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Daily Dirt 04/15/2024 19:47:08

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November 4
The Dirt Track at Charlotte,
Concord, NC
Sanction: World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series (World Finals) - $25,000
Information provided by: Kevin Kovac, Kyle McFadden, series and track reports (last updated November 6, 8:32 am)
RTJ powers to $25,000 payday at World Finals
World Finals
  1. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  2. Mike Marlar
  3. Chris Madden
  4. Dale McDowell
  5. Garrett Smith
  6. Bobby Pierce
  7. Nick Hoffman
  8. Cade Dillard
  9. Jimmy Owens
  10. Kyle Bronson
  11. Jonathan Davenport
  12. Daulton Wilson
  13. Brandon Sheppard
  14. Ben Watkins
  15. Scott Bloomquist
  16. Donald McIntosh
  17. Tim McCreadie
  18. Dennis Erb Jr.
  19. Tyler Erb
  20. Tanner English
  21. Shane Clanton
  22. Brian Shirley
  23. Carson Ferguson
  24. Brandon Overton
  25. Ryan Gustin
  26. Zack Mitchell
  27. Chris Ferguson
  28. Brent Larson
presented by
Zach Yost
Ricky Thornton Jr. celebrates his $25,000 World Finals victory.
What won the race: Continuing his spectacular season marked by many wins from mid-pack, 10th-starting Ricky Thornton Jr. again outclassed the field on Saturday to captured the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series season finale on the final night of the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. The Chandler, Ariz., native led the final 24 of 50 laps for the $25,000 top prize. He topped Mike Marlar by 1.121 seconds.
Key notes: Ricky Thornton Jr.'s victory on Saturday was his 33rd overall this season and second straight to cap the World Finals, which he hadn't competed in since 2014 prior to this week. ... Thornton's fourth career WoO victory ties him for 30th all time. ... Polesitter Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., led the opening 26 laps but faded to finish eighth as he bid for his first WoO win since Aug. 2021 at Outagamie Speedway in Seymour, Wis. ... Ryan Gustin brought out the race's lone caution on lap 33. ... Friday's winner Mike Marlar, debuting his new deal in the Greg Bruening-owned Longhorn Chassis this week, overtook Chris Madden with seven laps left to finish second. ... Chris Madden recorded his seventh straight podium with his third-place run. ... Newly-minted WoO champion Bobby Pierce started 11th and finished sixth. ... Nineteen cars finished on the lead lap; Tanner English and Shane Clanton were the only cars one lap down. ... Brian Shirley ran as high as ninth on lap 34 before retiring with two laps remaining. ... The feature lasted 20 minutes.
On the move: Winner Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., started 10th.
Winner's sponsors: Thornton’s SSI Motorsports Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements engine and sponsored by Dyno One, Hoker Trucking, Certified Inspection Service, Coltman Farms, High Performance Lubricants, Big River Steel, Van Meter Insurance Group, Murty Farms, D&E Outside Services, West Side Tractor Sales, Bilstein Shocks, FK Rod Ends, Allstar Performance, Barnes Pumps, Performance Bodies, Winters Performance, Strange Oval, Accu-Force, Quickcar, Sunoco Race Fuels and Sub-Surface of Indiana.
Points chase: Final: 1. Bobby Pierce (5,728); 2. Chris Madden (5,616); 3. Brandon Sheppard (5,472); 4. Kyle Bronson (5,398); 5. Nick Hoffman (5,386); 6. Brian Shirley (5,362); 7. Ryan Gustin (5,344); T8. Dennis Erb Jr. (5,302); T8. Tanner English (5,302); 10. Cade Dillard (5,140); 11. Shane Clanton (5,112); 12. Brent Larson (4,936); 13. Gordy Gundaker (4,906); 14. Todd Cooney (4,554); 15. Dustin Walker (4,414).
Current weather: Clear, 52°F
Car count: 75
Polesitter: Cade Dillard
Heat race winners: Chris Madden, Dale McDowell, Mike Marlar, Garrett Smith, Cade Dillard, Daulton Wilson
Consolation race winners: Jonathan Davenport, Chris Ferguson, Zack Mitchell
Provisional starters: Brandon Sheppard, Tanner English, Shane Clanton, Brent Larson
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From series and staff reports

CONCORD, N.C. — In an unforgettable season, Ricky Thornton Jr. added one more accomplishment on Saturday he and his SSI Motorsports teammates will never forget, going back-to-back in the World of Outlaws World Finals in winning $25,000 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

Thornton’s 33rd overall victory of the season was among his most impressive as he wheeled from 10th on the starting grid up to the lead in 27 laps for his second World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series in as man nights at the 4/10-mile oval.

