ROSSBURG, Ohio — With Eldora Speedway's last two Dreams leaving a bad taste in Scott Bloomquist’s mouth, he was eager to take a big bite out of Dream XXIII presented by Ferris Mowers. He got more than a mouthful.
Overtaking Brandon Overton on the 56th lap, the 53-year-old Hall of Fame driver from Mooresburg, Tenn., cruised the rest of the way for his seventh career $100,000 payday in Dirt Late Model racing's richest event.
Bloomquist’s triumph put his scale-robbing loss of 2015 and his TireGate suspension of 2016 in the rear-view mirror, much like he put his pursuers in his rear-view over the final 45 laps at the half-mile circuit owned by Tony Stewart.
“It’s awesome,” said Bloomquist, trying to put his $700,000 in winning Dream paydays in perspective. “We’ve got a lot of fans and a lot of naysayers. But that’s what makes it all go round.”
Bloomquist ran away in the second half of the race, taking the checkers 4.5 seconds ahead of 12th-starting Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who won a late duel with Overton, the Evans, Ga., the driver who led laps 12-55. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., advanced six positions to finish fourth and 14th-starting Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., rounded out the top five to conclude a busy three-day weekend.
Bloomquist’s dominating Dream victory marked another crown jewel in the career of one of Dirt Late Model racing’s all-time best drivers.
“It’s like all these big show, you’re just glad when it’s over — and mission accomplished,” said Bloomquist, who has had a love affair with the Earl Baltes-rounded track since his first visit nearly 30 years ago.
“It’s always been one of my favorite places to race ever since I came here in ’88,” Bloomquist said. “It’s just such a beautiful racetrack. You can race all over it, the inside wall to the outside wall. I can’t say enough for these guys and how they prep the racetrack. There were a few little bumps here and there, but that just gives the track character.”
A pair of Brandons — Sheppard and Overton — were his toughest competition, but while they squared off to settle the battle for second in the final 25 laps, Bloomquist pulled away to an insurmountable lead.
“That was a fun race there with me and (Overton),” said Sheppard, who piloted the Rocket Chassis house car to his best-ever Dream finish. “We always race each other clean, so it’s fun to race with him.
“Congratulations to Scott. He was pretty good there. He got out on us there. Once me and Brandon got the line figured out that we wanted to run we were already too far behind.”
Overton, who shared Thursday’s spotlight with Bloomquist as they captured preliminary 25-lappers, also posted his best Dream finish.
“Congratulations to Scott. If we’re going to lose, these are the two to lose to,” said Overton, who piloted the No. 116 Dream Team car based in Crossville, Tenn. “Congrats to Brandon. We raced each other as clean as we could. We kind of faded a little bit. But to get out there and lead, I’m sure we’re all tickled to death.”
Bloomquist stalked Overton most of the first half of the race, and after building an eight-second lead late, he was careful to complete his victory without too much drama — even though he purposefully crept to Eldora’s scales, leaving fans to wait a few beats for the green bulb that signifies the 2,300-pound weight requirement.
“I wasn’t really sure (how big the lead was in the final laps),” Bloomquist said. “I got there in the end in lapped traffic and (14th-finishing Chase Junghans), I about had him cleared and our air got a little messed up and we got loose and the car kind of drifted a little bit. I just elected to back off and just maintain and try not to get too much heat in the tires. The car was excellent.”
At the outset, outside front-row starter Kent Robinson broke away from a three-wide battle with polesitter Mike Marlar and Overton on the first lap to take charge early, edging away with Marlar, Overton, Mason Zeigler and Darrell Lanigan in pursuit.
That top five settled in early with Bloomquist stalking them in the sixth spot as Robinson held a one-second lead after five laps.
Bloomquist took fifth from Lanigan on the eighth lap and continued his forward charge while Robinson had his hands full with traffic. Overton took second from Marlar on lap 10, then two laps later Overton went past Robinson just before the race’s first caution for the fifth-running Zeigler’s flat tire.
On the restart, Overton zipped back out front while Bloomquist went from fourth-to-second, leaving Marlar, Robinson and Sheppard in his wake.
After another quick caution, Overton again jumped out front with Bloomquist in second ahead of Marlar, Sheppard and Robinson while Lanigan and Jimmy Mars mixed it up behind them.
Overton and Bloomquist began stretching away from the field by lap 20 with both of them nearly a full straightaway ahead of Sheppard with Marlar and Mars holding top-five spots.
The Overton-Bloomquist combo ran the middle of the track and began to face slower traffic on lap 25 as Sheppard crept closer. Bloomquist continually peeked under Overton exiting turns two and four as Overton drifted higher on the track and Bloomquist stayed on the bottom.
With the frontrunners in traffic, Sheppard took advantage to continue drawing closer, making it a three-car battle for the lead by lap 30.
With traffic up high, Overton dropped low and Bloomquist briefly experimented with the high groove, allowing Overton to edge a half-straightaway ahead on lap 33 while Sheppard pulled up to Bloomquist’s rear deck at the start-finish line.
With Overton ahead by 1.4 seconds, Sheppard moved into second on lap 34 with Bloomquist, Marlar and Mars still holding the top five spots. Bloomquist regained the second spot from Sheppard on the 39th lap while Overton had clearer racetrack after putting a lap on Zeigler, who restarted on the tail after pitting for a fresh tire.
A lap-43 caution reset the field with Overton, Bloomquist, Sheppard, McCreadie and Marlar in the top five and 21st-starting Dale McDowell up to seventh.
On the restart seven laps shy of halfway, Overton was getting heat from a high-running Sheppard and low-running Bloomquist for a few laps, but he edged back away and had a one-second margin on Sheppard at lap 50 with McCreadie briefly moving into third ahead of Bloomquist and Mars.
