Outlaw Racing News
Wigent Stronger Than the Wind in Chicago, Holds Off Malone in Late Shootout
Joliett, IL - A week removed from disappointment as Sam Wade once again stole the show in Hollywood, pulling the rug out from Pacey Wigent at Auto Club. On this day, Wigent carried his momentum from California and immediately flexed his muscled on the unique mile and a half just down wind of Chicago. Leading the most laps, and having arguably the dominant truck on the day, Wigent held off challenge after challenge late as cautions kept the field bunched, and emerged victorious for the first time this season.
The races opening stages brought forward some fantastic racing even from a sparse field of 8, after Dennis Boggess was forced to retire after the races second caution. Irregardless of the pack size, hard battles formed most of the day amongst the lead pack. Wigent along with Dylan Malone and Ryan Lewis traded the top spot numerous times in the opening stage following the 1st caution of the day. Yet strategy would play its hand, as Aaron Dukes would opt for the late two tire stop to put himself over 5 seconds up on the leaders after pit stops cycled through. Though Wigent and Malone were going to make for a close finish at stage end, Boggess would careen off the outside wall ahead of Dukes to bring the stage to an end, and Dukes his first stage win of the season.
Malone looked to be the man of caution free second stage, leading a majority of the stage even through heavy pressure from behind. Wigent, Dukes, and Lewis fought ruthlessly for 2nd before Wigent eventually made his way up and around Malone for the top spot. Sam Wade, Tyler Starcher, and Dewayne Anthony did end up catching the lead pack but at pit stops loomed, older tires soon spread the field out. Green flag stops saw a black flag for the 99 of Dukes, as Malone and Wigent came out together fighting for the lead through the final laps. Malone would prevail however after a misstep with the apron gave the 93 some much needed breathing room, and his first stage win of the season.
The races final stage brought added intensity, as well as added cautions. Four in total, after the first half of the stage went green. With the pack condensed, mistakes were magnified. However, Wigent proved to be at his best, only giving up the lead when his pit crew seemed to let him down under yellow. Even playing from behind, Wigent would waste no time picking his way back up into the lead. Malone seemed to be one of the few who could give the 52 Chevy a real run for his money, finding himself on the rear bumper of Wigent in the final laps, he would be unable to unseat the 52, having to settle for 2nd, as Wigent would lay claim to victory notching his first win of the new season. Lewis would finish the day 3rd just behind Malone and Wigent. As a door to door battle for 4th saw Sam Wade turn his momentum from last weeks win, into another top 5. On the losing end of the battle would be Aaron Dukes rounding out the top 5.
Wigents' win sees the 52 team stretch out an early championship lead over everyone, holding a steep 18 point advantage after just 2 races. Trying to keep the 52 in sight is the 27 team and Sam Wade. Picking up a much needed top 5 to go with his season opening win, as well bonus points that already have him nearly matching his season total from a year ago, Wade is looking good through 2 races. Hot on the heels of Wade is Ryan Lewis with back to back podiums keeping him 3rd in points, just 5 points behind the 27 team. Dylan Malones' strong runner up finish sees the 93 team rocket through the standings to 4th, as Dewayne Anthony in his first season with ORS sits 5th in points after a good showing through the first 2 races. Short track racing begins in week 3 with Iowa the first of four short tracks on the docket this season.
March 5th, 2020
Outlaw Racing News
Three Peat Broken Up in Photo-Finish, Dukes Edges Wigent for 34th ORS Win
Concord, NC - A week removed from sand blasting the competition in the Midwest, Pacey Wigent looked poised to maintain his stranglehold on the series following back to back victories early in the season. Never in ORS history has a driver completed the Three Peat. Few had the ambition, but none have nailed the follow through. Tonight, Wigent very nearly saw that vision come to pass. You'd be hard pressed to be any closer. A mere seventeen one thousandths of a second separated Wigent from a grandiose accomplishment, as in the final corner Aaron Dukes in a picture perfect overtake, just nosing out the 52 machine by inches to steal away his first victory of the season.
On a surprising note for the races opening stage was a rash of early cautions as drivers struggled for grip in the close quarters racing and green race track. Racking up an uncommon 3 cautions in the 14 lap stage. The cautions did keep the racing packed, and a green white checkered finish to the races opening stage would be a harbinger of things to come as Dukes and Wigent took the opening stage down to the wire, with Dukes emerging as the stage winner. His second on the season.
