Column By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – GAFFNEY, SC – The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series returns to “The Place Your Momma Warned You About” this weekend for the biggest event in Cherokee Speedway’s history.
The Series is gearing up for two nights of action at the 3/8-mile track, including twin 25-lap Features –paying $5,000 each – on Friday, March 26, and a $40,000-to-win event Saturday, March 27 – also paying $15,000 to second and $10,000 to third.
After six events this year, Series points leader and Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Strickler is currently the only driver with multiple wins; both coming at Volusia Speedway Park. The World of Outlaws Late Models have run five races at Cherokee Speedway, with four different winners. Brandon Overton is the most recent winner, taking the checkers in the October Mike Duvall Memorial.
If you can’t make it to either event, watch all the action live on DIRTVision with the annual Platinum FAST PASS subscription for $299/year or the monthly FAST PASS Subscription for $39/month.
Here are the top stories to follow this weekend:
SMOKEY LOOKS TO STAY HOT: Chris “Smokey” Madden is on a bit of a hot streak lately, winning the “Tennessee Tip-Off” at Smoky Mountain earlier this month. But that’s not the only reason he has momentum. The Grey Court, SC driver already has a victory at Cherokee in 2021. He won the Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series event in February, leading him to his second consecutive championship with the Series.
While Madden is still looking for the elusive first World of Outlaws Late Model win at Cherokee, he’s had a lot of success at the track, claiming 27 career wins overall. In five starts with the World of Outlaws at Cherokee, he’s earned four top-five finishes.
MOVING UP THE LADDER: After DIRTcar Nationals in Volusia, three-time defending champion Brandon Sheppard was sitting sixth in the point standings without a top-five finish. While the New Berlin, IL native is still looking for his first top-five, his eighth-place finish at Smoky Mountain propelled him to second in points, just 66 points behind leader Kyle Strickler.
Cherokee is a track where Sheppard is still looking for a win. He has four top-fives in five World of Outlaw starts there. In those five races, he’s also finished in the runner-up spot three times. If Sheppard can pull off a win this weekend, it’ll be his 70th career World of Outlaws victory.
OVERTON LOOKS FOR THREE STRAIGHT: When the green flag flies this weekend at Cherokee Speedway, “Big Sexy” Brandon Overton will look for his third straight Series victory at Cherokee. The Appling, GA driver won the Mike Duvall Memorial in 2019 and 2020. He also picked up a win during the Blue Gray 100 at Cherokee to kick off the Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series last November.
Overton already has a World of Outlaws win this year at DIRTcar Nationals. His next Series victory will be his 15th in his career.
THE BOSS LOOKS FOR HOME STATE REBOUND: While Ross Bailes hasn’t had the start to the 2021 season he may have liked, he’s looking to rebound in his home state this weekend.
So far, “The Boss” only has one top-10 finish in the 2021 season, but he’s returning to a track he’s won at 10 times in total. He won his only World of Outlaws Late Model event there in May of 2019. The Rookie of the Year contender currently sits in 10th in the standings.
STRICKLER STILL ON TOP: Series point leader Kyle Strickler is another driver looking to rebound this weekend at Cherokee. While he had early season success at Volusia, Smoky Mountain didn’t go how the “High Side Tickler” planned. He had his first finish outside the top-10 in the 2021 World of Outlaws season there.
The good news for the Pennsylvania campaigner is that his only start with the World of Outlaws at Cherokee resulted in a fourth-place finish last year. Strickler holds a 66-point lead over Sheppard heading into this weekend. A win would give him his third victory of the season, and his career.