A stellar field of drivers and teams assembled on Thursday night at the Cherokee Speedway to contest one of the most lucrative races on the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series schedule. The ‘Rock Gault Memorial’ had originally been scheduled for March but was postponed to September when spring rains interfered with the initial date. At the end of a night of tire conservation racing, it was Brandon Overton who claimed yet another lucrative victory at the Gaffney, SC facility. The Longhorn Chassis driver from Evans, Georgia collected $40,000 for his efforts in a race shown live by DirtVision.com.
A total of 33 cars were signed in for competition at ‘The Place Your Momma Warned You About’.
Brandon Sheppard set the pace in Group A qualifying by circling the 4/10 mile clay oval in 15.376 seconds to better Brandon Overton, Jonathan Davenport, Zack Mitchell and Trent Ivey.
Chris Ferguson proved to be the fastest in Group B time-trials with a lap of 15.266 seconds to top Michael Brown, Tim McCreadie, Kyle Larson and Chris Madden.
Jonathan Davenport won the first heat race of the evening besting Trent Ivey, Jimmy Owens and Dillon Brown in the process while it would be Brandon Overton taking the second preliminary ahead of Jeff Smith, Dale McDowell and Zack Mitchell.
Chris Ferguson was victorious in the third heat of the night over Chris Madden, Tim McCreadie and Cla Knight just before NASCAR star Kyle Larson took the fourth heat by defeating Michael Brown, Daulton Wilson and Ryan Gustin.
Ross Bailes, Nick Hoffman and Bryson Harper transferred to the main event out of the first Last Chance Showdown then Brent Dixon, Tyler Bruening and Josh Richards made the big show out of the second LCS.
The WoO Late Models redraw placed Kyle Larson on the pole for the main event with Chris Ferguson, Jonathan Davenport, Brandon Overton, Chris Madden, Trent Ivey, Jeff Smith, and Michael Brown lining up in that order.
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At the start of the 60 lap feature it was Larson who shot to the early lead with Davenport, Overton, Ferguson and Ivey trailing. After five laps, Davenport and Overton were keeping Larson in their sights.
Larson and Davenport began to creep away from their pursuers by lap 10 with the top-2 running within a half-second of each other. Davenport moved in and applied constant pressure on the NASCAR Cup Series regular season champion. On lap 18, the lead duo closed in on slower traffic which allowed Overton, Ferguson and Madden to close in.
On lap 25, those top-5 drivers ran within 1.5 seconds of each other with Davenport continuing to peek to the inside of Larson. But it was at the halfway point when business began to pick up.
Davenport moved to the inside of Larson on lap 31 as those cars went side-by-side for the top spot. One lap later, Davenport’s efforts paid off as he made his way by the No. 6 machine. That move opened the door for Overton to also get by Larson.
Larson’s slide continued as Ferguson and Madden took third and fourth respectively on lap 33.
Overton then began to work the outside groove of the track in hopes of getting by Davenport for the lead. Tires then began to become an issue as one after another right rear began to lose air to bring out caution.
Overton’s work paid dividends on lap 39 when he went by Davenport on the outside if turn four to grab the lead. Around that time, McCreadie entered the top-5. However, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader’s time near the front would not last long as the No. 39 car fell victim to a flat tire on lap 42.
Numerous yellow flags would wave over the closing laps with tires giving way.
With just four laps remaining, second-running Davenport also felt the sting of a flat tire as he slowed to bring out a yellow flag. Third-running Ferguson also had to come to the pit area during this caution period as he had a tire to go down.
In the end, Overton was able to nurse his car to the checkered flag to score yet another high-dollar win. It was “Big Sexy’s” third consecutive WoO Late Models victory at Cherokee Speedway.
Feature Finish: 1. Brandon Overton, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Jimmy Owens, 4. Trent Ivey, 5. Kyle Larson, 6. Daulton Wilson, 7. Ross Bailes, 8. Dale McDowell, 9. Tyler Bruening, 10. Brandon Sheppard, 11. Dennis Erb Jr., 12. Dillon Brown, 13. Ricky Weiss, 14. Tim McCreadie, 15. Chris Ferguson, 16. Ryan Gustin, 17. Nick Hoffman, 18. Michael Brown, 19. Jonathan Davenport, 20. Josh Richards, 21. Brent Dixon, 22. Zack Mitchell, 23. Cla Knight, 24. Jeff Smith, 25. Bryson Harper