Winning Moment: Home state driver Brandon Overton kicked off his 2023 campaign in style, holding off Tim McCreadie to win the opening night of the Super Bowl of Racing at Golden Isles Speedway in Georgia (Jan. 26).
Dramatic Moment: The nation’s top-ranked late model driver, Jonathan Davenport, took out Hudson O’Neal in a late battle for position in the top five that ruined both teams’ nights.
In a Nutshell: No surprises to kick off the 2023 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Longhorn chassis were dominant and the defending champion finished second.
What They’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning
From qualifying through nearly 75% of Thursday’s feature at Golden Isles, O’Neal and the Rocket Chassis house team did everything right. Quick time in qualifying, an uneventful heat race ending in a transfer spot and a top-five run going in the feature. Only to have it all disappear when Davenport made an uncharacteristic error and dumped him. The night definitely showed that gap between the Rockets and the Longhorns isn’t insurmountable, but Thursday will be a hard pill to swallow for the Rocket team.
Boy, was the Flo Racing/MAVTV crew pushing hard to sell the “Chase” system that the Lucas Oil series has adopted for 2023. Yes, there’s a ton of money being poured into the series this year and that’s undoubtedly a positive, but I still have yet to hear a compelling reason why it took turning the premier dirt late model series in the country into NASCAR to get said money to flow into the tour.
Though I will concede a point that James Essex made during Thursday’s broadcast that the LOLMDS Chase system, which will see the 2023 championship decided by the Dirt Track World Championship at Eldora Speedway, could well be the carrot that gets Overton, who has run outlaw schedules for as long as he’s been on the national stage, to commit to a touring series. There’s very few drivers better at Eldora than Overton after all.
It truly was remarkable just how many crate late models were out and racing down South on a Thursday evening.
Having said that, I’ve got to admit I was torn over how Golden Isles Speedway handled their race format, which had the support crate late model classes do hot lap qualifying to set half of the field, then ran B-mains to set the rest. On the one hand, it wasn’t a bad move from a time management perspective, as the headline super late model feature was done before 10:30 local time.
But, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t think any type of dirt racecar not running an open engine should ever be involved in single-car qualifying. Watching crate cars qualify on a large dirt oval is the dirt equivalent of watching superspeedway NASCAR cars in single-car qualifying. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I would have been OK with crate heats at Golden Isles.
Speaking of crate late models though, between Golden Isles and the program at East Bay Raceway Park on Thursday, I counted no less than six incidents with crate cars fighting with the tractor tires. And for the record, the tractor tires went undefeated.
Lastly, a note to the commentary crew out at Central Arizona Raceway. Do not call the late model class contesting the Early Thaw “super” late models again. Any rules package requiring an open engine to run a restrictor plate is NOT a super late model division.
Hero of the Day
Overton looked razor-sharp winning in his season debut, but the shout out is going to McCreadie for his ridiculous run of form to start the 2023 season. Arguably the underdog performer of the Chili Bowl given the car he was racing, McCreadie has been a factor for the win in every super late model feature he’s contested thus far this season. The No. 39 hasn’t won yet, but McCreadie proving a top-five fixture it’s going to be really damn hard to topple his quest for three straight LOLMDS crowns.
Villain/Victim(s) of the Day
Boom Briggs certainly lived up to his name Thursday night, spinning out trying to stay off Golden Isles Speedway track owner Kyle Bronson in the third Lucas Oil heat race and getting into a nasty crash that collected his own teammate, Max Blair.
Fortunately both drivers were uninjured.
- Ricky Weiss won the Early Thaw late model feature at Central Arizona Speedway Thursday night, his third win of 2023. It took him till July last season to reach three victories.
- Tanner English was the hard charger of the night Thursday at Golden Isles, improving by 12 positions in the feature race (he finished 13th).
- Defending World of Outlaws late model champion Dennis Erb Jr. failed to qualify for Thursday’s Super Bowl of Racing A-main.
- Longhorn chassis swept the top-five finishing positions at Golden Isles Thursday. The highest-finishing non-Longhorn was Ryan Gustin in sixth (driving a Rocket).
Dirt tracks that ran oval track racing programs Thursday night in the U.S.
Difference in horsepower between the 602 and 604 late model classes at Golden Isles Thursday night.
Nation’s largest car count Thursday, the Super Bowl of Racing at Golden Isles.
Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Saturday morning (Jan. 28) with more from the Super Bowl of Racing at Golden Isles. Friday will also mark the kickoff of the Southern Sprint Car Challenge at Volusia. Coverage can be found on Flo Racing 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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