After dropping back to fourth for a single lap, Bloomquist went back to work to go past McCreadie, Sheppard and then Overton, taking command on lap 56.
Overton initially didn’t let Bloomquist get too far away while Sheppard and McCreadie remained on the same straightaway with the frontrunners at lap 65.
Bloomquist began to stretch his lead, making it a two-second margin on lap 71 when Sheppard took the second spot from Overton just after Madden broke into the top five.
While Sheppard and Overton swapped position, Bloomquist continued to stretch his lead, taking a 3.6-second lead into the final 20 laps while McCreadie and Madden held the fourth and fifth spots.
Bloomquist nearly doubled that advantage over the next 10 laps with a tight battle for second among Overton, Sheppard and McCreadie — far behind the leader. Sheppard eventually got the spot as top-five positions were up for grabs — except the top spot as Bloomquist stayed in command.
The 100-lapper was slowed by three cautions, all for minor serious incidents. Zeigler’s 12th lap flat tire drew the first yellow while a lap-14 caution appeared for Frank Heckenast Jr.’s overheating machine.
The third and final yellow appeared on lap 43 when Tyler Erb slapped the wall, forcing him out of the race right-rear damage to his No. 91.
Notes: Bloomquist's previous Dream victories came in 1995, '02, '04, '06, '08 and '13. ... He crossed the line first in 2015, but was disqualified after weighing in 25 pounds light, and he failed to make 2016's main event and was later suspended when tires he used during the weekend failed lab tests. ... Sheppard was also among last year's suspended drivers. ... Darrell Lanigan, in the top five early, parked his overheating car on lap 43. … Scheduled to start 24th, former winner Jonathan Davenport was dropped to the tail for being late to report to the lineup; Davenport retired on lap 37.
Correction: Fixes lap counts.
Dream XXIII presented by Ferris Mowers
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., Sweet-Bloomquist, $100,000
2. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $20,000
3. Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., Longhorn, $12,500
4. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $10,000
5. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., Longhorn, $8,750
6. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Sweet-Bloomquist, $7,500
7. Jimmy Mars (28), Elk Mound, Wis., MB Customs, $6,500
8. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., Rocket, $6,000
9. Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., Longhorn, $5,500
10. Zack Dohm (17), Cross Lanes, W.Va., Swartz, $5,000
11. Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, Longhorn, $4,000
12. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., Moyer Victory, $3,000
13. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Pierce, $2,950
14. Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., Rocket, $2,900
15. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., Black Diamond, $2,875
16. Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., Club 29, $2,850
17. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., Moyer Victory, $2,825
18. Jon Henry (15), Ada, Ohio, Club 29, $2,800
19. Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., Club 29, $2,775
20. Devin Moran (9m), Dresden, Ohio, Rocket, $2,750
21. Jeff Babcock (7B), Wayne, Ohio, Rocket, $2,725
22. Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., Club 29, $2,700
23. Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., Rocket, $2,675
24. Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, Rocket, $2,650
25. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., Barry Wright, $2,625
26. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., Capital, $2,600
27. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., Rocket, $2,550
28. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., Black Diamond, $2,500
Lap leaders: Robinson 1-11; Overton 12-55; Bloomquist 56-100
Fast qualifier (among 79 cars): Casey Roberts, 15.925 seconds
Heat race winners: Mars, Babb, Zeigler, Overton, Robinson, Marlar
Consolation winners: McDowell, Henry
Scramble winners: Eddie Carrier Jr., Brian Shirley
Provisional starters: D. O’Neal, Simpson
First heat: Jimmy Mars, Scott Bloomquist, Devin Moran, Gregg Satterlee, Chris Simpson, Tyler Erb, Tim Manville, Shanon Buckingham, Eddie Carrier Jr., Joey Moriarty, Spencer Diercks, Jimmy Owens, Kyle Bronson. Scratched: Jeff Beyers
Second heat: Shannon Babb, Earl Pearson Jr., Chris Madden, Jeff Babcock, Nick Hoffman, Jon Henry, Steve Francis, Andrew Reaume, Jesse Lay, Brian Harris, Troy Worrick, Bobby Pierce, Rusty Schlenk.
Third heat: Mason Zeigler, Darrell Lanigan, Dennis Erb Jr., Dale McDowell, Jacob Hawkins, Jackie Boggs, Casey Roberts, Billy Moyer Jr., Ricky Weiss, Scott James, Kody Evans, Forrest Trent, Blake Spencer
Fourth heat: Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie, Billy Moyer, Jake O'Neil, Jonathan Davenport, Steve Casebolt, Tim Lance, Brian Shirley, Nick Latham, Bryant Dickinson, Dustin Nobbe, Brett Miller, Jason Feger.
Fifth heat: Kent Robinson, Zack Dohm, Hudson O’Neal, Shane Clanton, Jeep Van Wormer, Chase Junghans, Tyler Bruening, Rodney Sanders, Rod Conley, Brian Ligon, Don O’Neal. Scratched: Chris Ferguson, Matt Lux
Sixth heat: Mike Marlar, Brandon Sheppard, Frank Heckenast Jr., R.J., Conley, Donald McIntosh, Devin Gilpin, Jason Jameson, Ryan King, Mike Mataragas, Jerry Bowersock, Kenny Collins, Timothy Culp. Scratched: Casey Noonan.
First consolation: Dale McDowell, Chase Junghans, Tyler Erb, Shane Clanton, Jacob Hawkins, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jackie Boggs, Tim Manville, Shanon Buckingham, Ricky Weiss, Jimmy Owens, Kyle Bronson, Scott James, Casey Roberts, Rod Conley, Joey Moriarty, Forrest Trent, Tyler Bruening, Spencer Diercks, Blake Spencer, Kody Evans, Jeep Van Wormer, Rodney Sanders, Gregg Satterlee, Brian Ligon, Billy Moyer Jr.
