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.
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 Super Dirt Week 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.
Traditionally, this event is close to a sell out or is standing room only by the time Saturday afternoon rolls around. You'll want to purchase them in advance here! Tickets
Remember that you should take advantage and re-enroll in your ticket program for 2017 while you're there, saves time and money and you'll normally get a gift for doing so for just a small amount of money down!
Here's a basic overview for you with more specific information here:
Keep in mind that the program for any day can be moved up or down at any time with changing weather conditions. If threatening weather is lurking (doubtful this weekend), be sure to check back for updates.
Action gets underway at 6 PM with Time Trials for Sprints, Late Models and Modifieds as well as heats for the Mods to break up the time trial segments.
Friday night kicks off two straight nights of complete programs for Sprints, Late Models and Big Block Modifieds with preliminary action (Modified Bmains, followed by heats for Late Models and Sprints) starting at 4:45 PM. (If you live in the area, beg your boss to let you out by 3 PM to avoid the traffic snarls!! After those, there'll be Late Model and Sprint Last Chance Showdowns and the three feature events. Feature order: Modifieds/Late Models/Sprints
On Saturday, you'll find basically the same railroad schedule that you saw on Friday. Feature order: Modifieds/Sprints/Late Models
As of right now, the forecast looks as good as it's looked in recent memory. There's a forecast for sunny days and clear nights on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday it looks like there could be some showers in the area, but not a certainty by any stretch. And whatever falls can be worked in at a fairly fast pace with the amount of prep equipment on hand. Worst case scenario, grab a hot dog or a slice of pizza and stay dry in the concourse for a bit talking with other race fans. Or at the absolute worst case level, the festivities can be rolled into the final two nights. Doesn't look like that's the case this week though. At any rate, to stay up to date with the forecast (75 degrees on Saturday for the high!), check this link with the area weather from The National Weather Service-Concord, NC
Things To Do:
|Go Pro Motorplex is a favorite destination at World Fin|
Eat at Cook Out at least once! You'll be thanking us!
- Head to Go Pro Motorplex and get your Go Kart On!
- Waffle House after the races, always recommended!
- Visit NASCAR Hall of Fame, DIRT is part of it's history (a big part)!
- Visit Twin Peaks if you're there on Wednesday night for the Kickoff Party! Billy Moyer Jr., Shane Stewart, Logan Schuchart, Brandon Overton and Brett Hearn will be in attendance
- Catch all the action LIVE on DIRTVISION/DirtOnDirt Pay Per View!
- Follow Along on Twitter @World_Finals
Have you put your contest entry into our Annual World Finals Pick'Em Contest? Why not? It's totally free of charge and makes the racing even more fun! Write down your picks so you don't forget them and you could end up with one of the three top prizes!
To play, just CLICK HERE!
Now...here's what to look for on the track!
Perhaps the only question here, is will Donny Schatz sweep or not. Not so fast. This weekend can be a crap shoot for Sprints. Last year it was midwest standout Dusty Zomer who broke up the Outlaw party, and before that, it was Brian Brown who came down and brought the crowd to it's feet and before that, Ohio native and ASCoC front runner Dale Blaney in thrilling fashion in 2012.
Traditionally though, the Outlaws have ruled the roost as Paul McMahan, Joey Saldana and Daryn Pittman have all scored wins as well as Sammy Swindell as an Outlaw. Ironically enough, the true Sprint master of the Dirt Track at Charlotte, Jason Meyers no longer partakes in national touring action, Meyers earned four victories in World of Outlaw action at Charlotte including one double.
The last man to double, was Schatz and while it's true that he could do the same this year, it's not as easy as it looks. The amount and quality of cars on display here might only be seen at the National Open, Kings Royal or Knoxville. And on hand will be some of the best cars from all the traditional hot beds and Australia.
|Pat Miller Photo|
If you're looking for an upset special, perhaps Kerry Madsen who once sat on the front row for a feature at Charlotte or perhaps Logan Schuchart who has taken his game to another level in the waning moments of the season including a victory at Port Royal in World of Outlaw action a couple of weeks ago. And one final dark horse to consider, Sheldon Haudencshild who comes into the weekend flying, on the momentum of his most recent ASCoC victory, his 9th of the year, at Atomic speedway in the series finale.
