SYLVANIA, Ga. (Feb. 8) — It doesn’t matter the car he’s racing or what number is on the side — Brandon Overton is fast at Screven Motor Speedway.
Leading flag-to-flag in Friday’s World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series season-opener, the Evans, Ga., notched his third victory in as many starts at the Sylvania, Ga., oval, all coming behind the wheel of a different race car.
“It feels good, especially after the week we’ve had,” Overton said. “Just nothing has been going right. Even tonight, when we qualified. I hot lapped pretty quick, I think I was second overall. Then went out here and qualified and broke something else in the right front. I was worried about it tonight. Just got a good start, won our heat race and started outside the front row. I knew it was going to be pretty important tonight to be chasing that corner. Things just kind of fell our way.”
Winning his heat race and redrawing to start outside the front row, Overton charged to the front of the field at the drop of the green flag, dominating early as he worked his way through lapped traffic. Fifth-starting Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., had closed the gap between himself and the race leader when a yellow flag waved on lap 34, slowing the field to give Overton the advantage out front.
Overton maintained a comfortable lead when the race went back green, with Shirley losing position to a charging Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., on lap 39. Reeling in the race leader, second-running Madden was nose-to-tail with Overton’s back bumper with just a few laps remaining in the 50-lap distance. But he was never able to make a serious challenge for the lead, settling for second as Overton collected a $10,000 payday in the Winter Freeze IX opener.
“I was kind of panicking,” Overton said of lapped traffic. “I could see (crewman) (Grant) Pearl down there in (turn) one until we went green. And when we started going green, I couldn’t see him anymore. So I was trying to just to pass them. I was thinking I was keeping one between me, but I guess I wasn’t. A lot of these races now, everybody’s so good. You just kind of have to put yourself in position, set yourself up to be in position right there at the end and just hope the cards fall right for you/"
Shirley finished third, with Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., running fourth in his first start at Screven since 2015. After falling back early, Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., regained positions from Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., and Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, to round out the top five.
Starting fourth, Madden nearly climbed the turn-four wall on the opening lap, falling back among the top-10 in the early running. But the South Carolina driver was able to work his way back through the front of the field to post a runner-up finish in his debut with the Greg Bruening-owned, Capital Race Cars-backed team.
“It was a great rally,” Madden said. “We had an extremely good race car early tonight and redrew a four. I got hung out on that start and drove in to (turns) three and four a little hot and a little high. My tires were kind of sealed up when I got down there. I guess it was kind of slimy down the back straightaway and I just went into a slide there and got up into the fence and on top of it.
“But fortunately enough, we didn’t bend anything, was able to rally back from 10th-place there back to second. I thought we was going to have a shot at him there. We got to rolling pretty good with about 10 to go and we had a caution. I didn’t really want to have the caution. We were rolling pretty good. But thanks to all these guys that’s helped put this team together to get this thing going in just a short period of time.”
After an up and down start to his Georgia-Florida Speedweeks campaign that included a wild rollover at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., and a pair of top-10 finishes at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla., Shirley finally found himself on the podium on Friday night.
“It just got the point where the tires were bald,” Shirley said. “It rubbered up there late. I probably should have been a little more aggressive. But I was a little nervous because I didn’t know how much they were bald. I was riding with Overton for a long time. I was a little worried that we might not make it. There at the end I made a mistake and got up out of the rubber and let Chris (Madden) get by.”
Notes: Overton’s last three Screven victories have not only come in three different cars, but on different tours. He scored a Southern All Stars victory at Screven back in September, following it up with an Ultimate Southeast Series triumph in November… The race was slowed by seven cautions. …. A yellow flag waved on the first lap when G.R. Smith spun in turns one and two. … The second caution fell on lap two for a tangle in turns one and two involving Scott James, Boom Briggs and Ross Robinson. James’s No. 83 machine came to rest atop Briggs’s car. … A yellow flag flew on lap four when Mike Marlar nearly spun in turn four, collecting Ivedent Lloyd Jr. and Jason Covert. Marlar retired. … Smith spun on the frontstretch to draw a caution on lap eight. … A yellow flag waved on lap 34 when Covert stopped on the backstretch; Steve Casebolt spun in turn two to draw another caution on the ensuing restart. Another yellow flew on the second restart attempt when Brian Connor spun.