Second consolation: Jon Henry, Jonathan Davenport, Jeff Babcock, Bobby Pierce, Donald McIntosh, Brian Shirley, Steve Casebolt, Steve Francis, Andrew Reaume, Jesse Lay, Jason Jameson, Tim Lance, Nick Latham, Brian Harris, Dustin Nobbe, Mike Mataragas, Ryan King, Kenny Collins, Jerry Bowersock, Bryant Dickinson, Brett Miller, Jason Feger, Devin Gilpin, Nick Hoffman, Jake O’Neil, R.J. Conley, Troy Worrick. Scratched: Timothy Culp, Rusty Schlenk.
Preliminary results, notes and live updates:
Main event notes
Updates from the 100-lap feature:
Lap 100: The checkered flag waves at 11:44 p.m. Bloomquist wins Dream XXIII.
Lap 85: Bloomquist continues to stretch his lead over the field as Sheppard and Overton battle for the runner-up spot.
Lap 70: Bloomquist leads Overton, Sheppard, McCreadie and Chris Madden.
Lap 56: Bloomquist slips under Overton down the backstretch to take the lead.
Lap 50: At the halfway mark, Overton leads Sheppard, Bloomquist, McCreadie and Mars.
Lap 43: Making contact with the wall in turns three and four, Tyler Erb slows to draw a caution. Overton leads Bloomquist, Sheppard, Tim McCreadie and Marlar. Dale McDowell has advanced from the 21st starting spot to run seventh.
Lap 39: Bloomquist retakes the second-place spot, reeling in Overton.
Lap 34: Sheppard edges ahead of Bloomquist at the line to run second. Overton leads.
Lap 25: Bloomquist closes in on Overton in lapped traffic. Overton leads Bloomquist, Sheppard, Marlar and Jimmy Mars.
Lap 14: A yellow flag waves as Frank Heckenast Jr. slows on the frontstretch. Overton leads Bloomquist, Marlar, Robinson and Brandon Sheppard, who started 12th.
Lap 12: Overton overtakes Robinson for the lead as fifth-running Zeigler slows on the backstretch to draw the first caution.
Lap 10: The race leaders approach the tail of the field. Robinson leads Brandon Overton, Mike Marlar, Mason Zeigler and Scott Bloomquist.
Lap one: The green flag waves at 11:01 p.m. Outside polesitter Kent Robinson leads the first lap.
10:50 p.m. | Feature lineup
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Kent Robinson
Row 2: Brandon Overton, Mason Zeigler
Row 3: Shannon Babb, Jimmy Mars
Row 4: Scott Bloomquist, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 5: Darrell Lanigan, Tim McCreadie
Row 6: Zack Dohm, Brandon Sheppard
Row 7: Devin Moran, Chris Madden
Row 8: Dennis Erb Jr., Billy Moyer Sr.
Row 9: Hudson O’Neal, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 10: Don O'Neal, Chris Simpson
Row 11: Dale McDowell, Jon Henry
Row 12: Chase Junghans, Jonathan Davenport
Row 13: Tyler Erb, Jeff Babcock
Row 14: Shane Clanton, Bobby Pierce
10:04 p.m. | Starting field stats
The 28-car starting field includes five first-time drivers, including Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and Zack Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., who battled for a heat race victory. Transferring through consolation races were first-timers Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, and Jeff Babcock of Wayne, Ohio.
The starting field also includes 10 chassis brands led by Rocket with eight cars. Other chassis builders with multiple starters are Club 29/Black Diamond (6), Longhorn (5), Moyer Victory (2) and Sweet-Bloomquist (2). MB Customs, Capital, Pierce, Swartz and Barry Wright have single starters, and Swartz has its first Dream driver (Zack Dohm) since 2006.
Sixteen states are represented in the starting field led by Illinois with five drivers. Georgia has four starters while Ohio and Indiana have three apiece. Tennessee has two drivers in the race. States with single drivers: Wisconsin, Florida, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New York, Arkansas, West Virginia, Iowa, Kansas and Texas.
Corrections: Fixes chassis count.
9:57 p.m. | Pierce's stirring rally
Bobby Pierce didn’t just amaze the immense Eldora crowd with his spectacular 25th-to-fourth run to a transfer spot in the second 20-lap B-main. He also amazed himself.
“Honestly, I thought it was impossible,” the 20-year-old superstar said when asked about his unlikely rally to crack the Dream feature field after blowing a right-rear tire and slapping the outside wall during his heat race. “The cautions and that wreck helped me out a lot.”
As the consolation wound down, however, Pierce was so busy attempting to run down every car ahead of him that he lost track of his position on the track.
“I didn’t even know what place I was in,” Pierce commented. “I was just hoping I was in fourth place.”
Pierce finally grabbed the final transfer spot on lap 19 with an outside pass of Donald McIntosh off turn four, putting him into his second career Dream finale. The 2016 World 100 winner finished last year in his first Dream feature appearance.
9:49 p.m. | Henry wins second consolation
Polesitter Jeff Babcock jumped to an early lead, as fifth-starting Jonathan Davenport and seventh-starting Jon Henry battled for the third-place spot. A yellow flag waved on the fifth lap when Bryant Dickinson spun in turn two. Using the restart to his advantage, Steve Casebolt moved in to the third-place spot, with another yellow flag waved on the sixth lap for debris on the racetrack. Another yellow flag waved on lap seven for a turn-three tangle involving Ryan King, Jerry Bowersock and others. Henry shot to the lead on the restart, as Babcock slipped back to third. Starting at the rear of the field, 25th-starting Bobby Pierce worked his way up to the seventh-place spot with four laps remaining. Henry won the consolation, with Davenport running second. Babcock finished third, with Pierce taking the fourth and final transfer spot. Brian Shirley won the scramble.
