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Daily Dirt 12/11/2023 13:58:32

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July 16
River Cities Speedway,
Grand Forks, ND
Sanction: World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series - $10,000
Information provided by: Series and track reports (last updated July 17, 11:54 am)
Erb outduels Mars, nabs $10,000 at River Cities
  1. Dennis Erb Jr.
  2. Jimmy Mars
  3. Ryan Gustin
  4. Cade Dillard
  5. Brandon Sheppard
  6. Frank Heckenast Jr.
  7. Brad Seng
  8. Joey Pederson
  9. Ricky Weiss
  10. Chris Madden
  11. Cole Schill
  12. Tyler Bruening
  13. Chad Mahder
  14. Boom Briggs
  15. Brent Larson
  16. Jeffrey Massingill
  17. Brody Troftgruben
  18. Jason Strand
  19. Paul Parker
  20. Brandon Fuller
  21. Tom Corcoran
  22. Lance Matthees
  23. Kyle Hammer
  24. Jordan Yaggy
presented by
Jacy Norgaard/jacynorgaardphotography.com
Dennis Erb Jr. emerges for his ninth career WoO victory.
What won the race: Maintaining his recent hot streak, pole-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., turned back a mid-race challenge from fellow front-row starter Jimmy Mars on Friday at River Cities Speedway for a $10,000 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victory. Erb won for the second time in three races and third time in 10 races in taking the checkers 1.858 seconds ahead of Mars at the quarter-mile oval.
Key notes: The high-running Erb led all but lap 22, when low-running Mars was ahead by eight-thousandths of a second. ... Three cautions slowed the action. ... Mars was looking for his first WoO victory since 2016. ... River Cities hosts the Northern LateModel Racing Association next Friday.
On the move: Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., started 11th and finished sixth.
Winner's sponsors: Erb’s Rocket Chassis is sponsored J.R. McBride Leasing, McBride Mack, VolMac Truck Sales and Service, Deegan’s Tire & Auto Repair, Ideal Ready Mix, M&M Painting and Construction, Keyser Mfg., Integra Racing Shocks, Collins Signs, Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Performance Rod & Custom and Allstar Performance.
Points chase: Before River Cities: 1. Brandon Sheppard (3,936); 2. Chris Madden (3,858); 3. Tyler Bruening (3,650); 4. Dennis Erb Jr. (3,618); 5. Ricky Weiss (3,612); 6. Ryan Gustin (3,548); 7. Cade Dillard (3,528); 8. Boom Briggs (3,366); 9. Brent Larson (3,302); 10. Kyle Strickler (2,536).
Current weather: Few Clouds, Smoke, Haze, 77°F
Car count: 34
Fast qualifier: Dennis Erb Jr.
Time: 12.513 seconds
Polesitter: Dennis Erb Jr.
Heat race winners: Jimmy Mars, Cade Dillard, Dennis Erb Jr., Ryan Gustin
Consolation race winners: Tyler Bruening
Next series race: July 17, I-94 Sure Step Speedway (Fergus Falls, MN) $10,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff and series reports

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — What was different for Dennis Erb Jr. on Friday night at River Cities Speedway was a rare run in the high groove.

What was the same for the Carpentersville, Ill. — in recent World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series competition — was more success as the polesitter led all but one lap at the quarter-mile oval, turning back a mid-race challenge from fellow front-row starter Jimmy Mars for a $10,000 victory.

Erb captured his second victory in the last three races on the national tour and third in the last 10 as he tallied his ninth career WoO victory.

Normally a bottom-feeding driver, Erb said he was "working pretty hard there" to fight off Mars in the 40-lap main event.

"(Turns) one and two it was getting pretty far around up top. But I could see him get up underneath me there, but we could carry some speed through (turns) three and four," Erb said. "We just tried to keep hitting our marks and got up into some lapped cars and stuff, and was able to get through those pretty quick. I was just glad we could get (to the finish) and win this one."

Menomonie, Wis.'s Mars, who led the 22nd lap by eight-thousandths of a second and ended up 1.858 seconds behind at the finish, fell shy of his first WoO victory since 2016 with a runner-up finish over series rookie Ryan Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa. Cade Dillard of Robeline, La. — back in series action after an illness sidelined him from Tuesday's event at Superior, Wis. — was fourth with series points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., rounding out the top five.

Former track champion and hometown driver Brad Seng ran third in the early laps but slipped back to finish seventh behind 11th-starting Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill.

Erb, whose only previous stretch of three national touring victories in such short succession came in 2013 amid the first seven races on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, is glad to be on a hot streak.

"To be able to start (the season) off a little slow and struggle a little bit," Erb said, "but then start turning things around and having some good finishes and picking up some wins is definitely a momentum changer. Hopefully we're on to something here. We're just going to keep plugging away at it."

Mars made up ground on Erb in the low groove, but he found that's where many of the slower cars were running as the tried to keep pressure on the leader.

"I was pretty decent in the bottom. We caught them lapped cars and I had to move out to the middle, and (I wasn't) real comfortable on the top here. Dennis did a good job, congratulations to him," Mars said. "The car felt pretty good pretty much everywhere, just the lapped cars, a little bit, it would've been nice if they were around the top. But that's all right. We're still happy, I guess, with second."

Gustin, who notched his sixth top-five finish of the season, couldn't quite keep up with the frontrunners.

"We were a little bit (loose-handling) on the right-rear. If I could do it again we'd change a little bit there so we could roll through that middle. It was kind of crumby. If (the track surface) would've cleaned off, I think we've got a got a really good car through the middle. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Congrats to Dennis and Jimmy," he said. "It definitely makes us feel good. I think we're good enough to win about any night right now. We've just gotta get our qualifying a little bit better where we can start on the front row of them heats. I don't know, we're just going to keep plugging away and do what we can do."

Three cautions slowed the action, the first for a lap-five incident that led Chad Mahder, Jordan Yaggy and Kyle Hammer spinning in turn one. Hammer was towed away and Yaggy retired.

The yellow dropped again two laps later when Brody Troftgruben went over the banking in turns three and four and a lap-12 caution flew for a turn-two spin for Brandon Fuller, who retired.

WoO's swing through the Upper Midwest continues Saturday at I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls, Minn., and concludes Sunday at Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie, Wis., both $10,000-to-win features.

Notes: With three victories, Erb's 2021 season is his winningest ever in WoO competition. He had two victories apiece in 2007 and 2012 ... He moved past Ricky Weiss to fourth from fifth in the series points chase. ... Eighteen drivers have WoO victories. ... River Cities hosts the Northern LateModel Racing Association next Friday.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Erb Jr., Mars
Row 2: Dillard, Gustin
Row 3: Seng, Pederson
Row 4: Sheppard, Weiss
Row 5: Schill, Mahder
Row 6: Heckenast Jr., Larson
Row 7: Parker, Briggs
Row 8: Madden, Strand
Row 9: Bruening, Massingill
Row 10: Corcoran, Yaggy
Row 11: Troftgruben, Fuller
Row 12: Matthees, Hammer
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