THURSDAY

December 5th

Outlaw Racing News

Dukes Avoids Mistakes for Roval Win, Steals Second Victory on the Year

Concord, NC - Once again back to Charlotte for the final time this season, looking to master the 17 turn behemoth that is the Roval. Encompassing this place is the Roval Reaper, feeding off the mistakes drivers make, leaving those who look to conquer this place soulless. By night end, many a driver was bit by the entities overpowering reach. Whether master or novice of the road course like, the reaper shows no prejudice, no bias, no mercy. Even for those who seemingly have a grasp over the entire field. Pacey Wigent looked poised to celebrate his first win of the season after being dominate all night. Seemingly the only driver beyond the grasp of the reaper, until of course he strikes. A single mistake, a single misjudgment would cause Wigent to succumb to the effects of the reaper, opening the door for Aaron Dukes who had hung around the entire final stage to swipe the win away from a hungry Wigent, becoming a winner for just the second time this season. 

From the onset, Wigent showed his speed, topping the leader-boards in qualifying by four tenths to take his second pole on the season. Then shot out of a cannon to start the race, quickly amassing a 3 second lead over Dukes in second. As Wigent set sail, Ryan Lewis quickly emerged as a potential threat, making quick work of Dukes and sailing off after Wigent. Though Lewis would close the gap some by stage end, Wigent had enough cushion to easily secure his first stage win of the season. 

Setting an unfortunate tone for the night, Wigents' pit crew would let their driver down as Lewis would take the lead via pit stops. A lead Lewis would be hard nosed in defending. Wigent would never let Lewis get more than a second or two away, keeping the pressure on the entire stage. All the while, the duo had easily pulled from the rest of the field. Championship leader Zach Gandee found himself in a tough battle for 3rd between him, Dukes, and Richard McGinnis before the reaper claimed the 48 as his victim, relegating Gandee from the top 5. Lewis would hold Wigent at bay, taking his 6th stage win of the year. 

To begin the final stage, again Wigents' crew put thier driver behind the 8 ball, falling all the way to 4th for the restart as Dukes moved up to second alongside stage winner Ryan Lewis. Lewis didn't waste time, inserting himself a second up hastily off the restart. Dukes settled in second with what seemed to be a new found speed, staying well within Lewis' mirror. Wigent made quick work of McGinnis to retake 3rd. Now setting his sights onto to Dukes in 2nd, Wigent would use the first few laps to reel the 99 in, and as he closed down on Dukes he would let the faster Wigent through with little fight through infield section. Now Wigent scoped in on Lewis, quickly closing on the number 9 Chevy after a few mistakes from Lewis in the opening laps. Wigent would run down the 9 and make easy work of Lewis whose consistency seemed shook. Not long after falling from the lead, Lewis feel victim to the reaper, after hitting the final chicane wrong and going nose first into the outside wall. Now stood just two in contention, Wigent with Dukes surprisingly close in tow. Though Wigent had been a dominant car all night, the fuel saving needed to no stop the final stage had forced Wigent to give up some time on track. Allowing Dukes to stay big in Wigents' mirror for much of the run, and Dukes wouldn't waste this opportunity. Keeping the pressure on Wigent, staying right on his bumper, even going for the lead numerous times going into the backstretch chicane. It would all be enough to stay well in Wigents' mind, until one fatal mistake. Coming to 5 to go, Wigent would miss the final chicane just enough to incur a penalty dropping the 0 Chevy nearly back into third now 7 seconds behind Dukes. The Roval Reaper had claimed its final victim. From there it was smooth sailing though Dukes would nearly throw the race away just narrowly avoiding a penalty in the same place as Wigent coming to the white flag. Wigent would close up nearly 2 and a half seconds by the time the checkers flew, but for Dukes it didn't matter as the checkers were flying for him. Though he didn't have the car to beat, a mistake free final stage was enough for Dukes to claim his second win of the season in dramatic fashion. Wigent will have to wait for his turn to victory lane yet again with his 3rd runner up finish of the year. Zach Gandee somehow managed a third on a turbulent night for the 48 team, taking advantage of others mistakes in the final stage to comeback for a podium finish. Ryan Lewis had a penalty on the final lap drop the 9 from a podium finish as Sam Wade kept his nose clean to round out the top 5. 