Second consolation finish (top four transfer): Jon Henry, Jonathan Davenport, Jeff Babcock, Bobby Pierce, Donald McIntosh, Brian Shirley, Steve Casebolt, Steve Francis, Andrew Reaume, Jesse Lay, Jason Jameson, Tim Lance, Nick Latham, Brian Harris, Dustin Nobbe, Mike Mataragas, Ryan King, Kenny Collins, Jerry Bowersock, Bryant Dickinson, Brett Miller, Jason Feger, Devin Gilpin, Nick Hoffman, Jake O’Neil, R.J. Conley, Troy Worrick. Scratched: Timothy Culp, Rusty Schlenk.
9:18 p.m. | McDowell wins first consolation
Outside polesitter Dale McDowell shot to an early lead, with Jeep Van Wormer charging from the sixth starting spot to run in second. As the frontrunners held their lead over the field, a close battle ensued between Gregg Satterlee, Jacob Hawkins and Tyler Erb for the final transfer spot. With just five laps remaining, Hawkins slipped ahead of Satterlee to run in fourth, as a yellow flag waved on lap 16. McDowell held his lead on the restart, with Chase Junghans moving in to second as Van Wormer got in to the wall to draw a caution on lap 17. Erb slid in to third on the restart, with Hawkins slipping back to fifth. McDowell won the consolation, with Junghans, Erb and Shane Clanton transferring to the feature. Eddie Carrier Jr. won the scramble.
First consolation finish (top four transfer): Dale McDowell, Chase Junghans, Tyler Erb, Shane Clanton, Jacob Hawkins, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jackie Boggs, Tim Manville, Shanon Buckingham, Ricky Weiss, Jimmy Owens, Kyle Bronson, Scott James, Casey Roberts, Rod Conley, Joey Moriarty, Forrest Trent, Tyler Bruening, Spencer Diercks, Blake Spencer, Kody Evans, Jeep Van Wormer, Rodney Sanders, Gregg Satterlee, Brian Ligon, Billy Moyer Jr.
9:05 p.m. | Engine swap for Simpson
While Chris Simpson discovered terminal engine problems in his car after finishing fifth in Heat 1, he ended up in line for a provisional spot to start the 100-lap feature — if he can get a backup powerplant installed in his car in time.
As the B-mains began at 9 p.m., the Iowa driver was changed out of his driver’s uniform and scrambling around his car with his crew and other helpers in hopes of making a hasty engine swap so he can take the green flag in the Dream headliner for the fourth time in his career.
Asked if he thinks he had enough time to get another motor buttoned into his Longhorn mount, Simpson said, “I don’t know … but we’re gonna give it a try.”
8:55 p.m. | Consolation race lineups
(20 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Gregg Satterlee, Dale McDowell
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Tyler Erb
Row 3: Jacob Hawkins, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 4: Tim Manville, Jackie Boggs
Row 5: Chase Junghans, Shanon Buckingham
Row 6: Casey Roberts, Tyler Bruening
Row 7: Eddie Carrier Jr., Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 8: Rodney Sanders, Joey Moriarty
Row 9: Ricky Weiss, Rod Conley
Row 10: Spencer Diercks, Scott James
Row 11: Brian Ligon, Jimmy Owens
Row 12: Kody Evans, Kyle Bronson
Row 13: Forrest Trent, Blake Spencer
(20 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Jeff Babcock, Jake O'Neil
Row 2: R.J. Conley, Nick Hoffman
Row 3: Jonathan Davenport, Donald McIntosh
Row 4: Jon Henry, Steve Casebolt
Row 5: Devin Gilpin, Steve Francis
Row 6: Tim Lance, Jason Jameson
Row 7: Andrew Reaume, Brian Shirley
Row 8: Ryan King, Jesse Lay
Row 9: Nick Latham, Mike Mataragas
Row 10: Brian Harris, Bryant Dickinson
Row 11: Jerry Bowersock, Troy Worrick
Row 12: Dustin Nobbe, Kenny Collins
Row 13: Bobby Pierce, Brett Miller
Row 14: Timothy Culp, Rusty Schlenk
Row 15: Jason Feger
8:44 p.m. | Pierce needs a long rally
Disappointment was written all over 2016 World 100 winner Bobby Pierce’s face as he was asked what caused his slap of the turn-two wall on the first lap of Heat 1.
“The (right-rear) tire blew,” the 20-year-old sensation said simply.
Pierce has patched his car together for a B-main, but he’ll have his work cut out for him to rally from deep in the field to gain a transfer spot.
8:39 p.m. | Crushing blow for Culp
The most crushing loss of Dream XXIII weekend so far was absorbed by Timothy Culp, who saw his march to victory in the sixth heat short-circuited coming to the white flag when he slowed dramatically off turn four and ultimately limped to a stop on the backstretch.
The 26-year-old driver reported that a broken rear end — a problem that has plagued his effort this season — ended his bid to make the Dream finale’s starting field for the first time in his career.
8:34 p.m. | Marlar needs more speed
On one hand Mike Marlar was happy to win the sixth heat. On the other, he had sympathy for Timothy Culp, who gave up his race-long lead to Marlar when he slowed coming to the white flag.
“I hate to see that for Timmy. He’s a good kid,” Marlar said. “He was definitely a little better than us. But we’re up front (on the pole for the 100-lapper), so now we just gotta get our car faster.”
Marlar is in the Dream feature for the seventh time in his career. His best finish, however, is just 13th, in 2014.