Row 1: Chase Junghans, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan, Chris Madden
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Mike Marlar
Row 4: Billy Moyer, Jason Covert
Row 5: Ricky Weiss, Brandon Sheppard
Row 6: Chub Frank, Shane Clanton
Row 7: G.R. Smith, Brent Dixon
Row 8: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Brian Connor
Row 9: Steve Casebolt, Kyle Hardy
Row 10: Scott James, Tyler Bruening
Row 11: Ross Robinson, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 12: Brent Larson, Blake Spencer
Row 13: Boom Briggs, Cade Dillard
Row 14: Chuck Hummer
Polesitter Kyle Hardy shot to an early lead, with third-starting Tyler Bruening in tow. Hardy stretched his lead over the field at the halfway mark, as Michael Norris began closing the gap between himself and second-running Bruening. Holding nearly a full straightaway lead, Hardy won the consolation, with Bruening finishing second. Dennis Erb Jr. overtook Norris on the final lap to take the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Kyle Hardy, Tyler Bruening, Dennis Erb Jr., Michael Norris, Boom Briggs, Matt Sponaugle, Cade Dillard, Michael Brown, Chuck Hummer. Scratched: Cla Knight, D.J. Troutman.
Polesitter Steve Casebolt charged to the lead at the dropped of the green flag, as John Henderson attempted to reel in second-running Ross Robinson in the early laps. It was fourth-starting Scott James rolling through the field, advancing up to fifth at the halfway mark. A yellow flag waved on lap nine when Frank Heckenast Jr. slowed on the frontstretch. Never challenged up front, Casebolt won the consolation, with James overtaking Robinson on the restart to finish second.
Finish (top three transfer): Steve Casebolt, Scott James, Ross Robinson, Ryan Scott, Ray Cook, Blake Spencer, Jadon Frame, Stacy Boles, Joe Denby, John Henderson Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr. Scratched: Brent Larson.
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Steve Casebolt, Ross Robinson
Row 2: John Henderson Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 3: Ray Cook, Stacy Boles
Row 4: Blake Spencer, Ryan Scott
Row 5: Scott James, Joe Denby
Row 6: Jadon Frame, Brent Larson
Row 1: Kyle Hardy, Michael Norris
Row 2: Tyler Bruening, Boom Briggs
Row 3: Dennis Erb Jr., Matt Sponaugle
Row 4: Cade Dillard, Cla Knight
Row 5: Michael Brown, D.J. Troutman
Row 6: Chuck Hummer
Charging ahead out of turns one and two, outside polesitter Darrell Lanigan took an early lead, as Shane Clanton and Jason Covert battled door-to-door for second. With Clanton on the rear bumper of Lanigan, Boom Briggs began reeling in third-running Covert just shy of halfway. A yellow flag waved on the fifth lap when D.J. Troutman slowed after getting into the wall. Another caution fell on lap six when Matt Sponaugle spun exiting turn two. Covert slid ahead of Clanton in turns three and four to take second on the restart, with Lanigan continuing to show the way out front. Cla Knight slowed on the backstretch to draw a caution on lap eight, with another yellow waving on the ensuing restart when Briggs spun in turn four. Lanigan led the final laps to win the heat, with Covert finishing second. Clanton finished third, with Brian Connor edging Michael Norris to take the fourth and final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Darrell Lanigan, Jason Covert, Shane Clanton, Brian Connor, Michael Norris, Boom Briggs, Matt Sponaugle, Cla Knight, D.J. Troutman.