Stage 2 would be the only portion of tonight's race to go caution free, allowing the full 10 laps to play out some interesting strategies throughout. Where Dukes looked strong at the end of stage 1, Wigent took that helm come stage 2, inheriting the lead after the 99 Chevy spun on the exit of turn 4. Though the mistake cost Dukes the lead, he quickly righted his machine to pursue the 52 Chevy having to overcome a 2 second deficit. However over first 6 laps, Wigent was gone. Extending his lead to a maximum of 7 seconds over second place Dukes before an oversight brought Wigent back to reality. The team realizing the 52 was a lap short on fuel, Wigent would have to forgo his blistering pace for something a little more Ms. Daisy-like. In as much time as it took to build, Dukes ate away at the deficit in 3 laps time. Taking the lead with 2 to go in the stage. Wigent would attempt to keep the pressure but from an arms length, as Dukes would cruise to sweep the stages, marking 3 total on the season.
The races final stage saw a similar uptick in cautions much like the opening stage did with 3, bringing the total on the night to 6, causing havoc on potential strategy plays for the finish. Yet it wouldn't diminish the hard nosed racing out front as several others attempted to interject themselves into the conversation. Dylan Malone, the races pole setter, seemed to be only a step off from the top 2 drivers, as Michael Montgomery used the cautions to gain track position, restarting from the lead with 9 laps to go. However, much like he'd done several times already tonight, starting to his outside would be the 99 of Dukes, and much like he'd done each of the previous times Dukes would emerge with the lead by turn 3. However with the field bunched back up after a long green flag run another caution would hastily be bred. This time with Dukes at the helm, and Wigent alongside, the races final restart would leave just 6 laps to go. As the green flag dropped to put the race back underway, Dukes used a huge push from Malone into turn 1 to clear Wigent and try to open up some breathing room as the field sorted themselves out. Wigent would settle in second with Malone a close third for the moment. With each passing lap the intensity grew to a fever pitch as coming to 3 to go, the top 3 were all within a second with Wigent making a play for first down in turn 1. Dukes would defend the top spot keeping the 52 at bay as the pair raced off toward turn 3. Malone would do all he could but a lackluster infield section saw the 93 fall to a second and a half off the leader, as Wigent stayed just a handful of truck lengths behind the 99 of Dukes. Coming to 2 to go, the lead was a comfortable half second, but with how quick time can be gained or lost it was far from a comfortable lead. A good exit onto Nascar One, saw the lead grow but a slow backstretch chicane and abysmal final chicane saw all the time vanish as the white flag flew. Down into the turn one they would be side by side again, but one more valiant defense kept Wigent at bay, but a costly mistake was just around the corner. The defense left Dukes' truck a bit unstable in his entrance to turn 2, and his exit saw the 99 get sideways, and to catch it, Dukes slammed off the inside wall just before turn 3. The door had opened, and Wigent reaped the rewards. Taking the lead on the final lap. Dukes however was relentless in his pursuit to overcome his mistake, keeping the 52 within a few truck lengths through the infield section and down into the final 2 chicanes. The shot was there, as an excellent exit of the backstretch chicane saw the momentum shift as Dukes went on the offensive. Through NASCAR three and four, the lead was 5 truck lengths, then 4, then 3 as they came off the banking for the final time. Dukes set his corner perfectly, making a bee line for the finish, as Wigent would push wide, even slightly collecting the wall coming to line in a drag race. In the end, not even a foot would separate the top 2. A measly 0.017 of a second would be the margin of victory for the 99 of Dukes, and collect his 34th ORS win. Though he would see his three peat stopped short, Wigent continues his reign of terror, averaging a finish 1.5 over the first 4 races of the season. Dylan Malone was easily the third best car a majority of the night, earning himself 3rd and staying in the hunt for chase contention. Ryan Lewis would happily take 4th on an up and down night, while Zach Gandee would satisfy his teams goals, rounding out the top 5.
The Lady in Black lays in wait for the guys of ORS in a weeks time. Who will be the man of the hour and who will be the one left to hold the roses, check back March 11th as Darlington Raceway returns for the first time in 5 seasons.
March 12th, 2020
Outlaw Racing News
Swatsworth Tames Lady in Black, Outshines Gandee in Closing Laps
Darlington, SC - When Darlington comes to mind, caution free typically isn't the immediate thought. Then to consider the amount of green flag laps run and pit cycles completed that not a single driver finished off the lead lap makes the race that much more impressive. Though there were some bruises to mend, no hay-makers were thrown. The finish was still virtually undecided going into the final 10 laps, but with a truck that excelled in the short to mid run, Shad Swatsworth controlled much of the final stage en route to his first ORS win on the season.
