SARVER, Pa. — Top-ranked driver Brandon Overton has been as hot as a firecracker in June, so it's no surprise he closed the month with a $30,000 Firecracker 100 victory.
Surviving a couple of scares amid contact with competitors, the 30-year-old Evans, Ga., driver on Saturday dominated the second half of Lernerville Speedway's 100-lapper for his seventh victory in his last eight starts overall.
Overton captured Lernerville's high-profile World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series event for the second time and collected $36,000 in all during the weekend, including Friday's 30-lap preliminary victory.
"We were just lucky to hold on," the 2017 Firecracker winner said, aware that he escaped a couple of tense moments in joining Scott Bloomquist and Jimmy Mars as multiple winners of the Firecracker finale. "Our car was really, really good once we got rolling and got some heat in the tires. This is awesome. I don't even know what to say."
Outside front-row starter Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., led the first 40 laps and regained second from Dennis Erb Jr. late in the race to finish a distant second, 3.657 seconds behind the winner. Carpentersville, Ill.'s Erb, who held the second spot nearly half the race, ended up third with 21st-starting Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., rallying to finish fourth. WoO points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., rounded out the top five in front of one of the biggest crowds in the 15-year history of the event.
Pole-starting Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., last year's winner when the race was reduced to 50 laps, ran second early but fell from contention when he slipped over the backstretch banking on the 18th lap and ended up 12th.
Watching Overton wheel around the track looked relatively effortless, but it's a "technical" track that requires supreme concentration. "You gotta pay attention to what you're doing," he said.
The winner feared he wouldn't even be around at the race's conclusion after contact with competitors on the first lap and again under the yellow flag on lap 51.
"Honestly, I didn't expect to win that thing. I got hit the first lap and it knocked the steering wheel out of my hand, and it felt kind of funny, and I said, 'Damn.' Then I got the lead and (Brent) Larson ran me over under caution. I thought it flattened the left-front tire."
Overton was so concerned that the contact with Larson — the Lake Elmo, Minn., driver was trying to catch up to the rear of the field under caution and clipped the left-front corner of Overton's car going past — that he nearly pulled to the infield to the assistance of his crew. When he was assured the tire wasn't flat, Overton stayed on the track, and the incident didn't slow his No. 76 Wells Motorsports a bit as he pulled away again from the Erb-Madden battle for second.
"You just gotta keep your calm and have your car right and race smart," Overton said. "I've lost a lot of 'em ... like I tell them guys, we just go out there and do our jobs, and if we win, we win, if we don't, we'll work harder and we'll come back."
Madden regained second from Erb for good on the 86th lap and cut Overton's three-second lead to two seconds by lap 90, but didn't hold out serious hope of catching the sport's hottest driver, whose four-feature Dream sweep two weeks earlier of Ohio's Eldora Speedway paid a mindboggling $273,000.
"Me and Dennis raced hard out there for a long time and Brandon was just out there doing his thing — riding around, I guess," said Madden, the 2018 Firecracker 100 winner. "He had caught some lapped cars (with about 15 laps to go). It wasn't that we were good enough to get to him. He got by the lapped cars and I had to deal with them, then.
"We just missed (the suspension setup) a little bit in the feature here tonight, and you can't miss it with (Overton) right now. He's definitely on. Congratulations to him and his team."
Erb, who lost second to Madden on lap 78 but fought back ahead a lap later amid traffic, was disappointed to miss the second spot but glad to be on the podium.
"I just need to be able to run a little bit lower on the racetrack. My car just wanted to drift out a little bit tonight," Erb said. "We had a good run going there, and I think if (Rick) Eckert wasn't in the way and we were able to clear him, I think we'd have run second. But you know, in a race like this, coming home third, we're happy with that ...
"Hopefully we got all the bugs worked out earlier in the year here and we can get to the middle of the summer here and really get going. We're pleased with the way everything's running and we'll just carry on to the next place."
The race was slowed by four cautions, all for single-car incidents in an event that wrapped up about 10:50 p.m. with fourteen of 26 starters completing 100 laps.
Jason Covert went over the banking and reappeared with right-side damage as the lap-23 yellow appeared. A lap-47 yellow appeared when Colton Flinner spun at the top of turn four. Brent Larson spun in turn two on the 51st lap and Flinner slowed again for a lap-56 yellow.
