Starks Stars in Thursday Qualifying for Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals Racing for WoO Sprint Cars, Late Models and Super DIRTcar Series Modifieds begins Friday
Thursday's qualifying for the Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte set the field for Friday and Saturday action featuring World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars and Late Models as well as the Super DIRTcar Series; David Gravel and Trey Starks paced sprint car qualifying, Mike Marlar and Josh Richards led late models and Mike Mahaney swept big-block modified quick times
Race fans from 48 states and six different countries – including Scotland, England, South Africa and Australia – are at Charlotte for the 11th annual World Finals
(CONCORD, N.C. - Nov. 2, 2017) – The Dirt Track at Charlotte played host to a thrilling Thursday of Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals qualifying, as an enthralled crowd of dirt-racing fans witnessed a spectacular first day of World Finals action on Charlotte's lightning-fast, four-tenths-mile oval.
David Gravel and Trey Starks led the way in World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series qualifying. Gravel posted the quickest time for Friday's events with a 12.53-second lap, while Starks circled The Dirt Track in 12.606 seconds to top the charts for Saturday's action.
Thursday's time trials also marked the return of three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart to The Dirt Track. Stewart will drive his No. 14 Rush Truck Centers-sponsored machine in this weekend's races.
The stars of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models scorched Charlotte's dirt, but no one was faster than Mike Marlar and Josh Richards. Marlar's 14.385-second lap gave him the best time for Friday's races, while Richards' 14.536-second run paced the field for Saturday's proceedings.
Mike Mahaney made The Dirt Track his personal playground on Thursday. Mahaney's 15.609- and 15.678-second laps were good enough for the quickest times for Friday's and Saturday's Super DIRTcar Series events.
Mahaney, Mat Williamson, points leader Matt Sheppard, Keith Flach and Demetrios Drellos won heat races for Friday. Drellos, Sheppard, Mahaney, Flach and Tim Fuller claimed heats for Saturday's action.
"The cushion is moving up with the sprint cars out there," Mahaney said. "There's still a lot of speed there. The cushion's good for us and we have a lot of confidence in what we're doing."
Gates for Friday's races – which feature a sunny forecast – open at noon with opening ceremonies beginning at 4:45 p.m.
Fans from 48 U.S. states including Alaska and Hawaii have joined attendees from as far away as South Africa and Scotland to make the World Finals a truly world-class showcase of speed, excitement and championship drama.
TICKETS: To purchase tickets or pit passes, call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or go online at http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/world-of-outlaws-world-finals/.
"It's really nice to see the track didn't change with all the laps put on it. As a driver, especially when you don't draw well, that's all you can ask for. The track being equal for everyone is a big key when you have a big car count," Starks, who was fourth quick in Friday's program, said following his Saturday fast-time effort.
"Fast time is obviously how you want to start any night. Hopefully we can park this CJB Motorsports on the frontstretch a couple of times this weekend," Gravel, who was also third quick in Saturday's program, said.
Daryn Pittman had a strong evening, setting fast time in Flight B for Friday's program as well as going second quick for Saturday's program. 2018 IRA Champion, Bill Balog cashed in with a pair of third place Qualifying runs.
Additionally, Joey Saldana, Kerry Madsen and Paul McMahan all set themselves up nicely with front row Heat Race positions for both nights. McMahan is making his first starts of the season in the Tom Buch owned No.13.
As for Donny Schatz, all the North Dakota native needed to do was take the Green in hot laps to clinch his ninth Series Championship. Schatz did more than just that, securing second quick for both programs this weekend. Schatz will seek his 20th win of the season this weekend at the Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Racing action for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series begins at the Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals tomorrow evening.
Super DIRT Qualifying Report:
In front of a large Thursday crowd, the Super DIRTcar Series took to The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Night One of Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals for their qualifying night. Mike Mahaney had a night to remember, sweeping both qualifying sessions and picking up two heat race victories.
In all there were 48 Big-Block Modifieds that signed in at Textron Off Road World Finals. The Super DIRTcar Series first took to the track for hot laps followed by qualifying to determine the heat race line ups for Friday's portion of the program. Mike Mahaney out of Kings Ferry, NY timed in quickest with a lap of 15.609-seconds; Mahaney would get the best view in the house for the first heat race.
A little deja vu with Mahaney coming out of the third qualifying group knocked Matt Sheppard off the perch of the quickest qualifier and stole five valuable points away from the championship points leader and swept qualifying for the evening.
Starting from the pole in the first heat for Friday's portion of the show, Mahaney jumped out to an early lead and would continue the streak by picking up the heat race win for Friday's Nights portion. Joining Mahaney in the Friday heat race winner category was Mat Williamson; Matt Sheppard; Keith Flach and Demetrios Drellos.
In the Saturday Night heat races, a couple repeat winners on the night. First was Drellos in the first heat. Matt Sheppard also picked up another heat race win and five points. Mahaney completed the sweep with a victory in the third heat race. Keith Flach and Tim Fuller were also winners for Saturday Night heat races.
"It couldn't be any better that's for sure," said Mike Mahaney. "We've come down here [in the past] and kind of struggled. We gain a lot of fans the one time we came down here and passed everyone in the Last Chance Showdown and everyone got excited. But to come down and feel like we came out of the box with a really good car. We timed first in both sessions and won the heat races; that will set us up great for the weekend. Couldn't be prouder of our Buzz Chew Racing Team. We've just been doing everything perfect."
Jimmy Phelps in the 98H and Brett Hearn both suffered setbacks and were forced to go to backup cars.
The championship battle in the Super DIRTcar Series which is far from over saw Sheppard come into night one of Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals, Matt Sheppard holding a slim 30-point lead over his closest competitor, Billy Decker. Matt Sheppard from Waterloo, NY put on a driving clinic in his Friday heat and Saturday heat races and picked up five points for each of his wins. Second in points Billy Decker brought his No. 91 home in second for both Friday Night and Saturday Night heat race, earning four points for each race. Throughout the night Matt Sheppard was able to pick up two points on Decker, widening the separation in the championship battle to 32 points.
"We're just down here to trying to win," said Matt Sheppard. "Last year we got a little taste of not having point pressure and we just let it all hang out and we were good all weekend. That was a lot more fun so we're not going to go out there and run the crap out of it and see if we can win some races."
Decker who didn't seem as confident in his No. 91 wasn't going to go down without a fight.
"We want to run good; that's the bottom line for us," said Billy Decker. "Yeah we're points racing but we're also trying to put ourselves into position to win and I don't think we've done that yet but we're digging and clawing. We're off a little bit this year and not as sound as we need to be - I don't know why; it's got me confused but we aren't quitting."
The five heat race winners from Friday and Saturday's portion will re-draw for their starting positions while the rest of the field will start from sixth on back. The stars of the Big-Block Modifieds will run their 40-lap Feature.
"I don't normally draw that well but maybe I'll have to pick a kid to draw for me," said Mike Mahaney. "It's only a five-car draw so it's not that bad with a 10-12 car draw and you can really set yourself back with that."
Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals continues Friday with Pit Gates opening at 12 p.m., grandstands at 3 p.m. Opening Ceremonies for the evening begins at 4:45 p.m. with the Super DIRTcar Series two Last Chance Showdowns immediately following. The Super DIRTcar Series will have a 40-lap Feature to conclude night two of Textron Off Road World Finals. For more information and tickets to Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals, visit WorldofOutlawsWorldFinals.com
Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.