BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Jan. 28) — It took Saturday’s 60-lap Super Bowl of Racing finale at Golden Isles Speedway a while to get going. Two multicar crashes before an official lap was completed delayed the start of the main event by more than 15 minutes. But once the action got rolling around the 4/10-mile Kyle and Amber Bronson-owned oval, it didn’t disappoint.
Unless, perhaps, you’re Ricky Thornton Jr.
Race by race, Thornton inched closer to a win at Golden Isles during the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series three-race opening weekend. After finishing third on Thursday and second on Friday, the Chandler, Ariz., native appeared to be on the verge of his first Lucas Oil Series win of the season Saturday.
But polesitter Brandon Overton had other ideas. Overton, who won Thursday’s series opener and led the first 22 laps on Saturday until Thornton flashed by to lead lap 23, never gave up. He rode patiently in second as Thornton led 37 laps and on the final circuit he was there to pounce. Swinging wide as they raced toward the checkered flag, Overton, of Evans, Ga., rolled around the top in turns three and four to make a dramatic last-lap pass for the win.
Nosing ahead at the finish, Overton won by a scant 0.056 of a second to complete the improbable last-lap rally and earn the $25,000 to prize. Seventh-starting Tanner English of Benton, Ky., finished third, while Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., improved two positions to finish fourth. Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., completed the top five after starting alongside Overton on the front row.
“I got lucky,” said Overton, who has now won four of the last five Lucas Oil Series races at Golden Isles. “You know I tried to do it (Friday) night and stuffed it in the fence. When I sent it in there today I made sure I had to (rear end) pointed out and on the chip. It just worked out. I hate it for Ricky. That's what it takes man when you're on the track and lapped traffic plays a big part in it. I knew when he passed me, I said, 'Alright I just got to stay in second and I got to do a better job of managing the tires.' I knew like a hail Mary was all I had. Ricky's been really good. Man that was badass. I'm so happy. I love this.”
It was Overton’s second win of the weekend. After winning the opener, he finished third behind NASCAR star Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calf., and Thornton on Friday.
“I can't let Kyle come down here and show us up,” Overton said in victory lane referencing Larson’s victory. “You know (Larson) did a hell of a job last night. They were telling me to do some doughnuts (after the win), but you know I think I used all my talent up running around the top. I better not do no donuts or I’d really junk some (stuff).”
Before thinking about making doughnuts (a reference to Larson’s ill-fated victory celebration Friday that ended with him smacking the wall), Overton was sizing up Thornton, who led by as much as 1.929 seconds after grabbing the top spot from Overton on lap 23.
“I just keep playing it back through my head, just trying to make sure I didn't go too soon,” Overton said. “I seen the white (flag) and I was like, 'Alright here it is. We're either about to knock the motor out of it or I'm going to get him.' it just worked out perfect.”
Not so much for Thornton, however, who rolled the bottom with ease after taking the lead, but made a mistake in trying to rip off the cushion with nine laps remaining and then struggled after catching the slower cars of Dennis Erb Jr. and Garrett Alberson in the waning circuits.
“I got to the traffic and I went to the top and about destroyed the thing,” Thornton said, trying to find a bit of solace in his third straight podium finish. “So I figured I had to just stick around the bottom. I thought I set myself up good. I gave myself a nice gap behind Dennis there and then they just kind of got racing in front of him and slowed my pace down a little bit. I knew (Overton) was going to hail Mary it there in three and four. My crew guy was telling me to move up, but it's like one of those deals where I tried it and about destroyed (the car). Congrats to Brandon. It definitely sucks to lose another one here, but the good part is at least we've got good speed going into Bubba (Raceway Park on Sunday) and we're looking forward to it.”
Finishing 1.785 seconds behind Thornton, English wasn’t close enough to mix things up with the leaders at the finish, but he was plenty close enough to see the action unfold in front of him.
“They're two of the toughest in the business,” English said. “I think they win the award for the two widest cars too. I think I got the skinniest one. It just sucks riding behind them because they put out a wake like you wouldn't believe. It's just hard to go in there behind them because you lose all the air, but that's racing you know.
“We got to figure out how to get better. I just can't say enough about my whole team. It's been a rough, what feels like a month, but I think we've only been down here for two weeks. But we're turning it around. I think we got this thing going.”
