If you’re going to win your first one, you might as well make it a big one.
That’s exactly what Brian Brown did Saturday night when he ended 13 years without a World of Outlaws Sprint Car victory with the 30-lap World Finals victory at the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Brown rocketed past Friday night’s Sprint Car winner Daryn Pittman with three laps remaining to end a WoO winless streak that also included two second-place finishes in Charlotte and three straight runner-up results in another prestigious Sprint Car race, the Knoxville (IA) Nationals.
But Saturday, it was Brown’s moment to shine beneath the Charlotte lights in front of a sold-out crowd on World Finals Saturday.
“To win your first one, there is nothing better to do it in front of 30,000 of your friends,” said Brown. “These guys take these Outlaw wins for granted. We have tried a lot and we have ended up with a lot of second-place finishes. I thought I almost gave that one away tonight. Daryn got going good and we buckled back down and I said I am going to give it all I got. Either I am going to put it in the fence or I am going to win this. I got a good run off two and I crossed Daryn over.”
Brown savored every minute of his victory celebration in front of those 30,000 fans he called friends after the race.
“I know I am rambling on here, but I have waited 13 years to get this,” added Brown. “I can take an extra few minutes. I know the fans have a choice on what they do with their money but we sure do appreciated it when they come out and support us at a dirt track race.”
Saturday’s late-race drama started in the first A-Main of the night, the 40-lap Super DIRTcar Series Modified feature. Danny Johnson picked up his first win in Charlotte in his decorated Super DIRTcar career by passing 14-year-old Tyler Dippel when Dippel hopped the cushion in turn four while leading with two laps to go.
Johnson, a three-time Super DIRTcar Series champion, blasted to the top spot when Dippel made his late mistake and held off Brett Hearn and Friday night’s Modified winner Stewart Friesen to the checkered flag.
“It’s awesome to finally be in victory lane in Charlotte,” said Johnson. “I am just as excited for my team, this is a big accomplishment.
“I had a good working car. You run up top and you run against that wall and then you end up hitting it. Then things don’t go well for you. I like running down on the bottom. You can be in a safe zone and be able to be here in victory lane.”
After both Johnson in the Super DIRTcar Series feature and Brown in the Sprint Car main both had late-race heroics, naturally the World of Outlaws Late Model Series would also come down to some late drama.
Dirt Late Model standouts Jimmy Owens, Tim McCreadie and Scott Bloomquist ran three wide in the closing stages of the World Finals Saturday finale, the 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series feature. In the end, Owens withstood the threats from both his closest challengers to pick up the season-ending victory in Charlotte.
“To finish out the year with a win is great,” said Owens. “It’s been an inspectional year with a lot of ups and downs. We had a real good car. It’s awesome to come here and finish the season with a big win in front of this crowd.”
Champions were also crowned Saturday from all three divisions in action at Charlotte, but only one came right down to the wire.
Billy Decker picked up his third Super DIRTcar Series crown, overcoming a 20-point deficit Saturday night. Matt Sheppard entered Saturday’s feature with a 20-point lead on Decker, but Sheppard struggled and only mustered a 10th-place finish. Decker finished fourth, which gave him a six-point title advantage at the end of the night.
Donny Schatz had already clinched his sixth World of Outlaws Sprint Car championship going into Saturday’s action, but he still put on a show in the feature. He was spun from a top-five position early in the 30-lap A-Main Saturday, but he drove from 24th on the ensuing restart all the way to fourth at the checkered flag.
Darrell Lanigan also had locked up his World of Outlaws Late Model Series title even before World Finals Saturday. The winner of Friday’s Late Model A-Main finished fifth Saturday night.
Speed51.com will have more from all three divisions’ champions in the coming weeks.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director
– Photo credit: Brenda Meserve/Speed51.com