Josh Richards is set up to potentially break the single season record for wins on the World of Outlaw Late Model tour this weekend. And might represent the best chance at the weekend double since Jimmy Owens accomplished the feat a couple of years ago. Richard's season to date has been his most impressive in his career and he comes into the weekend as the clear and concise favorite.
|Pat Miller Photo|
Now then, time to tackle the elephant in the room. The "Fab 5", those that had been involved in pending litigation against World Racing Group and Eldora Speedway. First of all, as many of you know, Brandon Sheppard bowed out of the suit and should be in attendance (provided his penalty is paid), having won last year's Friday night portion. Scott Bloomquist and Jimmy Owens, who have combined for over eight of the Charlotte wins over the years, would need also to pay the penalty they were assessed as well as Gregg Satterlee and Ricky Thornton Jr. There was talk recently that they may be in the process of re-filing the lawsuit in North Carolina court as well which could play a factor as drivers who are still involved in pending lawsuits, generally are banned until litigation is complete. As of now, we're not entirely sure of who may or may not show up. But, assuming they do, Bloomquist would be a man on a mission and nothing would make him happier than sweeping the weekend himself. He is more than capable, though hasn't won at Charlotte in quite some time with his last win coming in 2009.
Jonathan Davenport immediately comes to mind as a favorite having won three times over the years including a win on night two last year. Davenport has been the biggest name in the Late Model off season movement activity so far and many have been alluding to what the future holds for him in 2017. But no matter who he's driving for, what kind of car, or what owner, it makes no difference here. Davenport and Charlotte go together like Owens and well...Charlotte. He has pulled off the hat trick, setting quick time, winning his heat and winning the feature on more than one occasion and could be Richards' biggest threat to weekend dominance, especially if Bloomquist and Owens are absent.
Two time winner Darrell Lanigan comes into the weekend on a little bit of a roll following his recent $10,000 victory on the red clay at Cherokee Speedway on Sunday evening. He'll be in the same vicinity, and on similar clay this weekend, and would like to end his 2016 campaign with some momentum following a season that has seen a lot more downs than ups. Also in the mix for potential victories are Chris Madden and Tim McCreadie who have both come very close to victory in recent years, have the equipment to get the job done, and know the track and setup like the back of their hand, they'll both be tough to beat.
Matt Sheppard and Stewart Friesen..Next! We wish it were that easy. It isn't. You see, poor Brett Hearn has yet to register a Super DIRT Car Series victory in 2016. And there's every reason to believe he's going to throw the kitchen sink at the field with one last chance to snag that win in front of a huge crowd in Charlotte. And to be honest, it wouldn't feel like a complete season without him getting that win for some strange reason whether you're a fan or not. Hearn has been coming ever so close in recent action with a stout performance at Super DIRT Week. He also had the annual Eastern States Weekend 200 at Orange County Fairgrounds all but wrapped up heading into the last lap when Friesen managed to make his way around for the win.
|Daylon Barr Photo|
Also keep an eye open for one Erick Rudolph. The Ransomville, NY driver has had an impressive run in the last two months that has seen him win seven of his last 15 feature events in either big block or 358 Modified action, as well as Super Dirt Week performance that almost saw him finish in the top five with a podium chance until he had to withdraw. Other than Friesen, he may be the hottest driver coming into the weekend.
Matt Sheppard.....has never found victory lane at the World Finals since the beasts from the North East were invited to the party in 2010. And while that fact is kind of astonishing, Sheppard has come very close at different points in Charlotte and still must be considered a favorite. He's had a season to remember up to this point and would nothing more than to put an exclamation point on it! Meanwhile, the doctor..aka Danny Johnson, will be looking to add another trophy to his hardware collection. The doc comes into this weekend not having had the best of years, and will be hungry to visit victory lane.
|Jeremiah Fish Photo|
Outside of the aforementioned, Tim Kerr, Tim Fuller, Jimmy Phelps and Tim McCreadie (three times) have all won features in Charlotte in the past. Kerr, Fuller and Phelps will be there, and at press time, McCreadie's presence is unclear. One more thing to watch will be for Australian Peter Britten who normally fares pretty well in Charlotte and has come close to winning before, losing to Hearn a couple of years ago after leading the majority of the race, and was in the hunt last year when Tim Kerr took the upset victory. With a good time trial effort, Britten might be the best underdog bet.