8:27 p.m. | Culp wins sixth heat
Taking the lead at the white flag when race-long leader Timothy Culp lost power, Mike Marlar led the final two laps of the sixth heat to earn the pole for Dream XXIII. Culp had the race in hand, edging away throughout the race before he slowed between turns three and four on the 14th lap. Marlar swept past with Brandon Sheppard and Frank Heckenast Jr. getting the other two transfer spots in the caution-free heat.
Sixth heat finish (top three transfer): Mike Marlar, Brandon Sheppard, Frank Heckenast Jr., R.J., Conley, Donald McIntosh, Devin Gilpin, Jason Jameson, Ryan King, Mike Mataragas, Jerry Bowersock, Kenny Collins, Timothy Culp. Scratched: Casey Noonan.
8:23 p.m. | Robinson feeling good
Kent Robinson was happy about how his car felt en route to his victory in the fifth heat — and ecstatic to secure the outside pole starting spot for the Dream 100-lapper.
“That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?” Robinson said when told he’ll be on the front row. “We were pretty good Thursday night, and then we tried some stuff last night and we learned what not to do. I really think we’re on to something.”
Robinson will make his fourth career Dream feature start. His previous appearances resulted in finishes of 13th (2011), 16th (’14) and 17th (’15).
8:17 p.m. | Robinson wins fifth heat
Working the bottom of the racetrack, Shane Clanton shot from the fourth starting spot to the lead in one lap. But a yellow flag flew on first circuit when Rod Conley spun on the frontstretch, bringing the race to a complete restart. Zack Dohm edged ahead of polesitter Hudson O’Neal to take the lead on the restart, with a three-car battle ensuing at the front between Dohm, O’Neal and Kent Robison. Robinson took the lead on the fourth lap, with Clanton attempting to reel in O’Neal for the final transfer spot at the halfway mark. Robinson grabbed the heat race win, with Dohm running second. O’Neal finished third to transfer to the feature.
Fifth heat finish (top three transfer): Kent Robinson, Zack Dohm, Hudson O’Neal, Shane Clanton, Jeep Van Wormer, Chase Junghans, Tyler Bruening, Rodney Sanders, Rod Conley, Brian Ligon, Don O’Neal. Scratched: Chris Ferguson, Matt Lux.
8:11 p.m. | Overton's analysis
Brandon Overton provided a pretty simple synopsis of his dominant 5.648-second victory over Tim McCreadie in the fourth heat.
“We were pretty good I guess,” said the 26-year-old Overton, who drove the Dream Racing Longhorn to his first-ever Eldora triumph in a Thursday preliminary feature. “Nobody passed me.”
The checkered put Overton, who will start from inside the second row in the 100-lapper, into the third Dream A-main of his career. He finished 19th in 2015 and 17th in ’16.
8:08 p.m. | Zeigler's perfect car
Mason Zeigler, the winner of Friday night’s second preliminary feature, was beaming after capturing the third heat by a commanding margin of 3.144 seconds over Darrell Lanigan, who won Friday’s first prelim A-main.
“The car is just spot-on perfect,” the 24-year-old Zeigler said of his XR1 Rocket. “I can’t imagine our car being any better right now. We got a real good program and I’m real excited for the feature.”
Zeigler will make his third career Dream feature start but first since 2014 when he finished 15th. He also registered a 20th-place finish in ’13.
8:06 p.m. | Overton wins fourth heat
Grabbing the lead on the first lap from his third starting spot, Thursday preliminary winner Brandon Overton cruised to a 15-lap victory. He had a five-second lead by halfway while polesitter Jake O'Neil and Tim McCreadie battled for the second spot. McCreadie inched ahead of O'Neil on the 11th lap and Billy Moyer dropped O'Neil to fourth three laps later. O'Neil and Jonathan Davenport rounded out the top five. Jason Feger retired after five lap.
Fourth heat finish (top three transfer): Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie, Billy Moyer, Jake O'Neil, Jonathan Davenport, Steve Casebolt, Tim Lance, Brian Shirley, Nick Latham, Bryant Dickinson, Dustin Nobbe, Brett Miller, Jason Feger.
8:01 p.m. | Babb's good timing
Perhaps Shannon Babb has waited for the right time to be at his best at Eldora.
“Tonight’s the night you need to be good,” Babb said after winning the second heat, “and that’s the best our car’s been.”
Babb locked into the Dream feature field for the 14th time in his career. His top finish is third, earned in his first Dream A-main appearance in 1998.
7:58 p.m. | Zeigler wins third heat
Polesitter Mason Zeigler charged to an early lead, with fifth-starting Darrell Lanigan powering to third on the first lap. Zeigler began distancing himself from the field as the race reached the halfway mark, with Lanigan attempting to reel in Dennis Erb Jr. for the runner-up spot. Zeigler slid ahead of Erb out of turn four to take second on lap nine, while Dale McDowell and Jacob Hawkins battled for fourth. Zeigler won the heat, with Lanigan running second. Erb took the third and final transfer spot.
Third heat finish (top three transfer): Mason Zeigler, Darrell Lanigan, Dennis Erb Jr., Dale McDowell, Jacob Hawkins, Jackie Boggs, Casey Roberts, Billy Moyer Jr., Ricky Weiss, Scott James, Kody Evans, Forrest Trent, Blake Spencer.
7:55 p.m. | Two flats for Bronson
Kyle Bronson appeared to be in solid position to, at the very least, secure a desirable starting spot in a B-main as he ran fifth in the first heat. Then he exploded a left-rear tire on lap 10, forcing him to make a pit stop for a new shoe.
But the Florida driver’s problems weren’t yet done. He blew a right-rear tire on lap 12, leaving his car’s rear bodywork ravaged and, with a 13th-place finish, effectively ending his weekend.
