PHENIX CITY, Ala. (Oct. 29) — Brandon Overton started and finished first in Saturday’s National 100, but that fact doesn’t tell the story of his second consecutive victory in the marquee Super Late Model event at East Alabama Motor Speedway.
Thanks to a flat tire on lap 23 — as well as his younger brother Cody Overton — the 31-year-old superstar earned every cent of his $30,000 first-place check.
After pitting for new rubber while battling his sibling for the lead, Overton charged through the pack to regain command from Cody on lap 54 and wasn’t headed thereafter. He kept his brother at bay before crossing the finish line with a 0.985 of a second margin over Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas.
“They made me work for it,” said Overton, who led laps 1-9 and 22-23 before stopping in turn three with a flat tire. “We had to go back to the back, stay out of the wrecks, and man, our (Wells Motorsports Longhorn) car was just … I’ve had a good one here before, but this one tops it. It would drive right around there like a go-kart.
“Hat’s off to my crew, they busted their butt all weekend working on this thing. They made my job easy.”
Joseph Joiner of Milton, Fla., who won the National 100 in 2020, moved into third place on lap 93 and finished in the position. Wil Herrington of Hawkinsville, Ga., who won the 604 Crate Late Model feature earlier in the day, placed fourth after running as high as second early in the race and J.R. Moseley of Columbus, Ga., completed the top five.
Evans, Ga.’s Cody Overton, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Oct. 18, rose up from the eighth starting spot to lead laps 10-21 and 24-53 before retiring on lap 83 and finishing 12th. He fell from second to fifth on a lap-76 restart and slowed seven circuits later after losing oil pressure in his Benji Cranford-owned Barry Wright Race Car.
Before his heartbreaking departure, though, Cody Overton gave his nationally-known brother all he could handle. He burst into second place on lap eight and two tours later slid past Brandon to assume command behind the wheel of a car that he didn’t secure to drive until Thursday night when Cody had a crew member retrieve the machine from Cranford’s Georgia shop.
Cody’s strength took Brandon by surprise.
“I told him what tires to put on before I went out there and he said, ‘Ah, I probably ain’t gonna be that good anyway,’” Brandon said. “But obviously he put the right tires on. He might have won the thing.”
Brandon ran second behind Cody for laps 10-14 and 47-53 — and the whole time he eyeballed Cody’s rear spoiler he was smiling inside his helmet.
“He does so good, he tries so hard,” Brandon said of Cody. “I was just watching him (lead) and I know what that feels like. I used to be him, so it was a proud big brother moment I guess you could say.”
Brandon ultimately worked his way past his less-experienced brother to grab the lead for good on lap 54. He wished Cody could have stayed behind him to the checkered flag, but he knows Cody was thrilled with the laps he spent dueling for the top spot.
“I’m sure he won’t forget,” Brandon said. “I know how much it means to my parents to watch both of us race, to be out there on the same track and both be up front. That’s pretty cool.”
Cody didn’t talk much with his brother after the race, but he received a pat on the back from Brandon during their brief meeting.
“He said I did so good … he was happy for me and we will get it fixed,” Cody related after his first career start in the National 100 headliner. “I didn’t even care about the money I just wanted to out run him. Hopefully one day we will get to (beat Brandon).”
Cody dreams of matching his brother’s sparkling resume, which after Saturday includes 14 victories and over $600,000 in earnings. The triumph was his second of the season at East Alabama — he captured May 7’s Schaeffer’s Spring Nationals-sanctioned Jimmy Thomas Memorial for a $10,053 payday — and made him the 11th different driver to win the National 100 at least twice since its birth in 1975.
“There’s a lot of them that I looked up to,” Brandon said of having his name on the list of National 100 winners. “I remember sitting in those grandstands and watching guys like Randle Chupp just blast around here. It’s awesome. This is one of my favorite racetracks. It means a lot to me, just growing up around here.
“Everybody here’s doing a great job trying to build (EAMS) back up. I hope everybody comes to support it next year. They’re doing all they can do and I appreciate it.”
Tyler Erb, who started fourth in his Best Performance Motorsports Rocket car, chased Brandon Overton from the second spot for the race’s final 24 laps. The 25-year-old never fell more than 2 seconds behind but wasn’t able to mount a serious bid for the lead.
“I definitely didn’t want to get the lead early, then I kind of found the rubber when I was racing with Jimmy (Owens for a top-five spot),” said Erb, who only previous National 100 start, in 2019, also resulted in a runner-up finish. “I was like, ‘OK, just maintain.’ I figured Brandon had pitted or something when he ran off the backstretch there (on lap 23). I was trying to stay ahead of him (when Overton returned to contention) for as long as I could, and then when he finally got by me there I gave it two good chances on about lap 80. And with five to go I tried to run really hard but I just couldn’t keep up with him.
“I needed to stay ahead of (Brandon) because he was definitely gonna be the car to beat.”
Joiner, 29, started 17th in his first start driving a Longhorn car his family-operated Hunt the Front team recently added to their stable. He cracked the top five on a lap-76 restart and reached his final finishing position of third on lap 93.
“I think we might’ve been a little too hard on rubber,” Joiner said. “Just chose it a little bit wrong and didn’t have the right balance.
“For the first weekend out in this race car, I think we got a good bit to build on. We’ll take a third place. It was looking pretty tough there about the first quarter of the race. I was sure wondering about it, but we got back up through there, had a couple breaks, had some things go our way.”
Notes: Brandon Overton became just the fourth driver to win the National 100 in consecutive years, joining Scott Bloomquist (1993-94, 2001-03), Rick Eckert (2004-05) and Jeff Purvis (1982-83). … The list of drivers with multiple National 100 victories that Overton joined includes Bloomquist with a record eight victories; Eckert and Purvis (three); and Bobby Thomas, Freddy Smith, Randle Chupp, Dale McDowell, Chris Madden, Jonathan Davenport and Jimmy Owens (two). … Owens had Larry Harrod’s No. 27 in fourth place on lap 59 when he retired with terminal trouble. He was credited with a 15th-place finish. … World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series champion Dennis Erb Jr. was running eighth on lap 17 when he retired.