New Champion, New Winners, Strong Rookie Battle Highlight 2022 Season On WoO Late Model Trail
Story By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – After 43 races, the dust settled on the 2022 season for the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models with the crowning of a new champion.
Dennis Erb Jr. earned his first World of Outlaws championship, becoming the 11th driver to win the coveted title, and second from Illinois – joining four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard.
Over 400 drivers competed in World of Outlaws events this season, with 21 reaching Victory Lane.
Here are some of the key moments that happened during the 2022 season:
A NEW CHAMPION
After two straight fourth-place finishes in points, Dennis Erb Jr. kicked off the 2022 World of Outlaws CASE Late Model season with a charge toward his first Series championship.
The Carpentersville, IL driver roared into title contention at DIRTcar Nationals, holding off Chase Junghans for the first of four victories during the year.
He also scored wins at Marion Center Raceway and swept the St. Louis Firecracker Faceoff at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.
Erb finished the season with 13 podium finishes, along with 22 top fives and 35 top 10.
While it’s Erb’s first title, it’s also the first championship for longtime Crew Chief Heather Lyne.
She became the first female championship-winning crew chief in a national dirt Late Model series and in a national North American motorsport series.
Lyne was also named Crew Chief of the Year by the World of Outlaws for the second straight season and is the only woman to win the award.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BATTLE
The 2022 rookie class was among the top of the charts for the Series this season, as Tanner English and Max Blair battled for both the Rookie of the Year award and the Series championship.
English came the close to knocking Erb off his throne, cutting the points deficit to under 100 points after winning back-to-back races at Davenport Speedway— the first two wins of his career.
The Benton, KY driver put the exclamation point on his season by clinching Rookie of the Year at The Dirt Track at Charlotte with his first World of Outlaws World Finals victory.
Blair also had a season to remember, finishing third in the standings with two wins.
The Centerville, PA driver grabbed a win at Cherokee Speedway during the Rock Gault Memorial and backed it up with a home-state victory at Bloomsburg Fair Raceway in May.
English and Blair are projected to return in 2023, with English going to Viper Motorsports and Blair driving a second Boom Briggs-owned car.
SHEPPARD’S CLIMB TO THE TOP
Four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard cemented himself as the most accomplished driver in World of Outlaws CASE Late Models history by passing Josh Richards for the most wins all time.
The New Berlin, IL driver, tied Richards at Atomic Speedway before breaking the mark at Jacksonville Speedway in June in his family-owned #B5 car.
Sheppard finished the season with 81 career victories after scoring a $100,000 win at the Prairie Dirt Classic and winning in the Series’ return to 81 Speedway in October.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
Like English, three other drivers made the journey to Victory Lane for the first time.
Michael Brown kicked off the trend of first-time winners at Cherokee, passing Ryan Gustin for a hometown victory.
Luckily for Gustin, his own triumph wasn’t far behind as he finally reached Victory Lane for the first time at Sharon Speedway on Memorial Day weekend.
The win came about eight months after finishing second to Kyle Larson at the same venue.
Jared Miley was the fourth driver to win for the first time in his career after several heartbreaks across Pennsylvania in recent years. The Pittsburgh, PA driver passed 2011 Series champion Rick Eckert on Lap 20 at Port Royal to earn his first trip to Victory Lane.
While Dale McDowell’s Sunshine Nationals victory wasn’t his first World of Outlaws win, it still held a similar significance of a first-time win. It was the Chickamauga, GA, driver’s first race back behind the wheel of a race car after being diagnosed with cancer in 2021—leading to an emotional Victory Lane at Volusia Speedway Park.
TAKING HOME AWARDS
Along with Erb’s triumphs producing a championship and earning Lyne another Crew Chief of the Year award, they also impacted two others.
Rocket Chassis took home the Chassis Buildings of the Year Award, while Clements Engines won Engine Builder of the Year.
The Raye Vest awards were given out to the drivers with the season’s highest and lowest average pill draw. Raye Vest was a long-time supporter of 2011 champion Rick Eckert, whose favorite part of the night was the draw.
Shane Clanton received $500 for having the highest average pill draw, while Gordy Gundaker received $500 for having the lowest.
The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models are turning their attention to next season, which kicks off at Volusia Speedway Park during Sunshine Nationals, Jan. 19-21, for one of the biggest Late Model events of the year.