Two races remain and barring any serious hiccups over the final two weeks, Zach Gandee very much has his championship in hand. Sitting a pretty 46 points over second place Mike Montgomery, Gandee has all but sured up his championship run. Mike Montgomery got plenty of visits from the Roval Reaper in tonight's races, struggling to get a handle on these devastating rumble strips, finding himself on the fringe of the top 5 most of the night at a time he needed a good points day. Though he would lose significant ground to the championship leader, the absence of Shad Swatsworth saw the 14 team move up into 2nd in the standings with 2 weeks to go. A provisional on the night for Swatsworth would relegate the 46 team back into 3rd but with 2 races to go, plenty of time to reclaim his second place status. Aaron Dukes did make considerable ground on the top of the standings and although Gandee is out of reach, Montgomery and Swatsworth are not. A couple of good finishes and Dukes could claw his way into the top 3. Lewis has seen his luck all but dry up over the past few weeks since his provisional. Even though a top 5 tonight is his first in 4 races, it feels it should've been so much more with a car more than capable of winning. Alas he finds himself even further back in 5th, now 12 points behind Dukes in 4th. Next week is a visit to the First State and the concrete jungle of the Monster Mile. 

THURSDAY

December 12th

Outlaw Racing News

Wigent Plays the Spoiler to Break Winless Streak, Ruins Gandees' Dominant Night

Dover, DE - A unique ending played spoiler on this night that was set to be Zach Gandee's championship parade. The first time an ORS race has ended under a Green-White-Checkered finish and a decision to emphasize track position over fresh tires for a two lap shootout created a chaotic finish to an otherwise good race. Through the mayhem emerged an opportunity for one drivers to redeem himself after last weeks heartbreak. An opportunity on fresh tires to hammer his way through the field and take advantage of a limping Zach Gandee in the final two laps. An opportunity he would grasp and never let go. For the 7th different winner this season, Pacey Wigent would take the checkered flag and emerge from the Monster Mile victorious. 

You could be forgiven for thinking a championship fight was still in the making, with Mike Montgomery sitting 46 points in back of Gandee. He would make sure to remind the field his intentions. Montgomery would take home his first pole of the season with a speed of 152.22mph, the 14 team set themselves up in a prime position as the race got under way. Montgomery even looked good early, opening up a little bit of a gap back to Gandee, just over a half second. As the laps began to pile up, Gandee slowly began inching his way closer to the 14 of Montgomery. Eventually getting to his back bumper with 16 to go in the stage. From there he went to work on the 14, keeping Montgomery on his toes lap after lap until eventually Montgomery made a slip. Now with the ability to stick his nose under the 14, he would work his way into the race lead as the 14 fell into the hungry clutches of Ryan Lewis in 3rd. Gandee would set sail in the closing laps as Lewis and Montgomery vied for the number 2 spot. Picking up his 3rd stage win of the season. 

By the time stage 2 came around, Gandee had established himself a force to reckoned with, and further proved that assertion as the race resumed. By no means was Gandee far away the best car, but a tenth here, a tenth there. Over a 19 lap stage it adds up, especially when Lewis is once again engaged in a fight for 2nd, this time with Dennis Boggess. Unfortunately for Mike Montgomery, he would see his championship ambitions slip away. Victim of the races first caution when a number of drivers caught the treacherous turn two wall, the 14 found himself having to drive through the field en route to no points scored in the stage. Whereas Gandee carried a 2 and half second advantage across the line for his 4th stage win on the year. 