Dylan Malone kept his pole position status safe for another week, rattling off back to back poles but would not hold the advantage for long. Zach Gandee who started alongside the 93 Chevy would emerge with the lead on the first lap. Gandee looked strong throughout the opening run, holding a 2 second lead at one point but Aaron Dukes would not let the 48 Chevy sail off into the sunset. Dukes would eventually get all the way to Gandees' rear bumper but would be unable to capitalize before pit stops occurred. Gandee would have trouble on his pit entrance, handing the lead over to Dukes on pit road. As the pit cycle ran its course, Dukes emerged with a sizable lead over Malone. With fuel mileage a concern, most of the field slowed their pace. Pacey Wigent took the opportunity to close on and eventually take the race lead but would have to pit as fuel ran out on the 52 team. All allowing Dukes to handily take his 4th stage win of the season.
Stage 2 saw Dukes lead the procession of trucks through much of the first run before the 99 team would run afoul of the officials drawing a speeding penalty during the pit cycle. However the front was a busy place, as Malone, Gandee, Swatsworth and Wigent all fought tooth and nail for the stage win. By a slim margin, Malone would hold off the hungry pack just long enough to secure his second stage win on the year.
The races penultimate stage saw everyone chasing one man. Shad Swatworth. Sporting the throwback Mark Martin Valvoline livery, Swatsworth proved to be a tough man to catch, let alone pass for the race lead. Apart from pit strategies cycling the 6 truck out of the lead for a sparse number of laps, no one was able to really give Swatsworth a hearty challenge. Dukes on a two tire strategy briefly held Swatsworth up, and Gandee short pitting the final stop put him ahead. Just not enough laps could elapse for Gandees' strong long run truck to come in. Swatsworth would stretch his lead out to a comfortable 2 and a half seconds, cruising to his 4th victory in ORS competition. Gandee, who seemed to be the only other driver consistent enough to hang with the leader, came home in a much needed runner up spot after a few near spins off of turn 2 in the final laps. Dukes saw his strategy work out in the end, able to notch third as Malone finished a close 4th. Wigent rounded out the Top 5.
Wigent maintains a strong points lead after 5 races, but Dukes has hit the ground strong after a rough start to the season rocketing to second in the standings after being 6th just 2 races ago. Wade has kept consistent, holding 7 points short of second and with an 8 point buffer to fourth. Malone with some solid finished breaks into top 5 in points for the first time this season, as Gandee makes another appearance into the Top 5. The Top 5 in points has become important going forward into the season, with Jerry Robertson making his first start of the season tonight, and earning his first points. The Chase field has grown to 5 drivers, and with 5 races to go until the Chase is set to begin, the race for the chase is primed as Ryan Lewis sits just 5 points from planting himself into the conversation. A trip back to middle America, and an ode to the high side huggers, Kansas Motor Speedway sits just a week away.
March 19th, 2020
Outlaw Racing News
Wigent Perfect in Kansas, Stretches Championship Lead
Kansas City, KS - In a race that spanned over a hour and a half long, Pacey Wigent was nearly untouchable through every minute of it. Essentially the race was decided by pit strategy as those who short pit seemed to come out ahead on track at a track where the high line rules all. Even on better tires, passing was at a premium and track position was worth more than gold. Yet for much of the race Wigent seemed to have a slight edge over most everyone. In a perfect points night for the 52 team, a third victory on the season has seen Wigents' return to form continue this season.
Though the opening stages, Wigent after the first pit cycle looked to be the truck to beat. Taking the lead in stage one and not relinquishing it until the start of the races final stage. Gandee looked surprising tough early on, as did Sam Wade whose pace this season has also slowly come into form. Yet it would be Shad Swatsworth who would show an equal pace to the 52 of Wigent. Though Wade and Swatsworth put up a fight, Wigent would claim both of the stages picking up his 4th and 5th stage wins of the season.
Come the final 84 laps, along with a whopping 5 separate pit cycles, the lead chaged hands multiple times from cycle to cycle. Gandee took the early advantage, usurping the lead from Wigent by under cutting the first pit stop and opening up an early 3 second lead over Wade, Wigent, and Swatsworth. By the end of the cycle, the group was essentially back together with Wigent taking the lead by the 3rd cycle. At this point passing was close to impossible as everyone was running the very top side. Position only changing with mistakes. Swatsworth would be the next to claim the top spot via pit road and would hold the lead through the next two pit cycles. With only the final pit stop remaining, Wigent would undercut Swatsworth by a lap, opening up a three second lead for the final 13 lap run. Though Swatsworth would massively close the gap to just under a second, Wigent would hold on with just enough fuel to claim his third win on the season. Swatsworth would have to settle for a close second, while Gandee stood satisfied with his third place performance. Wade saw a mistake cost time in the final few pit cycles, but would settle for a 4th as Aaron Dukes rounded out the Top 5.
