With $10,000 on the line and 50 laps to get the job done Thursday night, the front-runners of the ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series were all up and down the high-banks of Volunteer Speedway (TN) during the Spring Thaw feature race.
While Jimmy Owens found the early advantage, it was choices of Dale McDowell that proved to be the winning advantage. First, choosing a right-front tire that proved valuable over long green flag runs, which the race provided.
Second, making the decision to change his line from the top to the bottom, despite the top having the early grip.
McDowell kept the field at bay over the final laps to take his first ULTIMATE win of 2019, and third overall along with his two Spring Nationals victories.
“This one was a little bit rough. Brandon jumped through there early, and we had a different right-front tire and I pushed there early the first couple of laps,” McDowell said on the Speed51 broadcast. “When Jimmy got into that lapped traffic, it’s so hard to lead, but he’s so good in that stuff, so it was just picking a lane that he wasn’t in, and seeing if I could get some straight-line traction.”
The Georgia driver has a long list of success at “The Gap”, especially in recent years. The accomplishments have not just given him an advantage in experience, but also confidence.
“I think once it wore out up there a little bit, you could move around a little bit. In our heat races there was some grip up there, and you could really haul the mail when it’s like that. A lot of fun, this place races awesome, especially when it’s like that. Not just because we won, but because we could race and pass.”
The Spring Thaw was the first leg of what is also a pseudo test session for a new car that Jimmy Owens is running this weekend. While he was happy with the performance, it was pre and in-race decisions that ultimately ended Owens’ bid for victory.
“We had qualified decent and ran well in the heat race there. We just made a couple of wrong decisions there. This is a new car, we tried it out tonight, and it’s a good hot rod, I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend,” Said Owens.
Owens was just able to hold off Brandon Overton in the late laps. Despite coming home third, Overton took away a lot of positives on the night, as he continues to settle in with Joey Coulter Racing for the rest of 2019.
“This is a big step in the right direction tonight for sure. It feels good to be up here in the top three with two good cars in front of us. The car was definitely good, the middle stages of the race I was gaining on Jimmy there, and Dale had a different tire there. So I was just kind of sitting back and watching,” Explained Overton.
It was a long way back from the top three to Shanon Buckingham and Ross Bailes who rounded the top five.
The competitors of the ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series do not have long to rest up as the tour heads east to North Carolina to race at Friendship Motor Speedway this Saturday night April 6. Speed51 will be there with Race Day Now coverage, and will be providing highlights on the Speed51 Network.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com