Gandee would show no signs of slowing down as the final stage began. Leading much of the race up to this point, he continued that trend through much of the final 53 laps. Though Lewis hung on as the closest competitor he would never seem to prominent threat to challenge the 48 Chevy. While Gandee's story was one of brilliance, Montgomery would only see his luck turn from none to bad, as once again contact between two drivers sent a car careening off the turn 2 wall and collecting the 14 of Montgomery to no caution this time round. Setting the 14 well behind the field from the onset of the stage. Besides Montgomerys' early agony, nothing overly exciting took place throughout the stage. Gandee continued leading comfortably even after 2 rounds of green flag pit stops. Boggess found himself having one of his best runs, battling consistently for 3rd with Wigent until after the final pit cycle. All was going smoothly as the race entered its closing laps but again Montgomery would find trouble as he and the 00 of Sam Wade would get together with 5 laps to go and bring out the races final caution. Though there have been several close calls, never had ORS had to go to a green-white-checkered to decide the winner. Before tonight that is, and what a finish it was setting up to be. Gandee and Lewis had elected to stay out as both had only pitted around 10 laps prior to the caution. While Boggess, Wigent, Dukes and the rest of the field were all on fresh tires. Two laps to decide it all, and from the jump Lewis got a terrible restart. Falling all the way to side by side with Dukes who had restarted in the 3rd row, but as the two were door to door, Wigent who had slipped in behind Dukes stuck his nose underneath of Dukes in the middle of the corner pushing the 99 into the 9, nearly forcing the two into the outside wall. While Lewis fell hard, Dukes somehow maintained his position off into turn 3. As the field raced towards the white flag, Boggess tried to stay tight to Gandee as he fought for a win himself but a huge shove from Wigent pushed Boggess into Gandee pushing the 63 high off of turn 4, allowing Wigent to have a monumental run down the front stretch. Momentum he would sail into turn 1 as Gandee opened the for just a moment. It would be enough and the 0 would push under the 48 of Gandee just enough for the 48 to get out of the groove and into the outside wall off of turn 2. From there it was a 3 car length gap back to Boggess and Dukes and more than enough breathing room to get comfortably through the final set of corners to see the checkered flag. For a seasons worth of waiting, Wigent would be winless no more in ORS's 6th season to become the 7th different race winner of the year. Dennis Boggess would hold on to a tough second place finish after having a competitive car all race long. Dukes would settle for 3rd as Richard McGinnis took full advantage of the late race chaos to pick up a 4th place finish. Through all of the ups and downs, Montgomery took advantage as well to salvage a top 5 out of the night. 

Despite not clinching the series title with a dominant win, a dominant race with 2 stage wins was more than enough. Zach Gandee officially becomes the Series 6 Champion after a stellar season. Leading the league in wins and poles, being named champion comes to little surprise to most of his competitors with as consistently fast this team has been. Congratulations to Zach Gandee as Las Vegas will be the perfect place to celebrate this accomplishment. As for Mike Montgomery, not the Dover race he anticipated through no fault of his own. wrong place wrong time seemed to be the sentiment he'll take away from the night. However, pride should still not be far from his heart. In his first full season with ORS, Montgomery has surprised everyone with his speed and racing acumen. He still holds an 11 point lead over 3rd in the points making Vegas still of importance. Aaron Dukes has found his consistency in the 2nd half on the season, notching top 5's in each of his last 6 races including 2 wins. With Shad Swatsworth out again this week, Dukes moves up to 3rd in points and within striking distance of possibly a 2nd place finish in the standings finding himself just 11 points out of the number 2 spot. Shad Swatsworths' provisional keeps the 46 in 4th just 7 points in front of Ryan Lewis, and 10 points in back of Dukes. Ryan Lewis was again the victim of circumstance at Dover. Poised to finish higher than 4th since Pocono, the late caution and subsequent restart saw the number 9 Chevy fall from grace yet again, crossing the line a dismal 7th. Though a good showing in the stages salvaged his points night, Lewis finds himself clinging to 5th in the points. Now 17 points behind Dukes in 3rd, Wigents' recent run of success sees the 0 team just 4 points in back of Lewis heading into the final race. One more for all the marbles, one more to set everything into stone and what a venue for it. Time to roll the dice one final time, it's Vegas baby! 

