The Textron Offroad World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte kicked off Thursday night with qualifying for all three divisions and heat racing for Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds.
A couple of familiar names like Matt Sheppard and Tim Fuller ended the night at the top of the charts as expected; however, drivers such as Mike Mahaney, Keith Flach, and Demetrios Drellos put themselves on the radar and proved to be strong contenders throughout the weekend.
Mahaney, Williamson, Sheppard, Flach, and Drellos set quick time in the first round of time trials, which would place them on the pole of their heat race. The heat races would go on to determine the starting line-up for Friday night’s feature.
Not only were those drivers quick in time trials, Mahaney, Williamson, Sheppard, Flach, and Drellos went on to win their heat races and a guaranteed spot in the feature on Friday.
“We come down here to World Finals with the best of the best drivers out here and proved that we were contenders,” Mahaney told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I think the car is good and will get even better as the weekend progresses. We’re just going to have to watch the track and see how it changes, but I know my guys are good at what they do and will give me a really good race car come feature time.”
Time trials for Saturday’s event had nearly duplicate results. Mahaney, Sheppard, Flach, Drellos, and Fuller topped the charts, earning the much desired front row starting spot for the heat races.
Mahaney, Sheppard, Flach, and Drellos brought home their second heat race win of the night, sweeping qualifying night, earning their place in Saturday’s feature. Fuller went on to win his heat race as well.
“To describe our night, I’d say that it’s pretty close to picture perfect,” Flach said. “It’s definitely a good start to the weekend, but we will see how it plays out in the long run. Like these guys are saying, I feel like we’re going to come here tomorrow and it’s going to be a totally different track and different ballgame all together. Hopefully we will be able to pay attention to what the track is doing and make the right adjustment to continue this good weekend we have going for us so far.”
As Flach had a picture-perfect night, seven-time champion Brett Hearn had a less than desirable night. Hearn encountered transmission issues before the second round of qualifying and heat races. The team quickly made the decision to go to backup car, forcing Hearn to start from the tail-end of his heat race.
“This is certainly not something we wanted coming in to this weekend,” Hearn stated. “It’s like nothing goes easy for us. We had a really good car to start off the night before we encountered our transmission problems. Then that just put us behind the eight-ball for the second heat race when we had to try and work our way from the back. But we have 40 laps tomorrow to really see what we can do and hopefully rebound from this and go for a championship.”
The Textron Offroad World of Outlaws World Finals weekend continues Friday with heat races for World of Outlaws Sprint Cars and Late Models, along with feature events for all three divisions and concludes on Saturday with feature events in all three divisions.
Race fans can hear from a handful of Super DIRTcar Series driver in the video recap available now on the Speed51 Network.
-By Madison Mabry, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos