Overton Defends Home Turf

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Brandon Overton (76) leads the way at Lavonia Speedway. (Zachary Kloosterman photo)

LAVONIA, Ga. — Brandon Overton defended his home turf with his 18th feature victory of the season Friday night at Lavonia Speedway.

This time Overton defeated the best of the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, racing from sixth to first to bank the $10,000 top prize.

Overton took the lead on lap 19 and gave it up to Dennis Erb Jr. while working traffic on lap 43, but regained the top spot one lap later and led the remainder of the 50-lap distance.

“We’re just having so much right now,” Overton said in the pits as his crew packed the No. 76 into the hauler. “This whole team gets along so well, and I’ve got the coolest car owner in the business. I know that I’ve got a lot of pressure to perform, but they don’t ever make me feel that; and I think that’s huge.”

While most eyes were glued to row three with Brandon Sheppard and Overton buried in the redraw, Zack Mitchell took advantage of the outside pole and commanded the opening 17 laps of the feature.

In the midst of a stellar three-way war for the lead, fans saw Mitchell have his hands full with Dennis Erb Jr. and a charging Overton breathing down his neck. Overton eventually took the spot on lap 18 and paced the mid-to-late stages with ease.

The most chaotic moment of the night came on the lap-25 restart, which resulted in the only red flag of the evening. Restarting third, Sheppard made a rare mistake on the turns one and two cushion, getting out of shape in the Rocket1 Racing No. 1 and spinning in front of the field. What followed was pandemonium, with Chris Ferguson, Ashton Winger and Darrell Lanigan collected in the melee.

Overton didn’t receive a real challenge for the lead until 10 laps to go with traffic approaching and Erb closing. While keeping their on the front duo of Overton and Erb, fans witnessed a rare moment with Sheppard and Scott Bloomquist  going a lap down to the race leaders.

Capitalizing on the those slower cars, Erb pinned Overton in and snuck by him on the low side to lead the 43rd lap. Getting up on the wheel and quickly recovering, Overton gassed up the No. 76 and went right back to work; passing Erb back on the 44th circuit.

Erb continued to hound Overton throughout the final six laps, but came up short.

“I knew he was there,” noted Overton. “My guys were telling me to get down, get down; but I wasn’t driving that hard. I thought I had already killed my tires when I got to the lead, because I was worried about staying in front of Sheppard early on. I knew if I could do that, I could win; but if he got ahead of me, I might not win this thing. I was driving so hard, wheel-spinning real bad to try and keep him behind me. I honestly feel like if I hadn’t sat back there and rode around the middle-to-late parts, then I wouldn’t have had as much race track to use to pass Dennis back. There’s really no right or wrong, something you just get lucky.”

Erb finished second.

“That confetti is great when you’re winning, but not that fun in second,” Erb joked in victory lane. “We had a really good run thought. I got around him there on the outside and found a good lane through the middle, but that lapper got in the way and hurt us. He’s [Overton] one of the best out there right now, so finishing second to him ain’t bad. It was fun how dicey we get tonight. A lot of hard racing, which I like.”

Chase Junghans, Ricky Weiss and Mitchell rounded out the top five.

The finish:

Feature (50 laps): 1. 76-Brandon Overton [6][$10,000]; 2. 28-Dennis Erb [1][$5,000]; 3. 18-Chase Junghans [9][$3,000]; 4. 7-Ricky Weiss [3][$2,500]; 5. 57-Zack Mitchell [2][$2,000]; 6. 24d-Michael Brown [11][$1,700]; 7. 58-Ross Bailes [19][$1,400]; 8. 1d-Brent Dixon [4][$1,300]; 9. 97-Cade Dillard [18][$1,200]; 10. 22s-Nick Schlager [20][$1,100]; 11. 4-Matthew Nance [17][$1,050]; 12. 1c-Kenny Collins [7][$1,000]; 13. 12-Ashton Winger [10][$950]; 14. B1-Brent Larson [16][$900]; 15. 42-Cla Knight [22][$850]; 16. 79-Ben Watkins [12][$800]; 17. 0-Scott Bloomquist [23][$770]; 18. 1-Brandon Sheppard [5][$750]; 19. 1J-Boom Briggs [14][$730]; 20. 6-Blake Spencer [24][$700]; 21. 22-Chris Ferguson [8][$700]; 22. 29V-Darrell Lanigan [13][$700]; 23. 88-Trent Ivey [15][$700]; 24. 44-Chris Madden [21][$700]. Lap Leader(s): Mitchell 1-17; Overton 18-42; Erb Jr. 43; Overton 44-50. Hard Charger Award: 58-Ross Bailes[+12]