Story By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – The World of Outlaws World Finals means only a few chances remain to pick up a World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car win this year. And that also means the intensity rises each and every lap.
That heightened intensity was on complete display Friday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. An all-out war erupted between Brent Marks, Justin Peck, and Tyler Courtney for a $15,000 payday and a trip to Victory Lane.
Sliders. Crossovers. More sliders and crossovers. Cars using multiple grooves. Endless action led to a thrilling 25-lap main event on the penultimate night of the 2023 campaign for The Greatest Show on Dirt.
When the dust settled, Brent Marks claimed the checkered flag narrowly ahead of Peck to snag a win for the Pennsylvania Posse. As Marks rose atop his wing in Victory Lane, the massive crowd on hand erupted in appreciation for the show he and his fellow competitors had delivered.
“It feels amazing,” Marks said. “To win in front of this crowd is an amazing moment. Standing up here on this stage at this racetrack means a lot to me. To get another World of Outlaws victory also means a lot to me. That was a really fun race.”
The win was Marks’ second of the season, marking the third consecutive year he’s notched multiple World of Outlaws wins. Adding to his 2021 Charlotte victory, Marks became the 12th driver to own multiple Series triumphs at the 4/10-mile. His win also completed a clean sweep of the program as he set QuickTime, won his Heat, topped the Dash, and finished it off with the Feature victory.
Marks earned the pole of the Feature after topping the Toyota Racing Dash. Courtney slid ahead of “The Myerstown Missile” in Turns 3 and 4, but Marks dipped under him to lead the opening lap by a hair and slide back in front in Turns 1 and 2.
As the early laps unfolded, Marks couldn’t shake Courtney as Marks opted for the cushion while “Sunshine” tiptoed the bottom. Courtney pulled alongside Marks multiple times within the first handful of laps but couldn’t quite make the move.
But then on the 10th lap, Marks tripped up in traffic as he went through the slick in Turns 3 and 4, allowing Courtney to sneak by on the bottom and claim the top spot aboard the Clauson Marshall Racing/NOS Energy Drink #7BC.
Quickly changing track conditions allowed Peck to surprise both Marks and Courtney. While the lead duo committed to the bottom, Peck ripped the top in the Buch Motorsports #13 and went around Marks on Lap 12. One lap later, Peck blasted by Courtney for the lead.
Two laps later, Marks surged back into contention as he rolled the bottom to pass Courtney coming to the line and pull alongside Peck, In Turns 1 and 2, Marks pulled the trigger on a slide job to reclaim the lead. Peck returned the favor the next time around in the same set of corners. Marks crossed over out of Turn 2 and aimed for the top in Turn 3, so Peck threw another slider. Marks again dipped under Peck and then fended off his next move in Turn 1.
“I was running the top there in the beginning and saw Tyler down on the bottom there a couple times,” Marks recalled. “So, I switched my line up and felt pretty good. And then I think I slipped up and he got by me and fell back to second. I just tried to work that in down there a little more, and Justin railed around both of us on the top, so I fell back to third. I just started moving around just trying to figure out what was going to work best for my car. I felt like I could go anywhere but was definitely better up top. I just knew we needed to stick to that, and that’s what we did and ended up racing our way back up through there.”
Following the intense battle with Peck, Marks built a decent lead as the laps faded late in the going. But suddenly lapped traffic became an issue again.
Marks stared down cars using both his preferred high line and the low line. Peck chipped away at the gap, and when the white flag flew he found himself within striking distance. Marks thought the lapped car ahead would go low in the final set of corners but guessed wrong, causing him to drift through the slick in Turns 3 and 4. Peck closed fast and looked under Marks coming to the checkered flag but came up slightly short as Marks grabbed the win.
“I felt like the track crew did an amazing job there at getting the track two lanes of racing and getting it pretty tricky around the top,” Marks said. “Man, I just got to lapped traffic there and wanted to make sure I didn’t get off the top. I just felt like my pace slowed up too much. I was getting a little worried about Justin behind me closing in on us. Then I had a run on Logan (Schuchart) going down the backstretch on the last lap, and last minute he pulled off to go to the bottom, and I had already set up to try to slide him. That just kind of got me stuck in the middle a little bit. I knew he was going to have a head of steam. Fortunately, we hung on there at the end and won us this race.”
A second place run for Peck equaled his best World of Outlaws finish. While proud of he and the Buch team’s efforts, Peck couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with coming so close to what’s become an elusive first Series victory.
“My guys gave me a really good race car,” Peck said. “Me, Brent, and Sunshine raced each other pretty hard there. It’s just one of those deals where it’s got to come sometime, right? It feels like we’ve run second quite a few times now and been on the podium but just can’t seem to pull off a win.”
Courtney rounded out the top three to post his sixth career World of Outlaws podium. The Indianapolis, IN native felt he was missing just a little speed to lock up his second Series win of the year.
“Once Brent cleared Justin there, we just got back around the top,” Courtney said. “We were running really fast laps up there. We’re set up a little bit more to run down off the top, so I was a little too tight to run around the top there.”
Brad Sweet and James McFadden completed the top five. Sweet’s result combined with David Gravel’s sixth place run pushed Sweet’s lead atop the standings to 46 points. Sweet now needs a finish of 22nd or better in the season finale to lock up his fifth straight championship with Kasey Kahne Racing.
Donny Schatz earned the KSE Racing Hard Charger with a 25th to 13th drive.
CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One went to Rico Abreu (48th Heat Race win of career). NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Four were topped by Brian Brown (82nd of career), Brent Marks (29th of career), and Tyler Courtney (13th of career).
Hunter Schuerenberg won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars complete the 2023 season with a $25,000 to win finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte’s World Finals on Saturday, Nov. 4.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps): 1. 19-Brent Marks; 2. 13-Justin Peck; 3. 7BC-Tyler Courtney; 4. 49-Brad Sweet; 5. 83-James McFadden; 6. 2-David Gravel; 7. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 8. 24-Rico Abreu; 9. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 10. 69K-Justin Henderson; 11. 41-Carson Macedo; 12. 21-Brian Brown; 13. 15-Donny Schatz; 14. 5-Spencer Bayston; 15. 9R-Chase Randall; 16. 14-Cole Macedo; 17. 88-Austin McCarl; 18. 8-Cory Eliason; 19. 39M-Anthony Macri; 20. 71-Parker Price Miller; 21. 2MD-Cap Henry; 22. 9-Kasey Kahne; 23. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 24. 7S-Robbie Price; 25. 20G-Noah Gass; 26. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg; 27. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 28. 99-Skylar Gee