BRUNSWICK, Ga. — It's been nearly a year since Brandon Overton was at Golden Isles Speedway winning two consecutive Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events at the beginning of Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. He clearly didn't forget how to get around the 4/10-mile oval.
The 31-year-old Evans, Ga., jumped to a commanding lead in his Wells Motorsports Longhorn in the opener of the Super Bowl of Racing and turned back a couple of challenges from two-time and reigning series champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., for a $10,000 payday in the first of three weekend races at the Kyle and Amber Bronson-owned track.
"This race car's awesome, man. It's the first night on it. We tested it at Volusia (Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.) the other night and it was really fast," Overton said, thanking his crew for his new machine. "They built a bad-ass race car."
Overton took the checkers 0.402 of a second ahead of the 10th-starting McCreadie, who made a bid for the lead with a dozen laps to go and drew nearly within striking distance of Overton on the final lap. Third-starting Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., was third followed by polesitter Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, who had his two-race win streak broken after a pair of World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series victories a week earlier at Volusia. Second-year series driver Daulton Wilson of Fayetteville, N.C., rounded out the top five.
Two drivers battling in the top five fell from contention with 10 laps remaining. Three-time tour champ Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., was trying to take third from Hudson O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., in turn three when Davenport made contact with O'Neal's left-rear quarterpanel, sending both drivers spinning to draw the second of three cautions.
While he led by more than two seconds in the first half of the race, Overton's car began handling so tightly he couldn't keep it in his preferred low groove. He wasn't even sure which groove he should be in as high watched signals from crew members when he felt like a "sitting duck" as McCreadie began closing in by lap 35.
Overton said "everything went our way" in getting a caution that relieved the pressure he was feeling from McCreadie.
"We got out front and got the lead and stayed away from the lapped traffic," Overton said. "You gotta have a lot of luck man. These guys — I seen Timmy behind me — and I knew you can't mess up. I knew I was protecting riding behind those lapped cars and I knew somebody had to step out there (in the higher groove)."
Overton was making his first start since Dec. 3 and, despite a relatively short layoff, wasn't immediately back up to speed.
"I think I was a little rusty qualifying," Overton said. "I got out and I was like, 'Man, I felt really good,' but I was fourth or whatever, so I made up for in the heat race, got us a good starting spot (for the feature). Last-minute tire choice there, you know, some of the guys lined up a little harder tire, so we hurried up and put it on. So everything worked out for us."
McCreadie figured his only chance was being able to sneak past Overton quick enough before the leader's crew members could signal his assault.
"His guy moved him up into (turn) one which kind of hurt my momentum," McCreadie said. "That's where I started make a little time. I knew if I was gonna try to poke them on the outside I had about a lap, maybe a lap and a half to do it. Because the good guys, they can see their (crews signaling to change grooves).
"No shame in second for this Paylor Motorsports team," added McCreadie, who has been the runner-up in each of his three 2023 starts. "We just got to qualify better. I messed up and did a bad job driving in qualifying and put us behind all night long, but we're maneuverable the pass cars and that's all you can ask for."
The 40-lapper was slowed by three cautions. G.R. Smith's car showed smoke at the outset and he slowed on the third lap with a loose oil line for the first yellow. The second caution flag dropped on the 31st lap for the Davenport-O'Neal scrape and a multicar scramble on the lap-31 restart brought out the final yellow.
Lucas Oil competitors gather Friday to do it all again with a $12,000-to-win event heading toward Saturday's $25,000-to-win finale at the Super Bowl of Racing, the richest Georgia-Florida Speedweeks payday in 21 years.
Notes: After starting seventh and running as high as second, Hudson O'Neal and the Rocket Chassis house car team's race was lost after the spin with Davenport. O'Neal pitted and ended up 19th. ... Former Rocket Chassis house car driver Brandon Sheppard started 19th and finished ninth in his Sheppard Riggs Racing ride. ... Garrett Smith lost fuel pressure and parked during the lap-31 caution period. ... Brandon Koehler, a teammate to four-time series champ Jimmy Owens, took a provisional for his first career Lucas Oil start. ... Home-state driver Shane Clanton skipped the night's action because he wasn't feeling well. ... Watch all Lucas Oil's Speedweeks action at FloRacing.
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Devin Moran
Row 2: Ricky Thornton Jr., Brian Shirley
Row 3: Mason Zeigler, Jonathan Davenport
Row 4: Hudson O’Neal, Ryan Gustin
Row 5: Daulton Wilson, Tim McCreadie
Row 6: Kyle Bronson, Garrett Smith
Row 7: Tyler Bruening, Logan Roberson
Row 8: Carson Ferguson, Wil Herrington
Row 9: G.R. Smith, Jimmy Owens
Row 10: Brandon Sheppard, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 11: Tyler Erb, Ross Robinson
Row 12: Garrett Alberson, Spencer Hughes
Row 13: Tanner English, Jordan Koehler
Consolation race results
(10 laps, top two transfer)
First consolation: Brandon Sheppard, Tyler Erb, Tanner English, Spencer Hughes, Kyle Strickler, Christian Thomas, Jordan Koehler, Matthew Brocato, John Henderson, Dustin Walker, Blair Nothdurft, Kale Green. Scratched: Boom Briggs, Max Blair, Allen Murray, Jason Garver.
Second consolation: Earl Pearson Jr., Ross Robinson, Mark Whitener, Payton Freeman, Dennis Erb Jr., Steven Roberts, Chase Junghans, Garrett Alberson, Rece Vaught, Jeff Choquette, Blake Spencer, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Jack Riggs, Robby Hensley, Mike Benedum, Danny Snyder.
