Overton Does It Again At Cherokee

Brandon Overton (76) charges under Brandon Sheppard at Cherokee Speedway. (Zachary Kloosterman photo)
Brandon Overton (76) charges under Brandon Sheppard at Cherokee Speedway. (Zachary Kloosterman photo)

GAFFNEY, S.C. — Brandon Overton earned his second consecutive World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series triumph at Cherokee Speedway on Friday night.

Overton banked $10,000 for winning the Mike Duvall Memorial after having won at the track earlier this season. It was his 21st overall win of the season.

Overton’s latest conquest at the three-eighths-mile track extended his mark to a perfect five-for-five with the World of Outlaws since August rolled around.

The sixth clean sweep of the 2020 World of Outlaws season only came after some concerns when the Evans, Ga., native slipped back to fourth on lap 23 of the 50-lapper. He quickly rallied, however, and promptly drove the Wells Motorsports, Crossfit Overton, Longhorn/Clements No. 76 past Chris Madden, Ross Bailes and Brandon Sheppard  to take the lead on lap 34; a lead he’d never relinquish.

“I’m just so grateful, man,” Overton preached. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to drive top notch cars and I’m grateful for all the people supporting me and this team. I’m having a blast right now and everything is just coming together.”

Winning for the fifth time in 12 starts, the 2020 season has already turned into the greatest statistical season of Overton’s World of Outlaws career, which includes 2015 Rookie of the Year honors.

While Bailes chased his second career World of Outlaws win from the pole, Overton was content with riding in third behind Bailes and Sheppard, who hoped to snap his cold spell with zero wins at Cherokee. It was Bailes, the May 2019 winner at Cherokee, pacing the first 15 laps before Sheppard snookered him in lap traffic to put the Rocket1 Racing No. 1 to the point.

In the meantime, Overton was caught slipping and dropped to fourth when “Smokey” Chris Madden ran by him on lap 23, forcing the Georgia boy to get up on the wheel; and that he did. Rallying back around Madden on lap 24, then disposing of Bailes on lap 25, Overton ensued to cut a 2.1+ second lead down to nothing when he passed Sheppard for the lead on lap 34.

“That’s the thing about leading, you’re just a sitting duck out there by yourself,” Overton noted on methodically following their footsteps. I told myself I just needed to keep Sheppard in sight and take care of my tires as much as I could. When Madden passed me I kind of panicked because I knew I had to get back by him. Hats off to Brandon and Mark though, they’ve built one of the best teams in the country. Beating them makes me proud of what we’ve built over here.”

Leading 18 laps around the midpoint of Friday’s feature, Sheppard was the closest he’s ever been to Cherokee Speedway victory lane. Ultimately, a second-place finish would have to suffice.

“We had a fast car again, but I just moved out tot he middle one too many times with those lapper and that allowed him to get by me,” Sheppard noted on Overton’s pass for the win. “Once it latched up down there after he got, well that was all she wrote. It’s still so much fun for us to come out and race in front of all these fans. Coming up one spot short sucks, but we’ll come back better tomorrow.”

Rekindling Chris Madden Racing with a new Rocket Chassis No. 44, Madden drove from ninth-to-third.

“Starting ninth and coming up to third with a brand-new team is pretty awesome,” Madden through of his new situation. “I thought we had ourselves in a position battling for second, but lap traffic didn’t help us. I gotta thank the people that made this happen: Drydene Performance Products, Derek & Mike at Millwood, Billy Franklin, Henderson Amusement, so many others make this deal go round.”

The finish:

Feature (50 laps): 1. 76-Brandon Overton [3][$10,000]; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard [2][$5,000]; 3. 44-Chris Madden [9][$3,000]; 4. 8-Kyle Strickler [7][$2,500]; 5. 58-Ross Bailes [1][$2,000]; 6. 7-Ricky Weiss [6][$1,700]; 7. 29V-Darrell Lanigan [10][$1,400]; 8. 24D-Michael Brown [5][$1,300]; 9. 22-Chris Ferguson [4][$1,200]; 10. 88-Trent Ivey [8][$1,100]; 11. 79-Ben Watkins [11][$1,050]; 12. 97-Cade Dillard [18][$1,000]; 13. 421-Anthony Sanders [12][$950]; 14. 28-Dennis Erb [13][$900]; 15. 0-Scott Bloomquist [14][$850]; 16. 18-Chase Junghans [16][$800]; 17. 18D-Daulton Wilson [15][$770]; 18. 99B-Boom Briggs [24][$750]; 19. 12-Ashton Winger [23][$730]; 20. 91-Derrick Ramey [17][$700]; 21. B1-Brent Larson [21][$700]; 22. 9-Johnny Pursley [22][$700]; 23. 2F-Dennis Franklin [19][$700]; 24. 57-Zack Mitchell [20][$700]. Lap Leader(s): Bailes 1-15; Sheppard 16-33; Overton 34-50. Hard Charger Award: 44-Chris Madden[+6]