ROSSBURG, OH – When the week began, the thought of one driver coming into Eldora Speedway and leaving with over a quarter million dollars was just a dream.
But it’s not a dream anymore. It’s reality. Brandon Overton completed one of the greatest achievements in dirt track racing history Saturday night with his fourth consecutive Feature win in four days, sweeping both the 27th and 26th runnings of the Dirt Late Model Dream for an incredible $273,000 in total prize money.
The Evans, GA-driver is now only the second driver in history to win back-to-back Dreams, joining eight-time event winner Scott Bloomquist with that achievement, which he conquered in 2017 and 2018.
“To grow up as a kid, watching all these guys here at Eldora… this place is so special to the Dirt Late Model world and the racing world, period. To get it done, I don’t know that I’ll ever top this,” Overton said.
His Feature wins on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night involved a pass for the lead before he cruised to the finish line unchallenged. But Saturday night was different – Overton lost the lead for 10 laps and was forced to take it back in his quest for the $126,000 winner’s check.
A second-place finish in Heat Race #1 to Kyle Larson earlier in the night seeded Overton seventh on the starting grid, which forced him to make his way up through the top-10 in the opening stages. He said that Heat Race loss was actually the kick in the pants that he needed.
“Probably the best thing that happened to me was [Kyle] Larson beating me in that Heat Race,” Overton said. “I wasn’t pissed, but I was like ‘alright, don’t worry about it, just shake it off.’ I told myself – he got me then, now I gotta go get him.”
When the green dropped, Overton went and got them all. Including the polesitter, Darrell Lanigan.
Lanigan, the 2003 Dream winner from Union, KY, led the first 52 circuits before Overton hunted him down on a restart just before halfway and made the pass with a big move to Lanigan’s outside in Turns 1-2.
Back in command at the head of the field, it seemed like Overton would just cruise to another big payday. Enter Chris Madden.
Madden, of Gray Court, SC, started his climb from 10th on the grid and gradually made his way through the field in the first half of the race. By Lap 70, he was staring down Overton’s bumper.
A caution four laps later put Madden right on Overton’s outside for the restart, where he sailed around him with ease to grab the lead on Lap 75.
At that point, Overton knew the battle was far from over.
“We had that restart, and I spun my tires a little bit, and Madden got to running through that middle. He got me, but I knew if I could just keep pace with him and keep pressuring him… he’d have to chop me off or run me in the wall if he was going to get down,” Overton said.
“I knew I had a good car, but I’ve come here and watched these things… it ain’t over until it’s over. So, I knew all I had to do was just stay right there in contention and I’d have my shot again.”
Madden led the next six circuits before Overton challenged him back. The two traded the lead back-and-forth three laps in-a-row before Overton took it back permanently on Lap 86.
“The rubber started coming, and I couldn’t stay in the rubber,” Madden said. “[Overton] was a lot better in that stage of the race, and I couldn’t fend him off.”
From that point on, nobody was catching the Wells Motorsports #76. Overton found his groove right in the middle of the track and pulled away by over two seconds at the checkers to win his second career Eldora crown jewel.
Madden came home second and bagged $20,000 in his best career finish at the Dream. Chris Ferguson charged from 13th to finish third – a new event-best for the driver out of Mt. Holly, NC. Jonathan Davenport, a prelim Feature winner on Wednesday night, crossed in fourth, ahead of Lanigan.
Reflecting back on his incredible accomplishment, Overton was reminded of an earlier exchange with a former Dream winner, putting his winning attitude into full perspective.
“I sat with Jimmy Owens earlier and I asked him how old he was when he won. He said, ‘I think I was like 37.’ It made me feel good. I was like, ‘well dang, Jimmy Owens kicks everybody’s ass and he’s been kicking everybody’s ass for a long time now.’ So, it keeps me hungry and makes me want to keep digging.”
A-Feature (100 Laps) – 1. 76-Brandon Overton; 2. 44-Chris Madden; 3. 22-Chris Ferguson; 4. 49-Jonathan Davenport; 5. 29-Darrell Lanigan; 6. 6-Kyle Larson; 7. 25-Shane Clanton; 8. 39-Tim McCreadie; 9. 22S-Gregg Satterlee; 10. 17M-Dale McDowell; 11. 16-Tyler Bruening; 12. 20-Jimmy Owens; 13. 9-Devin Moran; 14. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 15. 32-Bobby Pierce; 16. 25Z-Mason Zeigler; 17. 157-Mike Marlar; 18. 0-Scott Bloomquist; 19. 1P-Earl Pearson, Jr.; 20. 8-Kyle Strickler; 21. 20RT-Ricky Thornton, Jr.; 22. 1-Brandon Sheppard; 23. 17-Zack Dohm; 24. 7-Ricky Weiss; 25. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 26. 6H-Nick Hoffman; 27. 11H-Spencer Hughes; 28. 18B-Shannon Babb
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-DIRTcar Racing Press Release
-Photo credit: Paul Arch