The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned North-South 100 weekend began on Thursday night under threatening skies with the $10,000-to-win Sunoco North-South Shootout at the Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky. Brandon Overton scored the win in an event that was filled with storylines.
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Jonathan Davenport was facing a bit of an uphill battle from the time his hauler rolled through the pit gate at Florence Speedway for competition for the North-South 100 weekend event. The No. 49 Longhorn Chassis team was without the services of crew chief Jason Durham on Thursday night due to the unfortunate passing of his father earlier in the day.
Then, trouble reared its ugly head for Davenport and crew during the on-track action on this preliminary night as well.
The No. 49 car suffered a broken drive shaft during its qualifying run which resulted in other damage being done underneath the car and also caused Davenport to be buried deep in the starting lineup for his heat race. As the winner of last weekend’s $50,000 USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway was making his way forward in the first qualifying race, a shredded right rear tire sent the car to the pit area for service.
The poor finish in his heat race resulted in a poor starting position in the B-main. Davenport was unable to make up to a top-three finishing spot by the end of that consolation race which would have earned him a starting position for the feature. That caused him to use a provisional to start the 50-lap main event.
The three-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion eventually picked his way through traffic and drove all the way up to a fifth-place finish when the checkered flag waved at the end of the Thursday night feature. It proved to be an adventurous night that ultimately ended with a solid result.
Ricky Thornton Jr. showed up at the Florence Speedway for this weekend’s North-South 100 event with a new crew chief. Anthony Burroughs, a racer in his own right, has called the shots for drivers such as Don O’Neal and Earl Pearson Jr. in the past and has now moved his tool box over to the SSI Motorsports operation. And the results were immediately seen.
Thornton proved to be fastest in Group A qualifying on Thursday night under the direction of his new pit boss. The No. 20RT Longhorn Chassis then went on to earn the pole for the $10,000-to-win 50-lap preliminary feature by scoring a victory in the first heat race of the evening.
After leading the first 13 laps of the main event, Thornton would be passed by eventual winner Brandon Overton then emerge from a furious battle with the likes of Mike Marlar, Tim McCreadie and Jimmy Owens to ultimately finish in the runner-up spot.
“We had a really good car tonight,” Thornton proclaimed during his post-race interview with MavTV Plus. “I’ve got to thank Burroughs and Jake and everybody else for working their tail off. I feel like we’ve gotten a lot better over the last week or so. Hopefully we can keep this up.”
Thornton added, “We went out and hot lapped really good and qualified really good. Our confidence here for the rest of the week is really good. We’re a little bit off of Overton but I think about all of us are. Hopefully we can stand up here again come Saturday.”
Brandon Overton powered his way to the win on night 1 of the North-South 100 weekend.
Over-confidence can often work against the person who goes into any sort of competition thinking a little too much of himself or herself. But on the other hand, Overton-confidence could spell bad news for the rest of the field in this weekend’s North-South 100 at Florence Speedway. And that could very well be the scenario other racers are facing after the driver who won both $125,000+ Dirt Late Model Dream features held at Eldora Speedway back in June then followed that up with a $30,000 triumph in the Firecracker 100 at the Lernerville Speedway.
After leading Group B time-trials and setting the fastest mark overall on Thursday night, Overton spoke of his confidence level during his post-qualifying interview with MavTV Plus.
“We’re starting it off right,” Overton declared. “It’s a confidence booster. This whole deal was all about confidence, doing the right adjustments and having confidence in what you’re doing. We’ve done good so far and we’re going to go over there and try not to mess it up. We’re steadily working hard. These guys are the best and they’ll beat you anytime you lay down so we’re going to keep on working.”
He added following his heat race win, “We’ve just got to have confidence in our adjustments and do the right thing and have a little luck on our side and maybe we’ll get ’em.”
And not only is Overton confident but he is also motivated to pull his Longhorn Chassis by Wells into victory lane in the home state of his Wells and Sons Motorsports team at the end of Saturday night’s $50,000-to-win crown jewel feature.
“This place is special to big Dave(Wells) and them,” Overton pointed out. “I’ve been working hard trying to get her right. We definitely started off right there.”
Perhaps the worst news for the competition came when Overton admitted that he won the race despite his car not being exactly as he would like it.
“Honestly, I know this is going to sound stupid, but I didn’t really feel good,” he explained. “I was too tight and it started shoving there at the end, it wasn’t real maneuverable but we got it done. It’s all about confidence. It keeps rolling over and rolling over. It would definitely mean a lot to Dave and Eric and the whole Wells family to get us one here. I’m just going to try my best and do all I can do. I hope we can get us another one. I’ve been doing pretty good here lately in the hundred-lappers. I’ve just got to get my car a little bit better and I think we’ll be okay.”
A third-place finish may be worthy of celebration for many drivers but not for current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader Tim McCreadie. At the end of the night, the two-time and defending winner of the North-South 100 made it clear that his car needs improvement if it is to contend for victory this weekend.
“We’re just not good enough,” McCreadie stated in his post-race interview. “The cushion couldn’t, man, I was ringing it early but I wasn’t going anywhere. I just didn’t have enough attitude to get it to do what I like to do with the gas and the brake. It’s good to start the weekend off, but it’s a little disappointing because we should be better. We’re trying to get better by testing and then bringing it to the track. I don’t know if that hurt us or helped us, probably a little bit of both, but it helped us early in the night but maybe not at the end.”
The North-South 100 weekend continues on Friday with a series of passing-points heat races that will set the starting lineup for Saturday’s feature. MavTV Plus will have live coverage for those unable to attend.
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