Outlaw Racing News
Swatsworth Claims First ORS Win as Dukes Collects Championship
Brooklyn, MI - The rolling Irish hills in southeastern Michigan has been host to the season finale for now two seasons. Last year, excitement was a plenty, with 3 wide racing and close finishes dotting the event from green to checkered. This season was no exception. Wide corners, and high speeds were welcomed with numerous examples of 3 wide, tight-fisted racing most of the night. The only bit unlike last season was the finish, as Shad Swatsworth left nothing to the imagination. Taking the 2 second win over Ryan Lewis to become the 3rd new winner of the season.
To start off the night, the quickest in Q yet again went to Aaron Dukes, picking up his 7th pole of the season. Though his time at the front would be short lived. Dukes found himself put in the wall early, after hard racing at the front. A foreshadowing to how his night would play out. Yet at the front it would be Lewis showing the way through most of the opening stage. Pacey Wigent and Zach Gandee looked to be proper suitors to the lead, but my stage end Lewis was able to hold off the field for his 3rd stage win of the season.
By the second stage, some trucks looked strong others seemingly fell off a bit. Wigent maintained his pace staying amongst the top 5 for most of the stage. Hard battling saw the majority of the field swap places nearly every lap. By the end, Wigent was poised to capture the green checkered for the stage win, but as he came off turn 4, power issues seemingly sapped the life from the 33 truck, making way for Dennis Boggess to pick up his first stage win.
As i personally was wisked away for much of the final stage, i don't have much detail to provide. However the power issues for Wigent saw him retired early. As was the 16 of Dukes, heading to the garage just 9 laps into the races final stage. By the end, Shad Swatworth had overcome strong competition to stake his claim as a front runner in this series. With 4 top 5's in his last 6 races, Swatsworth rode a wave of momentum into the latter half of the season finally culminating into victory is the final race of the season. Lewis, who had a top 3 truck most of the night, rolled in 2nd for the 5th time this season being oh so close to so many wins. He notched his 10th top 5 of the season with his run in Michigan. Kirk Kligerman was also a frequent appearance in the top 5 for much of the race. His finish resulting in his 3rd top 5 of the season. Gandee picked up yet another top 5 for a series high 12 on the year. As Sean Rice rounded out the Top 5, his 4th of the season.
As Season 3 comes to a close, Aaron Dukes goes on to win the championship by 31 points over Zach Gandee. The championship was very much a toss up between the two through much of the first half of the season, until Dukes went on to win 4 of the final 7 races of the season, with ISM icing the season for the 16 team. Dukes led the series in race wins, stage wins, and poles, with 5, 13, and 7 respectively. Gandees' consistency kept him eating at the table all season long, racking up an impressive 12 top 5's, leading all competitors. Gandee also stacked a race win, a pole, as well as 4 stage wins to the spoils to easily establish himself in 2nd place in the standings. Ryan Lewis emerged late last season as quite the contender, and if not for a few unlucky finishes could have easily found himself in the championship hunt. Lewis collected a pair of poles and race wins, while also accumulating 3 stage wins and 10 top 5's. The 41 team is more than deserving of their place on the championship podium. Pacey Wigent found himself behind once off the track issues, and truck reliability became a factor. When his truck wasn't forcing him to retire, or being unable to be at the track, Wigent was as much a force as he'd been in previous seasons. Being the only other person besides Dukes and Lewis with multiple wins (2). Wigent also claimed a stage win, 6 top 5's and a pair of poles by year end to put him 4th in the standings. Kirk Kligerman may not have been flashy all season, but even with only 3 top 5's and a stage win, the 75 team put together enough good finishes to put his name in the top 5 in the championship points. Other notables from the season were the litany of first time winners. Daniel Williamson stealing the show in the season opener, Charles Gilbert spanking the field in Kentucky, and Shad Swatsworth putting in the work for it to shine through in the season finale. The rest of the points go as follows. Daniel Williamsons' absences knocked him down to 6th. Dennis Boggess rebounded from early season woes to finish 7th. Shad Swatsworth overcame missing the first 3 races to fight all the way back to 8th. Cody Reeves showed promising speed late in the season, finished 9th. As Sean Rice leapfrogged Matt Liptrap in the final race to come home 10th in the standings. Not a week went by when someone was moving up or down in the standings, as this season produced some of the best on track product thus far. ORS would like to thank all its drivers for their participation and hope even more look to join us for season 4.
