Story By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – Dustin Walker will cross a significant item off his bucket list in 2023.
After suffering a stroke in 2020, the Polk, MO driver is preparing for a season like no other—taking on the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series for the first time.
It’s an opportunity he said comes at the perfect time, as he transitions into a role as a full-time driver.
“It’s just a bucket list deal for me,” Walker said. “I had a stroke in 2020 that pretty much wrecked about everything we had going on business-wise. We do a lot of utility construction work, and I kind of had to ride those contracts out because they wouldn’t let us out of them.
“We were finally able to get all of our equipment, and stuff sold this year, so it was kind of like, we’ve always wanted to do it, and once we finish selling off all of this race stuff, we won’t be able to do it, so I’m just excited to put it all together and give it a go.”
Walker ran a regionally-based schedule in 2023 in the Midwest, including three World of Outlaws CASE Late Models events in October.
With 53 races on tap on the 2023 Series schedule, being able to focus solely on racing will help him down the stretch of the season’s grind.
“That’s really been the achilles heel for me running with MLRA,” Walker said. “We could run top 10 and top five with those guys on the weeks when we get into the shop to prepare. But I’m always having to work a 60, 70-hour week job running my business, and the racing was always secondary.”
“You could almost guarantee that if it was a week that I finished well, it was after a week I was at home. I’m definitely looking forward to a year where it’s the only thing I’m doing.”
Despite his eagerness to get behind the wheel at Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park January 18-21, the results won’t be his main priority on the road.
Walker’s family will join him on the road in 2023, as his daughter has already made every effort to join him while they’re away from their Missouri home.
“We all want to compete, so you have it in your head what you want to do,” Walker said. “To be honest with you, my oldest daughter loves to go racing with me. It’s kind of the only reason I got to race this year. She’s going to remote school the last half of her senior year to go with me, so it’s going to just be me and my daughter against the World of Outlaws, I guess.
“We’re just going to try and enjoy the time, really, it’d be awesome to be able to stay in the top 12 in points, but will I be brokenhearted if I don’t, no.”
With his daughter by his side, Walker said he feels he’s ready to tackle the grind of the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models schedule—looking forward to tracks in the Midwest like 81 Speedway.
He also learned which chassis suits him best as he prepares for his rookie season in a Capital Race Car—an experience he gained during last season’s World of Outlaws swing through Kansas and Missouri.
“Really, I just got my first Capital Chassis,” Walker said. “We just wanted to run it. I’ve got a new (Rocket) XR1 sitting here, I got a Longhorn sitting here, and a new Capital. We ran all three last year to see what we liked the best to get ready for this.
“It was a good chance to come run with the World of Outlaws but also the last chance we had anywhere close to run that Capital.”
Walker will take two Capital Race cars to Volusia Speedway Park for the 2023 season opener, where he’ll officially cross running on a national Late Model Tour off his bucket list.
The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models kick off 2023 at Volusia for the Late Model Palooza, known as Sunshine Nationals, Jan. 18-21. Joining the Series will be the DIRTcar Pro Late Models and 602 Late Models.