Monday, November 2, 2015
2015 World Finals Preview
Let's get something straight. Most all of us know that there's a certain mystique to the legendary events in our sport. Every division on dirt has a super bowl which has been a prized destination for fans for many years. The sprints have Knoxville, the super lates have Eldora, and the big block modifieds have super dirt week in Syracuse.
What we're about to witness in Charlotte this weekend, hasn't been around for a fraction of the years of the aforementioned events. There's no legendary cup or trophy to enshrine a winner's name in the history books for all time. But there's still a great deal of intrigue. And the trophies are unique actually.
There's no six digit paychecks for any of the feature winners, but somehow the best of the best are all assembled. They come from Canada, Australia, and all four corners of the US.
The pit parties, ah yes those great campfire laden, alcohol fueled, pit bashes featured as part of the fun and camaraderie of all the "crown jewels" are only slightly present at Charlotte. This weekend is for racers, and the fans, not just for one last race before winter hits, you get that at your weekly home track, but to see the best of the best surrounded by more than 14,000 of the best fans in the world.
This weekend is as special to the complete dirt racing fan, as Knoxville, Eldora, or Syracuse are individually. And to be more accurate, it's probably even more special.
So whether you have your tickets in hand, still deciding whether you should make the trip, or can't make it but will be checking out the goings on via pay-per-view, we've put together a helpful capsule for you, our guide to the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte.
There are some 3 day tickets still available for $99, beyond that, you're paying $49 apiece for either Friday or Saturday. Better get yours as soon as you read this if you've not purchased them already, you can find them here.
Okay folks, we're not gonna lie here. It's looking a bit iffy. Parts of Thursday and Friday could see a shower or two, and there's rain in the forecast on Saturday. There's a few things to keep in mind here folks. First, Charlotte has every manner of track prep device and plenty of manpower and technical support. If the call comes to seal up and wait it out, it'll happen fairly quickly and be executed in an efficient manner. If we had to guess right now, Our own Trever Steele has indicated that Thursday and Friday should be doable, Saturday could be an all day rain event, but perhaps a window that evening if the day isn't too rainy. Also remember that this could change 100 times between now and the opening ceremonies on Thursday!
The track and sanctioning body reserve the right to alter the current schedule to accommodate racing on any of the three days, OR use Sunday if necessary. Keep yourselves flexible. But hey..it's a party, a celebration of the 2015 season, and there's plenty to do in the area if rain does delay things! To stay on top of the weather, try combining info from all three of the following forecasts by clicking on them
Basically, Thursday amounts to time trials and SDS modified heats. It's a good time to wander in the pits, check out where your favorite eats and drinks are (plenty to choose from), and just get familiar with the place. On Friday and Saturday, it'll be a lot of action and it'll be run off very efficiently. Be prepared for at least one complete dig/water/pack sessions midway through the racing. Sprints run last on Friday, Late Models last on Saturday, Modifieds start the program both nights.
To see the complete schedule for all three days, click here daily protocol/schedule opens as a pdf when schedule box is clicked.
Ways to Follow
So, you can't make it down you say? Not to worry, there's great pay per view opportunities, reasonably priced.
You can check it out via Dirtvision here
You can watch via DirtOnDirt.com here
You can also follow the action via twitter for updates and announcements:
World Finals Pick'Em
Want to enhance your World Finals experience? Why not play our 4th annual World Finals Pick'Em Contest? It's completely free to play and there's prizes for the top 3 finishers. You simply pick 8 drivers and their scores are added together throughout all three nights.
To play...just click here
Okay so what's going to happen? Who's going to win? What should you be looking for? This is where we turn it over to our writers who are going give you a glance of what to expect!
Kyle Symons - You have to look at Donny Schatz here. The man has won 31 World of Outlaws features this season, and he is always tough at Charlotte, but if there is someone who can slow him down and pick up a win or a possible sweep it is Daryn Pittman. Pittman was perhaps the fastest car at Port Royal this past weekend, but a late restart allowed Brad Sweet to pass him and drive off for the win in the late stages. There will be a very diverse field with great talent from Central Pennsylvania and the Midwest making the trip down to North Carolina for the World Finals this year, but look for Schatz or Pittman to be in victory lane at least one night. If I had to pick a sleeper to win a feature event I would go with Stevie Smith. The Pennsylvania driver who runs for Fred Rahmer was inches away from beating Brian Brown for the win on Saturday night last year.
Josh Bayko - Betting against Schatz at this point for any sprint car race is a fools bet. I fully expect him to sweep the weekend. In the off chance that splitting time between the sprint car and his late model has him off his game or an accident or blown motor gives him a DNF, then it's pretty much wide open as to who could/would win, but you'd have to give the edge to drivers with previous experience at Charlotte.
Tyler Beichner - Who's Donny Schatz? I'm kidding, obviously, but I'm going to give you three others guys that you'll see up front this weekend. 1) Brad Sweet. Hitting his stride late in the season. If the track develops any form of a cushion up along the wall, you can bet Brad will find the "sweet-spot" on it. 2) Stevie Smith. Maybe not a huge surprise that I mention his name. He almost stole a win here last year, and this year he and the Rahmer company have been even faster with there PA Speedweek championship and National Open victory. 3) Rico Abreu. Always fast when he hops in a sprint car and this week won't be any different. There's no doubt that he'll be rim-riding the top side at The Dirt Track.