Notes: Brandon Overton has won four of the last five Lucas Oil features at Golden Isles Speedway, collecting more than $62,000 in the process. … Overton tied Jeff Purvis, Darrell Lanigan and Earl Pearson Jr. with his 12th career Georgia-Florida Speedweeks victory. … Thornton has finishes of third, second and second to open the season. … Longhorn Race Cars is still unbeaten in January’s 11 features that include the Wild West Shootout in Vado, N.M.; the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series Sunshine Nationals and the Lucas Oil Series Super Bowl of Racing. … An opening lap melee triggered by Shane Clanton’s contact with Brandon Sheppard also collected Carson Ferguson, Tyler Erb, Garrett Smith, Spencer Hughes, G.R. Smith and Jeff Choquette. Ferguson’s machine suffered major body damage. … Before the first lap was completed a second caution flew when Brian Shirley spun, collecting Tyler Bruening, John Henderson and G.R. Smith. … Cautions during the race appeared for Devin Moran (broken rear end on lap eight) and Daulton Wilson (slowed to a stop on lap 34). … The Lucas Oil Series heads to Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., for a pair of races Jan. 29-30.
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Hudson O'Neal
Row 2: Devin Moran, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Brandon Sheppard
Row 4: Tanner English, Tim McCreadie
Row 5: Earl Pearson Jr., Mason Zeigler
Row 6: Brian Shirley, Garrett Smitn
Row 7: Jeff Choquette, Jonathan Davenport
Row 8: G.R. Smith, John Henderson
Row 9: Blair Nothdurft, Spencer Hughes
Row 10: Tyler Bruening, Carson Ferguson
Row 11: Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Erb
Row 12: Garrett Alberson, Daulton Wilson
Row 13: Kyle Bronson, Wil Herrington
Row 14: Logan Roberson, Jimmy Owens
Row 15: Ross Robinson
(10 laps, top two transfer)
First consolation: Tyler Bruening, Dennis Erb Jr., Mark Whitener, Jimmy Owens, Blake Spencer, Kyle Bronson, Garrett Alberson, Mike Benedum, Chase Junghans, Christian Thomas, Steven Roberts, Allen Murray. Scratched: Jason Garver, Dusitn Walker, Danny Snyder, Kale Green.
Second consolation: Carson Ferguson, Tyler Erb, Ryan Gustin, Max Blair, Boom Briggs, Ross Robinson, Logan Roberson, Dalton Cook, Matthew Brocato, Kyle Strickler, Jack Riggs, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Jordan Koehler, Rece Vaught.
Heat race recap
Georgia’s own Brandon Overton continued his Golden Isles excellence with a breezy win in the first heat that lands him on the pole for the third night in a row. Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., will start to Overton’s outside, eyeing his first win aboard the Rocket Chassis house car. … After missing the previous two nights for not feeling well, Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., didn’t appear to miss a beat in the win in the third heat. … Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., took the win in the sixth heat after leader Daulton Wilson of Fayetteville, N.C., suffered an apparent mechanical issue. … Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, and Ricky Thornton Jr. of Martinsville, Ind., won their respective heats. … Pennsylvania’s Max Blair, New Mexico’s Garrett Alberson and Virginia’s Logan Roberson were among those involved in heat race wrecks. Neither endured terminal damage. ... Running second midway through the third heat, Allen Murray of San Antonio, Texas, was in position to transfer into his first feature of the week in outright fashion until a penalty for jumping a restart set him back two positions in an eventual eighth-place finish.
Heat race results
(Eight laps, top three transfer)
First heat: Brandon Overton, Tanner English, Jeff Choquette, Tyler Bruening, Jason Garver, Mark Whitener, Wil Herrington, Blake Spencer, Danny Snyder.
Second heat: Devin Moran, Earl Pearson Jr., G.R. Smith, Kyle Bronson, Steven Roberts, Jimmy Owens, Chase Junghans, Dustin Walker. DNS: Kale Green.
Third heat: Shane Clanton, Brian Shirley, Blair Nothdurft, Dennis Eeb Jr., Christian Thomas, Allen Murray, Garrett Alberson, Mike Benedum.
Fourth heat: Hudson O'Neal, Tim McCreadie, Jonathan Davenport, Carson Ferguson, Boom Briggs, Max Blair. Jordan Koehler, Matthew Brocato, Robby Hensley.
