ROSSBURG, Ohio — Brandon Overton winning the weekend-opening prelim at the Dream XXIII presented by Ferris Mowers? It’s fitting, considering he drives for the Dream Team.
The Evans, Ga., driver who pilots the No. 116 Longhorn Chassis for Dream Team owners Chip Stone and Randy Weaver started outside the front row and led all the way in Thursday’s opening 25-lapper, earning $5,000 and staking a claim toward a good starting spot for Saturday’s $100,000-to-win main event.
Overton turned back challenges from Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and then Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., to notch his first career victory at the historic half-mile oval.
“I was a nervous wreck out there,” Overton said on the victory stage after earning his ninth victory of the season. “I was watching my guys. Randy and all the guys were telling me where they were making ground at. I was just trying to keep my momentum up. I was a lot quicker than I probably should have been, but I was just letting that thing float around there. First night over here with these guys, I couldn’t be happier.”
Lanigan, who took second with a high-side charge on a late restart, grabbed second while his Clint Bowyer Racing teammate Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., grabbed third on the same restart. Polesitter Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., who lost the second spot on an early restart, ended up fourth and McCreadie, who turned up the heat on Overton amid traffic before a lap-21 caution, was shuffled back to finish fifth.
“It probably wasn’t as easy as it looked, that’s for dang sure,” isaid Overton, who has been fifth or better with four victories in his 11 most recent starts overall. “This is a great way to start the weekend off. I’ve never won at Eldora and it’s a pretty big accomplishment for a guy like me.”
Overton has competed at Eldora in recent seasons, but never before with the Dream Team that has helped him blossom as one of the sport’s best young drivers.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Overton said. “(Weaver) told me when I took this deal, ‘I promise you, you ain’t going to regret it.’ I hope we don’t slow down any time soon.”
Lanigan and Clanton both made high-side charges on late restarts, but Overton was able to keep his challenges at bay.
“That top was pretty good on them restarts,” Lanigan said. “That bottom kind of killed me on that last restart, but it is what it is. We had a pretty good car tonight and we’ll take a second.
“We’ve really turned our program around a lot this year and it shows. We’ve been up front most the raced and had a really good piece. I can’t thank Clint and Casey and all them guys enough.”
O’Neal ran fifth most of the race before flashing into contention during a pair of late restarts.
“I got good restarts before that and got up there to third,” O’Neal said. “The car just wasn’t quite good enough. But everybody’s working hard, we’ve gotten better. We had Clint Bowyer cars in second and third, so that’s a good start for the weekend.”
The feature was slowed three times by caution, none for serious incidents. A lap-four caution appeared when Hudson O’Neal — Don’s 16-year-old son — slapped the wall, causing significant damage to the right-front corner of his No. 71.
A second yellow came out for debris on lap 21, and several cars tangled in turn two on the restart with Steve Francis slowing in turns three and four for the third caution.
Preliminary notes and results:
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Darrell Lanigan
Row 3: Devin Moran, Don O'Neal
Row 4: Jonathan Davenport, Chris Simpson
Row 5: Earl Pearson Jr., Steve Francis
Row 6: Frank Heckenast Jr., Dale McDowell
Row 7: Hudson O'Neal, Mason Zeigler
Row 8: Jacob Hawkins, Jason Feger
Row 9: Brian Shirley, Tim Manville
Row 10: Ryan King, Chase Junghans
Row 11: Timothy Culp, Jake O'Neil
Row 12: Devin Gilpin, Shanon Buckingham
Tim McCreadie wasn't completely satisfied with his car’s performance en route to his Heat 1 victory, but he couldn’t complain about it. “I’m not as balanced as I’d to be,” he said, “but when it hits traction, man, it’s good.” … Devin Moran was pleasantly surprised with his march to a convincing Heat 2 triumph. “We actually were just trying some things right there and it worked out pretty good,” he said. … Jonathan Davenport wasn’t dominant as he narrowly beat Shane Clanton in Heat 3, but he looked like a driver who might be primed to grab his long-awaited first Super Late Model feature win of 2017. “We still got a lot of work to do on this hot rod,” he said, “but we’re definitely getting better as we build our notebook.” … Darrell Lanigan liked how his Clint Bowyer Motorsports machine handled the Eldora half-mile in his Heat 4 victory. “The track’s really slick,” he said. “Seems like we can go anywhere on the racetrack … it should be pretty good for the feature.”
Timothy Culp broke away from a side-by-side duel with fellow front-row starter Devin Gilpin and cruised to a 12-lap victory. Jake O'Neil stormed from his ninth starting spot to finish second with Gilpin and Shanon Buckingham getting the final two transfer spots. A lap-two caution appeared for Casey Noonan's 360-degree spin in turn two (Forrest Trent also slowed with a flat tire).