Outlaw Racing News
Dukes Survives Mistake Riddled Race, Steals Richmond
Richmond, VA - While a handful of drivers seemed to have a handle on the event, the night became a fight for survival as teams found themselves in their own mistake dug trenches, while mechanical troubles seemingly plagued nearly half the field. Though tonight was not without its fierce battles amongst the top 3, with paint traded between all of the front runners. By the time the checkers flew, the number 1 team was mistake free throughout the caution-less final stage, allowing for Aaron Dukes to stake his claim for his first win of the season.
Embattled with illness, Zach Gandee found the strength to not only remain competitive, but went as far as to claim the pole position, starting the night off on the right foot. Yet nearly as quickly as the green flag flew, a pair of early cautions saw the field kept in close proximity. After a quick two tire stop, Dukes took his first taste of lead, after Ryan Lewis had claimed it the pit cycle before. When the race resumed with 58 to go, Lewis was quick to strike as he propped himself back on top after a handful of laps. While Lewis led, several drivers got bit by engine and other mechanical failures. First, Pacey Wigent, one of the races favorites fell to suspension failure whilst on pit road. Then Kurtis Swatsworth moments later with his engine giving way. Eli Keneda in his first ORS race soon followed suit to the garage, owing to a radiator issue. Three drivers by stage end found themselves behind the wall. All the while the battle for the lead became heated. After stretching out to just over a second lead over Dukes, Lewis looked poised as much of the final 55 laps ticked off. In the closing laps, however, tire wear reared its ugly mug and Dukes began closing said gap. Alas time was not on Dukes' side. Getting to within 3 car lengths before Lewis was shown the green checkers for his first stage victory of the year.
Stage 2 would send yet another handful of drivers to the garage. Just before the restart to begin stage 2, Kyle Kolbe, returning after a seasons' hiatus, saw himself with ignition issues relegating him behind the wall, and Heath Osburn soon joined him for the 5th and final DNF'd car of the night. Otherwise the racing was top notch. Dukes, Lewis, and Gandee were under a blanket for much of the stage while loose wheel issues drug Kirk Kligerman and Dennis Boggess to the pits prematurely, setting them behind the 8 ball early. When pit stops begun with with 35 to go, Dukes opened the bidding albeit not by choice, nearly spinning onto pit road and choosing to take the stop. With 2 fresh rights, he put himself in the cat bird seat as Lewis and Gandee continued on. As cycles cleared, Dukes inherited the lead, up by nearly three and a half seconds over Lewis. The order seemed set in stone, until with 7 to go, Lewis and Gandee got together to bring out the races third and final caution. Leaving Dukes in the unenviable position to pit of not, and thusly stranding Dukes on that island as he would elect to be the only car not to partake in fresh rubber. With the last 4 laps on tap, fresh beats worn every time, giving Gandee the steal and stage for his 2nd on the series.
