Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2021 King of the Commonwealth at Virginia Motor Speedway

The A-Main: Virginia Motor Speedway

There’s no disputing it, “Big Sexy” Brandon Overton is the undisputed King of the Commonwealth. Fresh off a $5,000 win at the Natural Bridge Speedway on Friday, Overton scored a come-from-behind victory in the King race at Virginia Motor Speedway Saturday night (May 15), winning $20,000 under the Ultimate Super Late Model Series sanction.

Overton started on the front row, but dropped like a rock starting in turn 2 on the first lap when race leader GR Smith got out of shape on corner exit. Overton was visibly taking it easy on tires, falling back to as far as ninth in the running order before starting to make progress forward. Aided by a rash of yellow flags in the first half of the event, Overton finally got up to speed and took the lead on lap 40, getting by Jimmy Owens for the race lead and eventual win.

Smith led the opening 35 laps before suffering a mechanical failure on track in turn 2 and losing a shot at what would have been the biggest victory of his career. Home state driver Trevor Feathers was also having a career run at this level, storming from 13th to seventh in the opening laps before suffering a tire failure that took him out of contention.

The B-Mains

Tyler Dippel led the most laps and appeared poised to score his first career Short Track Super Series win Tuesday night at Accord Speedway in New York. Instead, it was Anthony Perrego who prevailed on a late-race restart to score the $5,440 Battle of the Bullring feature win. The caution-filled event saw Dippel’s car fade in the closing laps and struggle with lapped traffic, opening the door for his rival. Perrego’s win was his third career triumph in a race run in memorial of his dad, Tom Perrego.

Kyle Larson proved all but unstoppable on Castrol Racing Night in America Wednesday, posting the fastest qualifying time, winning his heat race and leading 39 of the 40 laps of the $10,000-to-win super late model feature at Brownstown Speedway in Indiana. Despite being on the ragged edge all night on, driving over the banking in turn 2 seemingly every lap, Larson experienced no tire issues and drove away after surviving a mid-race challenge from Tanner English, who was one of the few drivers to make the bottom line work during the feature.

Wednesday night at Lincoln Speedway marked the first residency of the season for the World of Outlaws in the state of Pennsylvania, and the famed “Posse” got shut out in their home state. Defending WoO champion Brad Sweet navigated lapped traffic with six laps to go to best Donny Schatz and red-hot Brent Marks at Lincoln, a win at a venue that’s historically been unkind to the Californian. 

The WoO spent Friday and Saturday night at Williams Grove Speedway, and both races ended up being battles for track position. After Friday night preliminary action saw multiple cars flip, Carson Macedo ended up holding off Posse member Lance Dewease by a bumper to win the Friday night feature. The track proved racier on Saturday, but in the end Aaron Reutzel proved untouchable up front, leading a caution-free feature flag-to-flag to win the $15,000 Morgan Cup much to the chagrin of the home-state crowd. 

The USMTS modified tour finally got through a weekend uninterrupted by weather. Rodney Sanders took the lead for good at the midway point and comfortably won Friday’s $10,000 feature at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas on a racy surface. 

Saturday night’s USMTS feature was an instant classic at Tri-State Speedway in Oklahoma. After being spun by Jason Hughes while leading the feature around 15 laps to go, the closing circuits saw Austin Siebert and Dereck Ramirez run side-by-side within a tenth of a second of each other for 10 consecutive laps, with Ramirez finally pulling ahead on turn 2 exit after the white flag flew. One of the best side-by-side racing displays of 2021 saw Ramirez leave $10,000 richer and the USMTS points leader.

It was a tale of two races for the MARS late model tour this weekend. Friday night saw Brandon Sheppard turn the Farmer City 74 in Illinois into a snoozer, leading all 74 laps and never being challenged up front on a track that took on rubber.

Saturday night was a completely different story, with Tanner English besting Brian Shirley with 10 laps to go and then holding off Dennis Erb to win the $15,000 Spring Showcase at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Wisconsin. The battle for the lead, at one point three-wide on the backstretch, was the best late model show of the weekend.

The All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars saw a pair of first-time winners this weekend, with Tyler Courtney winning at I-96 Speedway in Michigan and Kyle Reinhardt leading flag-to-flag on the Dirt Oval at Route 66 Saturday. Courtney finished second at Route 66.

