Weekend Travels with STLRacing.com by Don Martin – Word Finals Wrap up !!

November 4, 2016

world-finalsWhat better place for the World Racing Group to wrap up the season than at the World Finals in Charlotte. Standing room only over 20,000 spectators and 160 cars in the pits to conclude the racing season for the Super Dirt Car Big Block Modifieds, Craftsman World of Outlaw Sprint Cars and Late Models. The track is a spacious 4/10 high banked oval with speeds over 100 mph.

Matt Sheppard swept the feature both nights in the big blocks, and is also the series champion. Not bad for a team that was just put together over the winter. Sounds like he may be putting another team together this winter as I heard several teams are making driver changes which should all clear the air in the next couple of weeks. It wasn’t easy for Sheppard he came from mid pack Saturday to get the win as he had to reel in Pat Ward and Justin Haers for the win. I was very impressed with Haers he finished on the podium both nights in his #3 big block modified that reminded me of Brett Hearn’s Budwieser days.

Jason Johnson and Donny Schatz each took home $12,000 for feature wins in the Sprint Cars. Johnson passed Dale Blaney Friday and then had to hold off challenges from Bobby Allen’s grandson Logan Schuchart to get the win. I was hoping to see Dale Blaney get the win since his long time car owner and crew chief George Fischer passed away on Thursday. I am sure the team was dealing with some heavy hearts all weekend Dale and George have been together for over ten years. Donny Schatz sewed up his 8th Championship basically once he showed up on the grounds and with the win Saturday night was his 25th triumph of the year. What an amazing career Schatz has had already, he has 229 wins on the circuit and if he ever gets to spend more time in that late model watch out! David Gravel driving the CJB Motorsports #5 Big Game entry finished second the team was just one win from double digit figures. Greg Hodnett the Beast from the East was third with Joey Saldana and Logan Schuchart rounding out the top five. The future looks great for the series several young talents are really starting to make some noise. Several rumors as always at the end of the season are swirling in the Outlaw pit area including Kasey Kahne going down to one car instead of two, who will get the ride will it be Brad Sweet or Daryn Pittman. Dennis Roth is scaling back leaving Saldana without a ride. Lasoski is out of Big Game and Kerry Madsen is in. Let the silly season begin.

Josh Richards and Chris Madden each won features in Late Models. Richards won his 18th feature this year making history and also won his 4th Championship. It wasn’t that long ago it seemed like he was just getting started. The kid is good and can rival any driver or team in the country on any track size or condition. His win Friday he went to the cushion and reeled in the Madden with just a few laps to go to get the win it was impressive. Madden’s move in lapped traffic however Saturday night was the move of the weekend. Chris split two lapped cars with Tim McCreadie on his tail to get to the checkers first. What a weekend for Madden and his Longhorn, a first and second and could have been a sweep. McCreadie on the other hand raced a new Longhorn Chassis the first time in competition and TMAC qualified 1st and 2nd overall for both nights. So to come out of the gate and have two solid finishes and run second to Madden was very good. He told me later the car has a ton of potential. He was also on Penske shocks for the first time this season. The team plans on traveling to Alabama to the National 100 closing out the season.

A couple of notes from pit area at the World Finals, looks like the Rumley car is done and Jonathan Davenport will be wheeling the Barry Wright house car next year. Brandon Overton has been hired by Randy Weaver to drive the #116 next year. Weaver is retiring from driving due to concussions.

In closing the World Finals is a great event, where else on the planet are you going to see the best sprint car drivers, late model drivers, and the big block modifieds mix it up on the same race track for entire weekend. The place is always packed and this year might have been the largest crowd to date. What a show and the facility is fantastic, than again its Charlotte !!