lanigan when Lanigan’s deal with Viper Motorsports ended earlier in the season. “My buddy Randy Thompson let me run this deal, and that’s made it fun again. It got where it wasn’t no fun. He made it fun again. I’m excited to be up here.”
While Lanigan is starting in a good position after his third-place prelim feature on Friday, his performance since debuting the Club 29 car in the spring has been up and down, especially at Eldora. He won Eldora’s $5,000 Johnny Appleseed Classic on May 30, but missed the feature lineup for Thursday’s Dream XXVII.
5:20 p.m. | Start time moved up
Saturday’s weather has been mostly sunny and hot (temperatures approaching 90 degrees), but the forecast shows a chance of thunderstorms developing this evening so Eldora officials have acted in an attempt to stay ahead of the possible precipitation.
During the late-afternoon drivers’ meeting that following an autograph session in Eldora’s all-purpose building, the announcement was made that the six 15-lap heat races will begin immediately after the completion of the hot laps that start at 6:30 p.m. Special award presentations will be made on the stage prior to practice rather than afterward; officials anticipate that the first heat should hit the track around 7:15 p.m., a full 45 minutes earlier than the original 8 p.m. green flag.
Heat race lineups
(15 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Kyle Larson
Row 2: Chris Ferguson, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 3: Ross Bailes, Tyler Bruening
Row 4: Scott James, Kody Evans
Row 5: Earl Pearson Jr., Austin Kirkpatrick
Row 6: Josh Richards, Dustin Nobbe
Row 7: Steve Casebolt
Row 1: Gregg Satterlee, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Josh Rice
Row 3: Ricky Weiss, Zack Dohm
Row 4: Jason Feger, Billy Moyer
Row 5: Robby Hensley, Ryan King
Row 6: John Baker, Jerry Bowersock
Row 7: Jimmy Mars
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Bobby Pierce, Travis Stemler
Row 3: Mike Marlar, Johnny Scott
Row 4: Stormy Scott, Kent Robinson
Row 5: Logan Roberson, Brian Nuttall Jr.
Row 6: Ryan Scott, Richie Edwards
Row 7: Jason Riggs
Row 1: Kyle Bronson, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Jensen Ford, Chris Madden
Row 3: Dale McDowell, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 4: Chad Simpson, Chase Junghans
Row 5: Mike Benedum, Jeff Mathews
Row 6: Hudson O'Neal, Dean Bowen
Row 7: Duane Chamberlain
Row 1: Devin Moran, Ryan Gustin
Row 2: Nick Hoffman, Max Blair
Row 3: Spencer Hughes, Kyle Strickler
Row 4: John Blankenship, Michael Brown
Row 5: Brent Larson, Jimmy Sharpe Jr.
Row 6: Trent Ivey, Parker Martin
Row 7: Freddie Carpenter
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Shane Clanton
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Jacob Hawkins
Row 4: Steven Roberts, Mason Zeigler
Row 5: Boom Briggs, Ryan Missler
Row 6: Jeep Van Wormer, G.R. Smith
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: All concessions open
3:30 p.m.: Autograph session Fan Zone
4:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting Fan Zone
6:30 p.m.: Hot laps (at track discretion)
8 p.m.: Racing begins
- Six heat races (15 laps)
- Two consolation races (20 laps) and scrambles (5 laps)
- Dream XXVI (100 laps)