Fifth heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Mason Zeigler, John Henderson, Tyler Erb, Ryan Gustin, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Kyle Strickler, Logan Roberson, Rece Vaught.
Sixth heat: Brandon Sheppard, Garrett Smith, Spencer Hughes, Dalton Cook, Ross Robinson, Jack Riggs, Daulton Wilson, Payton Freeman.
The stage is nearly set for Saturday night’s Super Clean Super Bowl of Racing presented by ICON Electric Vehicles, which welcomes slightly warmer weather than the cooler temperatures seen Thursday and Friday: a high of 61 and a low of 43. … Friday night winner Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif., is not hand for the event finale because of a prior NASCAR commitment. … Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., is back in action after sitting out the first two nights because he wasn’t feeling well. … Following his nasty rollover on Friday, Waynesboro, Va.’s Logan Roberson is back in the Brodnax Shaker Motorsports No. 89 machine — but mechanical issues kept him from recording a qualifying lap. … Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., rolled to another quick time on Saturday night with a lap of 14.798 seconds — the new fastest time of the week at the 4/10-mile oval. … Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., lost his left-front wheel on his time trial warmup lap and, along with Roberson, failed to post a qualifying time. … Overton, Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio; Allen Murray of San Antonio, Texas; Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind.; Ricky Thornton Jr. of Martinsville, Ind.; and Daulton Wilson of Fayetteville, N.C. start from the poles in the heats.
Driver (car no.), hometown
- Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 14.798
- Devin Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 14.899
- Allen Murray (2), San Antonio, Texas, 15.020
- Jeff Choquette (89J), Loxahatchee, Fla., 15.032
- Steven Roberts (111), Sylvester, Ga., 15.059
- Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.093
- Tanner English (96v), Benton, Ky., 15.099
- Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.110
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.142
- Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 15.187
- Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.190
- Brian Shirley (8), Chatham, Ill., 15.200
- Wil Herrington (19m), Cochran, Ga., 15.243
- Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.256
- Blair Nothdurft (76), Renner, S.D., 15.275
- Jason Garver (01), Starke, Fla., 15.295
- G.R. Smith (2), Cornelius, N.C., 15.297
- Christian Thomas (773), Wake Forest, N.C., 15.308
- Mark Whitener (5), Middleburg, Fla., 15.394
- Dustin Walker (14W), Polk, Mo., 15.452
- Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., 15.531
- Blake Spencer (6s), St. Augustine, Fla., 15.750
- Kale Green (4), Pelion, S.C., 15.826
- Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.827
- Danny Snyder (4), Green Lane, Pa., 16.049
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., no time
- Hudson O’Neal (1), Martinsville, Ind., 14.939
- Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 14.942
- Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 14.944
- Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.024
- Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.027
- Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 15.029
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.055
- John Henderson (2x), North Augusta, S.C., 15.057
- Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 15.074
- Max Blair (111v), Centerville, Pa., 15.128
- Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 15.147
- Payton Freeman (22), Commerce, Ga., 15.151
- Carson Ferguson (93), Lincolnton, N.C., 15.173
- Jimmy Sharpe Jr. (26jr), Vidalia, Ga., 15.175
- Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., 15.209
- Jordan Koehler (114), Mount Airy, N.C., 15.231
- Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 15.239
- Dalton Cook (44D), Columbus, Ga., 15.263
- Robby Hensley (21H), Walton, Ky., 15.348
- Rece Vaught (20V), Aurora, Neb., 15.364
- Jack Riggs (81J), Nolensville, Tenn., 15.369
- Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa.. 15.378
- Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 15.378
- Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 15.431
- Matthew Brocato (78), Muscle Shoals, Ala., 15.698
- Logan Roberson (89), Waynesboro, Va., no time
(All times local)
2 p.m.: Pits open
3 p.m.: Grandstands open
5 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
5:30 p.m.: Hot laps/time trials
- Super Late Models hot laps
- 602 Late Models (group qualifying)
- Super Late Model time trials (2 laps)
- 604 Late Models (group qualifying)
(Updated schedule below)
- Super Late Model heats (8 laps)
- Enduros (group qualifying)
- Super Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- 602 Late Model consolations (8 laps)
- Super Late Model feature (60 laps)
- 604 Late Models consolations (8 laps)
- 602 Late Model feature (20 laps)
- 604 Late Model feature (25 laps)
- Enduro feature