Column By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR – CONCORD, NC – Championship trophies wait to be collected when the calendar turns to fall, and, so far, Mat Williamson has picked up each one he’s come across. However, one still remains.
In one week, Williamson won his first DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150 title, his third Billy Whittaker Cars 200 title and scored the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series championship. Now, he eyes a potential second Super DIRTcar Series title at the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Nov. 1-4.
“We’re ready as ever (for the World of Outlaws World Finals),” Williamson said. “I have pretty good confidence right now after winning the last couple of races. We’re hopefully going to go there and do all we can do to win a (Series) points championship. I know we’ll need some good luck on our side and some bad luck on Matt (Sheppard’s) side to do it, but I think for the most part we are going to be good.”
Williamson will enter the championship fight 72 points behind Sheppard, the nine-time and defending Series champion. He’ll have four days to make up that gap – trying to repeat the 81 points he made up on Sheppard last year with his two victories at The Dirt Track.
The St. Catharines, ON driver has challenged the current points leader all season, scoring five wins and 11 top-five finishes. He credits this season’s success to his experience in the seat and a robust notebook.
“You kind of rely on a bit of your intuition and your knowledge,” Williamson said. “But for the most part, our notebook is inscribed with many different notes from many different racetracks. That’s stuff that comes with time. We’re pretty fortunate that we’ve been doing this long enough that we can rely on that notebook.”
Now, in addition to their notebook, Williamson and the Buzz Chew Racing team will enter World Finals with a wealth of momentum. They’re already on track for a career season together, having won at Super DIRT Week, scored the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator title and earned a season-high seven wins in total (the first two being non-points races at DIRTcarNationals).
If he were to surpass Sheppard in the points battle, he would be the second driver in history to win the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series title and Super DIRTcar Series title in the same season. Danny Johnson was the first to accomplish the feat in 1999.
“It would be really cool,” Williamson said. “Just to have a shot at the Big Block title going into (the World of Outlaws World Finals) is probably the biggest thing. I think to do something that Danny (Johnson) did 20-something years ago, it would be really cool to replicate that. I know a lot of the Big Block guys don’t really focus on the 358 stuff too much, and it does get to be a lot. But it’s more of an iron man thing that would be cool to have in the record books.”
The competitors will qualify on Wednesday, Nov. 1, and then run Features Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 2-4, with Thursday and Friday’s Features paying $10,000 to win and Saturday’s finale paying $15,000 to win.