Rolling around the outside, second-starting Chase Junghans led the opening lap, as Kyle Hardy and Brent Dixon raced side-by-side for the final transfer spot. A yellow flag waved on the second circuit when Michael Brown spun in the bottom of turn two. Junghans maintained his lead on the restart, with Brian Shirley overtaking polesitter Brandon Sheppard for second on lap three. Holding a comfortable lead at the checkered flag, Junghans won the heat, with Shirley finishing second. Sheppard rounded out the podium in third.
Finish (top four transfer): Chase Junghans, Brian Shirley, Brandon Sheppard, Brent Dixon, Kyle Hardy, Tyler Bruening, Dennis Erb Jr., Cade Dillard, Michael Brown, Chuck Hummer.
Shooting ahead of fellow front-row starter Chub Frank out of turns one and two, polesitter Brandon Overton took an early lead, with cars racing three-wide for fifth on the opening lap. A yellow flag waved on the third circuit when Brent Larson stopped in turn four after losing a right-rear tire. Overton held his lead as the race went back green, with Billy Moyer sliding ahead of Frank out of turns three and four to take second on the fourth circuit. Another caution fell on lap seven when Joe Denby slowed on the backstretch. Never seriously challenged for the lead, Overton wont the heat, with Moyer finishing second. Frank regained the third spot from Ivedent Lloyd Jr. in the final laps.
Finish (top four transfer): Brandon Overton, Billy Moyer, Chub Frank, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Ross Robinson, Frank Heckenast Jr., Stacy Boles, Ryan Scott, Joe Denby, Brent Larson.
Polesitter Chris Madden shot to an early lead, with fellow front-row starter G.R. Smith falling back to fourth on the first lap. As Mike Marlar began challenging third-starting Ricky Weiss for second on lap three, Madden stretched his lead over the field. Slipping past Weiss, Marlar took the second-place spot at the halfway mark, with Smith regaining fourth from Steve Casebolt. Setting a torrid pace out front, Madden won the heat, with Marlar and Weiss rounding out the podium.
Finish (top four transfer): Chris Madden, Mike Marlar, Ricky Weiss, G.R. Smith, Steve Casebolt, John Henderson, Ray Cook, Blake Spencer, Scott James, Jadon Frame.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Chris Madden, G.R. Smith
Row 2: Ricky Weiss, Mike Marlar
Row 3: Ray Cook, Steve Casebolt
Row 4: Blake Spencer, John Henderson
Row 5: Jadon Frame, Scott James
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Chub Frank
Row 2: Billy Moyer, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 3: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Ross Robinson
Row 4: Brent Larson, Stacy Boles
Row 5: Ryan Scott, Joe Denby
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans
Row 2: Cade Dillard, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Brent Dixon, Kyle Hardy
Row 4: Tyler Bruening, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Michael Brown, Chuck Hummer
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Jason Covert, Boom Briggs
Row 3: Mike Norris, Brian Connor
Row 4: Cla Knight, Matt Sponaugle
Row 5: D.J. Troutman
There were 31 cars on hand for Thursday’s practice session, with Rocket Chassis house car driver Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., clocking the quickest lap of the night. While winless so far in 2019, Sheppard has posted 11 top-five finishes in his first 11 starts of the season. He enters the Screven weekend after finishing fifth on Wednesday at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. … Notably absent from the Screven pit area is Rick Eckert of York, Pa. Unable to put together a program that would allow him to race full-time on a national level in 2019, Eckert is forgoing Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, missing his first World of Outlaws event since the tour’s reincarnation in 2004. Eckert captured series victories at Screven in 2016 and 2017. … After spending the last three seasons on the Lucas Oil Series, Darrell Lanigan of UnIon, Ky., returns to Screven for the first time since 2015. The three-time World of Outlaws champion picked up a tour victory at the Sylvania, Ga., oval back in 2012. … While Lanigan is returning to his self-owned equipment, Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., is set to make his debut with the Greg Bruening-owned and Capital Race Cars-backed team. Reigning World of Outlaws champion Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., will also make his first start behind the wheel of the K&L Rumley Enterprises No. 6. … Kicking off another season with Dolhun Motorsports, Scott James of Bright, Ind., has thrown his name into the ring of drivers chasing the World of Outlaws title in 2019. James last followed a national tour in 2007, where he finished runner-up to Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., in the Lucas Oil Series standings. … World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year contenders Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, and Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., return to action after scoring victories in January’s Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout at Arizona Speedway near Phoenix. Weiss captured a pair of Arizona victories, including the $14,000 WWS finale, while Dillard’s Jan. 12 victory marked the biggest of his relatively limited Late Model career. … Assisting Dillard this weekend is former Dirt Track World Championship winner and chassis builder Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis. … While he plans another chase of the DIRTcar Summernationals in 2019, former WoO contender Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., has joined series competitors at Screven. He’s also scheduled to enter upcoming Speedweeks events at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., and Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. … Recently announcing he would be following the WoO tour again in 2019, Brent Larson’s car has a new paint scheme featuring the Lake Elmo, Minn., driver’s new major sponsor Drydene Oil. … After racing at East Bay on Thursday night, Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., are among drivers that have joined the field at Screven.