The opening half of the race provided multiple instances of exciting racing with Lewis, Gandee, and Dukes swapping positions as well as paint. The final stage saw this yet again for its first 50 laps. Dukes and Gandee remained nose to tail for much of the run, with Gandee leading. Lewis would be unable to thoroughly overcome the 7 to 8 tenth of a second difference between him and the front two. As the race galloped on, Dukes began to fade, faltering to nearly a second in the late stages of the fuel run. Lewis would nearly mirror Dukes in the races second stage, electing to pit rather involuntarily, but well within the fuel window to make it to the end. Dukes would be the next to partake, and Gandee would follow just laps later. The cycle would eventually see Dukes out to a one second advantage with just around 50 to go, over Gandee. Suddenly the calamity the ending would become would commence. Gandee would have to pit again, as a loose wheel would cripple his chances. Soon after Lewis would be impacted by the same affliction twice. Shad Swatsworth who had so far a solid night, would a see a missing lug nut bring the number 7 Chevy back to pit road. Kligerman would get stung once more after his early misfortunes. Through unlucky break after unlucky break, only two men had come through the end of the race clean. Dukes who saw his competition fall laps down, and Brett Stack who may not have had one of the stronger cars on the night, outlasted the rest to come out second. Dukes would cruise for the final 30 laps, nursing a near 18 second lead over Stack, to steal the night and the win marking his first for the season. In what could be seen as a make up call for last weeks misfortune, Dukes would use the win to catapult into second in points, just 11 in back of point leader Gandee. Brett Stack survived lady luck, finishing runner up to keep a solid foothold in the championship remaining 3rd just 15 points back. Zach Gandee saw his night not turn completely sour, rebounding to 3rd to maintain his point lead. Shad Swatsworth watched as his podium washed away into a 4th place effort, and enough to climb into the top 5 in points. Ryan Lewis would finish off the night 5th, putting in an effort good enough to secure 4th in the standings. Next week may lady luck change her mood in the foothills of the Appalachians, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Outlaw Racing News
Lewis Emerges From Hectic Finish Victorious for Charlotte Win
Charlotte, NC - Glorious finishes seemed to be the story of the night. From beginning to end, excitement and great pack racing overshadowed some of the pluckiness from the nights events. Even as the race featured 6 cautions, 4 of those in the final 78 laps, the game itself seemed to want to steal the headlines with the many problems it wanted to cause. All drivers seemed to feel the pain of it, yet the racing was still top notch. By the end Ryan Lewis had outlasted them all for his first win on the season, the third different winner to start off the season.
One constant has always been proven in racing is that having the best car doesn't automatically award you the win. You can win a race by out working, out thinking, or just by plain being lucky. You could be forgiven for thinking Pacey Wigent had won tonight. Started off the night on the pole, led the most laps if not but just a handful. Stole stage 1 after a late caution brought the field back together for a 6 lap shootout just beating Lewis back to the line by a nose in a final corner pass, won stage 2 with little contest, and had the quickest lap of the night. By no means was Wigent miles and ahead the best car, but by the slightest of instances seemed to hold all the cards. He looked just as strong as the race slogged through its final stage.
Much of the final 115 laps went green, not seeing the races 3rd cautions until 78 laps to go. As the stakes increased, the risks taken did as well. Three of the final four cautions were all within the last 26 laps. Keeping the field bunched as incident after incident took place. Nobody really at fault as the turn 3 wall bit quite a few drivers. Everyone had seemingly dealt with being part of a caution at some point of the night. All 200 laps had culminated down into the final 7 laps. Having already exhausted the attempts at restarts, the final restart was it. Whatever was to happen would be set in stone. Everyone left had a shot at the win, one mistake could fell the hopes of any number of drivers, the battleground where feelings get hurt. The tension was palpable as Lewis took the restart and set the machine in motion. All of the contenders were there, Wigent looked for second as Lewis tried to lead the top line, giving help to Zach Gandee on the outside. After several laps, much of the top 7 were door to door. Lewis would be unable to pull the top line along, swooping back down in front of Wigent to keep the number 0 at bay. Gandee and Shad Swatsworth would slowly fade on the high side as Skyylor Karnes in his first appearance moved quickly through the field. The 18 Toyota went from 6th to 3rd with the field embattled. As the field came to two to go, Karnes took a run to the inside of Wigent, wrestling away 2nd with eyes on Lewis in first. Karnes however would be unable to fight off the hard charging Aaron Dukes who had restarted 7th, with the two nearly coming together on the exit of turn 4 coming to the white flag. Behind Karnes contact sent Gandee off the pace, and rearranging much of the top 5. Dukes would clear Karnes into turn 1, but the damage had been done. Ryan Lewis had opened up a 4 car length advantage while the revolving door of battles for second ensued. Dukes would close, but the gap was too much to overcome as Lewis would see to the checkered flag and his first win of the season.
