Race Weekend Central

This Weekend in Dirt: Brandon Overton Takes Talladega, Logan Walls Literally Turns Out Lights at Tri-County

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Brandon Overton’s reputation for smooth driving paid off Saturday night (April 22) at Talladega Short Track, where he scored the Alabama Gang 100 win after Bobby Pierce had a wheel literally disintegrate on him inside of 15 laps to go.

Pierce, along with Kyle Larson earlier in the feature, found speed running the high side of the red clay oval, but in both cases the driver saw aluminum wheels on their right-rear tires shred apart in incidents that forced them to pit road. 

Chris Madden finished fifth in Saturday’s race and maintained the World of Outlaws late model points lead.

2023 ALABAMA GANG 100 RACE RESULTS

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: The Ryan Preece/Larson wreck will get all the press, but Junction City, Ky.’s Logan Walls endured arguably the most destructive wreck an oval track saw this weekend, literally turning the lights off at Tri-County Racetrack in North Carolina Saturday night.

Walls was uninjured in the crash.

The last major race of the weekend had its own dramatic finish, with Mat Williamson narrowly holding off Matt Stangle to win the King of the Big Blocks Super DIRTcar Series feature at Bridgeport Motorsports Park Sunday night.

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

Despite all the new clay, new walls and facility upgrades, it took more than three hours before the WoO late models turned a competitive lap at Talladega Friday. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Having said that, the WoO already announced they’d be returning to the track in 2024 and it’s hard to blame them. An event that draws 62 super late models and has the grandstands packed so tight that the PA announcer has to ask people not to step on each other while moving is an unmitigated success.

The race was a success. The Talladega stream on DirtVision was not. Multiple video cutouts coupled with at-track audio that meant most of Saturday’s feature was spent listening just to commentary with no ambient engine noise really sucked the life out of the main event.

And listening to nothing but commentary rather than the actual race made it very clear just how much the WoO tour is missing the late Rick Eshelman.

Getting away from Talladega, while the streaming wars rage on (just look at how unhappy West Coast fans are getting over all their racetracks signing on with different streaming services after getting spoiled with Flo Racing over the last few years), Buckshot Speedway in Alabama has taken the opposite approach, live-streaming their races on Youtube the past couple of weeks and posting them online afterwards (Author’s Note – the stream from this Saturday’s race was found to be made private after this article was written).

Buckshot has been a truly rare success story, a dirt track built from scratch from the ground up and one that has cultivated a dedicated fan following. The confidence this track is showing in making its product accessible is admirable and an experiment that other tracks need to pay attention to.

In non-streaming news out of California, Saturday’s USAC CRA Series feature at Kings Speedway went green with only 12 cars in the field, by far the lowest car count the series has seen in 2023. It’s a damn shame too, because the battle for the win between Brody Roa and Austin Williams was really good stuff. The car count led to a widely-publicized (or at least posted on Facebook) open letter regarding sprint car racing in California.

OPEN LETTER TO USAC/CRA , IT'S SPRINT CAR OWNERS & PROMOTERS !!! Due to the low car counts this season including last…

Posted by IENewswire on Sunday, April 23, 2023

I’m not sold that the solution to this problem is to be found in the rulebook. Most respondents to the open letter on Facebook attributed the lack of car count to payout and increased expenses to race, both of which are valid observations. And considering even in Indiana and the Midwest, the literal hotbed of wingless sprint car racing is continually seeing talent leave to go winged racing, it’s no surprise to see California struggle for wingless cars when 410 racing of any kind is sorely lacking.

Let’s go back to streaming for one second. Racin’ Dirt’s liberal use of dual-screen coverage during the United States Modified Touring Series feature at 81 Speedway Saturday was a textbook example of how to use dual screens to cover a race that isn’t a thriller up front. All streaming services should study this tape.

In a case of a policy I hope to see proliferate across dirt racing soon and often, All-Tech Raceway in Florida announced this week a complete prohibition on minors operating side-by-side and four-wheel vehicles in the pits at their track. 

Attention racers and race teams, we have decided that we will no longer allow minors under the age of 18 to operate any…

Posted by All-Tech Raceway on Monday, April 17, 2023

The track has even acknowledged in the comments relating to this post that there will be some bugs to iron out, but speaking as someone that’s at a dirt track 75-80 times a year this type of crackdown is LONG overdue. The pits are hazardous enough with racecars that have no headlights and limited visibility already entering and exiting into dimly lit areas. Even those ATVs with spare tires and tools on them do NOT need to be driving full speed in the pits. There’s a designated work area for a reason. All-Tech continues to get it right, dirt racing is lucky to have this track rising to prominence.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

We’ll stick with the major touring series for this shoutout. Madden rebounded to score a top-five finish at Talladega Saturday with the WoO late models after suffering both an early-race flat tire and getting involved in a multi-car crash, actually gaining ground on Kyle Bronson to extend his series points lead.

Meanwhile, Jake Timm did something similar in the USMTS feature at 81, coming back to finish on the podium after off-roading through turns 3 and 4 early in the race. 

His effort came up a few feet short, but watching Brandon Ely keep the field at bay for multiple laps without a left-rear tire in the four-cylinder feature at Fonda Speedway Saturday was worth getting out of a seat over.

Lastly, even though this demonstrates some regional bias, a tip of the cap goes to Kyle Hardy and Austin Stover, as the battle for the lead they put on during Sunday’s rain date limited late model feature at my home track in Winchester, Va. was well worth braving the winds and chill for.

Dirt Racing’s Victims of the Night

Let’s get the villain out of the way. Intentional or not, Michael Page absolutely took out Tyler Milwood during the third late model qualifier feature at Talladega Friday. Both drivers were nowhere to be found during Saturday’s part of the program.

Onto the victims. Kaylee Bryson scored a runner-up finish in the destruction derby this weekend, taking out billboards in turn 2 during USCS sprint car competition at Talladega Saturday.

Vidor, Texas’s Tyler Harris lost his battle with the catchfence at 105 Speedway in Texas, though he landed a few blows during the bout. Fortunately for all involved the catchfence held and no injuries were reported.

Lastly, Justin Peck blew up while leading the 410 sprint car feature at Williams Grove Speedway Friday, costing the driver what looked to be a sure-fire victory.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Wednesday morning (April 26) with coverage of the High Limit Racing sprint car series as they had to 34 Raceway in Iowa. Coverage can be found on Flo Racing.

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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