Race after race, track after track, big payday after big payday, Thornton and the SSI Motorsports team have dominated 2023 in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and other major events. But as SSI neared the end of its season with Thornton’s fourth career WoO victory and third this season, they won't rest on their laurels.

“Definitely not,” Thornton said, who made his first Charlotte appearance since 2014. “My guys bust their butts. You figure every down day is a day you’re not getting better.”

Throughout the lengthy World Finals, Thornton continually got faster on the high side of the 4/10-mile Charlotte oval. Early in Saturday's 50-lapper, Thornton began ripping the top line around the red clay oval and worked his way up to third by the 17th lap.

 “I started losing track of the guys on the bottom,” Thornton said. “I’m like, ‘You know what, the top looks pretty good.’ I could see (Brandon) Sheppard running up there and figured if I was gonna have a shot to win it, I just gotta go now.”

Soon, Thornton had closed in on the rear bumper of Chris Madden and dove underneath him in a bid for second going into turn three just before halfway. He slid up in front of Madden exiting turn four to seal the pass and immediately set his sights on polesitter and leader Cade Dillard, who was less than a second ahead.

In only three laps, Thornton reeled Dillard in and put the same move on him as he did for Madden with a deep dive down low going into turn three, then sliding back up in front of him exiting turn four to take the lead.

After that, it seemed like nothing could slow Thornton’s pace – not even the race’s only caution flag with 33 laps complete. He and Madden broke away from the field on the ensuing restart and battled side-by-side for the top spot briefly, but Thornton was too quick.

By this time, Thursday feature winner Mike Marlar had climbed back up into the top three, getting by Dale McDowell for third on Lap 37. After catching his rear bumper, Marlar as well dove underneath Madden to grab second.

He closed slightly in the final laps, but Marlar came up one spot short of his third career win at Charlotte. Madden hung on for third while McDowell and Garrett Smith completed the top five. Crossing the line behind Smith in sixth was Bobby Pierce, who had drove up from 11th on the starting grid and was later officially crowned with his first WoO championship.

Pierce, the second-generation racer from Oakwood, Ill., had mathematically clinched the points title Wednesday after taking the green flag in time trials, which put him more at ease racing against 74 other cars throughout the weekend.

“This has been a great weekend for us, just learning this track,” Pierce said. “But I definitely wouldn’t have liked to head into this deal with a tight point battle. We were very relaxed.”

At 26, Pierce already solidified himself as an undeniable talent several years ago with his abundance of DIRTcar Late Model national points titles, DIRTcar Summer Nationals titles and several marquee event wins at the national level, most notably his 2016 victory in Eldora Speedway's World 100 that made him the race's youngest winner at 18.

Now, he’s a national touring champion, but he says he nowhere close to being done.

“It’s definitely an uplifting thing to know,” Pierce said. “I’ve got a lot more years to go, just a lot more years to learn. Heck, a lot of times, you don’t figure things out ‘til late in your life. I feel like, especially this weekend, taught me there’s lot I have to learn still.

“We’re gonna come back next year, try to get another one. See how many of these we can get.”

While the points championship stayed locked-up over the weekend, the battle for fourth in series points with to decide several thousands of dollars in points fund checks was settled.

Kyle Bronson came into the weekend holding the fourth spot and retained it with a 10th-place finish in Saturday’s Feature. 2023 Germfree Rookie of the Year Nick Hoffman finished seventh Saturday and advanced two spots in points up to fifth in the standings.

While Brian Shirley finished 22nd Saturday, he retained sixth place in points after jumping up one spot earlier in the week, and Ryan Gustin fell two points positions after retiring early in Saturday's feature. Dennis Erb Jr. jumped up one spot in points to eighth, while Tanner English rolled back to ninth after a trying weekend of no finishes better than 20th. — Jordan DeLucia

Feature lineup

(50 laps)

Row 1: Cade Dillard, Dale McDowell
Row 2: Chris Madden, Daulton Wilson
Row 3: Mike Marlar, Garrett Smith
Row 4: Kyle Bronson, Brandon Overton
Row 5: Nick Hoffman, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 6: Bobby Pierce, Ben Watkins
Row 7: Tim McCreadie, Scott Bloomquist
Row 8: Ryan Gustin, Jimmy Owens
Row 9: Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley
Row 10: Jonathan Davenport, Chris Ferguson
Row 11: Zack Mitchell, Tyler Erb
Row 12: Donald McIntosh, Carson Ferguson
Row 13: Brandon Sheppard, Tanner English
Row 14: Shane Clanton, Brent Larson

