Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Defending World of Outlaws late model champion Dennis Erb Jr. scored the opening night win of Illinois Speedweek in dramatic fashion, besting Bobby Pierce with laps of persistent pressure on the low side to win at Spoon River Speedway Wednesday night (May 10).
Polesitter Pierce led for the first 40-plus laps of the event, but mid-race saw Erb begin to make progress running his customary “catfish” line on the bottom of the track. The deciding moment came inside of five laps to go when Pierce made contact with the lapped car of Ross Robinson, slowing his high-side momentum enough for Erb to drive off to the race win.
Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: The Gettysburg Clash for the World of Outlaws won’t go down as a race of the year candidate like Spoon River might after lagging in its midsection, but the finish definitely will. Anthony Macri ran the cushion to perfection exiting turn 4 on the final lap, besting polesitter Brent Marks by leading only the lap that matters at Lincoln Speedway in Pennsylvania.
Macri’s win was the first for the Pennsylvania Posse in Outlaw competition in 2023.
What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning
Wednesday night showcased exactly what mid-week racing can and should be, and not just in terms of excellent on-track action. Both the Outlaws at Lincoln and the Flo Racing late models at Spoon River had their headline features on the track by 9 p.m. local time. And the Flo Racing program did that despite having two classes.
Also on this note, Kyle Larson’s comments about sprint cars needing starters for the sake of keep the show moving played out in real life.
In case anyone forgot, back in March when the Outlaws made their first visit of the season to Lincoln, someone cheekily wrote “Posse” in chalk on the racing surface in turns 3 and 4. This time around, there was no such grandstanding and the Posse went 1-2 in the finishing order, leading all 35 laps. Talk is cheap.
I don’t know if it was as simple as the weather being warmer and the rain finally letting up a little bit, but there was a very noticeable difference between the Lincoln Speedway surface this Wednesday night and when the Outlaws visited back in March. The fact there were two grooves in play during heat races is a rarity on many Pennsylvania ovals. And the facts speak for themselves. Not only was the feature decided by a last-corner pass, both the Last Chance Showdown and final heat race were also decided by inches.
And a picture’s worth a thousand words.
The Texas Dirt Track remains overgrown, but the facility’s smaller micro sprint track does have life to look forward to in 2023, with the announcement today that Micro Mania will return for its second year in September. No commentary here other than it’s nice to see some form of dirt racing taking to the Texas Motor Speedway campus. It still remains a crime that the actual dirt track at TMS has been left to rot.
Though it’s also worth noting that Christopher Bell’s name is nowhere to be found after his name was all over the event’s promotion a year ago. Joe Gibbs Racing putting the kibosh on more open-wheel exploits?
Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day
There will be no shortage of coverage both of the Marks/Macri battle at Lincoln and the Erb/Pierce/Davenport duel at Spoon River, so we’re going to go off the beaten path a little bit for tonight’s shoutouts. Tonight’s shoutout goes to Robinson. Yes, the lapped car that played a large role in deciding Wednesday’s late model race at Spoon River gets a shoutout because rather than taking a lazy spin, he stayed in the gas and kept the feature green with the race on the line. Very sporting.
Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night
Tyler Erb saw a likely top-five finish in the late model feature at Spoon River go out the window courtesy of a busted driveshaft.
In Pennsylvania, local driver Billy Dietrich put only one wheel out of place over the course of the 12-lap Last Chance Showdown, but that was enough to allow Cory Eliason to steal the last transfer spot and keep him out of the Gettysburg Clash A-main.
Dirt tracks that ran an oval track program in the U.S. Wednesday night.
The nation’s largest car count Wednesday night, the Dirt Duel at Stuart International Speedway in Iowa.
The nation’s top purse Wednesday night, paid to the Illinois Speedweek late model winner at Spoon River (Erb Jr.)
Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Friday morning (May 12) with continued coverage of Illinois Speedweek, this time from the Lincoln Speedway. Coverage can be found Flo Racing.
About the author
Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.
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