Apparently the drivers on the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series do not believe in easing their way into a new season because the racing action that took place in the season opener for the national touring series at Screven Motor Speedway was intense from the drop of the green flag until the end. Eventually it was Brandon Overton who scored his first win for Joey Coulter’s Rum Runner Racing team and took $10,000 away from the Sylvania, GA facility.
Chris Madden led the way in Group A qualifying by posting a time of 14.399 seconds to beat out Brandon Overton, G.R. Smith, and Chub Frank.
Brandon Sheppard was quickest in Group B and overall with a lap of 14.348 seconds to better the efforts of Shane Clanton, Chase Junghans and Darrell Lanigan.
Chris Madden won the first heat race of the night ahead of Mike Marlar, Ricky Weiss and G.R. Smith while Brandon Overton took the second preliminary ahead of Bill Moyer, Chub Frank and Ivedent Lloyd, Jr.
Chase Junghans won the third heat over Brian Shirley, Brandon Sheppard and Brent Dixon just before Darrell Lanigan scored the win in the fourth an final heat by outrunning Jason Covert, Shane Clanton and Brian Connoer.
Steve Casebolt and Kyle Hardy won the two Last Chance Showdowns that were used to set the remainder of the starting lineup for the main event.
At the start of the 50-lap feature it was Overton who jumped out to the early lead but the intensity immediately amped up as cars went four-wide for the lead in turn four of the opening lap. That action forced Madden out of the groove and into the outside wall which caused the No. 44 machine to fall back in the pack. A series of cautions within the first eight laps kept the pace slow but also set up a series of restarts that saw drivers make bold moves and often come in contact with one another as they fought for position.
One significant development in that rash of yellow fever during the early stages of the race was the retirement of defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Mike Marlar, who was debuting in a new ride this weekend as he took the reins of the K&L Rumley Enterprises machine.
Once the race got into a rhythm and drivers began clicking off laps, Overton would lead all the way but the fight was on behind him as the likes of Shirley, Lanigan, Sheppard, Junghans and Madden disputed postions in or near the top-5 in the running order.
It was Madden who would prove to be the strongest mover and shaker. After his early brush with the wall, the driver of the No. 44 machine began picking off opponents one by one until he found himself in the second position after he moved around Shirley on lap 39.
Overton had build a relatively big lead since a lap 34 restart but Madden began to reel him in, especially when slower traffic became a factor on lap 43. However, Overton was able to thread his way through the obstacles and hold back Madden’s advances until he sailed under the checkered flag.
Feature Finish: 1. Brandon Overton, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Brian Shirley, 4. Darrell Lanigan, 5. Chase Junghans, 6. Brandon Sheppard, 7. Shane Clanton, 8. Ricky Weiss, 9. Billy Moyer, 10. Tyler Bruening, 11. Kyle Hardy, 12. Chub Frank, 13. Dennis Erb, Jr., 14. Cade Dillard, 15. Ross Robinson, 16. G.R. Smith, 17. Steve Casebolt, 18. Boom Briggs, 19. Scott James, 20. Brent Larson, 21. Blake Spencer, 22. Chuck Hummer, 23. Brian Connor, 24. Jason Covert, 25. Mike Marlar, 26. Brent Dixon, 27. Ivedent Lloyd, Jr.
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