15th annual Firecracker 100
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., Longhorn, $30,000
2. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., Rocket, $15,000
3. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., Rocket, $7,000
4. Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., Club 29, $6,000
5. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $5,000
6. Max Blair (111v), Centerville, Pa., Rocket, $4,500
7. Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., Rocket, $4,000
8. Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., Rocket, $3,500
9. Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., Longhorn, $3,000
10. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, Capital, $2,500
11. Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., Rocket, $2,300
12. Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., MB Customs, $2,200
13. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., Team Zero, $2,100
14. Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba, Sniper, $2,000
15. Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., Longhorn, $1,800
16. Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., Rocket, $1,700
17. Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., Longhorn, $1,600
18. Rick Eckert (0), York, Pa., Rocket, $1,550
19. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, Rocket, $1,500
20. Mark Whitener (5), Middleburg, Fla., Rocket, $1,500
21. Jared Miley (10), Pittsburgh, Pa., Rocket, $1,500
22. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., Team Zero, $1,500
23. Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., Rocket, $1,500
24. Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., Team Zero, $1,500
25. Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., Longhorn, $1,500
26. Jason Covert (72), York Haven, Pa., Rocket, $1,500
27. Chub Frank (119), Bear Lake, Pa., Rocket, $1,500
28. Alex Ferree (1c), Saxonburg, Pa., Rocket, $1,500
29. Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., Team Zero, $1,500
Lap leaders: Madden 1-40; Overton 41-100
Preliminary feature winners: Sheppard, Overton
Heat race winners (among 53 cars): Sheppard, Zeigler, Madden, Overton, Dillard
Consolation winners: Lanigan, Satterlee
Non-qualifiers' race winner: Benedum
Provisional starters: Strickler, Robinson, Flinner, Miley
Row 1: Cade Dillard, Chris Madden
Row 2: Mason Zeigler, Brandon Overton
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Spencer Hughes
Row 4: Michael Norris, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Tyler Bruening, Chub Frank
Row 6: Ryan Gustin, Mark Whitener
Row 7: Max Blair, Rick Eckert
Row 8: Ricky Weiss, Chris Ferguson
Row 9: Alex Ferree, Brent Larson
Row 10: Scott Bloomquist, Jason Covert
Row 11: Darrell Lanigan, Gregg Satterlee
Row 12: Dan Stone, Boom Briggs
Row 13: Kyle Strickler, Ross Robinson
Row 14: Colton Flinner, Jared Miley
Row 15: Mike Benedum
Cade Dillard starts from the pole position one year after capturing the Firecracker 100 finale for his career-richest Dirt Late Model victory. This time, though, he must go the full 100 laps; last year’s race was reduced to 50 circuits due for television broadcast reasons. … Two others former Firecracker 100 winners — Chris Madden and Brandon Overton — start second and fourth, respectively. … Scott Bloomquist transferred to the feature through his heat after hastily pulling out his second car — a fresh-bodied, unlettered Team Zero machine that he debuted two weeks ago at Eldora Speedway — due to terminal engine trouble that struck his primary No. 0 during hot laps. … Ryan Gustin also thrashed to prep his second car in time for the first heat after experiencing engine woes during practice. He made the cut for his first Firecracker 100 and will start 11th. … A broker rocker arm knocked Colton Flinner out of his heat race, but he is starting the feature in his backup car thanks to a track provisional. … Jared Miley also is running his backup mount in the feature thanks to a track provisional after his primary car’s powerplant went up in a thick cloud of smoke on the last lap of his heat. … WoO provisional spots went to Kyle Strickler, who spun on the homestretch on a late B-main restart, and Ross Robinson, who was nosed out for the final transfer position in the first B-main by Dan Stone. ... After winning the Uncle Sam 30 for non-qualifiers, Mike Benedum opted to forfeit the $2,000 winner's prize and start the 100-lapper from the 29th position.
Uncle Sam 30 results
(Winner chooses $2,000 or last spot in Firecracker 100)
Finish: Mike Benedum, Mike Lupfer, Dan Angelicchio, Ryan Scott, Ahnna Parkhurst, Gary Stuhler, Ken Schaltenbrand, Rick Wicker, Joshua Powell, Ken Monahan, Levi Yetter, Clinton Hersh, Tyler Dietz, Gary Lyle, Todd Bachman, Shawn Schaltenbrand.
(10 laps; top 2 transfer)
First consolation finish: Darrell Lanigan, Dan Stone, Ross Robinson, Dale McDowell, Colton Flinner, Gary Lyle, Mike Lupfer, Gary Stuhler, Clinton Hersh, Joshua Powell, Ken Monahan, Tyler Dietz, Joe Petyak, Cla Knight, Chad Finley.
Second consolation finish: Gregg Satterlee, Boom Briggs, Mike Benedum, Ryan Scott, Ahnna Parkhurst, Dan Angelicchio, Todd Bachman, Rich Wicker, Levi Yetter, Kyle Strickler, Kyle Lukon, Logan Zarin, Ken Schaltenbrand, Jared Miley, Shawn Schaltenbrand.
Heat race results
(10 laps; top 4 transfer)
First heat finish: Brandon Sheppard, Spencer Hughes, Ryan Gustin, Chris Ferguson, Darrell Lanigan, Boom Briggs, Ross Robinson, Kyle Strickler, Clinton Hersh, Rich Wicker.
Second heat finish: Mason Zeigler, Michael Norris, Mark Whitener, Alex Ferree, Mike Benedum, Dan Stone, Dan Angelicchio, Mike Lupfer, Todd Bachman, Joshua Powell, Ken Schaltenbrand.
