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Daily Dirt 06/20/2024 20:27:00

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November 20
Deep South Speedway,
Loxley, AL
Sanction: Unsanctioned Supers (Hunt the Front Southern Showcase) - $22,000
Information provided by: Track reports (last updated November 21, 11:25 am)
Freeman outlasts Overton, bags Deep South's $22,000
Hunt the Front Southern Showcase
  1. Payton Freeman
  2. Brandon Overton
  3. Spencer Hughes
  4. Josh Putnam
  5. Joseph Joiner
  6. Brian Rickman
  7. Rodney Wing
  8. Ryan Crane
  9. Jesse Enterkin
  10. Steven Jernigan
  11. Dewayne Kiefer
  12. Brenden Smith
  13. Billy Franklin
  14. Bo Slay
  15. Monte Skinner
  16. Rusty Schlenk
  17. Ronnie Roberts
  18. Michael Page
  19. Manny Falcon
  20. B.J. Robinson
  21. Shay Miller
  22. Tim Anderson
  23. Larry Yates
  24. Michael Rodridgue
presented by
Josh James/joshjamesartwork.com
Payton Freeman (22) turned back Brandon Overton (76) on Sunday at Deep South.
What won the race: Payton Freeman of Commerce, Ga., capitalized on the misfortunes of mid-race leaders Joseph Joiner and Brandon Overton on Sunday at Deep South Speedway in Loxley, Ala., to secure the richest victory of his career in the $22,000 Hunt the Front Southern Showcase presented by Sweet Victory Apparel. Freeman led the final 25 laps and held off Overton rallying through the field from a flat tire on a green-white-checkered restart.
Key notes: Joseph Joiner of Milton, Fla., led the opening 25 laps from the third-starting spot but lost the lead when he brought out the race's ninth caution for slowing off turn four. Overton inherited the lead before needing to pit during the same caution period for a flat right-tire. ... Twelve cautions fragmented Sunday's finale postponed from Saturday due to rainy weather. The feature lasted one hour and three minutes. ... The Southern Showcase was the first Late Model event at Deep South Speedway since Wil Herrington of Hawkinsville, Ga., topped the Crate Racin’ USA field for $10,000 in November, 2020. ... Michael Page of Douglasville, Ga., and Manny Falcon of Pine Grove, La., joined the Sunday field exclusively makeup event. ... Freeman, Joiner, Overton and Putman pocketed $250 for heat race wins.
On the move: Spencer Hughes of Meridan, Miss., started 10th and finished third.
Winner's sponsors: Freeman's Team 22 Inc. Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Cornett Racing Engine and sponsored by Winters Performance Products, SRI Performance, Swift Springs, Keyser Manufacturing, Behrent's Performance Warehouse, Collins Signs, Austin Kirkpatrick, Winning Edge Carburetion, Payton Freeman Racing, Coltman Farms Racing, MPM Marketing, K1 RaceGear, VP Racing Fuels, Arizona Sport Shirts and KRC Power Steering.
Current weather: Clear, 46°F
Car count: 27
Fast qualifier: Brandon Overton
Time: 14.778 seconds
Polesitter: Payton Freeman
Heat race winners: Payton Freeman, Joseph Joiner, Brandon Overton, Josh Putnam
Editor's note: Corrects finish in places 7-15 and 20-24.
From staff reports

LOXLEY, Ala. — When Payton Freeman inherited the lead on lap 26 of Sunday’s 50-lap Hunt the Front Southern Showcase presented by Sweet Victory, he was still overly concerned about one opposition.

“I knew when I got the lead there (Brandon Overton) would go and put a fresh tire on, and he’d be coming,” Freeman said of the Evans, Ga., driver’s anticipated charge back to the front after relinquishing the lead during the race’s ninth caution period due to a flat right-rear.

Sure enough, by the time Freeman needed to regroup one final time for a green-white-checkered finish, Overton had rallied from outside the top-10 and back to the runner-up spot. Freeman, on the other hand, hunkered down and rose to the occasion, outlasting one the sport’s best to secure the richest victory of his career to date at $22,000.

Overton crossed the checkers 1.028 seconds behind the Commerce, Ga., driver who also picked up his first victory with car owner G.R. Smith at Team 22 Inc.