“He thinks he might have run over something (to cause the first flat),” a Bronson crew member said. “We knew the right-rear was gonna blow, too. It was already blistered (on lap 10).”
7:53 p.m. | Moyer Jr. loses front-row spot
Because he pulled out of staging, Billy Moyer Jr. gave up a front-row starting spot in the third heat. Moyer had to start on the tail of the 13-car heat.
7:50 p.m. | Babb wins second heat
After fellow Illinois driver Bobby Pierce fell by the wayside, Shannon Babb cruised the rest of the 15-lap for a heat victory. Earl Pearson Jr. held second virtually all the way while Chris Madden got the final transfer spot. Madden got a slow start but went low exiting turn four on the third lap to get into a transfer spot, taking it away from ninth-starting Nick Hoffman. Jeff Babcock was a distant fourth with Hoffman in fifth. Pierce led the first lap but hit the second-turn wall after blowing a tire, knocking him from contention.
Second heat finish (top three transfer): Shannon Babb, Earl Pearson Jr., Chris Madden, Jeff Babcock, Nick Hoffman, Jon Henry, Steve Francis, Andrew Reaume, Jesse Lay, Brian Harris, Troy Worrick, Bobby Pierce, Rusty Schlenk.
7:42 p.m. | Mars stays on high side
Jimmy Mars knew Scott Bloomquist was coming on the inside of the track late in the first heat. He also realized, though, that switching from the high lane to block the six-time Dream champion would probably be a mistake, so he stuck with what was working and held on to win by 0.461 of a second.
“I kind of heated up my (right rear) tire too much to run the bottom,” said Mars, the 1997 Dream winner. “My brother kept motioning me down to run the bottom, but I knew I couldn’t do it because my tire was burnt up.”
7:40 p.m. | Pierce into wall in second heat
Outside front-row starter Bobby Pierce got into the turn-two wall on the second lap after blowing a tire in the the second heat. His car suffered heavy damage, but he headed to the pits for repairs. Pierce returned to the track for the restart but slowed to draw a lap-two caution.
7:36 p.m. | Mars wins first heat
Running side-by-side down the backstretch, polesitter Gregg Satterlee edged ahead of fellow front row starter Jimmy Mars to lead the first lap. Working around the top side, Mars moved ahead of Satterlee on the third circuit, with Devin Moran running in third. In a tight battle for the final transfer spot, fifth-starting Scott Bloomquist slipped ahead of Moran around the halfway mark. A yellow flag flew on lap 10 when fifth-running Kyle Bronson slowed on the backstretch with a flat tire. Using the restart to his advantage, Bloomquist shot ahead of Satterlee to take over the second-place spot, with a yellow flag waving on lap 11 when Jimmy Owes spun in turn four. Mars picked up the heat race win, with Bloomquist finishing second. Moran outran Satterlee to transfer to the feature.
First heat finish (top three transfer): Jimmy Mars, Scott Bloomquist, Devin Moran, Gregg Satterlee, Chris Simpson, Tyler Erb, Tim Manville, Shanon Buckingham, Eddie Carrier Jr., Joey Moriarty, Spencer Diercks, Jimmy Owens, Kyle Bronson. Scratched: Jeff Beyers.
7:30 p.m. | Flat for Bronson in first heat
Kyle Bronson was running a strong fifth in the first heat when a flat right-rear tire brought out a lap-10 caution and forced him to the pits for new rubber. Jimmy Mars broke away from an early side-by-side battle with Gregg Satterlee to lead the first heat over Satterlee, Scott Bloomquist and Devin Moran.
7:25 p.m. | Heats set to roll
With pre-race ceremonies wrapped up, the first heat hit the racetrack with six 15-laps prelims coming.
7:15 p.m. | Erb eyes Dream repeat
Defending Dream champion Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., reflected on the richest win of his career when he was interviewed on Eldora’s stage to kick off the pre-race ceremonies.
“It was just a big accomplishment for all the years we’ve put in and the years we’ve been coming here,” Erb said of his $100,000 score.
Erb will attempt to become the first back-to-back winner of the Dream. He feels he has a good shot at a repeat.
“We were real good in qualifying last night, won our heat and got a good starting spot in a heat race (fourth in the third heat),” Erb said. “Hopefully we’ll get into that top three (transfer positions) and then concentrate on the feature.”
7:05 p.m. | Wait and see for Mars team
Chris Mars, the brother and crew chief for 1997 Dream winner Jimmy Mars, leaned against the team’s pit cart watching the track prep — including some water added to the surface — after hot laps.
The team elected to skip hot laps, figuring the track would be different once they pulled out for the first heat with Mars starting outside the front row. It did make Chris Mars “kind of nervous” that it appeared that his brother might be racing on a faster track than he has most of the weekend.
The crew chief estimated lap times for the first heat would like be in the 16-second range after being in the 18-second range much of Thursday and Friday’s prelims, conditions where Mars ran well with second- and third-place finishes in 25-lappers.
“I think we’ll be all right as long as we don’t get too tight at the beginning,” Chris Mars said. “I think by lap 10 (of the first heat) it’ll probably be slowing down.”
Mars will be battling fellow front-row starter Gregg Satterlee in the first heat along with Devin Moran, Chris Simpson, Scott Bloomquist and others with the top three transferring to the night’s 100-lapper.
“The car’s looked pretty good,” Chris Mars said. “Hopefully we can capitalize on it."