Third heat finish: Chris Madden, Dennis Erb Jr., Max Blair, Brent Larson, Tyler Dietz, Jared Miley, Gary Lyle, Ahnna Parkhurst, Colton Flinner.
Fourth heat finish: Brandon Overton, Tyler Bruening, Rick Eckert, Scott Bloomquist, Gregg Satterlee, Chad Finley, Ryan Scott, Gary Stuhler, Levi Yetter (DNS) Shawn Schaltenbrand.
Fifth heat finish: Cade Dillard, Chub Frank, Ricky Weiss, Jason Covert, Dale McDowell, Logan Zarin, Cla Knight, Kyle Lukon, Joe Petyak, Ken Monahan.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top 4 transfer)
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Spencer Hughes
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan, Ryan Gustin
Row 3: Boom Briggs, Chris Ferguson
Row 4: Ross Robinson, Clinton Hersh
Row 5: Charles Powell Jr., Rich Wicker
Row 6: Kyle Strickler
Row 1: Michael Norris, Mason Zeigler
Row 2: Mark Whitener, Alex Ferree
Row 3: Dan Stone, Mike Benedum
Row 4: Dan Angelicchio, Ken Schaltenbrand
Row 5: Todd Bachman, Joshua Powell
Row 6: Mike Lupfer
Row 1: Chris Madden, Max Blair
Row 2: Dennis Erb Jr., Jared Miley
Row 3: Brent Larson, Tyler Dietz
Row 4: Colton Flinner, Gary Lyle
Row 5: Ahnna Parkhurst, Pancho Lawler
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Tyler Bruening
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Rick Eckert
Row 3: Gregg Satterlee, Ryan Scott
Row 4: Chad Finley, Levi Yetter
Row 5: Gary Stuhler, Shawn Schaltenbrand
Row 1: Chub Frank, Cade Dillard
Row 2: Ricky Weiss, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Jason Covert, Kyle Lukon
Row 4: Logan Zarin, Joe Petyak
Row 5: Cla Knight, Ken Monahan
Firecracker 100 points standings
1. Brandon Sheppard - 1,476
2. Michael Norris - 1,465
3. Chris Madden - 1,437
4. Brandon Overton - 1,417
4. Chub Frank - 1,417
6. Spencer Hughes - 1,403
7. Mason Zeigler - 1,395
8. Max Blair - 1,393
9. Tyler Bruening - 1,391
10. Cade Dillard - 1,377
11. Darrell Lanigan - 1,376
12. Mark Whitener - 1,369
13. Dennis Erb Jr. - 1,365
14. Scott Bloomquist - 1,356
14. Ricky Weiss - 1,356
16. Ryan Gustin - 1,351
17. Alex Ferree - 1,326
18. Jared Miley - 1,322
19. Rick Eckert - 1,317
20. Dale McDowell - 1,309
21. Boom Briggs - 1,271
22. Dan Stone - 1,261
23. Brent Larson - 1,259
24. Gregg Satterlee - 1,258
25. Jason Covert - 1,250
26. Chris Ferguson - 1,241
27. Mike Benedum - 1,235
28. Tyler Dietz - 1,202
29. Ryan Scott - 1,200
30. Kyle Lukon - 1,193
31. Ross Robinson - 1,189
32. Dan Angelicchio - 1,183
33. Colton Flinner - 1,178
34. Chad Finley - 1,124
35. Logan Zarin - 1,124
36. Clint Hersh - 1,110
37. Ken Schaltenbrand - 1,104
38. Gary Lyle - 1,104
39. Levi Yetter - 1,099
40. Joe Petyak - 1,097
41. Charles Powell Jr. - 1,096
42. Todd Bachman - 1,094
43. Ahnna Parkhurst - 1,093
44. Gary Stuhler - 1,084
45. Cla Knight - 1,082
46. Rich Wicker - 1,060
47. Joshua Powell - 1,056
48. Pancho Lawler - 1,032
49. Shawn Schaltenbrand - 1,024
50. Ken Monahan - 1,013
51. Tommy Schirnhofer - 1,005
52. Kyle Strickler - 616
53. Eric Hamilton - 511
53. Mike Lupfer - 511
55. Deshawn Gingerich - 489
6 p.m. - RUSH Crate Late Model hot laps
- WoO Late Model hot laps
6:55 p.m. - Opening ceremonies
- WoO Late Model heat races (10 laps)
- RUSH Crate Late Model consolations (12 laps)
- WoO Late Model redraw
- WoO Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- RUSH Crate Late Model qualified cars hot laps
- Uncle Sam 30 Non-Qualifiers’ Race (30 laps/$2,000 to win or Firecracker 100 starting spot)
- Driver introductions
- Firecracker 100
- RUSH Crate Late Model Bill Emig Memorial (50 laps)
- RUSH Crate Late Model Non-Qualifiers’ Race (15 laps)