It’s safe to say that Brandon Overton enjoys Cherokee Speedway. For the fourth time in six races, the driver known as “Big Sexy” visited victory lane at the Gaffney, South Carolina oval on Saturday evening.
Overton set fast time in qualifying, won his heat race, started from the pole position and led all 60 laps to claim his first career March Madness victory at the track. The win came against a stout field of nearly 40 Dirt Late Model racers in the season opener for the Southern All Stars Racing Series.
Dating back to last May, Overton has now won the Palmetto Invitational, Mike Duvall Memorial (World of Outlaws), Blue Gray 100 (Xtreme DIRTcar Series) and March Madness at the track over the last 11 months.
His victory on Sunday came one night after what he considered to be a disappointing 11th-place finish with the World of Outlaws Late Models at Smoky Mountain Speedway on Saturday.
“We had a pretty crappy night last night [at Smoky Mountain]. We got behind early and just couldn’t make it up. We came over here today with a point to prove,” Overton said on Speed51.TV. “We gotta set fast time, win the heat and put ourselves in position, especially tonight just the way the race track was it’s real critical. You’ve got to get up in the front because a lot of these guys get out there and they don’t mess up.”
Although Overton led every lap of Sunday’s race, the win did not come without a challenge. During a 30-lap green flag run to open the race, Overton began to encounter lapped traffic, which allowed Jonathan Davenport to close in. Davenport poked the nose of his No. 49 to the inside of Overton’s No. 76 on a handful of occasions, and even tried the outside on one occasion, but couldn’t make a pass for the lead.
“I was just telling myself, ‘Don’t move. Don’t panic.’ If you can’t pass the last-place car, it would be pretty hard for him to drive around me,” Overton said. “You get down there and you just have to make sure you’re patient and you don’t mess up.”
Davenport had one final chance at Overton on the final restart with four laps to go; however, he couldn’t find enough to make the pass on Overton.
“I was just trying to make him run a little harder than he wanted to run and make him burn his stuff up,” Davenport said. “He’s a smart racer and he kept the pace down. I didn’t think we were ever going to catch lapped traffic after that caution came out.
“The race was won in qualifying tonight. If we could’ve beaten Brandon and been a little faster in qualifying, maybe started on the pole, it would’ve been a different story. It’s just part of day racing and we knew that coming in.”
Jimmy Owens completed the podium, while defending ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series champion Zack Mitchell and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Stewart Friesen rounded out the top five.
A full replay of Sunday’s action will be available soon on Speed51.TV, the “Official Video Home of Cherokee Speedway.”
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Director of Content – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Brandon Zumbach
March Madness Unofficial Results
Cherokee Speedway (SC) – March 7, 2021