Brian Brown took the lead for good with 17 laps to go, smacking the field with a dominant performance in the Bull Haulers Brawl NOSA 410 sprint car series feature at the Jackson Motorplex Friday night. The win was worth $5,000.

Tyler Erb became the 10th different winner in 10 races in 2021 on the Southern All-Stars super late model tour, stomping the field on the high side of Richmond (KY) Speedway for a $7,500 win that was reported by the track PA as the fastest in series history. 

Daison Pursley ended up besting Brian Carber in the biggest A-class micro event since the Tulsa Shootout, winning the $10,000 Wingless Clash at US-24 Speedway in Indiana. Pursley ended up benefitting from a bad lap with 20 circuits remaining in the feature; getting out of shape in turn 2, a hard-charging Emerson Axom made contact with Pursley and fell from contention as a result.

Columbia, La.’s Lee Patton took home an $8,000 win in the factory stock feature at Chatham Speedway in Louisiana, at first glance the largest such purse for this class of car anywhere in the country in 2021. Hudson O’Neal won the $5,000 “Lidlifter” late model show at Eldora Speedway on Saturday.

Success Stories

Reutzel. When the best the opposing fans can do post-race is to ask “who’s your boyfriend,” you’ve done your talking on the racetrack. 

Dominic Scelzi owned the West Coast this weekend, sweeping the 360 and 410 winged sprint car features at the Keller Auto Speedway on Friday and the Tulare Speedbowl on Saturday. Scelzi grabbed $11,000 in the process.

Superior, Wis.’s Brady Uotinen won his first career modified feature in the Gondik Law Speedway season opener in Wisconsin Friday night, and boy did driver and crew celebrate in style.

When your buddies are even more excited than you that you won your first feature race! This was after the last feature of the night when the pits opened up.

Posted by Gondik Law Speedway on Saturday, May 15, 2021

Ramirez and Siebert. To run as close and as clean as they did for the win Saturday at Tri-State was an accomplishment for both drivers. Damn good stuff.

English finished top five at Brownstown as the only driver that had anything for Larson, top five at Farmer City and won the big money against a heavy-hitting field at Fairbury. The No. 81 team isn’t just fast at Clarksville anymore.

Loveville, Md.’s Jeremy Pilkerton won the RUSH crate late model feature at Potomac Speedway in Maryland Friday night as his father remains hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. Said Pilkerton in victory lane that was only the second time he’d raced without his father watching.

Grand Forks, N.D.’s Dustin Strand won both the late model and WISSOTA modified features at River Cities Raceway Friday night.

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series decision to cancel this weekend proved a boon for Tyler Erb, who scooped up a $5,000 win at Moler Motorsports Park on Friday night and then obliterated the Southern All-Star Series feature at Richmond (KY) Raceway Saturday for another $7,500.

Elmo Pinkerton won the Sportsman feature at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Vermont Friday, his first win at the track in 24 years.

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Tea, S.D.’s Justin Henderson was in a lightyear of his own in the 410 winged sprint car season opener at Huset’s Speedway in South Dakota May 9. Henderson built a lead of a full straightaway within the first three laps of the feature and led the opening 19 laps only to spin himself from the lead in turn 4 while dealing with lapped traffic (Austin McCarl went on to win the feature).

Shane Jablonka was running down Dippel for the race lead Tuesday at Accord in the STSS feature inside of 10 laps to go when he misjudged a slide job trying to pass a lapped car and spun in turn 3. Jablonka ended up finishing 16th.

Logan Schuchart. At Williams Grove on Friday. No commentary needed.

Mt. Carmel, Ill.’s Will Krup broke a driveshaft while leading the first B-main of the USMTS modified program at Lakeside on Friday night and missed the $10,000-to-win feature. He then fell backwards almost immediately from a top-10 starting spot Saturday at Tri-State and finished the main event off the lead lap.

Jacob Hawkins had a runner-up run in the Eldora Lidlifter late model feature go smack into the turn 1 wall on lap 9 Saturday after Devin Moran pulled a slide job that had no chance of succeeding. 

