Thursday evening at The Dirt Track at Charlotte saw the Super DIRTcar Series stars and cars run their qualifying events for both Friday and Saturday’s portion of the greatly anticipated World of Outlaws World Finals in Charlotte, N.C.
With 42 big Block Modifieds on hand, fans saw four groups of group time trials and heat races for both Friday and Saturday’s qualifiers.
Brett Hearn timed fastest overall for Friday’s portion while Billy Decker went on to take the spotlight with Saturday’s fastest time overall.
Friday’s heat wins went to Matt Sheppard, Max McLaughlin, Mike Mahaney, and Brett Hearn. Saturday’s heat wins went to Billy Decker, Demetrios Drellos, Mike Mahaney, and Keith Flach.
Mahaney was the only driver to post top-three qualifying efforts for both Friday and Saturday portions and win both heat races at the four-tenths-mine dirt oval and locking into the redraw for both features.
With qualifying in the books, Friday evening the Block Modifieds only had their consolations and a 40-lap feature left on slate. Unfortunately, the track was hit hard with rain all afternoon forcing the event to get pushed back a few hours. With sprint car and late model qualifying on the schedule, a late start, and a curfew, the Modifieds were only able to get their two consolations in, pushing Friday’s 40-lap feature event to early Saturday afternoon.
Saturday afternoons 40-lap feature saw Brett Hearn do everything he could to pick up the victory. Hearn’s victory was his fifth career win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and second Super DIRTcar Series victory of the season.
With just a handful of laps left on the scoreboard during the second main event, Tim Fuller was able to hunt Sheppard down in lapped traffic and make the winning pass to take the 40-lap victory. Sheppard and Billy Decker rounded out the podium in front of a packed house.
After setting the world on fire during Thursday’s qualifying, Mike Mahaney’s luck went down the drain in a hurry come Saturday afternoon.
During hot laps right before the first feature, where Mahaney was scheduled to start seventh, his steering box broke sending him straight into the wall, destroying the front end on the no.88 machine, forcing the team to bring out the backup car in a matter of minutes to make it out in time for the main event.
After closing into the top ten with a handful of laps left, Mahaney was involved in a late race crash, inflicting damage to the front clip, which ended with him getting towed pit side.
For the second feature, things were starting to look up after Mahaney drew third for the 40-lap finale. With only three laps into the race, Mahaney shredded a left rear tire forcing him to go pit side and regroup at the tail of the field.
Mahaney and the team were able to rebound and make their way to a 17th-place finish to close out their season.
Stewart Friesen flew in on Saturday after racing with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway to attempt to qualify and race Saturday evenings 40-lap event. Friesen jumped into Chad Jeseo‘s backup car. After missing the transfer spot in the consi, Friesen took a non-paid provisional spot which lined him up at the tail end of the field for the main event. Friesen was able to maneuver his way into 15th, unfortunately hurting his point standings, making him fall out of the top-10 in points and close out the season 11th in the overall Super DIRTcar Series points season.
Decker Closes Season on High Note
After setting fast time overall for Saturday’s portion and going on to win his heat race, Billy Decker was looking to be a strong force going into the final event. By luck of the draw, Decker and the no.91 machine rolled off on the outside of the second row for the 40-lap main event.
During the main event Decker put on a hard-fought battle for the lead but unfortunately got held up in lapped traffic towards the end.
Decker closed out the season with a third-place finish, his second podium finish of the season with the Super DIRTcar Series.
Going into World Finals, Matt Sheppard had a strong point lead over Erick Rudolph, but Rudolph was in a quest to wrestle the title away from the reigning champ.
After getting a flat while leading Friday’s portion, Sheppard was able to rebound and climb back into third-place by the time they checkered fell. Rudolph rounded out the top-five, allowing a 60-point advantage for Sheppard heading into the second main event.
After a stellar year for Rudolph, he came up short after posting a 20th-place finish to end the season during Saturday night’s 40-lap feature. Sheppard went on to battle for the lead with Tim Fuller and came up one spot short of the victory but was able to pull the championship out of his hat to collect his seventh Super DIRTcar Series championship.
Sheppard’s 2018 championship has now placed him second in the all-time Super DIRTcar Series Championships, just one championship shy of Brett Hearn’s eight championships.