SPIRIT OF 76: Overton scores Firecracker Preliminary win

Brandon Overton wins at Lernerville
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Brandon Sheppard leads Firecracker 100 points heading into Saturday’s finale

When you’re on a hot streak it doesn’t take much to keep the fire burning. Brandon Overton powered from his fifth starting spot to win Friday’s Morton Buildings Feature at Lernerville Speedway during the second night of the Firecracker 100 weekend.

The Evans, GA driver passed Mark Whitener for the lead with 16 laps to go and mastered slower traffic en route to a $6,000 payday.

Overton passes Whitener for the lead
Brandon Overton takes the lead from Mark Whitener with 16 laps to go/Jacy Norgaard Photo

It’s “Big Sexy’s” 15th career World of Outlaws victory, breaking the tie with Tim Fuller for 13th all-time.

Even though Overton stood tall at the end of the night, the changes he made for the Heat Race pointed him in the right direction.

“We just threw some things at it and didn’t really know what to expect,” Overton said. “We drove right up through there and I was good, so it just showed me later on in the race what direction I needed to go with my changes.”

The win puts Overton in a good position for Saturday’s 100-lap Firecracker finale, which he’s looking forward to because of the different tire compound he knows he’ll use.

“I’m kind of looking forward to getting on a harder tire,” Overton said. “We’ve kind of got what we got because of the five-tire limit [implemented by Series officials]. So, I think we should be better with a harder tire on it, but 100 laps is a long time.”

Mike Norris, the two-time Lernerville Speedway track champion, finished second. The Sarver, PA driver expressed content with his run despite coming up short.

“There’s nothing to hang our heads about,” Norris said. “I feel like my car was really good, I just couldn’t get past [Mark Whitener] quick enough [before he was passed by Overton], and [Overton] is really good.”

Norris passes Whitener for 2nd
Mike Norris and Mark Whitener battled in the top-5 of the 30-lap Feature/Jacy Norgaard Photo

Mark Whitener, who’s driving the Big Frog Motorsports car, crossed the line third.

Despite dropping two spots after leading the first 14 laps, he knows he battled against some of the toughest Late Model drivers in the country.

“Hell, we’re happy, I’m proud to be in the top three with this group of cars,” Whitener said. “I feel like we’re gaining and I’m learning how to race the car so we’re all good.”

Dennis Erb Jr. had a strong run all night and ultimately settled for a fourth-place finish. The “One Man Band” thought he could’ve done better but waited too long to make his move.

“We had a good car, but we should’ve just went a little sooner,” Erb said. “Track position just means a lot here right now, but we’ve had a good car the last couple of nights and did really good starting up front.”

Three-time and defending Series champion Brandon Sheppard finished fifth, extending his Series points lead over Chris Madden for the second straight night. Sheppard also leads the Firecracker 100 standings after two nights of racing, putting him on the pole for the first Drydene Heat Race on Saturday.

The “Rocket Shepp” is prepared for what’s to come during Saturday’s 100-lap finale.

“I take [Friday] as a good run for us,” Sheppard said. “Overton’s got his stuff together, so we know we’re going to have to race him [Saturday]. We got a good balance going right now, and I hope we can just keep it rolling that way and carry this momentum into [Saturday].”

If Brandon Overton can keep his hot streak going and pick up another Firecracker 100 victory – he won his first in 2017 – he could add $30,000 to his bank account, adding up to more than $300,000 in overall winnings in June.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models return to Lernerville Speedway for Saturday’s Firecracker finale.

