Chris Madden had a pretty good idea his car was good enough to reach victory lane, but it was up to him to get it there.
He did just that.
Madden took the lead on the eighth lap and never looked back, holding off Ryan Gustin and Brandon Sheppard to win Saturday night’s World of Outlaws Late Model Series Dairyland Showdown and its $22,500 prize in front of a near capacity crowd at Mississippi Thunder Speedway.
Rochester native Dustin Sorenson capped off the night with a feature win the modified class.
“I’m not a cushion-beater guy,” Madden said. “I have always been told I couldn’t beat a cushion, but obviously I didn’t have a race car that could do it. Now I have a race car that can move over the race track. These guys have built a phenomenal race car and my crew did a great job and I went out there and did my part. Everything came together today.”
Madden started on the pole after winning his heat race, but it was Sheppard that took the early lead.
Sheppard had won Friday night’s feature race that came with $12,500 in prize money and was looking for the clean sweep that would have given him a $5,000 bonus in addition to the $22,500 that was on the line. But after Madden took the lead from him on Lap 8, Sheppard just simply couldn’t catch him.
“I needed to keep the lead in the beginning of the race,” Sheppard said. “He got past us there early and was able to hold everybody off. I think we had a fast car and one that was capable of winning the race. We were a little bit free there in the middle parts of the race, and I don’t know if that was just me or not.
“I think that the biggest difference was needed to keep the lead early in the race and it got top dominate. I was a little bit free to really run up on those guys. I could run up on them and then I was loose and just couldn’t get a good enough run to pass those guys. He did a great job. It was a fun race. It’s really a fun race track. They do a good job here working on this track.”
Bobby Pierce, who had the fastest qualifying lap of the day, worked his way up to third with under 10 laps to go and looked poised to put the pressure on Madden. But he collided with the wall on turn one and needed to be towed off with four laps to go. Gustin and Sheppard did put pressure on Madden, but the Gray Court, South Carolina native had the answer.
“I knew them guys were going to be there,” Madden said. “I watched them all weekend. I just knew I had to hit my marks and put my elbows up and do the best that I could do.”
It was the second win of the season for Madden and his 30th World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory. And as for the prize money, well, Madden knows where it’s going.
“This race car eats every dime I get,” Madden said with a laugh.