Story By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – BARBERVILLE, FL – Brandon Overton’s clock was ticking Wednesday night.
As the laps wound down at Volusia Speedway Park, so did the life of the engine inside his Longhorn Chassis.
Luckily for “Big Sexy,” his clock didn’t strike midnight. The engine held up long enough to take the checkered flag for his second career DIRTcar Nationals win.
Overton wasn’t sure he’d make it to the end in the last few laps—holding his breath and hoping the engine stayed together. All of this while Devin Moran lurked behind him.
“I was looking, and I could see it smoking, and I knew it’s got to be over pretty soon,” Overton said. “I was just getting it so tight down there I was just holding it to the floor. I could tell it was dying; it was just muffling out.
“Hell, there ain’t nothing you can do; it’s already done its damage.”
Before the engine started to blow, Overton’s car came to life in the second half of the race. The Evans, GA driver, took advantage of a caution for then race-leader Kyle Strickler and powered around Dale McDowell for the top spot.
Overton put the car anywhere he wanted to, thanks to wholesale changes made to his Late Model throughout the week.
“We’ve changed everything on this thing every single night, every single Feature we’ve ran,” Overton said. “The new body rules and stuff kind of has us in a little box, and we just got to figure it out.
“I had a pretty good package with the way everything was, and it changed a little bit. We just have to keep working; that’s what makes this fun.”
The DIRTcar Nationals win is Overton’s 19th World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series triumph—tying him with Jimmy Owens. It’s a win that may not have happened without Kyle Strickler’s lousy luck.
The Mooresville, NC driver dropped out while leading with 25 laps to go. He stated it was a problem his team found on Tuesday—one they hoped to fix before the Feature.
“We had drivetrain issues [Tuesday],” Strickler said. “The yoke pulled off the rear end, but everything felt good today. I thought we had a really good car and broke a lower jackshaft in the rear-end.
“I’m not sure if it had to do with last night or not, but the car was good and it’s just part of it.”
Devin Moran continued his hot streak to start the season, scoring his third trip to the DIRTcar Nationals podium with a second-place finish.
The Dresden, OH driver stated he thought he had a shot at winning before he saw Overton’s engine start to expire.
“I felt like I was catching him before that,” Moran said. “I don’t know if it’s because his engine was getting worse and worse.
“I wasn’t going to slide him in Turns 3 and 4 because I knew I was too far back. But I wanted to at least run a different line if he did blow up.”
Moran’s consistency puts him on a path toward his second straight “Big Gator” trophy—as he leads the week-long standings on the strength of three podiums.
Reigning Series Champion Brandon Sheppard passed more cars than anyone Wednesday, earning the Fox Factory Hard Charger award. “The Rocket Shepp” crossed the line third after switching to a backup car and starting 25th.
After he didn’t qualify through his Heat Race, the Rocket1 Racing team decided to switch cars—one that paid off.
“My team just comes thru in tough times like we had today,” Sheppard said. “It was really just a mutual agreement to switch cars, and it worked out. All of our cars are good. We were just missing something on that other one.”
Hudson O’Neal finished fourth, his second top-five finish of the season. Three-time Series champion Darrell Lanigan rounded out the top five.
Brandon Overton didn’t only win a “Gator,” but a race against time. It shows the clock hasn’t struck midnight on Overton’s success against the best Dirt Late Model racing has to offer.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series returns to Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 17 for their second night of DIRTcar Nationals, along with the Super DIRTcar Series.
CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 76-Brandon Overton; 2. 9-Devin Moran; 3. 1-Brandon Sheppard; 4. 71-Hudson O’Neal; 5. 29-Darrell Lanigan; 6. 44-Chris Madden; 7. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 8. 1R-Josh Richards; 9. 81E-Tanner English; 10. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 11. 1T-Tyler Erb; 12. 44B-Colten Burdette; 13. 111V-Max Blair; 14. 16-Tyler Bruening; 15. B1-Brent Larson; 16. 6S-Blake Spencer; 17. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 18. 99B-Boom Briggs; 19. 14M-Morgan Bagley; 20. 39-Tim McCreadie; 21. 17M-Dale McDowell; 22. 10-Garrett Smith; 23. 45-Kyle Hammer; 24. 89-Ashton Winger; 25. 3S-Brian Shirley; 26. 8-Kyle Strickler; 27. 25-Shane Clanton; 28. 157-Mike Marlar; 29. 97-Cade Dillard; 30. 19R-Ryan Gustin Fox Factory Hard Charger Award: Brandon Sheppard [+22}.