Frontstretch Regulars

Former Xfinity Series regular Cale Conley finished eighth in the 410 winged sprint car feature at Attica Raceway Park in Ohio Friday night.

Former Truck Series regular Dippel finished fourth in Tuesday night’s STSS modified feature at Accord after leading more than half of the 50-lap event. Dippel also raced Saturday, finishing 11th in the modified feature at Fonda Speedway in New York.

Truck Series regular Stewart Friesen got collected in a hard crash in his heat race Tuesday night and failed to make the STSS Modified feature at Accord. Friesen rebounded to win Friday’s $4,000 modified season opener at Utica-Rome Speedway in New York, lapping 17 of the 19 cars in the field. And for good measure, Friesen won Saturday’s $2,400 modified feature at Fonda.

Former Cup Series regular Kasey Kahne finished fourth in the 410 winged sprint car feature at Keller Friday night. Kahne then finished 14th at Tulare on Saturday.

Kyle Larson had a busy weekend on the dirt, winning Wednesday night’s super late model feature at Brownstown before joining the World of Outlaws sprint car tour for their weekend at Williams Grove. Larson finished 10th on Friday and sixth on Saturday in the features, winning his heat race on Saturday.

Former Cup Series regular Ken Schrader finished fourth in the UMP modified feature at Gas City I-69 Speedway in Indiana Friday night. He followed that up with a 20th-place finish in his modified at Plymouth Speedway in Indiana on Saturday after getting collected in a backstretch pileup. 

Former Cup Series regular Kenny Wallace won a heat race and finished third in modified competition at Plymouth Saturday.

Fanning the Flames

Watching the grounds crew at the Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon, N.D. work, my only question is where the hell were these guys when Digger was lowering NASCAR’s collective IQ?

The way Virginia Motor Speedway is eating up tires in 2021, don’t be surprised to see stage racing emerge at some point this summer. I kid. Please don’t do that. 

I know, it’s dangerous to read social media comments. But as bad as it was to listen to the fans of the Pennsylvania Posse reduced to hurling grade school insults at the WoO regulars that beat the home state’s sprint car racers into submission, the perspective of some of the fans at Lernerville Speedway this weekend was just embarrassing. Protected front-row starts for local drivers in big money races? Pshaw.

Tommy Hein Photo Sarver, PA (May 15, 2021) The 1000th Sprint Car checkered flag waved for Central Pennsylvania pilot…

Posted by Lernerville Speedway on Saturday, May 15, 2021

The good news for race fans at Richmond Raceway was that the track Saturday night did have multiple racing grooves, a far cry from the parade route the track was when the World of Outlaws Late Models visited earlier this spring. The bad news was Erb proved so dominant that multiple grooves couldn’t keep the rest of the field competitive.

Quality of car count and quality of officiating do seem to go hand in hand more often than not. Presenting a modified heat race at Rockcastle Speedway in Kentucky from Friday (skip to 1:02 in the video).

Shout out to Rockcastle speedway for costing us the heat race. David Michael Clark was on the pole and is supposed to start the race, however 2nd place jumped the start a car length ahead and the officials didn’t call it back. Appreciate it guys ?

Posted by April Couch on Friday, May 14, 2021


Numbers Game

19 – Years old, the alleged age of the engine Alan Krimes used to qualify for Saturday’s WoO feature at Williams Grove (the driver disputed this claim, stating “I’m not sure it’s that old.”)

99 – Largest single-class car count, the A-Class micro sprints at US-24 Raceway Thursday night.

151 – Largest total car count, at the Outagamie Speedway in Wisconsin Friday night.

$20,000 – Largest posted purse, to win the King of the Commonwealth super late model feature at Virginia Motor Speedway Saturday night.

Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): We’ll give the weekend three-and-a-half chilled Boxcar Brown Ales from Caboose Brewing. Fans of side-by-side racing got some good stuff with the USMTS modifieds at Tri-State and the MARS late models at Fairbury, but a lot of the bigger shows were just rife with cautions this weekend.

Up Next: Dueling super late model shows will highlight this coming Saturday, with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series tackling 34 Raceway in Iowa while the World of Outlaws Late Models visit Port Royal Speedway for $15,000-to-win features. Coverage will be available on MAVTV Plus and DirtVision, respectively.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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