SENOIA, Ga. (Oct. 2) — Continuing his career-best season with a dominating performance at his home track, Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., led every lap of Saturday’s World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature at Senoia Raceway to earn $10,000 for the third series victory of his career.
Starting the 40-lap feature from outside the front row, the 21-year-old Winger cruised through much of the race before having to turn back challenges from third-starting Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., after the race’s final restart with six laps remaining. Winger took the checkers 0.537 seconds ahead of Madden to score his 10th overall victory of the season and his fifth win paying five figures.
“It’s cool to be able to race with these guys,” said Winger, the 2020 WoO Rookie of the Year who this season competes part-time on the tour. “They all come out here and they’re pretty good. It’s cool to be competitive with them. That’s all I can ask for is to be competitive, but to run up and down the road with them like I have, I’ve been humbled a lot this year. I made some mistakes, done some dumb stuff, crashed some cars, won some races, had a helluva time, met some awesome people. This is just awesome.”
Madden, a regular on the WoO tour who entered the night second in series points notched his eighth runner-up finish on the tour this season. He was followed by fifth-starting Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., who held second from lap 20 until lap 35 before settling for third. Twelfth-starting Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, was fourth with 11th-starting Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, rounding out the top five finishers.
Winger, who drove his family-owned XR1 Rocket car to his third victory at Senoia this season, almost didn’t compete on Saturday after contracting Covid-19 in the weeks before the race. But a negative Covid-19 test on Friday allowed Winger to make the event.
“This car was in a million pieces yesterday because we had barely done anything because I was sick most of the week,” Winger said. “Luckily tested negative (on Friday) and we thrashed on this thing all night. Honestly, this morning I wasn’t even gonna race. I was just burned out and couldn’t get things to go the right way. But I’m just super thankful and I’m really blessed to get to do what I love.”
Madden, who earned his second top-five of the weekend after debuting a new Rocket machine in Friday’s WoO event at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., was set back in his effort to get by Winger when Whitener snuck by him on a lap-35 restart.
“Ashton had a good car tonight. We made a couple runs at him there, but I just left my car too free tonight and it just cost me,” Madden said. “On that one restart I guess I was asleep and Mark was able to get me on that restart. He choose the inside and I was ready on the second one and got back to second. We was OK at the end, just not where I needed to be.”
Driving his Big Frog Motorsports Rocket to his second podium finish with the World of Outlaws this season, Whitener was happy with his effort.
“Racing with the World of Outlaws and get up here on the front straightaway, you can’t ask for no better than that,” Whitener said during his post-race interview on Senoia’s home stretch. “We had a good car. I just wasn’t as good as (Winger and Madden). I knew I had to slide (Madden on the lap-35 restart) and see if I could maintain and hold him off. If it had went green to the checkered, I think I could’ve held him off. I knew he was faster than me, so I was just trying to be smooth because these guys are really good. I’m just happy to be up here with these guys.”
The race was slowed by three cautions. The most serious was for a back-straightaway pileup that started when Ryan Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa, tried to squeeze between Brent Larson of Lake Elmo, Minn., and the wall while battling for the sixth position on lap 19. The two cars made contact, leading to Larson’s car climbing the wall before three more cars piled into the resulting melee. No injuries were reported.
Notes: Winger’s previous two WoO victories both came at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. He won a $20,000 victory at the track in 2020 and won a $6,000 prelim night feature at this year’s USA Nationals. … The race’s first caution was on lap 17 and was for debris. The final caution with six laps remaining appeared when eighth-running Joseph Joiner of Milton, Fla., slowed with a flat right-rear tire. … Senoia’s third-ever WoO race and its first since 2018 was only add to the tour’s schedule last month after an event at 411 Motor speedway in Seymour, Tenn., was dropped from the schedule.