6:56 p.m. | Pre-race ceremonies at 7
Pre-race ceremonies are set for 7 p.m., including a victory stage interviews with last year’s winner Dennis Erb Jr. and five father-son pairs who have competed in the Dream (Eddie Carrier Jr. and Sr., Billy Moyer and Billy Moyer Jr., Bob and Bobby Pierce, Donnie and Devin Moran and Don and Hudson O'Neal. … Scott Bloomquist and Chris Madden have guaranteed spots in the main event via provisionals if they don’t transfer through their heat races. A pair of 10th-row starting spots go to the drivers with the highest point totals from prelims who don’t transfer through heats. … With two scratches in the fifth heat lineup, only 11 cars are expected to start that prelim.
6:42 p.m. | Gust of wind fells trophies
The trophies earmarked for presentation to the winning Dream XXIII driver and car owner are currently sitting in a storage room inside Eldora’s infield media center — unfortunately, with both broken into many pieces.
Both trophies were sitting on display on the homestretch stage on Saturday afternoon when a gust of wind blew them over. They came down hard on the concrete and shattered, sending officials into a last-minute scramble for a replacement.
Eldora management found a 2012 Dream trophy in storage and pulled it out. Using some undamaged pieces from the original hardware and sticking on some well-placed decals, a single temporary trophy was created for tonight’s winner.
6:34 p.m. | How they'll line up
A reminder how tonight's 100-lap starting field will be set:
Row 1: Sixth heat winner, fifth heat winner
Row 2: Fourth heat winner, third heat winner
Row 3: Second heat winner, first heat winner
Row 4: First heat runner-up, second heat runner-up
Row 5: Third heat runner-up, fourth heat runner-up
Row 6: Fifth heat runner-up, sixth heat runner-up
Row 7: First heat third place, second heat third place
Row 8: Third heat third place, fourth heat third place
Row 9: Fifth heat third place, sixth heat third place
Row 10: Provisional starters
Row 11: First consy winner, second consy winner
Row 12: First consy runner-up, second consy runner-up
Row 13: First consy third place, second consy third place
Row 14: First consy fourth place, second consy fourth place
6:28 p.m. | Tough break for Schlenk
Rusty Schlenk’s bid to make his first-ever Dream feature start appeared to come to an abrupt end after he slammed the turn-three wall during Saturday night’s second hot-lap session, leaving his C.J. Rayburn house car with significant right-side damage.
“The car was good in three and four and one and two,” the McClure, Ohio, driver said. “Then I went into three again … I don’t know if something broke, but I just went right into the wall.”
Schlenk said the brake rotor on the right-front corner of his car was missing, leading him to wonder if had sheared to trigger his wreck.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to get it ready for the heat race,” said Schlenk, who is scheduled to start sixth in the second heat.
Crew members didn't give up, though, scrambling in the pits to try and make repairs before prelims get rolling.
6:20 p.m. | Lanigan settles in with CBR
With a victory in Friday night’s first 25-lap preliminary feature, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., flashed another sign that he’s getting more comfortable in Clint Bowyer’s Dirt Late Model equipment
“It feels more like my own deal this year,” Lanigan said, referring to his self-owned effort that he campaigned for a good two decades before joining Bowyer’s operation in 2016. “Me and Big Dog (crew chief Brian Leonberg) work good, but I’m doing a lot of the calls and stuff, the shocks and springs. It’s kind of a little easier to do it that way. I like that deal of knowing what’s going on, so I do all the shocks and springs myself and kind of know what the car wants and needs.”
Lanigan, who turned 47 on June 3, earned his first Eldora win since he drove one of his own familiar No. 29 machines to victory in a 2013 World 100 preliminary feature. His triumph in the track’s 2006 UMP DIRTcar Fall Nationals also preceded the richest checkered flag of his career in the ’03 Dream.
A successful run in Saturday night’s Dream headliner wouldn’t be surprising for Lanigan, who starts fifth in the third heat. He’s started the 100-lap feature 17 times and owns nine top-five finishes, including third-place runs in 1994 (the inaugural event), 2009, ’11 and ’12 and runner-up finishes in ’98 and ’05.
6:15 p.m. | Pick-me-up for McIntosh
A seventh-place finish in Friday night’s first preliminary feature gave Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., a much needed pick-me-up heading into Saturday evening’s Dream finale.
“What an awesome night,” the 24-year-old talent said after winning a heat and running solidly in the top 10 throughout the A-main. “I just wanted to make a show here. We’ve been here three times, and all three nights have been about like last night went. So to have a good, clean night, that’s great.
“Being able to make 25 laps and move around the racetrack made a big difference to me. To be able to have a run like this, it’s definitely a big confidence booster. Just knowing you can get around here and not hit the wall every lap. …”
Indeed, McIntosh got up-close-and-personal with the Eldora concrete on Thursday. His weekend started in rough fashion when he clipped the wall in time trials, inflicting significant damage to his Blount Motorsports XR1 Rocket.
“It tore everything off the right-front (corner),” said McIntosh, who starts sixth in Heat 6. “We had to put on an upper (control arm), a lower, a shock, a spring, and the deck on the right-rear was all messed up. It actually moved the frame over a little bit too, but not too bad.”
“I can’t thank these guys (on his crew) enough for staying behind me,” he added. “They keep telling me, ‘Don’t you get off that wall.’ They know you gotta be up there (to be fast), but it’s tough. When you go in there and it doesn’t slick or do what you want, or need, it to do, it’s tough.”
6:13 p.m. | Looking for better starts
Eldora adopted a “starting box” format to get races rolling for this year’s Dream, but after a couple of starting penalties and other issues, a new starting system may eventually replace it.
While race director Larry Boos called most of the weekend flawless, he said he’s “not a fan of the way it’s going” with the starting system and that officials plan "to review it for future events” in the Saturday afternoon drivers’ meeting.
Previously, drivers started at a line near the opening in the inside turn-four wall. The starting box extends further, giving drivers the option of waiting longer to get on the gas.
