ROSSBURG, OHIO — Brandon Overton and Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist split the Twin 25-lap, $5,000 to-win feature events that opened up the 23rd annual Dirt Late Model Dream presented by Ferris Mowers on Thursday night at Eldora Speedway
Overton, of Evans, Georgia, jumped to the lead from his outside pole starting position and led from flag-to-flag to pick up his first career win at Eldora.
“It probably wasn’t as easy as it looked,” the 26 year-old Overton said. “This is a great way to start the weekend off. I never won before at Eldora and that is a pretty big accomplishment for a guy like me.”
Tim McCreadie, of Avon, New York, pressured Overton in traffic through the middle stages of the event, but two late race cautions, the first for Tim Manville’s slowing machine on lap 21 and the second for debris a lap later, opened the track for Overton and let rest of the field battle for positions.
“I was a nervous wreck out there,” Overton said. “I was just watching my guys telling me where they were making up ground. I was just trying to keep my momentum up. I was probably a lot more crooked than I should I have been but I was just letting that thing float around there and I had a really good car.”
The late race restarts benefitted former Dream winners Darrell Lanigan, Don O’Neal and Shane Clanton, who all passed McCreadie in the closing laps to finish in that order.
“That top was pretty good on those restarts,” runner-up Lanigan said. “The bottom (groove) kind of killed me on that last restart, but it is what it is and we will take a second.”
O’Neal took advantage of the two late restarts to move from fifth-place to the final spot on the podium.
“I got a good restart on the first one and got up to third and thought maybe I got a shot at this, but the car just wasn’t quite good enough,” O’Neal said. “Everybody is working hard. We got two Clint Bowyer cars up to second and third so that is good but we have some work to do yet.”
Earl Pearson, Jr., Chris Simpson, 2014 Dream winner Dale McDowell, 2015 Dream winner Jonathan Davenport and Devin Moran completed the top 10 in the first feature.
Defending World 100 winner Bobby Pierce jumped to the early lead in the second feature event, before 1997 Dream winner Jimmy Mars, of Menominie, Wisconsin, flexed some muscle to wrestle the top spot away.
Pierce and Mars continued to fight for the top spot, but as they did Bloomquist, a six-time Dream winner, closed in. On lap eight, Bloomquist, of Mooreseburg, Tennessee, passed Pierce for second-place and then a lap later made a move around Mars for the top spot and powered away over the final 15 laps to a convincing victory.
“This is a fairly new car that we have only ran twice,” Bloomquist said. “Randy Sweet’s bunch built this one and we have some fresh metal under us here that seems to be working pretty good.”
It was a bit of redemption for Bloomquist for struggled a year ago on Thursday of the Dream weekend and then failed to make the main event on Saturday night.
“We’ve been trying to get our stuff organized and together and get some equipment built ahead and things are going a little bit better for us,” Bloomquist said. “It’s easy to get behind when you don’t have a lot of help. I’ve got some volunteer help here this weekend and I really need to thank them. We are looking forward to tomorrow and the next day.”
Chris Madden, of Gaffney, South Carolina, rallied from eighth starting position to finish runner-up in the second feature, while Mars held on for third-place. Two-time Dream winner Billy Moyer, of Batesville, Arkansas, finished in fourth-place while defending Dream winner Dennis Erb, Jr. completed the top five.
“We got behind on the first start,” Madden said. “Scott was able to get by four or five cars down there and I wasn’t able to clear them and then I had to clear them during the race and try to run (Bloomquist) back down. We had an excellent car tonight and I just need to thank all my guys.”
“We didn’t really adjust the car much all night and maybe we should have,” Mars said. “We will take the third and move on to tomorrow night.”
Rounding out the top ten in the second feature were Pierce, Kent Robinson, 2007 Dream winner Steve Casebolt, R.J. Conley and Billy Moyer, Jr.
Casey Roberts (15.925 seconds) was the fastest qualifier of the 79 entrants. Heat race winners were McCreadie, Moyer, Moran, R.J. Conley, Davenport, Madden, Lanigan and Bloomquist. The two B-mains were split by Timothy Culp and Brandon Sheppard.
The Dirt Late Model Dream presented by Ferris Mowers continues on Friday night with another completed program of hot laps, qualifying, heat races, consolation features and twin 25-lap feature events paying $10,000 to-win.
Saturday night, the richest event in Dirt Late Model racing concludes with the traditional six heat races, B-mains, B-scrambles and the 100-lap, $100,000 to-win main event.