Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.
The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American All-Star Pro Late Models Presented by PPM Racing Products
Were you surprised that Brandon Overton initially planned to use a Team Zero Race Car this past weekend?
Richard: I am never surprised when drivers and teams opt to change from one chassis brand to another because that has long been a tradition in Dirt Late Model racing. However, the timing of this move did seem a bit unusual. Overton was one of the drivers still hopeful of qualifying for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series ‘Chase for the Championship’ going into the weekend’s events at Raceway 7 and Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. Switching chassis brands at such a pivotal time was an interesting decision.
I am sure Overton and the Wells Motorsports crew had tested the Team Zero car and felt like it gave them a better chance at success than did their Longhorn Chassis.
But as it turned out, mechanical gremlins interfered on Friday night causing the team to pull out the Longhorn. Still, Overton entered the Pittsburgher on Saturday at PPMS ahead of both Devin Moran and Tim McCreadie in the standings. The No. 76 was running in position to finish ahead of both championship rivals and make the Chase until a flat tire ruined his chances.
Ultimately, Overton finished 9th in the determining race which left him far enough behind Moran to miss out on the Chase run at Eldora.
It will be interesting to see if Overton runs the Dirt Track World Championship or perhaps the World Finals in a Team Zero car.
Michael: That was an interesting move in both timing and what they chose to run. There aren’t many Team Zero cars out there right now that regularly run up front. There aren’t a lot of people to lean on to improve things if the car is a little off. There was some risk in that regard. But the Wells camp has run Team Zero cars in the past.
And the timing is strange. You would think they would try this during one of the next two weekends when the Lucas Oil series is off. Suffering a flat tire late in the race doesn’t really say if this was the right move or not. But it certainly has people online talking about it.
Devin Moran and his Double Down Motorsports team picked a great time to improve their performance, didn’t they?
Richard: Just a few weeks ago I would not have given Moran much of a chance to make the ‘Chase for the Championship’ final four going into the Dirt Track World Championship at Eldora but a string of very solid finishes over the past few races have made that a reality. It’s not like the Double Down team had been running badly. After all, they won the Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway back in May as well as four other features throughout the season.
The seasons being put together by Ricky Thornton Jr. and Bobby Pierce have made it easy to overlook everyone else this year. Moran has not finished outside the top-10 in a Lucas Oil race since early August which accounts for his rise in the standings.
Michael: Yeah, I never gave much consideration to Moran being one of the final four. In looking at it now, the series has been dominated by Thornton, O’Neal, and Davenport. Those three were going to be in. I really thought McCreadie or Overton would get the final spot. McCreadie has been up and down and Overton missed his chance with a flat on Saturday.
The team has been running a new car the last month or so. It looks like they have a better grasp on this car than the other one. We see that all the time. A team wins a lot of races, gets a new car and looks lost, then get an even newer one or go back to the old one and is a terror once again. The team has also been getting some additional help with their shock package that appears to be paying off.
Who has the most to gain of Lucas Oil regulars not involved the Chase for the Championship?
Richard: Obviously, in a $100,000-to-win race, everyone has a lot to gain. At the same time, some more so than others.
I think a driver who could set the tone for next year with a big win would be Daulton Wilson. Several times, especially during the second half of the season, the No. 18D has been running well enough to win but just lost out or had something to go wrong late in the race.
This is a driver and team who have continued to keep grinding after two seasons without scoring a win. He finished 8th in the Lucas Oil standings in 2022 and is currently 7th going into the final weekend. I believe doing so in the season finale would set them up for a 2024 campaign with even more victories and solid runs.
Michael: Wilson was going to be my first pick as well. He’s been so close but hasn’t closed the deal just yet.
Someone who has been completely off the radar for most of this season is Tyler Erb. Since losing crew chief Randall Edwards, Erb has not been very competitive this year. The team has also changed chassis looking for something else. Plus, there have been rumors most of the summer the team may not race next year to Erb being out and a new driver getting that ride. The last month or so of this season and the off-season are going to be big for Erb.
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