Column By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – After 10 months of high-octane action nationwide, the 2023 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model season ends this weekend in Charlotte.
The Series returns to The Dirt Track at Charlotte for the World of Outlaws World Finals, Nov. 1-4, highlighted by the crowning of a new for the second consecutive season.
Racing action begins on Wednesday, Nov. 1, with Low-E Insulation Qualifying night. World of Outlaws CASE Late Models drivers will run two Qualifying sessions, setting the Heat Race lineups for Thursday, Nov. 2, and Friday, Nov. 3. Highlighting those two nights are 35-lap Features paying $15,000-to-win.
Then, drivers return Saturday, Nov. 4, for the 2023 season finale—a 50-lap Feature with $25,000 on the line. Points collected from Thursday and Friday’s Feature results will set up Saturday’s Heat Race lineups.
A weekend sweep would see one driver walking away with $55,000.
The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models are joined this weekend by the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision, either online or with the DIRTVision app.
Here are the storylines to watch this weekend:
Bobby’s Time: Bobby Pierce enters the World Finals with a 156-point lead over Chris Madden, and when he hits the track for Low-E Insulation Qualifying on Wednesday he’ll mathematically clinch the 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship.
The Oakwood, IL driver enters the weekend with 14 victories, 25 top fives, 31 top 10s, and has won seven of the last 10 Series events.
Pierce has only made one World Finals start in career, finishing third in 2013.
He’ll officially be crowned the 2023 champion on Saturday, after racing is complete, during the annual Champion’s Celebration on the front stretch. By winning the title, he’ll also keep a streak of five straight championships won by a driver from Illinois, joining Brandon Sheppard and Dennis Erb Jr.
Rolling With Momentum: While Pierce has dominated the 2023 season, his two closest championship rivals, Madden and Brandon Sheppard, are coming off high-paying victories.
Madden won the National 100 at East Alabama Motor Speedway, and Sheppard won the Dirt Track World Championship for the fifth time at Eldora Speedway.
Both have also found success at Charlotte, having three World Finals victories. However, both have not won since 2019, when Madden took the checkered flag on the event’s opening night.
Madden has three Series wins in 2023, winning twice at Sharon Speedway and once at Cedar Lake Speedway. Meanwhile, Sheppard’s earned two wins. One at Davenport Speedway and another at Mississippi Thunder Speedway.
The two are also battling for the second spot in the standings, as Madden holds a 54-cushion.
The Battle For Fourth: Entering World Finals, positions four through nine in the Series standings are separated by 42 points.
Kyle Bronson holds the fourth position but leads Ryan Gustin by eight points, while Nick Hoffman and Brian Shirley are 10 points behind.
Tanner English and defending Series champion Dennis Erb Jr. are still in striking distance, sitting 38 and 42 points behind Bronson, respectively.
As the drivers battle for those positions, there’s a $32,000 difference between fourth and ninth. The driver who finishes fourth wins $75,000, while the driver who finishes ninth gets $43,000.
Climbing The Ladder: Along with the battle for fourth through ninth in points, there are other positions still up for grabs. Shane Clanton, the 2015 Series champion, holds a 38-point lead over Cade Dillard for the 10th spot in the standings.
The “Georgia Bulldog” enters the weekend with five top fives and 15 top 10s, while “The Thriller” has two top fives and 15 top 10s.
While neither driver has scored a victory in 2023, Dillard has shown speed throughout the season, earning five Simpson Racing Products Quick Time Awards, tied with Pierce and Madden for the most this year.
The other battle to watch entering this weekend is for 12th between Brent Larson and Gordy Gundaker.
Larson holds a 22-point advantage over Gundaker, scoring one more top 10 (8) than the St. Charles, MO driver throughout the season (7).
A World Finals victory for either driver would be their first World of Outlaws win.
The Outsiders: The World of Outlaws World Finals typically brings the best driver’s dirt Late Model racing has to offer to “America’s Home for Racing.” And that’s no different in 2023.
Leading that pack is Ricky Thornton, Jr., who, along with Pierce, is having a historic season. The Martinsville, IN driver has won 36 times in 2023, including the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury Speedway earlier this season.
“RTJ” has made one previous start at Charlotte, finishing 20th in 2014.
Another Indiana driver to watch is 2023 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Hudson O’Neal, who returns to where he made his first start with Rocket1 racing last season. “The New Deal” scored his first career World of Outlaws win earlier this year, scoring the finale at Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.
He’d made seven starts at Charlotte in his career—his best finish was a fifth last season. However, he led 27 laps in last year’s finale before dropping back to eighth.
Joining Thornton and O’Neal are two of the winningest drivers in World Finals history, Jimmy Owens and Jonathan Davenport.
The “O-Show” is a seven-time World Finals winner, with six coming during the weekend’s finale. However, the Newport, TN driver hasn’t won at World Finals since 2018.
Davenport, who is currently tied with four-time Series champion Josh Richards with six victories, is one win away from tying Owens for the most all-time. Davenport has won three of the last five World Finals Features, including a weekend sweep in 2022.
Tim McCreadie will also return to World of Outlaws competition this weekend after earning the “Big Gator” trophy at DIRTcar Nationals earlier this season. The Watertown, NY, driver will be on the hunt for his first World of Outlaws World Finals victory this year. However, he 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.