The World of Outlaws Late Models Series took its turn at sanctioning a big race at the facility billed as “America’s Special Events Track” on Saturday night as that organization staged a $10,000-to-win event at Smoky Mountain Speedway. Brandon Overton continued his winning ways in 2017 as he beat the field to the finish line to collect the winner’s share of the prize money and the big trophy.
Shane began the night by leading the way in qualifying when he turned a lap of 15.614 seconds around the 4/10 mile clay oval located in Maryville, Tenn. Brandon Sheppard, Chris Madden, Jonathan Davenport and Joey Coulter rounded out the top-5 in time-trials for the Super Late Model machines.
Davenport took the win over Clanton, Casey Roberts and Donald McIntosh in the first heat race of the night while Sheppard beat out Overton, Rick Eckert and Coulter in the second of the preliminary races of the evening.
Madden took the win in the third and final heat over Dale McDowell, Chub Frank and Donald Bradsher.
The top-2 from each heat race were sent to a redraw to determine the lineup for the first three rows on the starting grid for the feature race. Sheppard was awarded the pole position with Overton, McDowell, Davenport, Madden and Clanton filled in the remaining positions.
At the start of the 50-lap feature it appeared as if Sheppard was prepared to add to his series points lead as he blasted out to the front of the pack and began to set a blistering pace. However, that pace would be slowed on lap 3 by a caution flag that was unfurled when Donald Bradsher spun in turn 2.
On the ensuing restart, Clanton took a look under McDowell as those two contested the third spot behind Sheppard and Overton. Clanton’s move, however, actually served to open the door for Davenport who then wrested the fourth position away from the No. 25 car. Meanwhile, Sheppard appeared to be checking out as he quickly built a margin of several car lengths over Overton.
By the sixth circuit, Clanton was ready to retake the position he had once held as he challenged and ultimately passed Davenport for fourth on the outside. Madden took advantage and also moved around Davenport on lap 14.
Lap 16 saw the retirement of the third running McDowell due to mechanical issues. At the same time, Overton closed the gap on Sheppard as the No. 116 car looked to snatch the lead of the race away as the two leaders worked through slower traffic.
Overton moved to the outside of Sheppard on lap 19 and seized the lead of the race in the midst of a number of slower machines. Overton then demonstrated masterful driving as he split between two cars as he put them a lap down and put distance between himself and the former leader.
Behind the leader, the action was just beginning to heat up as Sheppard began to fall back and the likes of Clanton, Madden, Roberts, Davenport and Eckert fought over the second through the seventh positions in the running order.
With twelve laps remaining, Sheppard began to fade dramatically as Clanton and Madden moved in and began to challenge for the runner-up position. Clanton got around Sheppard on lap 42 then Madden passed by for third just one lap later. Roberts would also pass Sheppard on lap 44.
With Overton well out front, the only thing that remained was to settle the battle for second. On lap 47 Madden did that as he pinned Clanton behind a slower car and took the spot. But in the end, it was Overton who would not be denied as he took the checkered flag and the win.
Feature Finish: 1. Brandon Overton, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Shane Clanton, 4. Casey Roberts, 5. Brandon Sheppard, 6. Rick Eckert, 7. Jonathan Davenport, 8. Frank Heckenast Jr, 9. Tyler Erb, 10. Eric Wells, 11. Chub Frank, 12. Shanon Buckingham, 13. Devin Moran, 14. Morgan Bagley, 15. Skip Arp, 16. Steve Francis, 17. Joey Coulter, 18. Donald Bradsher, 19. Robby Moses, 20. Billy Ogle Jr, 21. Bobby Giffin, 22. Donald McIntosh, 23. Brian Shirley, 24. Dale McDowell, 25. Tommy Kerr