Race Weekend Central

Dirty (Half) Dozen: Cody Overton Scores Dream 1st Win While Nightmare Strikes at Cochran Motor Speedway

1. All tracks could capitalize from tipping the scales

The Xtreme DIRTcar Series’ two-night stint at Lavonia Speedway didn’t offer much in the form of competitive racing, with both Friday and Saturday night’s features seeing a lot of single-file action. Saturday’s race, however, brought the drama, with apparent winner Brent Dixon disqualified post-race after winding up 20 pounds light at the scales.

The scene that unfolded at the scales in the mid-center of the track’s infield, which saw the rest of the apparent podium have to reverse their cars out of the way to allow Dixon to get off the scale pad, reset and try again only to fail a second time, was the most suspenseful part of the evening.

What’s more, though, it’s something that EVERY track in the U.S. could duplicate. I’ve written previously about how awesome it is at Eldora to have the track’s scales digitally displayed on a scoreboard visible to the track grandstand, a final adrenaline rush every time the Dream or World 100 winner attempts to make their way to victory lane.

Investing in scoreboards might be asking a lot of dirt tracks that don’t draw 20,000 people a show, but making the scales visible to the stands and having some sort of signal (a flag, a PA announcement, something) is a quick, easy way to cap off the show. This Saturday night, it made an unmemorable race at Lavonia a memorable show on DirtVision.

2. Cody Overton’s popular first win

As previously stated, Friday’s DIRTcar late model feature at Lavonia is likely not to be remembered by many, but race winner Cody Overton certainly will. The youngest brother of Brandon Overton, 2021’s top super late model racer, Friday’s victory marked his first career super late model victory.

That the other Overton won is not a surprise. Cody had shown plenty of promise as a driver and was no stranger to victory lane in the crate late model ranks. What caught me by surprise is how popular a victory this was not in the grandstands, but among the competitors in Friday’s race. Every driver interviewed by DirtVision post-race made a point to congratulate Overton for the win.

That’s noteworthy for two reasons. One, a rookie commanding that type of respect and recognition from his fellow competitors speaks volumes. Two, and perhaps more significant, for fellow competitors to be embracing another Overton, especially considering just how dominant Brandon Overton has been in the super late model ranks, is high praise for the Overton family and how they conduct themselves. 

3. The Curse of Cochran strikes again

Not all the news coming out of Georgia was good this week. The season-opening practice session at the Cochran Motor Speedway on Saturday night was marred by an accident involving a racecar striking observers, with six persons reported sent to the hospital, including the driver. Fortunately, as of this writing, all injuries reported have been non-life-threatening.

It happened as track crews were getting the track ready for an open practice

Posted by 13 WMAZ on Monday, February 28, 2022

Ironically (and not in a comedic) way, this incident came in the first event hosted at Lavonia with new regulations for the infield in place; per the track’s Facebook page, Lavonia is not allowed to run races with spectators in the infield anymore unless a catchfence is installed, per order of the Georgia Fire Marshal. This is no surprise, given that last year a crash at the Hartwell Speedway in the state killed a spectator after a racecar crushed a chain-link fence barrier.

Sadly, Cochran Motor Speedway is not a stranger to such incidents, having had a fan fatality occur back in 2008.

Two takeaways from this beyond prayers for complete recovery for those involved. One, freak accident or not, given the speed of today’s racecars, I can’t fault the state of Georgia for pushing this type of regulation. The images from the accident scene at Hartwell last year are terrifying.

Second, given that it was a practice session, as of now there has been no social media posting of video or any detailed account provided of the accident scene (one commenter on Facebook mentioned that she took video but was not prepared to share it). 

Not only is this a radical departure from the norm, now that it has been confirmed that there were no fatalities or significant injuries, it’s important for replay material to get out there to allow race fans and tracks alike to learn from the incident.

Here’s hoping the lack of detail isn’t “mum’s the word” for something questionable going on at that practice.

4. Lincoln’s Icebreaker a model event for offseason races

There’s very little I can offer in the form of constructive suggestions to improve the annual Icebreaker race at Lincoln Speedway, the unofficial opening of 410 sprint car season in Pennsylvania. A one-class event, Sunday’s race program (delayed after the grounds were saturated Saturday) lasted approximately three hours, ended with plenty of sun left in the day, and drew a very healthy crowd.

Now granted, it’s possible that this event is successful solely because Pennsylvania is that crazy about 410 sprint car racing. But there’s plenty for promoters to learn from here. One, when the weather’s still cold, there’s no reason to run a marathon race program. Two, when you’re the only race on the schedule and pay decent money, the car count is there. And three, if the show is good, the fans will come, whether or not streaming is an option.

That’s the point I’ll end on, and not just because streaming made it possible for me to watch the Icebreaker after I had to cancel my trip up there thanks to some God-awful back spasms. Streaming is a GREAT thing, and there is no argument a racetrack can make to me to suggest that getting your races in front of more eyeballs is a negative development. 

Maybe, again, I’m understating Pennsylvania’s 410 sprint car love that saw Lincoln Speedway hopping despite wind chills in the 30s. But Flo Racing certainly didn’t seem to keep any race fans from enjoying Sunday’s show in person.

5. Kyle Larson the latest to put on promoter’s hat

Kyle Larson’s penchant for dirt racing is well known. Now, he’s going to promote as well. Just as many dirt racers have of late, be it Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet taking over Silver Dollar Speedway or Kyle Bronson purchasing Golden Isles Speedway, Larson is working with Flo Racing to promote a Late Model Challenge race at the Volunteer Speedway, a stone’s throw from Bristol the Thursday before NASCAR tackles the Bristol Dirt Track.

Can I please request that Ryan Newman make an appearance? Would love to see this become the replacement for the Prelude to the Dream.

6. Kyle Busch a big hit in Micro racing

Kyle Busch finished last in both his heat race and the feature in the Winged 600 Micro Sprint class at Keller Auto Raceway at Plaza Park Friday night, while his son Brexton scored a top-five finish in the Junior Sprint class. That didn’t stop them from being the center of attention in their first time visit to the track.

KB meets Bubby. Or maybe it’s Bubby meets KB! Better yet maybe it’s Bubby and Kyle meet Brexton. You decide!

Posted by Keller Auto Raceway at Plaza Park on Saturday, February 26, 2022

Busch’s efforts did not go unnoticed, with the track promoter thanking the Cup Series regular for his interactions with race fans during the event on the track’s Facebook page. Look for this to become a more regular occurrence as Brexton’s junior racing schedule continues to expand.

About the author

Senior Commentator at Frontstretch

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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