Race Weekend Central

This Weekend in Dirt: Overton/Madden Scuffle at Cherokee Tops Embarrassing Weekend for Southern Late Models

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moments: Carson Macedo survived two late-race restarts after besting Giovanni Scelzi in lapped traffic to win opening night of the World of Outlaws Spring Showdown at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. Sunday night (March 5).

The biggest payday of the weekend was scored by Chris Ferguson, who survived a race of pure attrition to win the annual March Madness super late model feature at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C. Sunday evening (more on that later).

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moments: A myriad of late tire failures during Cherokee’s March Madness late model feature (surprise surprise) led to contact between Brandon Overton and Chris Madden on a lap 36 restart, triggering a scuffle in the pits shortly after both cars left the track.

The incident, which appeared to result in a member of the Wells Motorsports team being handcuffed during RaceXR’s broadcast, was the highlight of a disastrous season opener for the Southern All-Stars tour.

You seen it here first Brandon Overton and Chris madden bumping chest

Posted by Logan Sparks on Sunday, March 5, 2023

Port Royal Speedway’s season opening sprint car feature in Port Royal, Pa. was the finish of the weekend, with hometown driver Dylan Cisney trading slide jobs and besting Parker Price-Miller coming to the white flag

What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

When super late model racing has been good in 2023, it’s been realllyyy good (Vado, Golden Isles, Volusia). Likewise, when it’s been bad, it’s been realllyyy bad (Talladega). And this weekend it was realllyyy bad.

See also
This Weekend in Dirt: Jonathan Davenport Bests Kyle Larson in Instant Classic at Vado

Fifty-lap races at Cherokee Speedway need to be made illegal. The end. I counted 11 drivers in a 29-car field that suffered flat right-rear tires in the second half of Sunday’s March Madness race, to include polesitter Mike Marlar, who led the opening 35 laps before succumbing to a flat. That’s not drama as Southern All-Stars announcer Dewayne Keith insisted it was, that’s Russian roulette that did nothing but ensure fans weren’t seeing green-flag racing as the sun went down at Cherokee.

Speaking of Keith, between his inane yelling on the mic about absolutely anything but specifics actually happening on the racetrack and Overton and Madden fighting about absolutely nothing off of it, we had the perfect metaphor for racing at Cherokee. A huge amount of hype over absolutely nothing.

Saturday night was no better for the super late model crowd, as the Southern Nationals program at Senoia Raceway in Georgia turned into an off-road racing competition, with a rain-soaked surface leading to more than half the field that showed up for the race electing not to compete in it.

Wil Herrington survives an absolute disaster of a race at Senoia to win the Southern Nationals Series event. 26…

Posted by Tennessee Racing on Saturday, March 4, 2023

There is nothing redeeming to report about how this mess was handled. For one, I am awful thankful I didn’t make the trip down South this weekend, because there is no bigger slap to the face of a race fan than to have the race director shorten a feature after it starts and after my ticket money has been taken. And it is very telling when even the second-place driver votes to cut the race distance by 18 circuits, which is what happened Saturday night. In fact, every driver that started Saturday night’s farce, err, feature at Senoia voted to shorten it.

Senoia Raceway to their credit took ownership for the debacle later in the weekend.

But frankly, this statement reads hollow to me because this track of all tracks absolutely knows better. Remember, Senoia Raceway is the same racetrack that made headlines back in November for putting tarps over their racing surface in advance of an impending hurricane, knowing full well that rain-soaked corners can’t be saved. 

Yet this weekend, they opted to race on said soaked corners. And that’s not even taking into account an asinine feature order that saw every support class run hot laps and/or qualifying for nearly two hours on the surface before the 900-horsepower super late models took to it. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

It had been more than a decade since Northeast modifieds took to the tight confines of Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa. And it may well end up being another decade before it happens again. It doesn’t matter if the weather up north is bad or parts are in short supply, drawing only 11 cars on a weekend that there were no competing events isn’t a recipe to keep any racing event going. Damn shame too, the feature was a decent race.

