Column: New Champ, Fan Fest & Three Main Events On Tap For WoO Late Models At World Finals
Column By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – As the calendar turns to November, the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series closes the curtain on the 2022 season at the World of Outlaws World Finals, Nov. 2-5.
The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet will compete for three nights of high-octane action at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, ending with the crowning of a new champion. The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds will also be in action during the four-day spectacular.
Two midweek affairs kick off the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models action as the Series battles in a pair of 40-lap, $15,000-to-win Features on Wednesday, Nov. 2, and Thursday, Nov. 3.
Drivers will run an “every lap matters” format throughout the weekend, accumulating points on Wednesday and Thursday to line up Saturday’s Heat Races.
On Friday, Nov. 4, fans get to meet the World of Outlaws stars during the World Finals Fan Fest from 2-4 p.m. along the front stretch access road. Drivers will be signing autographs and playing games with the fans.
All that leads to the season finale on Saturday, Nov. 5, when the Series wages war for $25,000-to-win in a 50-lap Feature.
After the Feature is over, fans are invited to the World of Outlaws Champions Celebration at the NOS Energy Concert Stage in the lower pit area, featuring a concert, a parade of cars, and the honoring of this year’s championship contenders.
Here are the top storylines to watch for at the World of Outlaws World Finals:
CROWNING THE CHAMP: Dennis Erb Jr. will officially claim his first World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series championship after Saturday’s Feature.
The Carpentersville, IL driver enters the weekend with four Series victories and has momentum on the strength of three top-fives during the Kansas/Missouri swing.
Erb has found success at The Dirt Track in the past, capping off the 2017 season with a World Finals win.
A victory this weekend would give Erb and long-time crew chief Heather Lyne their 14th Series triumph.
Lyne will become the first female championship winning crew chief in a national dirt Late Model series and in a national North American motorsport series.
AN EPIC FINISH: While the 2022 championship is locked, the Rookie of the Year battle is far from settled between Tanner English and Max Blair.
After a 26th-place finish at US 36 Raceway, English has seen his lead over Blair shrink to 20 points.
World Finals experience may factor into this weekend as English prepares to compete at the event for the first time. Meanwhile, Blair will make the November trip to Charlotte for the sixth time—his best finish a ninth in 2021.
English hopes to continue the consistency he’s held since June, only finishing outside the top 10 once in the last 18 points-paying events.
This weekend, a win for either driver would be their third of the season.
THE BATTLE FOR 6th: The race for Rookie of the Year isn’t the only battle to watch, as four-time champion Josh Richards and Gordy Gundaker are locked in a battle for sixth in the standings.
Entering Wednesday’s World Finals opener, Richards has a 28-point lead over Gundaker.
Richards, of Houston, OH, has more experience at The Dirt Track, scoring six wins at the 4/10-mile oval in World of Outlaws competition, trailing only Jimmy Owens for the most all-time (7).
However, Gundaker rolls into Charlotte with momentum after three top 10s on the Kansas/Missouri swing.
A win for either driver would be their first Series victory of 2022.
A NEW ERA: The most-accomplished team in World of Outlaws CASE Late Models history returns to Series action this weekend with a new driver at the helm.
Hudson O’Neal will make his debut for Rocket1 Racing, following in the footsteps of four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard.
The Martinsville, IN driver, has made nine starts with the Series in 2022—his best finish a fourth at Volusia Speedway Park and Cherokee Speedway.
SUPERMAN’S WORLD: A potential $55,000 payday is on the line for any driver who can sweep the weekend—something Jonathan Davenport is looking to do for the second straight year.
The Eldora Million winner has won more money than any other driver in 2022 and hopes to add more to his bank account this weekend at a place he’s found success.
Davenport has five World of Outlaws wins at The Dirt Track and already has two podiums at the track this season.
The Blairsville, GA driver has won four of his nine Series starts in 2022, including a $50,000 triumph at Cedar Lake Speedway in August.
THE STARS COLLIDE: Davenport leads a group of Late Model stars projected to make their return to World of Outlaws action this weekend at The Dirt Track.
Chris Madden, who also won several high-paying events in 2022, will join the field this weekend in search of his second Series win.
The Gray Court, SC has only finished outside the top 10 once in 12 starts with the Series this year, including nine top fives.
Most recent Series winner Mike Marlar will also travel to The Dirt Track, fresh off his fourth World of Outlaws win of the season at US 36 Raceway.
Despite claiming the championship in 2018, the Winfield, TN driver has yet to win at the World of Outlaws World Finals.
Another Tennessee driver to keep an eye on is Jimmy Owens, who will look to score his eighth Series win in Charlotte.
The Newport, TN competitor is the only driver with multiple wins in Series competition since the beginning of September. A win this weekend would be his 22nd World of Outlaws victory.
Tim McCreadie, the 2006 World of Outlaws champion and reigning Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion, will be on the hunt for his first World of Outlaws World Finals victory this year. However, he has won at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in 2020 during the World of Outlaws Last Call event.
If he finds Victory Lane this weekend, he’ll grab his 34th Series win, breaking a tie with Scott Bloomquist.