“It didn’t surprise me at all when I seen his number up there on the scoreboard,” Freeman, 20, said of Overton’s rebound. “Man, I have many emotions going right now. I just watched my guys in the infield. I got to ride behind Brandon a little while there in the race earlier, so I got to see where he was attacking; what he could do.

“I knew he was going to try and roll me around the outside. I knew if I hit the bottom and hit my marks, it’d be really hard for him to get me. But, man props to him. He beat me on the start there and I hate he had bad luck there. I guess it’s better to be lucky than good. We’ve had a really fast Longhorn race car. Just thanks to G.R. Smith. This is awesome.”

Sunday's Southern Showcase, which hosted Late Models at Deep South for the first time since a Crate Racin' USA event in Nov. 2020, had been — what stick and ball enthusiasts often say — a tale of two halves.

Third-starting Joseph Joiner led the opening 25 laps that were fragmented by nine cautions. All told, the first half of the event postponed from Saturday because of rainy weather took 49 minutes to complete.

Among those myriad of cautions were back-to-back pileups on lap seven that involved Rusty Schlenk, Manny Falcon, Monte Skinner, Shay Miller, Jesse Enterkin and Bo Slay, as well as another four-car pileup on lap 12 for Billy Franklin, Steven Jernigan, Dewayne Kiefer and Skinner and Kiefer. But no yellow flag applied more implications on the 50-lap event than the caution period on lap 26, when Joiner — race-long leader — slowed off turn four.

Overton ran down and passed Joiner under green before the stoppage, but the Evans, Ga., wheelman ultimately didn’t pace the field for long as he, as previously mentioned, needed to pit for a fresh right-rear tire.

Restarting outside the top-10, Overton — gunning for a third win in his last 10 starts — still felt confident he could overcome the suboptimal circumstances because he made the middle of the racetrack work to his liking. Most drivers on Sunday — Freeman included — committed to the very bottom of the 3/8-mile.

“We had a really good car. As long as I stayed out of the wrecks, I thought I was going to be OK,” Overton said. “Came up a little too short. This is crazy, just the way the dirt is. When the black comes, it’s actually the most grip on the racetrack. The bottom is just a little too fast and, hell I drove it as hard as I could the last 10 laps. That’s all I had. Hopefully the fans enjoyed it.”

“It’s kind of a little too late now, but our car has been really good the last couple nights,” added Overton, who gave the impression that Sunday would be his final race of the 2022 season. "Yeah, we’re looking forward to next year.”

Whereas the first half of the race slogged along, the second half unfolded at a smoother pace — 14 minutes to complete the final 25 laps, to be exact — and Freeman did what he had to do to take care of business.

“It’s awesome. There’s probably two, three, four, or five of the best cars down here,” Freeman said. “We want to come down here and race with them. The last few races we ran the past three weeks, obviously we weren’t where we needed to be, or wanted to be according to our expectations.

“As I said the other night, these group of guys here this weekend believe in me. We all believe in each other with what we’re trying to accomplish. We didn’t quit. We put our work shoes on and went to work. As I said, it paid off. We got this Longhorn Chassis rolling pretty good."

Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., meanwhile, bottles consistency heading into the winter that could very well carryover into the new year. Hughes’s third-place run from the 10th-starting spot on Sunday marked his fifth top-five finish over a six-race span that also features a $12,000 victory and four podium finishes

“It wasn’t too bad. We had an OK car there,” Hughes said. “I kind of got boxed in with lapped traffic there and couldn’t close the gap. All in all, at least we came out of here with a fifth and a third. Be ready to get back home, get everything cleaned up, and we’ll get ready for Speedweeks.”

Feature lineup

Row 1: Freeman, Overton
Row 2: Joiner, Putnam
Row 3: Slay, Smith
Row 4: Rickman, Page
Row 5: Wing, Hughes
Row 6: Roberts Jr., Franklin
Row 7: Robinson, Crane
Row 8: Kiefer, Schlenk
Row 9: Anderson, Skinner
Row 10: Jernigan, Falcon
Row 11: Yates, Rodrique
Row 12: Miller, Enterkin

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