Because that means the drivers up front may be on the frontstretch before the fire, those drivers may tend to spin their tires more while cars still exiting turn four enjoy a momentum boost coming off the banking.
Starts and restarts evoked the most discussion in the drivers’ meeting with Boos showing drivers an image of why Darrell Lanigan was penalized at the beginning of his Friday prelim — he wasn’t nose-to-tail with the driver in front of him entering the starting box. (Timothy Culp was also penalized for the same thing on the ensuing restart.)
Not long after the drivers’ meeting, Boos drove a golf cart with Lanigan and Shane Clanton aboard to the inside of turn four, where they discussed the starting system.
6:06 p.m. | Pre-heat scratches
Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., is scheduled to start seventh in tonight’s fifth heat, but he’s a scratch from competition. He’s no longer even at Eldora after deciding to load up and depart the track following Friday night’s action to make the long haul east to enter this evening’s Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series event at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Matt Lux of Franklin, Pa., also left Eldora after Friday night’s program, bringing an early close to his first appearance at the half-mile oval since 2008. He initially planned to take his Jim Detman-owned car to Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio, for a Saturday-night show, but he reported on Facebook late Saturday afternoon that a mechanical breakdown with his hauler had ruled out any racing for him.
Other drivers who have scratched from Saturday’s Dream finale are Casey Noonan of Sylvania, Ohio, and Jeff Beyers of Pana, Ill.
5:58 p.m. | Madden is confident
No driver in the Eldora pits might be more confident entering the Dream finale than Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C. After finishing second in Friday night’s first preliminary feature, the World of Outlaws regular sounded primed and ready for battle in the 100-lapper.
“I haven’t had a race car that good around here in a long time,” said Madden, who has a top finish of fourth (2010) in 11 career Dream feature starts. “I think I have a shot at winning this thing. I just need more than 25 laps.”
Madden, who had arguably the fastest car on the track at the end of both preliminary features, has also made 10 starts in Eldora’s World 100 A-main without a victory, fueling his desire to finally break through this year.
“I want one. I want one bad,” he said of an Eldora win. “I’m always excited to come to this place, even if I don’t race anything. I got a game face I bring here, and I’m excited to be here.”
And how much emotion would Madden show if he were to claim the $100,000 top prize? Well, he might even make an unique victory lane move.
“It would be a little bit of excitement out of me,” Madden said. “It won’t be much more than my normal deal. We’ve got to hold our composure a little, but winning a 100-grand there is a big deal.
“I’ve gotten on the roof a few times. I don’t have to, but if we win 100-grand, I might be on the roof. I might stand on the carburetor … I don’t think I’ve seen nobody stand on the carburetor.”
5:52 p.m. | Big night of racing ahead
Optional hot laps are scheduled for 6 p.m., and it’s likely virtually all the drivers will take a chance to get more track time. … Race director Larry Boos told drivers that, because of the sunny, hot weather, heat races may be pushed back as long as 30 minutes to 7:30 instead of the 7 p.m. scheduled start time. … An interesting stat Ben Shelton shared in the RaceDay segment: The average age of the polesitters is 27.5 with Shannon Babb (43) the elder of the bunch (Gregg Satterlee, Jake O’Neil, Hudson O’Neal, Mason Zeigler and Timothy Culp are the others). … Part of the pre-race ceremonies will include honoring some of the father-son combinations to compete at Eldora, including Bob and Bobby Pierce, Billy Moyer Sr. and Jr. and Donnie and Devin Moran.
Heat race lineups
(15 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Gregg Satterlee, Jimmy Mars
Row 2: Devin Moran, Chris Simpson
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Kyle Bronson
Row 4: Eddie Carrier Jr., Shanon Buckingham
Row 5: Tyler Erb, Spencer Diercks
Row 6: Joey Moriarty, Tim Manville
Row 7: Jimmy Owens, Jeff Beyers
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Steve Francis, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 3: Chris Madden, Rusty Schlenk
Row 4: Jon Henry, Andrew Reaume
Row 5: Nick Hoffman, Jeff Babcock
Row 6: Jesse James, Brian Harris
Row 7: Troy Worrick
Row 1: Mason Zeigler, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 3: Darrell Lanigan, Jackie Boggs
Row 4: Casey Roberts, Jacob Hawkins
Row 5: Ricky Weiss, Kody Evans
Row 6: Scott James, Forrest Trent
Row 7: Blake Spencer
Row 1: Jake O’Neil, Jonathan Davenport
Row 2: Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Billy Moyer, Steve Casebolt
Row 4: Nick Latham, Brian Shirley
Row 5: Jason Feger, Dustin Nobbe
Row 6: Tim Lance, Bryant Dickinson
Row 7: Brett Miller
Row 1: Hudson O’Neal, Kent Robinson
Row 2: Zack Dohm, Shane Clanton
Row 3: Don O’Neal, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 4: Chris Ferguson, Chase Junghans
Row 5: Rodney Sanders, Rod Conley
Row 6: Tyler Bruening, Tyler Lux
Row 7: Brian Ligon
Row 1: Timothy Culp, Mike Marlar
Row 2: R.J. Conley, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Donald McIntosh
Row 4: Devin Gilpin, Ryan King
Row 5: Mike Mataragas, Jason Jameson
Row 6: Casey Noonan, Kenny Collins
Row 7: Jerry Bowersock
Saturday’s event schedule
3:30 p.m.: Driver autograph session
4:30 p.m.: Public drivers’ meeting
6 p.m.: Hot laps
6:40 p.m.: Pre-race ceremonies
7 p.m.: Racing begins
- Heat races (15 laps; top three transfer)
- Consolation races (20 laps; top four transfer)
- Dream XXIII (100 laps)