Finish (top four transfer): Timothy Culp, Jake O'Neil, Devin Gilpin, Shanon Buckingham, Casey Roberts, Donald McIntosh, Matt Lux, Mike Marlar, Tyler Erb, Dustin Nobbe, Tim Lance, Casey Noonan, Rod Conley, Jason Jameson, Tyler Bruening, Brian Harris, Blake Spencer, Troy Worrick, Forrest Trent.
(12 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Timothy Culp, Devin Gilpin
Row 2: Dustin Nobbe, Shanon Buckingham
Row 3: Casey Roberts, Tyler Erb
Row 4: Casey Noonan, Donald McIntosh
Row 5: Jake O’Neil, Forrest Trent
Row 6: Blake Spencer, Mike Marlar
Row 7: Matt Lux, Tyler Bruening
Row 8: Tim Lance, Rod Conley
Row 9: Jason Jameson, Troy Worrick
Row 10: Jeff Beyers, Brian Harris
Darrell Lanigan's solid start from outside the front row led to victory while polesitter Brandon Overton settled for second, never close enough to seriously challenge. Dale McDowell finished third just behind Overton while Jason Feger and Chase Junghans got the other two transfer spots. Mike Marlar started outside the second row but struggled after crushing the right-rear corner of his car against the unforgiving Eldora concrete; Marlar finished eighth.
Finish (top five transfer): Darrell Lanigan, Brandon Overton, Dale McDowell, Jason Feger, Chase Junghans, Shanon Buckingham, Donald McIntosh, Mike Marlar, Rod Conley, Brian Harris.
Third-starting Jonathan Davenport went to work early to take the lead, winning a first-lap duel with outside front-row starter Frank Heckenast Jr., while polesitter Ryan King started slowly. Davenport used the high groove to lead the rest of the way, holding off challenges from Heckenast and fifth-starting Shane Clanton. Clanton finished second with Heckenast third while Jacob Hawkins and King were a distant fourth and fifth.
Finish (top five transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Shane Clanton, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jacob Hawkins, Ryan King, Dustin Nobbe, Blake Spencer, Tim Lance, Casey Noonan.
Devin Moran took command early and never looked back, racing to an easy victory over third-starting Chris Simpson. Steve Francis made a daring move on the first lap to grab third while eighth-starting Mason Zeigler grabbed fourth with a backstretch move just before halfway. Polesitter Tim Manville faded to sixth but recovered late in the race to outduel Devin Gilpin for the fifth and final transfer spot.
Finish (top five transfer): Devin Moran, Chris Simpson, Steve Francis, Mason Zeigler, Tim Manville, Devin Gilpin, Tyler Erb, Forrest Trent, Tyler Bruening, Troy Worrick.
Polesitter Tim McCreadie led all the way, building a half-straightaway lead by halfway and cruising to victory. Outside front-row starter Don O'Neal was second with Earl Pearson Jr., improving two spots to finish third. Hudson O'Neal, Don's son, and Brian Shirley got the final transfer spots. Overall fast qualifier Casey Roberts struggled to a seventh-place finish.
Finish (top five transfer): Tim McCreadie, Don O'Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Hudson O'Neal, Brian Shirley, Timothy Culp, Casey Roberts, Jake O'Neil, Matt Lux, Jason Jameson.
Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., began his quest to make his first Dream headliner since 2010 — when he finished 26th in his only previous start in the 100-lapper — by setting fast time in Thursday’s qualifying session.
“We had a good lap,” Roberts said. “My wife drew an awesome pill (he was one of the first drivers on the track) … that’s what really helped us.”
Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., returning to Eldora after sitting out last year’s World 100 while serving a suspension for a tire-related disqualification from the 2016 Dream weekend, was second-fastest in time trials. He said he didn’t get any hot laps because an ignition problem hampered his engine, but some quick work by his Robby Allen-led crew corrected the misfire and he then “knocked the fence down and made two pretty good laps.”
Time trial notes
Qualifying was rough on Jimmy Owens and Donald McIntosh, both of whom slapped the outside wall between turns three and four and didn’t record a timed lap. ... Owens’s miscue came first and left him limping to the pit area with his car’s right-front suspension broken. His crew immediately went to work rebuilding the right-front corner with new upper- and lower-control arms and other parts and straightening the right-rear bodywork. .... McIntosh’s Blount Motorsports machine sustained almost identical damage as Owens. His team plunged into a scramble to replace the right-front corner’s control arms and the right-rear corner. “On the warmup lap I got a little loose,” said McIntosh, who is making his third career appearance at Eldora. “Then the next lap I got even higher and hit the wall.” ... Jonathan Davenport also returned to the pit area after time trials with a crunched right-rear spoiler, but he still logged the 13th-fastest lap so he could express a sense of humor about the situation. He claimed that he didn’t get too high on the speedway, quipping, “The track shortened up a little bit.”