THURSDAY

December 19th

Outlaw Racing News

Montgomery Stamps Season Finale with Victory, Gandee Celebrates Bigger Prize

Las Vegas, NV - One final race to ring in the end of the year and the season. Much like the entire 2nd half of the season it had a little something for everyone. Once again Mike Montgomery and Ryan Lewis would duke it out for much of the race. Zach Gandee would snake from the front to the back, and back to the front again. Late incidents would drop potential great showings into forgotten runs, and of course Lewis would have his run of bad luck drop a potential winner to a back marker. After another fantastic season of ORS racing, the season has concluded its 6th full iteration. Dethroned is Aaron Dukes after seasons of success, Zach Gandee is crowned as the new champion of Outlaw Racing Series. 

The race in and of itself was a fairly normal race with great racing with a few cautions sprinkled in. Zach Gandee picked up his 5th pole of the season. Yet even early on the two contenders looked to be that of Montgomery and Lewis. The duo even going as far as splitting the opening two stages. Montgomery saw his two tire strategy come to fruition as Lewis would blow a tire, while Lewis would just outrun his competition in stage 2 just beating out Montgomery down the stretch. In fact for the first time all season every driver who lined up for the green received a bonus point to their name. Dennis Boggess was the only driver not to notch a stage point, but his fastest lap by races end did grant him a single point on the night in another first for ORS matching Gandee's pole time of a 30.977. 

In the races final stage, much like stage 2, a caution changed the strategic game after a long run of 23 laps resulted in a three car wreck on the backstretch. Which of course setup a final 30 lap run to the checkers. Like how much of the race had unfolded, Montgomery and Lewis quickly went to work on each other. Swapping positions on several occasions, but this time a third contender entered the fray. Sam Wade found his speed late, staying right with the leaders coming to the final round of pit stops. Within this cycle would see the downfall of Ryan Lewis. The number 9 Chevy not only damaged his chances by blowing his right front coming to pit road but would also be turned on pit exit by the 63 of Boggess. With Lewis relegated for yet another week to the back, Montgomery looked to go untouched over the final 10 laps. Wade would keep the 14 Ford within a second but would never truly challenge for the top spot as Montgomery would cruise for the final 10 laps for his second win of the season to close out the year. Wades' impressive showing saw the 00 take 2nd, as Gandee rallied for another podium finish this season to put the final touches on a championship run. Richard McGinnis quietly finished 4th as Aaron Dukes put together another top 5 finish. 

A Season in Reflection:

1st - Zach Gandee - Head and shoulders above the competition in both consistency and speed this season. Though the finished weren't always there, the 48 was a perennial contender. To go along with his series-leading 3 wins, Gandee notched the 3rd most stage wins with 4, the 2nd most top 5 finishes with 8, the series-lead in poles with whopping 5, while also garnering the most bonus of any other driver with a resounding 80 bonus points. Much improved after last seasons 5th place performance in the stansings. This was a season to remember for the 48 team, and hopes to repeat come the series 7th iteration. 

2nd - Mike Montgomery - After only competing in a partial season a series ago and this being his first full time league experience in years, Mike Montgomery showed up and showed out. Proving week after week, especially as the season wore on, that the 14 Ford was a force to be reckoned with. Even though the latter half of the season wasn't as kind, it is where Montgomery struck pay dirt twice in the final 4 races. His two wins on the season was enough to throw him into a tie for 2nd most, while also tying for the most stage wins with 7. Combined with the backing of 7 top 5's (tied for 3rd most) and a pole, Montgomery certainly earned his runner up championship status. 

