The World of Outlaws Dirt Late Model Modified national racing series visited Georgetown Speedway on Thursday, Aug. 16, for the annual Fulton Bank 40-lap $10,000-to-win race. The Georgetown Speedway race was the first of a four-race weekend as the Series made its way through the Northeast.
Dirt-track racers and their fans have a saying that goes, “Asphalt’s for getting there; dirt’s for racing on.” Late Model World of Outlaws Dirt Modified driver Chris “Smokey” Madden and his team certainly saw lots of asphalt on their 600-mile journey on Aug. 16, hauling from their base in Gaffney, S.C., (Cherokee County’s seat) to Georgetown Speedway in Sussex County’s seat.
They came with plans to kill two birds with one stone — win the race and expand their lead in the national points chase.
Madden got both birds.
A standing-room-only capacity crowd was on hand to witness the battle for the championship points. Proof of the crowd’s size: the 50/50 winner won $4,732.
At the drop of the initial green flag, Madden rocketed off the outside pole and wasn’t seriously challenged leading the 24-car field with perfection for 40 laps. After 34 laps of green-flag racing, the field was forced to restart when Brent Larson’s right-rear tire went down in Turn 3, bringing out the yellow caution flag with just six laps of racing left.
“The caution didn’t really worry me,” said Madden after his seventh World of Outlaws win this season. “It gave us a chance to get into some clean air. We knew tires was going to be an issue, and we wanted to make sure that we got a comfortable lead here.
“We didn’t want to get into lapped traffic too much, and just maintain our lead there. I want to thank my sponsors, Millwood Plumbing, Harrison Amusements, C&H Paving, Davis Diesel Service, Clements Automotive, Isky Racing Shocks and Hoosier Racing Tires South.”
Heading into last Thursday’s race, Madden owned a narrow national points lead over Mike Marlar and defending series champion Brandon Sheppard. After the Aug. 16 win, Madden was just 32 points ahead of Marlar and 40 points over Sheppard.
Rick Eckert’s second-place finish was his highest of the season. Eckert trailed Madden by just 0.694 seconds. Sheppard was third across the stripe, 1.690 seconds late. Marlar finished fourth, and Devin Moran completed the top five.
Millsboro native Amanda Whaley — the field’s only female — was recognized as the night’s KSE-Racing Hard Charger. Whaley, 23, started 11th and valiantly fought her way into a sixth-place finish.
Other locals in the field included Donald Lingo Jr., of Millsboro, who finished ninth. Seaford’s Ricky Elliott was 12th, for his series-best finish of the season. Georgetown natives Mark Pettyjohn and Ross Robinson were 13th and 14th across the stripe, while Seaford native Austin Hubbard was 22nd.
Including Thursday’s $10,000 purse, Madden has a total earning of $179,250 to date. Marlar has earned $150,675, and Sheppard, who has 11 wins on the season, is the largest earner of the top five, collecting $238,555 in purse money thus far this year. Sheppard is currently ranked third nationally in the Sears Series, Moran is fourth and Shane Clanton is fifth.
Three support classes competed that night as well: Delaware Super Trucks, Delmarva Chargers and Little Lincoln Cars — each racing 12 feature laps.
Delmar native Robert Smith piloted his 1998 Ford Ranger to the top of the Delmarva Super Truck’s podium.
“The truck was good all night,” Robert Smith said after his win.
David Smith followed his brother across the stripe for second place. Rounding out the top five were Dale Elliott, who has won twice at Georgetown Speedway this season; and Matt Esham, fourth, and Brian Meisenholder, who finished fifth.
Bloxom, Va.-based Jerry Barker showed the Delmarva Charger racers across the stripe.
“The Chevy Cavalier handled good,” Barker said.
Ashley Merritt fought off challenges from Chris “Tippy” Martinez on her way to a second-place finish. Robert Paczkowski was third under the checkers, followed by Derek Swafford and John Bailey.
Piloting the Stockley Tavern/Leisure Point-sponsored 1957 Chevy was hometown favorite Kirk Lawson, grandson of the track’s founder, Melvin Joseph. Lawson started in the rear of the Little Lincoln field and had to fight his way through for the lead. Once there, Lawson hung on the track’s high side for the rest of the race.
Landy Adams tried to close the gap in the final laps, but never seriously challenged Lawson’s lead. Wayne Seaton was third, Jordan Herbert finished fourth, and Ryan Walsen completed the top five.
“We just got up on the top side,” Lawson described. “The track’s got a lot of bite in it,” he said of the conditions on Aug. 16, “and we were real happy up there. We started in the back, and it took us a little bit to get up there, but we pulled it through.”
Racing returns to Georgetown Speedway on Tuesday, Aug. 28, with a rain date of Aug. 29. That night, VAHLCO Wheels will present “Blast at the Beach” for the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) fueled By Sunoco. Big Block/Small Block Modifieds will be offering $5,000 to win. In addition, the STSS Crate 602 Sportsman class will be competing for $1,000, along with Delmarva Chargers and the Delaware Super Trucks.
The Aug. 28 race will be televised nationally on MAV-TV. Jones Racing Products will also offer sponsorship.
By Bruce C. Walls
Special to the Coastal Point