CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Blog By RaceChaser Online Senior Editor Tom Baker – Photo Courtesy blog.hemmings.com –
The 8th Annual World of Outlaws “World Finals” at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway concluded just after 10pm on Saturday night before a standing room only crowd (for the second straight night) with three champions being crowned and a King ascending to his permanent throne in series history books.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series points battle was about over when the teams rolled into the pit area, but it wasn’t until after all the racing was over on Saturday night that the “official” ceremony took place and Donny Schatz was crowned the Champion for the 2014 season.
It seemed fitting the Schatz would score his sixth series championship on a night in which his Tony Stewart Racing teammate, Steve Kinser, said goodbye to full-time World of Outlaws competition after a glorious legendary career that included an almost incomprehensible 20 World of Outlaws Sprint Car championship titles and 577 feature wins.
Daryl Pittman outdueled the always electrifying Rico Abreu to win Friday’s Sprint Car main while Brian Brown held off a persistent Stevie Smith at the line to get his first ever WoO series win on Saturday in a race that featured a glorious 25th to 4th place run by Schatz to put a nice big bow on two exciting days for the “Greatest Show On Dirt”.
Northeast Big Block Super DirtCar Series
Billy Decker, known to Northeast Super DirtCar Series fans as “The Franklin Flyer”, went back and forth with “Super Matt” Sheppard for the championship in that series all weekend long before finally squeaking out the championship by just 6 points in a battle that went right down to the final laps of Saturday night’s feature.
Stewart Friesen and “The Doctor” Danny Johnson picked up A-main wins, and ageless wonder Brett “The Jet” Hearn showed he was still a worthy opponent as he scored a pair of top five finishes and finished third in 2014 series points.
World of Outlaws Late Models
Darrell Lanigan waltzed into Charlotte chasing the World of Outlaws Late Model championship, and he accomplished that and a thrilling last lap pass of Chris Madden to win Friday night’s feature event.
On Saturday, it was “The O Show” Jimmy Owens finding his way to victory lane after furiously battling with Tim McCreadie and the venerable Scott Bloomquist throughout the second half of the race.
I have never, ever seen the track prepared like it was for this event. New clay was brought in from Ohio and carefully laid in and manicured.
The surface saw racing from top to bottom all throughout the weekend and led to some of the most spectacular racing I’ve ever seen at the facility. My hat’s off to all involved in that project, as it surely kept the cautions down and helped the show conclude shortly after 10pm both nights.
This event never lacks for “pomp and circumstance”, with pyrotechnics and lots of pizazz both nights and some of the finest race announcing you’ll hear anywhere, ever.
Sprint car announcer Johnny Gibson, Late Model race-caller Ben Shelton and Super DirtCar Series voice Shane Andrews are three of a kind. They prepare as if for a college SAT exam, make every lap exciting for the fans and provide plenty of witty one-liners to remember on the drive home.
The weather was cold, but the fans didn’t care. They are some of the most loyal and intense short-track racing fans you’ll find at any track in the country.
As Steve Kinser rode off into retirement and those on hand at Charlotte headed for home, I couldn’t help but pause just for a minute to let the historical significance of the weekend sink in.
The World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway truly is a magnificent short-track spectacle, made even more so this year by the coronation of one King and the crowning of three more as the roar of the motors gave way to the oncoming silence of the chilly Queen City night.