With the win in hand, Lewis would see a big jump towards the top of the point standings, popping up to third, only 10 points out of first. Aaron Dukes with the crazy comeback, going from 7th to 2nd in the final laps would see himself sit atop the standings by a mere 4 points over 2nd place Zach Gandee. Pacey Wigent managed a third along with plenty of points to see himself jump 2 places to 4th just 8 points behind Lewis. Skyylor Karnes showed up big in his season debut, notching a top 5 to begin his series. Shad Swatsworth would finish up the top 5, having a solid night most of the race, and maintaining his hold on 5th in the standings.
Outlaw Racing News
Dukes Magnificent at Magic Mile, Extends Championship Lead
Loudon, NH - Aaron Dukes left little to question in this master class of the Magic Mile. New Hampshire Motor Speedway was a place that usually begets to a chorus of groans, and after today those reactions probably won't change, but at least one man will be smiling. Dukes was near perfect, only missing the pole to complete the clean sweep of the week, claiming the races two stages as well as the victory to mark his second of the early season.
Keeping the last bonus point out of Dukes' hands was arguably the second best car in the race, Ryan Lewis, grabbing his first pole of the year. Early on, Lewis looked good out front, leading the first 7 laps whilst garnering a 1 second lead in the process. The opening stage however saw a flurry of strategy calls. Much of the field electing to pit in the first handful of laps to set adjustments, and for that ever important fresher tires for what would be one of the longest runs of the day. Dukes would set himself ahead of all those that pitted, electing for a 2 tire strategy, putting himself 8 seconds up on Lewis. Dennis Boggess and Eli Keneda were the lone duo, opting to stretch the fuel the length of the stage. A gamble that would nearly pay off. Keneda would give in after 25 laps, knocking himself out of the top 5, but would not be soon forgotten. Boggess went all in, aiming to go the distance. The only threat coming in the form of the aforementioned Dukes. With the length of the run of slightly newer tires but most of his adjustments accounted for, the number 1 Chevy slowly closed the over 28 second advantage over the final 40 laps. In fact having to use every bit of those laps to reel in Boggess, finally getting to his rear bumper as the white flag flew. With the better tires, Dukes would make the move for lead in turns 1 & 2, clearing the number 5 Chevy out of two. Boggess would fight back, giving Dukes a big help getting into turn 3 but alas the grip was not enough to overtake, and Dukes would overcome the odds to steal the first stage.
Dukes would not leave a last lap lunge as an opportunity come stage 2. As over the next 41 laps Dukes' lead over Lewis would grow to upwards of 9 seconds, leaving zero doubt for his third stage win of the year. However the excitement surrounded the battle for third. Zach Gandee and Pacey Wigent fought door to door for much of the final 15 laps before Wigent would emerge from the hard fought duel 3rd while Gandee would settle for 4th. Matt Liptrap appearing in his first race of the season picked up his first bonus points of the year rounding out the top 5 in the stage.
If you weren't the biggest fan of the racing in the second stage, for 90 percent of the final stage it as much of the same. Dukes would see his lead balloon out to as much as 17 seconds over the course of the next 92 laps. Yet each of those seconds would be erased as an incident involving Pacey Wigent and the lapped car of Dennis Boggess would bring out the races first and only caution. Setting up a 15 lap shootout to decide the winner. With everyone pitting, Lewis would control the restart, electing a two tire stop in the final run to the checkers. Lewis' lead would last about as long as his tires did. By the time the field had completed a circut, Lewis found himself in third, and Dukes controlling a quick half second advantage over Gandee. With open track and clean air, it was sweet dreams and smooth sailing for Dukes and his number 1 Chevy, cruising over the next 14 laps to a 3 second lead and the win. Gandee would hold off a late charge from Wigent to secure his runner up position, while Wigent would be the one settling this time around, for third. Boggess followed up his strong day with a fourth as Lewis held onto a Top 5. Dukes would extend his points lead to 16 over Gandee, as no shakeups within the top 5 took place. Boggess did move up to 6th in points knocking on the door of the top 5 just 3 points behind Shad Swatsworth. The twists and turns of The Glen are up next on the docket as we head to the finger lakes of New York and Watkins Glen International.