Prerace notes

It's a far warmer day at the 4/10-mile oval outside Charlotte, with temps north of 70 degrees upon the start of Saturday's heat races at roughly 4:30 p.m. ... Gray Court, S.C.'s Chris Madden goes three-for-three in heat race action, picking up the win in the first heat over Kyle Bronson and Tim McCreadie. ... Shermansdale, Pa.'s Mike Lupfer brought out the only caution in the opening heat with a lap-five spin. ... Chickamauga, Ga.'s Dale McDowell, like Madden, completed a sweep of heat race competition by winning the second heat after an exciting duel with Evans, Ga.'s Brandon Overton, who was side-by-side with the veteran taking the white flag: "I sure hope (the top comes in)," Overton said. "Man, our car was pretty good there. If we just had a little bit of racetrack. It is what it is. It's during the day and we're in the south. That's what we get. It was a good race. That damn Dale. When I grow up, I wanna be like him. He's just that damn good." ... Thursday night's winner Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., followed Madden and McDowell to sweep their heats this week in the third eight-lap qualifier. Mooresville, N.C.'s Nick Hoffman slipped into the runner-up spot after a heated battle between Marshalltown, Iowa's Ryan Gustin and Hudson O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind. Gustin executed a daring slider on O'Neal, which saw him lift off the gas then race Gustin all the way up the racetrack in the final corner of a side-by-side exhange for the final transfer. ... Eatonton, Ga.'s Garrett Smith did what he needed to do to meet expectations this week, outrunning Friday's winner Ricky Thornton Jr. to win the fourth heat. ... Robeline, La.'s Cade Dillard earned a two-second victory in the fifth heat over the WoO champions, Oakwood, Ill.'s Bobby Pierce and Carpentersville, Ill.'s Dennis Erb Jr. ... Fayetteville, N.C.'s Daulton Wilson inched closer to his first touring victory by winning the sixth heat. A tight, side-by-side lead battle with Wilson went awry for Chatham, Ill.'s Brian Shirley, who spun out of the second spot on the opening lap. He still rallied from the rear to claim the final transfer spot over Hyndman, Pa.'s Drake Troutman: "Something must've been dyed in his hair and got in his brain," Shirley said of Wilson. "I don't know what he was thinking there." ... Keith Jackson (who withdrew from the event after Thursday's hard wreck), Cody Overton, Freddie Carpenter, Joe Leavell, Brandon O'Neil, Colin Knaub, John Garvin and John Price didn't take the green in their respective heats. ... Blairsville, Ga.'s Jonathan Davenport took care of business to win the first B-main over Waverley, Texas's Tyler Erb. ... Mount Holly, N.C.'s Chris Ferguson powered from fourth to the lead on the opening lap en route to victory in the second B-main. Dawsonville, Ga.'s Donald McIntosh muscled around Zebulon, Ga.'s Shane Clanton — making contact in the final corner to go from third to second — for the final transfer. Clanton expressed his displeasure by pulling alongside McIntosh on the backstretch of the cool-down lap.

Consolation race results

(10 laps; top two transfer)

First B-main: Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Brandon Sheppard, Ethan Dotson, Mason Zeigler, Benji Hicks, Tyler Carpenter, Tyler Wyant, Kyle Strickler, Ricky Weiss, Jack Harmon, Austin Kirkpatrick, Jordan Koehler, Brent Larson. Scratched: Todd Cooney, Dustin Wallker, Joe Leavell, David Breazeale, Logan Roberson, Mike Lupfer.

Second B-main: Chris Ferguson, Donald McIntosh, Shane Clanton, Hudson O'Neal, Mike Benedum, Spencer Hughes, Matt Cosner, Gordy Gundaker, Haiden Cowan, John Eller, Bryan Bernheisel, Dan Stone, Carson Brown. Scratched: Keith Jackson, Anthony Sanders, Ross Bailes, Robby Hensley, Brandon O'Neil, Colin Knaub.

Third B-main: Zack Mitchell, Carson Ferguson, Drake Troutman, Forrest Trent, Trent Ivey, Tanner English, David McCoy, Brian Ledbetter, Gavin Cowan, Chuckie Lepsch, Dalton Jacobs, Daniel Adam, G.R. Smith. Scratched: Chase Junghans, Freddie Carpenter, Cody Overton, John Garvin Jr., John Price.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top three transfer)

First heat: Chris Madden, Kyle Bronson, Tim McCreadie, Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Brandon Sheppard, Ricky Weiss, Tyler Wyant, Kyle Strickler, Dustin Walker, Jack Harmon, Mike Lupfer.