3rd - Aaron Dukes - In a not so normal place we find Dukes, 3rd in the standings, but after an awful start to the season it became more about rallying than fighting for a championship, and rally he did. After being stuck right around 5th in the standings much of the season a 2nd half turn around saw the 99 jump several spots on his climb out of the midfield. In fact Iowa in week 5 was the last time the 99 posted outside the top 5. He would grab 2 wins, to tie Montgomery for 2nd most, along with 3 stage wins, a series-leading 9 top 5's for the second straight season, and a pole. Even though it wasn't pretty most of the year grit and determination with a seasoning of high consistency see's a fair reward for the 99's season. 

4th - Ryan Lewis - You could be excused for thinking this man be cursed. After a roaring start, one that rivaled Zach Gandee, staying neck and neck among the top of the standings. The bottom essentially fell out. It wasn't for a lack of speed and certainly not for a lack of effort. There just was seemingly something always working against the number 9 team. Lewis would only post one top 5 in the final 6 races. Even with that working against him, Lewis still posted one race win, tied Montgomery for most stage wins with 7, 5 top 5's and 2nd most poles with 3. Nevertheless, Lewis would be unable to improve on his standings position from last season with another 4th place showing. 

5th - Shad Swatsworth - In what should've been a hard fought fight for 2nd in the standings, we see Swatsworth drop to 5th by seasons end after missing the final 3 races. Instead of recounting what could've been, let's review what was. Swatworths' best season on record by far witnessing a pair of wins for the 46 team to include himself in the tie for 2nd, a pair of stage wins, and 6 top 5's even with missing the said races. He remained in the championship hunt well into the season, even when his blip vanished from the radar. Swatsworth made a name for himself this season, marking himself a competent adversary week in and week out. 

6th - Pacey Wigent - Quite the disappointing year for the lad, not finding victory lane until a controversial ending at Dover finally saw the 0 team celebrating. After finishing no worse than 4th in any of the previous 8 championships, Wigent fought within the midfield much of the season, not making a push for 6th until the final races. Yet a few silver linings do exist for the team that had high hopes entering the season. He didn't go win-less picking up his one win in week 11, while also notching his one stage win the week before. 6 top 5's and 2 poles also go to his name. 

7th - Sam Wade - A tumultuous season for the young man. Peaks and valleys galore, but much along the same vein as last season a 7th place showing in the standings. That's not to say the 00 team had a disappointing season, just some unfortunate races. Comparatively Wade had a fantastic season, wading just outside the top 5 in the standings through much of it. Sacking the season opener by out strategizing the perfectionist himself in Aaron Dukes. He would also tie for 3rd most top 5's this season with 7, more than twice as many the season prior. Wade may take the next leap forward next season, becoming a weekly contender at the front. 

8th - Richard McGinnis - In his first season back in several seasons, one of the original founders came back to a league even more competitive then when he left it. Being a midfield driver for most of the season, McGinnis did find himself challenging for the race win more than a few times this year. On the back of 5 top 5's McGinnis had a solid season in his comeback year, hoping to improve next season. 

9th - Dennis Boggess - Improving from last season, Boggess was a contenders a couple times this season. Yet his propensity for testing strategies mid race found the 63 off the lead lap quite a bit. Compared to last season, this season was a step in the right direction in terms of speed but matched his numbers from last season with 2 top 5's yet again. 

10th - Kurtis Swatsworth - Much in the same vein of Boggess, Swatsworth was moving in the right direction in comparison to the season before. Speed was much improved as well as race craft. Though not yet contending for wins, Swatsworth is contending for top 5's but luck fell against him more times than not keeping the 51 team from notching one this season. 

I do want to thank all of our drivers for another successful season of ORS racing. I appreciate you all more than I could ever express for sticking with us season after season. Enjoy the holidays and time away from racing, and look to come back next season refreshed and raring to go!

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