With regard to “damn shames,” it’s a damn shame Volusia couldn’t get the turn 4 gate opened to allow Bill Rose‘s stricken racecar to get off track without drawing a yellow Sunday night. That yellow cost both Scelzi and Buddy Kofoid top-five finishes they deserved on the ensuing restart.

Flo Racing made some waves Friday night by announcing preemptively that they would not be streaming the Southern Nationals race at Swainsboro Raceway due to technical difficulties (read: lack of cellular service).

While on the one hand I do applaud Flo for getting ahead of the situation and letting subscribers know in lieu of putting a crappy product online, on the other hand this is becoming a recurring issue across streaming platforms of overpromising on race coverage without actually ensuring the technical capability is in place (RaceXR went through this a couple weeks ago with their Iron-Man Late Model Series coverage from Duck River Raceway Park getting so overwhelmed by lack of cellular service that the track PA actually asked race fans to stop using their phones to try to help the stream).

The honeymoon phase is over. It’s no longer enough to be grateful that streaming is available, considering that between the five major services I pay for (Flo, DirtVision, RacinDirt, RaceXR and The Cushion) I’m shelling out in the neighborhood of four figures for race coverage. This is a business now and providers need to deliver the product advertised. 

Dirt Racing’s Heroes of the Weekend

Defending track champion Freddie Rahmer won Saturday’s sprint car feature at Lincoln by going from 15th to first in the running order, prevailing in a pitched battle with Danny Dietrich. Enough said.

Andrew Yoder couldn’t even get through hot laps at Port Royal Sunday without making an entry for “save of the year.”

And lastly, Wil Herrington deserves a tip of the cap for his Southern Nationals “victory” at Senoia Saturday night. The line between courage and crazy is a thin one, and whichever side you think it lands on Herrington was driving full throttle all night long on an extremely choppy racing surface.

Dirt Racing’s Victims of the Weekend

Ashton Winger was doing very much the same thing as Herrington during the ill-fated Southern Nationals feature at Senoia Saturday and even took the lead doing it. Winger crossed the line though and ended up headfirst in the turn 4 wall.

Daulton Wilson took a nasty impact into the turn 1 wall at Cherokee in the closing laps Sunday after contact with Logan Roberson; Roberson’s Twitter page indicated that he believed Wilson had blown a tire right as the two were racing into the corner. Wilson took the hardest impact between the two but was able to exit his car under his own power. Roberson endured damage as well.

I counted three flips during the dirt racing weekend at large; Randy Phillips in the bomber division at Senoia Saturday night, Devon Borden in his sprint car at Lincoln Saturday afternoon and a driver who I’ve yet to identify in the FWD division at Winder-Barrow Speedway in Georgia Saturday night.

Numbers Game

28

Dirt tracks that ran oval-track racing programs in the U.S. this weekend.

174

Nation’s largest car count this weekend, the Spring Nationals at Rocket Raceway Park in Petty, Texas.

$20,000

The nation’s largest purse awarded this weekend, to the winner of the March Madness super late model feature at Cherokee Sunday.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Tuesday morning (March 7) with continued coverage of the World of Outlaws’ second residency at Volusia Speedway Park. Streaming can be found on DirtVision.

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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Mike Kalasnik

I still dont get why Madden & Overton were mad at each other. Madden seemingly had a flat and couldnt go anywhere. Both cars could have continued it seemed like, as if it was just a flat, they can put a new one on. Overton didnt seem like he got much damage at all. That is one of the oddest arguments I have seen. Seems like there is no logical explanation.

That is embarrassing that that many cars opted not to race and the track (or promoter) still elected to go on with the race. I was at a track (no longer there) called Cleveland County Speedway in NC where the track developed awful ruts and holes to the point they red flagged it and the drivers all got out to discuss if they wanted to continue. They agreed to continue but all they did was safely run around the track single file.

I was at Lincoln. I certainly expected more small block mods to come. Bridgeport gets 30+ a week, and Grandview sometimes gets so many they run 2 features. I’m sure the weather the prior day played into it for some, but $3500 to win is a nice pay day for these guys. 10 cars started and it was a good one. Sadly, half the fans left because they are too ignorant to like anything other then sprint cars.

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