Here are the Top-6 in Firecracker points, heading into Saturday’s finale:

  1. Brandon Sheppard 1476
  2. Mike Norris 1465
  3. Chris Madden 1437
  4. Brandon Overton 1417
  5. Chub Frank 1417
  6. Spencer Hughes 1403

Morton Buildings Feature (30 Laps)-1. 76-Brandon Overton [5][$6,000]; 2. 72-Mike Norris [3][$3,000]; 3. 58-Mark Whitener [1][$2,000]; 4. 28-Dennis Erb [4][$1,750]; 5. 1-Brandon Sheppard [8][$1,500]; 6. 111V-Max Blair [6][$1,400]; 7. 119-Chub Frank [2][$1,300]; 8. 7-Ricky Weiss [7][$1,200]; 9. 44-Chris Madden [10][$1,100]; 10. 22F-Chris Ferguson [13][$1,000]; 11. 19R-Ryan Gustin [11][$900]; 12. 25Z-Mason Zeigler [15][$850]; 13. 29-Darrell Lanigan [23][$800]; 14. 10-Jared Miley [12][$775]; 15. 0E-Rick Eckert [14][$750]; 16. 11H-Spencer Hughes [9][$700]; 17. 16-Tyler Bruening [19][$660]; 18. 25-Mike Benedum [20][$640]; 19. 1C-Alex Ferree [17][$620]; 20. 17M-Dale McDowell [21][$600]; 21. 97-Cade Dillard [16][$600]; 22. 0-Scott Bloomquist [24][$600]; 23. 2-Dan Stone [22][$600]; 24. B1-Brent Larson [25][$600]; 25. 99B-Boom Briggs [18][$600]; 26. 8-Kyle Strickler [26][$600] Hard Charger: 29-Darrell Lanigan[+10]

Qualifying Flight-A –1. 72-Mike Norris, 15.986; 2. 11H-Spencer Hughes, 16.297; 3. 19R-Ryan Gustin, 16.417; 4. 16-Tyler Bruening, 16.483; 5. 25Z-Mason Zeigler, 16.505; 6. 25-Mike Benedum, 16.512; 7. 7-Ricky Weiss, 16.537; 8. 58-Mark Whitener, 16.672; 9. 119-Chub Frank, 16.766; 10. 22F-Chris Ferguson, 16.797; 11. 2-Dan Stone, 16.893; 12. 1C-Alex Ferree, 16.919; 13. C02-Kyle Lukon, 16.963; 14. 8-Kyle Strickler, 17.059; 15. 16H-Clinton Hersh, 17.14; 16. 42-Chad Finley, 17.162; 17. 14-Dan Angellicchio, 17.215; 18. 42K-Cla Knight, 17.268; 19. 7R-Ross Robinson, 17.363; 20. 10L-Gary Lyle, 17.474; 21. O6-Mike Lupfer, 17.487; 22. 94-Charles Powell, 17.565; 23. 66-Todd Bachman, 17.712; 24. 4-Gary Stuhler, 17.745; 25. 93-Pancho Lawler, 17.803; 26. 11-Joshua Powell, 17.929; 27. 44P-Joe Petyak, 17.98

Qualifying Flight-B-1. 1-Brandon Sheppard, 16.605; 2. 97-Cade Dillard, 16.822; 3. 99B-Boom Briggs, 16.928; 4. 29-Darrell Lanigan, 16.939; 5. 44-Chris Madden, 16.943; 6. 10-Jared Miley, 16.977; 7. 111V-Max Blair, 16.986; 8. 48-Colton Flinner, 17.008; 9. 28-Dennis Erb, 17.039; 10. 0E-Rick Eckert, 17.101; 11. 0-Scott Bloomquist, 17.139; 12. 17M-Dale McDowell, 17.222; 13. 22-Gregg Satterlee, 17.222; 14. 76-Brandon Overton, 17.259; 15. 72C-Jason Covert, 17.26; 16. B1-Brent Larson, 17.314; 17. 29S-Ken Schaltenbrand, 17.417; 18. 1Z-Logan Zarin, 17.52; 19. 77-Tyler Dietz, 17.554; 20. 9-Levi Yetter, 17.604; 21. 0S-Ryan Scott, 17.618; 22. 23-Ahnna Parkhurst, 17.635; 23. 26-Shawn Schaltenbrand, 18.007; 24. 2T-Rich Wicker, 18.162; 25. 311-Ken Monahan, 18.178; DNS. 8S-Tommy Schirnhofer, NT

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