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top five transfer)
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Don O'Neal
Row 2: Hudson O’Neal, Casey Roberts
Row 3: Earl Pearson Jr., Jason Jameson
Row 4: Jake O’Neil, Timothy Culp
Row 5: Brian Shirley, Matt Lux
Row 1: Tim Manville, Devin Moran
Row 2: Chris Simpson, Steve Francis
Row 3: Devin Gilpin, Tyler Bruening
Row 4: Forrest Trent, Mason Zeigler
Row 5: Tyler Erb, Troy Worrick
Row 1: Ryan King, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Dustin Nobbe
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Shane Hawkins
Row 4: Tim Lance, Casey Noonan
Row 5: Blake Spencer, Jeff Beyers
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Mike Marlar
Row 3: Jason Feger, Rod Conley
Row 4: Chase Jujnghans, Shanon Buckingham
Row 5: Brian Harris, Donald McIntosh
Time trials (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown
- Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 15.925
- Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.118
- Steve Francis (15), Bowling Green, Ky., 16.213
- Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.238
- Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 16.239
- Dustin Nobbe (5N), Batesville, Ind., 16.239
- Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.250
- Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.270
- Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 16.450
- Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 16.502
- Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 16.505
- Eddie Carrier Jr. (10), Salt Rock, W.Va., 16.527
- Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 16.536
- Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 16.544
- Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.549
- Zack Dohm (17), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 16.641
- Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.671
- Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 16.692
- Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 16.713
- Rusty Schlenk (1cj), Weston, Ohio, 16.723
- Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 16.741
- Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 16.746
- Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 16.748
- Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 16.751
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.758
- Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.787
- Tim Manville (33), Highland, Ill., 16.795
- R.J. Conley (71C), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 16.830
- Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 16.868
- Billy Moyer Jr. (21), Batesville, Ark., 16.881
- Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 16.913
- Nick Latham (31), Winchester, Ohio, 16.940
- Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.941
- Jeff Babcock (7B), Wayne, Ohio, 16.991
- Devin Gilpin (1G), Columbus, Ind., 17.006
- Jon Henry (15), Ada, Ohio, 17.008
- Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 17.049
- Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 17.050
- Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 17.081
- Andrew Reaume (88), Blenheim, Ontario, 17.086
- Jason Jameson (16), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 17.155
- Steve Casebolt (C9), Richmond, Ind., 17.167
- Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 17.313
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 17.335
- Jacob Hawkins (20c), Fairmont. W.Va., 17.361
- Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 17.366
- Rod Conley (71R), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 17.368
- Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 17.388
- Jake O’Neil (0), Tucson, Ariz., 17.401
- Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 17.435
- Forrest Trent (101), Talbott, Tenn., 17.440
- Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 17.479
- Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 17.500
- Spencer Diercks (29D), Davenport, Iowa, 17.549
- Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 17.571
- Bryant Dickinson (5*), Ionia, Mich., 17.598
- Timothy Culp (C8), Prattsville, Ark., 17.627
- Jackie Boggs (4B), Grayson, Ky., 17.638
- Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 17.640
- Mike Mataragas (1m), DeKalb, Ill., 17.770
- Casey Noonan (1N), Sylvania, Ohio, 17.782
- Kenny Collins (1C), Colbert, Ga., 17.788
- Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 17.816
- Brian Ligon (444), Evans, Ga., 17.821
- Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 17.832
- Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 17.872
- Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 17.884
- Jerry Bowersock (95j), Wapakoneta, Ohio, 17.921
- Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 18.050
- Brett Miller (97), Metamora, Ohio, 18.056
- Brian Harris (93), Davenport, Iowa, 18.212
- Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., 18.214
- Matt Lux (111), Franklin, Pa., 18.337
- Kody Evans (4G), Camden, Ohio, 18.387
- Troy Worrick (79), Marion, Ind., 19.034
- Jesse Lay (33), Walton, Ky., no time
- Jeff Beyers (27), Pana, Ill., no time
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., no time
- Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., no time
Thursday's race schedule
6 p.m. - Hot laps by qualifying group
6:30 p.m. - Time trials
7:55 p.m. - Invocation and national anthem
8 p.m. - Racing begins
- Heat races (10 laps; alternating odd/even with top five transferring to main event)
- Consolation races (12 laps; one for odd, one for event and top four transferring to main event)
- Odd feature race (25 laps)
- Even feature race (25 laps)
Thursday's event schedule
7-11 a.m.: Breakfast at turn four concessions
8 a.m.: Hillside markings may begin
8 a.m.: Turn-three race registration opens (pit passes and media credential sign-in)
9 a.m. Turn-three pit gate opens
9 a.m. Technical inspection for Late Models
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-6 p.m. Showers open (front of Lot 2)
5 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
6 p.m.: Hot laps
8 p.m.: Racing begins
Thursday night party: Following the completion of racing in the Fan Zone