FEAR THE REAPER: Gustin grabs podium at Eldora

Gustin finishes 2nd at Eldora
Sheppard and Madden score top-10’s in preliminary Feature

“We can be like they are.” That’s a lyric you’ll find in Blue Oyster Cult’s famous song “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

Ryan Gustin, aka “The Reaper,” proved he can be like the prime contenders at Eldora Speedway Friday night, finishing second in his preliminary Feature at the DIRTcar sanctioned 26th annual Dirt Late Model Dream.

Gustin started on the pole of his 25-lap Feature and led the first nine circuits. That’s when Feature winner Brandon Overton made the pass for the win on the bottom of Turn 3.

Even though he had to settle for second, Gustin was excited about grabbing his first Eldora podium.

“It feels awesome just to lead some laps in front of this crowd,” Gustin said. “It’s the biggest race of the year and as long as we get through the Heat Race, and don’t crash or anything I think we’ll be alright [Saturday.]”

Gustin battles in his Heat Race
Ryan Gustin battles with Ricky Thornton Jr. and Ricky Weiss during his Heat Race/Jacy Norgaard Photo

Gustin knows he proved something Friday night, especially after finishing behind Overton, who won Thursday’s $127,000-to-win Dream and hasn’t lost a Feature this week at the famed half-mile.

“Overton is just the class of the field here, that’s all there is to it,” Gustin said. “But we’re gaining on it step by step, and we’re definitely getting there that’s for sure.”

Ricky Weiss and Dennis Erb Jr. were also in the first preliminary Feature. Erb finished 14th, while Weiss finished 23rd.

In the second Feature, the top two drivers in Series points Brandon Sheppard and Chris Madden both scored top-10 finishes.

Brandon Sheppard finishes 8th
Brandon Sheppard finished 8th during his Preliminary Feature at Eldora Speedway/Jacy Norgaard Photo

The Three-time and defending Series champion finished eighth while trying to dial in a setup for [Saturday’s] race.

“We tried a few things tonight to see if we can get better for the race tomorrow and it didn’t help us any,” Sheppard said. “We just have to be a little bit better, early in the night our program is pretty good, and we can qualify in the Heat Race really good. We’re just going to work on this thing and get a little better for [Saturday.]

Chris Madden finished right behind Sheppard in ninth. The Gray Court, SC driver bounced back, after crashing during his B-Feature Thursday night.

“Smokey” felt he had a good car, and wished the race was longer than 25-laps.

Chris Madden finishes 9th in Preliminary Feature
Madden bounces back with a 9th place finish at Eldora/Jacy Norgaard Photo

“I kind of wish we had the 100-lapper tonight, because I felt really good,” Madden said. “We were a little bit slow on restarts, but we seem to have a pretty good car right now to run long distance.”

Tyler Bruening was also in the second Feature and finished 11th.

The World of Outlaws drivers return to Eldora Speedway Saturday, for the final night of the 26th Dirt Late Model Dream. One of the tour regulars could win $126,000 if they reach Eldora’s illustrious Victory Lane.

Ryan Gustin-2nd
Dennis Erb Jr.-14th
Ricky Weiss-23rd
Brent Larson-DNQ

Brandon Sheppard-8th
Chris Madden-9th
Tyler Bruening-11th
Boom Briggs-DNQ

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