Wigents' lead grows monumentally after week 6 to a huge 78 point advantage with 4 races until the chase as a tie for 2nd emerges behind him. Dukes and Wade share second in the standings as Gandee rises to 4th just 8 points behind. With mechanical failures claiming both Michael Montgomery and Ryan Lewis, Dylan Malone retains a top 5 points spot despite a provisional, but only 4 points separate Malone from relegation. Next week, for the first time in a few season, ORS returns to the half mile clay dirt oval for some down and dirty racing in the pits of Eldora.
March 26th, 2020
Outlaw Racing News
Dukes Holds Tough to Secure Second Win of Season in the Mud and Muck of Eldora
Rossberg, OH - A staple of the truck series is its unique stop-over in Rossberg, Ohio to tackle the half mile dirt clay of Eldora Speedway, where these 3400 pound beasts slip and slide in the mud. Underneath the prime time lights, the track glistens almost as much as the trucks but as the event wears on, mud and dust fades the shine and covers drivers and spectators alike. All the while wild racing is bound to occur. Tonight was no different. Racing was aplenty, 3 sometimes 4 and 5 wide racing, the action was palpable. Very nearly was tonight a feature of another photo finish. A few more laps and Pacey Wigent would've been in position to notch his 4th win, but Aaron Dukes used all of his early stage buffer to hold off the hard charging 52 to pick up his 2nd win of the season to remain undefeated in the dirt.
Dukes looked tough from the outset, taking his first pole of the season and setting the pace throughout stage 1. With only Wigent in tow through much of the stage until Wigent had an unfortunate meeting with the turn 1 inside wall pushing him outside the top 5. Without challenge, Dukes would cruise to lead the entire opening stage for his 5th stage win of the series. With the start of stage 2 and strategy playing mixing up the field, Dylan Malone would lead the field to green. The chaos that proceeded put a new meaning to racing. On fresher tires and adjustments, a hungry field was stacked behind Malone and Zach Gandee. As the front two fought side by side as stage 2 began urgency to retake lost track position. With the likes of Wigent, Dukes, and Swatsworth suddenly what was a two truck battle became a 6 truck rumble. Several times did the battles within the top 5 went 3 wide, even at one point being 5 wide for the top spot. Eventually, the action did calm down while Swatsworth worked his way to the lead going the long way around Malone. Soon Dukes would follow, settling in just over a second behind. Until Dukes spun as his truck caught the frontstretch wall wrong, dragging the 99 around. Much like stage one when second place made a mistake, Swatsworth would set the cruise control for the final 38 laps for his first stage win of the season.
For the final stage, once again strategy saw drivers further back surge toward the front with track position playing its crucial role at a place that can be tough to pass at. This time Dukes shot from 4th to the lead with Malone alongside, miring Swatsworth and Wigent in traffic. Dukes quickly went to work, clearing Malone out of turn two off the restart. Though Dukes wouldn't open much of a gap, that would change when the battle for second kicked off. Wigent looked to quickly dispatch of the 93, but a hard fought battle would then ensue between the two drivers. Malone and Wigent would beat and bang for a number of laps as frustration mounted between and behind the duo. Wigent would eventually win out but not before giving up a nearly 4 second deficit to Dukes. With 40 laps to go, Wigent would slowly reel in 99 of Dukes, sporting the throwback Terry Labonte Kellogg's scheme. Eventually closing into just under a second by the time there was 10 laps to go. Dukes however, would hold strong managing the gap well enough over the entire final stage to take the checkered flag clinging to a half second lead. Wigent, whose pace was virtually untouchable in the final stage would have to settle for 2nd on the night, while Malone found his rhythm to come home 3rd. Swatsworth would see his momentum continue with another solid points night finishing 4th as a wild battle between 5th through 9th saw Michael Montgomery emerge as the final top 5 finisher.
The points look essentially the same from last week with no one switching positions. However, the battle around the final transfer spot has cooled off for the time being. Behind a strong night, Malone has stretched out from his 4 point advantage to just around 22 points now separating him from relegation. With Lewis taking another provisional, and Montgomery and Swatsworth sharing continued success, 6th through 8th are only separated by a mere 9 points. Only 3 races remain until the Chase field is set. Who on the outside looking in will make that next jump and put heat on those inside the top 5 in points and who amongst those currently sitting safe will drop thier guard and lose out on championship contention? Those answers become clearer a week from today in ORS' 100th event at the famed Brickyard and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.