Brian Compton - It is set up to be Donny Schatz versus the field, but if i was betting on someone other than the #15, I think Rico Abreu will beat the odds and win in front of a wild crowd on saturday night. Don't underestimate Brian Brown to improve upon last years 2nd place at the World Finals and take home the win either. I saw Stewart Friesen on some sprint car entry lists for Charlotte and will have my eyes glued to him to see if he can still wheel the winged sprint car against the worlds best like he did in the big block modifieds.
Gary Heeman- Okay boys, gonna throw one more name at you and that is one Mr. Paul McMahan. It's one of his favorite tracks, and he'll be looking to go out on a high note following his leaving his current team. Rico Abreu will also be another one to watch out for, but how about the low rider. Dale Blaney has a win here and another one is more than within reach. Having said all that.......Schatz.
Kyle Symons - The battle all year has been between Jonathan Davenport and Scott Bloomquist and I don't look for Charlotte to be any different. These guys will be tough all weekend, but don't sleep on Jimmy Owens. He has won the Saturday night portion of the World Finals for what seems like years now. Also look for Mike Marlar, who has been stellar since switching to Capital Race Cars to be in contention at Charlotte both nights.
Josh Bayko - It's hard to bet against Davenport and/or Bloomer for any late model race they are in attendance at in 2015. Bloomer has had a pile of success at Charlotte. Davenport, on the other hand, hasn't had the same success there, but then again, he hasn't had any years like 2015 before. As far as other dudes who have a shot, Chris Madden has always been fast at Charlotte, and has been damn near unbeatable since getting the Longhorn.He's got to be a favorite as well. It's hard to bet against Shane Clanton at any WoO show, so he can be considered a favorite, too. Josh Richards found a bunch of speed in the second half of the season and will be contending for wins too.
Tyler Beichner - Kyle beat me to it. Mike Marlar is the non-touring driver that I'm expecting the most from. Davenport, Bloomquist, Richards, Clanton, they'll all be up front. I'm more excited to see how Darrell Lanigan does in his debut for Clint Bowyer Racing and if Don O'Neal can quickly tame his new Club 29 chassis.
Brian Compton - I am throwing three names out there that may be on the podium, with any of them capable of winning. They are Josh Richards, Darrell Lanigan, and Jimmy Owens. Richards and Lanigan have had time to get their cars rebuilt and possibly redesigned (Rumley Rocket anyone?) I see them being more than ready for the year end event and looking for a boost toward 2016. Jimmy Owens had a chassis change to Barry Wright race cars this week and led all 100 laps at EAMS over a tough field of cars. Being in Barry Wright's backyard is not a bad think for Jimmy and he always runs well at the world finals.
Gary Heeman- There's only one driver in the history of the event that officially should have the keys to the Dirt Track at Charlotte...and it's Jimmy Owens! Although Friesen is on his way to earning a second key in the modified. Owens is feeling great in his new surroundings with the Barry Wright house car and will be a force. I'd also like to think that Bloomquist will come hungrier than most might believe. Not that he's got a huge chip on his shoulder, but he'll be looking to send a message to late model land now that chassis switch mode is in full effect. That message......"I'm still the boss!"
Kyle Symons - Stewart Friesen has been hot all year long even picking up a World of Outlaws Sprint win earlier this year, and I'm hoping he brings his sprint car down to Charlotte this year to go along with the Modified. Friesen always gets around Charlotte well charging on the high side and coming to the front. Brett Hearn regardless of where you're at is always a threat. Also can Tyler Dippel repeat the success he had last year at Charlotte when he battled hard with eventual winner Danny Johnson on Saturday night? Time will tell, but the Modifieds consistently produce great racing at Charlotte and this year should be no different.
Josh Bayko - I'd generally think that Friesen has to be the favorite, but I don't think he is this year. I'd look for a very motivated Billy Decker (as he has an outside shot at the SDS title) to be the fastest modified down there this year. I know, I know, Charlotte isn't exactly his best track, but I've got a gut feeling they'll figure it out this year. I also think Jimmy Phelps will be really fast this year.
Brian Compton - Once again I am going to go against the grain and pick Matt Sheppard to upset Stewart Friesen and Danny Johnson. I hope Lernerville regular Mat Williamson has a good showing as well, he had lots of speed this year and improved his finishes in races when he ran against better competition.
Gary Heeman- Friesen. He probably wins one. Can Matt Sheppard win, of course he can but The Dirt Track at Charlotte hasn't been particularly kind to him. Is that because he's been in tight point battles and had a lot to lose though? This year, he lets it all hang out and ends the year on a nigh note.
And that'll do it for us. If you're going, have a great time and enjoy yourself! Take in a go kart race, do some early Christmas shopping, see some race shops or maybe take a ride at the big track next door. There's no way to lose here, there's something for everybody!