Overton Dominates in Southern Nationals Opener

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Article by Trevor Gonzales, RPM Writer

(Rural Retreat, Virginia)- Brandon Overton is was fast, is fast, and will always be fast. Overton would win the 2019 Schaffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series opener at Wythe Raceway. Overton would capture his 11th career Southern Nationals victory and move into 3rd all time in the all time win list. He has won the last 3 Southern Nationals events dating back to last season. There would be 30 entrants from the southeastern states of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The ginormous speed plant of Wythe can hurt a car’s motor due to the very long straightaways that result in high RPM’s in a Late Model. That issue would become apparent all night starting off with hot laps as regional favorite Chris Ferguson from Mt. Holly, North Carolina would blow up in smoke during hot laps due to a burnt piston. He would load up early with his evening coming to an end very prematurely. Pageland, South Carolina driver “Downtown” Michael Brown would have a very strong showing as he was fastest in hot laps, being the only driver to crack the 15 second bracket and he was the fastest overall in qualifying with a lap of 16.445 seconds. Chickamauga, Georgia driver Dale McDowell would be the fastest qualifier in Group B with a lap of 16.593 seconds. There would be 4 Heat races with all drivers transferring to the 53 lap, $10,019 feature courtesy of track owner/promoter Fred Brown. Brown would battle Dennis “Rambo” Franklin early on in the first heat race as he would pull out the win. Newnan, Georgia driver Austin Horton would lose a motor on the final lap of the heat while running fourth as he would load up and be done for the night. Another battle for a heat race win would be between Ross Bailes from Clover, South Carolina and Allen, Kentucky driver Brandon Kinzer with Bailes eventually coming out on top and winning the second heat race. Brandon Overton would take the heat race three win over McDowell, Michael Page, and Kyle Strickler. The fourth and final preliminary heat race would go to Moshiem, Tennessee veteran Vic Hill in a fantastic heat as he edged out home state driver Kyle Hardy at the line by 0.003 seconds Here were the heat race results for all four heats: Heat Race 1 Results: All Transfer 79 Michael Brown 2 Dennis Franklin 7m Donald McIntosh 18D Daulton Wilson 42 Cla Knight 4 Matthew Lance 86 Jeff Neubert 16 Austin Horton- DNF Heat Race 2 Results: All Transfer 87 Ross Bailes 18 Brandon Kinzer 81 Aaron Ridley 58 Tanner English D89 Dustin Mitchell 6 Chris Blackwell 94 Jason Miller- DNS Heat Race 3 Results: All Transfer 2 Brandon Overton 17m Dale McDowell 5 Corey Gordan 58T Tyler Clem 55 Benji Hicks 66 Jake Knowles 29 Christian Hanger Heat Race 4 Results: All Transfer 1 Vic Hill 36v Kyle Hardy 18x Michael Page 8 Kyle Strickler 9 Johnny Pursley 421 Anthony Sanders 11G Travis Greer Ocala, Florida teenager Tyler Clem did not make the call for the feature and was scratched for the night. The 27 car field would come roaring to green in front of a packed house as Overton would lead the opening lap over Brown, McDowell, and Bailes. The first ten laps would be a steady, torrid pace as Overton would enter lapped traffic with a commanding lead over Brown. On Lap 12, McDowell would get around Hill for third place. The first caution of the night would come out on Lap 15 for the slowing machine of Christian Hanger. During the caution, second place running Michael Brown who had a very fast Longhorn Chassis throughout the night, would pull into the pits with brake issues in his car and not return to the track. On the Lap 15 restart, seventh place running Kyle Strickler would shoot up to third place gaining a huge run in Turns 1 and 2. Donald McIntosh who restarted ninth two laps earlier would get around Hill for the fourth spot. Twelfth starting Michael Page would also pass Hill for fifth one lap later on lap 19. Overton would continue to hold a big lead over second place running McDowell at the halfway point. Halfway in, seventh place running Ross Bailes would pull off the track. Four laps later on Lap 31, third place running Strickler would then pull off the track. Then, two laps later, fifth place running Corey Gordan from Charlotte, North Carolina would pull his Barry Wright Race Car ICON into the pits. The second caution of the race would occur on Lap 38 as Cla Knight would slow in Turn 4 as his hood would pop up and impede his vision. Through 38 laps, there would be 16 cars left on the track with only nine of them on the lead lap. That showed the pace Overton set on the field and how fast he was. On the Lap 38 Restart, now third place running Donald McIntosh would suffer a flat right rear tire resulting in him dropping back to the ninth position. The fourth and final caution would occur on the completion of Lap 39 as third place running Michael Page would lose a right rear tire and slam the wall hard sideways in the middle of Turns 1 and 2. Vic Hill would also make heavy contact with Page. Page would tear down the top half of the guardrail wall in Turns 1 and 2 with Vic Hill receiving medical attention for an injured hand. Both drivers would be okay after the hard crash as Hill would drive his MB Customs Race Car to the pit area under his own and the car’s own power which was good to see. Cla Knight would return to the track under caution after making repairs to his car. The race would be back underway with 14 laps to go. Overton would check out over McDowell and Hardy. On Lap 45, McIntosh would move back into the top five as he got around Dennis Franklin for fifth. Unchallenged throughout the feature, it would be Brandon Overton taking the checkers over Dale McDowell and Kyle Hardy. McIntosh would pass 15th starting Tanner English to finish in fourth place with English finishing fifth. Dennis Franklin, Jake Knowles, Benji Hicks, Brandon Kinzer, and Anthony Sanders would round out the top ten. Only 7 cars finished the race on the lead lap. The next Southern Nationals Series Race will be Sunday, July 14th at Cherokee Speedway with a $10,000 to win show. Feature Finish: 2 Brandon Overton- Evans, GA 17m Dale McDowell- Chickamauga, GA 36v Kyle Hardy- Stephens City, VA 7m Donald McIntosh- Dawsonville, GA 58 Tanner English- Benton, KY 2 Dennis Franklin- Gaffney, SC 66 Jake Knowles- Rome, GA 55 Benji Hicks- Mount Airy, NC 18 Brandon Kinzer- Allen, KY 421 Anthony Sanders- Spartanburg, SC 18D Daulton Wilson- Fayetteville, NC D89 Dustin Mitchell- Pine Level, NC 42 Cla Knight- North Augusta, SC 86 Jeff Neubert- Rockford, TN 18x Michael Page- Douglasville, GA 1 Vic Hill- Moshiem, TN 4 Matthew Nance- Ronda, NC 5 Corey Gordan- Charlotte, NC 11G Travis Greer- Marion, VA 8 Kyle Strickler- Mooresville, NC 81 Aaron Ridley- Chatsworth, GA 6 Chris Blackwell- Fayetteville, NC 9 Johnny Pursley- Clover, SC 87 Ross Bailes- Clover, SC 79 Michael Brown- Pageland, SC 29 Christian Hanger- Winchester, TN 94 Jason Miller- Berryville, VA