Friday’s portion of Screven Motor Speedway’s Winter Freeze IX kicks off the 2019 season for the World of Outlaws Mortan Buildings Late Model Series. The national tour returns to the Sylvania, Ga., oval after last year’s Georgia-Florida Speedweeks events were rained out.
Rick Eckert of York, Pa., and Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., were the winners of the 2017 Winter Freeze events at Screven. Eckert is forgoing a trip to Speedweeks this year, while Madden is set to begin his third chase of the World of Outlaws title.
Friday’s WoO program will include hot laps, time trials, heat races, consolations and the 50-lap, $10,000-to-win main event. Saturday’s show will feature the same program. Crate Late Models are among other divisions that will be in action. Watch live video coverage of the weekend doubleheader at DirtonDirt.com.
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 14.399
Brandon Overton (2), Evans, Ga., 14.480
G.R. Smith (22), Cornelius, N.C., 14.708
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 14.722
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba., 14.752
Billy Moyer (9), Batesville, Ark., 14.755
MIke Marlar (6), Winfield, Tenn., 14.781
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 14.797
Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 14.808
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (58), Ocala, Fla., 14.860
Steve Casebolt (C9), Richmond, Ind., 14.890
Ross Robinson (7r), Georgetown, Del., 14.902
Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 14.941
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 14.954
John Henderson (2x), Akins, S.C., 15.022
Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 15.038
Jadon Frame (J8), Decherd, Tenn., 15.214
Ryan Scott (0), Garland, Pa., 15.390
Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., 15.446
Joe Denby (27), Tullahoma, Tenn., 15.964
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 14.363
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 14.421
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 14.426
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 14.458
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 14.473
Jason Covert (72), York Haven, Pa., 14.499
Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 14.564
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 14.689
Brent Dixon (1D), Elberton, Ga., 14.721
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 14.782
Kyle Hardy (36v), Stephens City, Va., 14.793
Brian Connor (77), Augusta, Ga., 14.811
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 14.817
Cla Knight (42), North Augusta, S.C., 14.841
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.983
Matt Sponaugle (8), Wiley Fork, W.Va., 15.064
Michael Brown (24d), Pageland, S.C., 15.156
D.J. Troutman (7t), Hymdman, Pa., 15.172
Chuck Hummer (25h), Lyons, Ohio, 16.758
5:30 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
6 p.m. - On-track action begins
- Hot laps
604 Late Models
WoO Late Models
-Time trials/heat races
WoO Late Model qualifying (two laps)
604 Late Model qualifying (two laps)
Street Stock heats (eight laps)
WoO Late Model heats (10 laps)
SCDRA practice (10 minutes)
WoO Late Model consolations (12 laps)
Street Stock (15 laps)
WoO Late Models (50 laps)
SCDRA practice (10 minutes)
604 Late Models (20 laps)
SCDRA qualifying Round 1