PHENIX CITY, Ala. (Oct. 31) — Brandon Overton has had plenty to celebrate during a 2021 season that has produced multiple crown jewel victories and other major event triumphs. Sunday night at East Alabama Motor Speedway, the history-making Overton celebrated yet again after winning an event that he’s been chasing for a long time.
Earning his first victory in one of the Southeast’s longest-running Dirt Late Model races, Overton dominated the second half of Sunday’s National 100 feature to score a $20,000 payday in the 47th running of East Alabama’s unsanctioned special event.
“Growing up where I’m from, this place is special to all of us,” said Overton, whose hometown of Evans, Ga., is less than four hours from the 3/8-mile oval just west of Columbus, Ga. “I know it’s a long weekend, but we wouldn’t spend it any other way than racing.”
Starting from the outside of the front row, Overton settled in behind early leader Mark Whitener before taking command before the halfway point. Sixth-starting Dennis Erb Jr. didn’t let Overton get too far away from him during the race’s closing laps, but he was never able to make a serious bid of the lead.
Overton took the checkers 1.634 seconds ahead of Erb of Carpentersville, Ill., in scoring his 29th overall victory of the season. Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn., advanced from his 11th starting spot to finish third with polesitter Austin Horton of Newnan, Ga., fourth and Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., fifth.
Overton’s 11th victory of $20,000 or more this season added to a campaign that has seen his Wells Motorsports Longhorn Chassis sweep of the double Dirt Late Model Dreams plus win the Firecracker 100, the North-South 100 and the World 100, among other major victories. When asked about his team’s success in victory lane at East Alabama, Overton was quick to give credit to his crew and team owners David and Eric Wells.
“It’s surreal,” Overton said of his success. “Hat’s off to my car owners. It’s all because of them. They gave me the opportunity to put a team together and give me all the tools to do it with. We just took advantage of it.
“I don’t know how to put into words what we’ve been able to do,” Overton added. “It’s been an unbelievable year. I don’t know what to say. My crew bust their butt on this thing week in and week out. They sure do make my job a lot easier.”
Erb, the 2016 National 100 winner, was looking to pick up his second unsanctioned special event victory in as many weeks after winning Oct. 24’s Coors Light Fall Classic at Whynot (Miss) Motorsports Park. But his run to the front came up short as Overton remained glued in the black line of rubber that developed late in the race.
“We had a good car,” Erb said of his McBride Mack-sponsored Rocket Chassis. “I was able to run all over. There at the end it was kind of rubbered-up there and just kind of had to ride it out. But I was happy with the finish here tonight.”
Weaver’s podium finish came in his first time racing at East Alabama since a 2016 rollover wreck at the track left him with post-concussion syndrome that led him to step back from racing until recently returning to the driver’s seat on a part-time basis. It was also just his third start since teaming up with Georgia-based car owner Chris Martin to drive his Longhorn Chassis.
“This place has been really good and really bad, but it feels good to come back and run in the same straightaway as these guys,” Weaver said of his run at East Alabama. “It kind of gets (the 2016 wreck) behind me and now I can come down here and race and not worry about it.
“Just to show up and try to get everything gelled together and these guys have been together a couple years. We’re gaining on it and hopefully next week we’ll pick it up a little more.”