Second heat: Dale McDowell, Brandon Overton, Scott Bloomquist, Mason Zeigler, Ethan Dotson, Benji Hicks, Brent Larson, Logan Roberson, Tyler Carpenter, Todd Cooney, Jordan Koehler, Austin Kirkpatrick. Scratched: Joey Leavell.

Third heat: Mike Marlar, Nick Hoffman, Ryan Gustin, Gordy Gundaker, Hudson O'Neal, Mike Benedum, Donald McIntosh, Spencer Hughes, Haiden Cowan, Carson Brown, Anthony Sanders. Scratched: Keith Jackson, Brandon O'Neil.

Fourth heat: Garrett Smith, Ricky Thornton Jr., Jimmy Owens, Shane Clanton, Bryan Bernheisel, Robby Hensley, Matt Cosner, Dan Stone, Ross Bailes, John Eller. Scratched: Colin Knaub.

Fifth heat: Cade Dillard, Bobby Pierce, Dennis Erb Jr., Zack Mitchell, Carson Ferguson, Forrest Trent, Trent Ivey, Gavin Cowan, Dalton Jacobs, Chuckie Lepsch. Scratched: John Garvin Jr.

Sixth heat: Daulton Wilson, Ben Watkins, Brian Shirley, Drake Troutman, Chase Junghans, G.R. Smith, Tanner English, Daniel Adam, Brian Ledbetter. Scratched: Cody Overton, Freddie Carpenter, John Price.

Saturday’s heat lineups

(Eight laps; top three transfer)

First heat
Row 1: Chris Madden, Tim McCreadie
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb
Row 4: Ricky Weiss, Kyle Strickler
Row 5: David Breazeale, Mike Lupfer
Row 6: Tyler Wyant, Jack Harmon
Row 7: Dustin Walker
Second heat
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Ethan Dotson
Row 3: Mason Zeigler, Benji Hicks
Row 4: Logan Roberson, Brent Larson
Row 5: Tyler Carpenter, Austin Kirkpatrick
Row 6: Jordan Koehler, Todd Cooney
Row 7: Joe Leavell
Third heat
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Hudson O’Neal
Row 2: Nick Hoffman, Spencer Hughes
Row 3: Ryan Gustin, Donald McIntosh
Row 4: Mike Benedum, Carson Brown
Row 5: Gordy Gundaker, Anthony Sanders
Row 6: Haiden Cowan, Keith Jackson
Row 7: Brandon O’Neil
Fourth heat
Row 1: Ricky Thornton Jr., Garrett Smith
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Chris Ferguson, Robby Hensley
Row 4: Matt Cosner, Bryan Bernheisel
Row 5: Dan Stone, Ross Bailes
Row 6: John Eller, Colin Knaub
Fifth heat
Row 1: Cade Dillard, Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Carson Ferguson, Zack Mitchell
Row 3: Dennis Erb Jr., Trent Ivey
Row 4: Gavin Cowan, Forrest Trent
Row 5: David McCoy, John Garvin Jr.
Row 6: Dalton Jacobs, Chuckie Lepsch
Sixth heat
Row 1: Daulton Wilson, Brian Shirley
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Drake Troutman
Row 3: Tanner English, Ben Watkins
Row 4: Cody Overton, G.R. Smith
Row 5: Daniel Adam, Freddie Carpenter
Row 6: John Price, Brian Ledbetter

Saturday’s schedule

(All times local)
10 a.m. - Pit pass sales begin
Noon - Souvenir and display areas open (midway)
1:30 p.m. - Grandstands open, ticket sales begin
1:30 p.m. - Race Day Live radio show (Sage Fruit stage)
2:45 p.m. - Sprint car motor heat
3 p.m. - Opening ceremonies, on-track activity
- Sprint car non-qualifier (8 laps)
- Modified heat races (8 laps)
- Sprint car heat races (8 laps)
- Late Model heat races (8 laps)
- Track prep/redraws
- FMX show
- Modified consolations (10 laps)
- Sprint car C-main (10 laps)
- Sprint car dash (6 laps)
- Sprint car B-main (12 laps)
- Late Model consolations (10 laps)
Feature events
- Modifieds (40 laps)
- Sprint cars (35 laps)
- Late Models (50 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Dillard, McDowell
Row 2: Madden, Wilson
Row 3: Marlar, G. Smith
Row 4: Bronson, B. Overton
Row 5: Hoffman, Thornton
Row 6: Pierce, Watkins
Row 7: McCreadie, Bloomquist
Row 8: Gustin, Owens
Row 9: D. Erb, Shirley
Row 10: Davenport, Ch. Ferguson
Row 11: Mitchel, T. Erb
Row 12: McIntosh, Ca. Ferguson
Row 13: Sheppard, English
Row 14: Clanton, Larson

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