Heat race recap
Georgia’s own Brandon Overton will start on the pole of Thursday’s feature by virtue of storming by fast time recipient, Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., to win the first heat. … Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio — looking to start his season with three wins in as many races — will start to Overton’s outside after winning the fourth heat. … Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., won an eventful third heat that saw a handful of lead changes between Zeigler, G.R. Smith and Kyle Bronson. … Smith led heat three through the third lap until he got into the turn three wall to eventually hang on to the final transfer spot. … Teammates Max Blair and Boom Briggs were involved in a hard collision in the third heat that started when Briggs lost the handle of his machine in turn three, collecting Blair as well as Allen Murray. … Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz.; Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill.; and Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., won the remaining three heats. … Among those relegated to the B-mains are Brandon Sheppard, Tyler Erb, Tanner English, Earl Pearson Jr., Dennis Erb Jr., and Garrett Alberson.
Heat race results
(Eight laps, top three transfer)
First heat: Brandon Overton, Hudson O'Neal, Tyler Bruening, Tanner English, Kyle Strickler, Jordan Koehler, Kale Green. DNS: Jason Garver.
Second heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Daulton Wilson, Carson Ferguson, Tyler Erb, Spencer Hughes, Christian Thomas, John Henderson, Blair Nothdurft.
Third heat: Mason Zeigler, Kyle Bronson, G.R. Smith, Matthew Brocato, Dustin Walker, Boom Briggs, Max Blair, Allen Murray.
Fourth heat: Devin Moran, Ryan Gustin, Logan Roberson, Earl Pearson Jr., Steven Roberts, Garrett Alberson, Blake Spencer, Robby Hensley, Mike Benedum.
Fifth heat: Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie, Wil Herrington, Payton Freeman, Ross Robinson, Chase Junghans, Dennis Erb Jr., Jack Riggs.
Sixth heat: Jonathan Davenport, Garrett Smith, Jimmy Owens, Mark Whitener, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Rece Vaught, Jeff Choquette, Danny Snyder.
Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., started the new Lucas Oil Series season on the right foot with his new-look Rocket Chassis house car team, capitalizing on the night's second lowest pill draw to earn fast time honors with a lap of 14.921 seconds.
After sweeping both World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series shows last weekend down the road at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park, Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, kept his hot start going with the fastest lap in Group B at 15.131 seconds. Along with O’Neal and Moran, Ricky Thornton Jr., Mason Zeigler, Brian Shirley and Jonathan Davenport will start on the poles of their respective heat races.
Manhattan, Kan.’s Chase Junghans — initially 17th of 25 cars in Group B with a lap of 15.656 seconds — and Aurora, Neb.’s Race Vaught — 20th in Group B with a time of 16.113 seconds — had their times disallowed for being light at the scales.
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
- Hudson O’Neal (1), Martinsville, Ind., 14.921
- Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 14.991
- Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.032
- Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 15.036
- Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 15.150
- Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 15.194
- G.R. Smith (2), Cornelius, N.C., 15.209
- Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 15.279
- Carson Ferguson (93), Lincolnton, N.C., 15.313
- Max Blair (111B), Centerville, Pa., 15.357
- Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., 15.361
- Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.362
- Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 15.429
- Christian Thomas (776), Wake Forest, N.C., 15.438
- Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.490
- Tanner English (96v), Benton, Ky., 15.555
- Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 15.586
- Matthew Brocato (78), Muscle Shoals, Ala., 15.670
- Jordan Koehler (114), Mount Airy, N.C., 15.697
- John Henderson (2x), North Augusta, S.C., 15.749
- Allen Murray (2v), San Antonio, Texas, 15.832
- Kale Green (4), Pelion, S.C.. 15.973
- Blair Nothdurft (76), Renner, S.D., 16.050
- Dustin Walker (14W), Polk, Mo., 16.671
- Jason Garver (01), Starke, Fla., no time
- Devin Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 15.131
- Brian Shirley (8), Chatham, Ill., 15.235
- Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.243
- Logan Roberson (89), Waynesboro, Va., 15.253
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.280
- Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 15.304
- Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.310
- Wil Herrington (19M), Cochran, Ga., 15.368
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.464
- Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 15.516
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.538
- Mark Whitener (5), Middleburg, Fla., 15.591
- Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.592
- Payton Freeman (22), Commerce, Ga., 15.594
- Jimmy Sharpe Jr. (26jr), Vidalia, Ga., 15.622
- Steven Roberts (111), Sylvester, Ga., 15.637
- Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 15.732
- Jeff Choquette (89J), Loxahatchee, Fla., 15.933
- Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., 16.230
- Jack Riggs (81J), Nolensville, Tenn., 16.566
- Danny Snyder (4), Green Lane, Pa., 16.585
- Blake Spencer (6s), St. Augustine, Fla., 16.613
- Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.656 (light at scales)
- Rece Vaught (20V), Aurora, Neb., 16.113 (light at scales)
- Robby Hensley (21H), Walton, Ky., no time
(All times local)
2 p.m.: Pits open
3 p.m.: Grandstands open
5 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
5:30p.m.: Hot laps
- Super Late Models
- 602 Late Models (group qualifying)
- Super Late Models (2 laps)
- 604 Late Models (group qualifying)
- Super Late Models (8 laps)
- 602 Late Models (8 laps)
- Super Late Models (10 laps)
- 604 Late Models (8 laps)
- Super Late Models (40 laps)
- 602 Late Models
- 604 Late Models