The holidays are behind us and a New Year is upon us. As the sun rises on 2020, so does the start of another exciting racing season and the newest stars of the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series didn’t disappoint in this weekend’s inaugural Battle at the Border.
This three-day race feature weekend began with a driver who started the first six months of the 2019 race season by blowing away the competition. He did the same just three days into a new year and new decade. After setting the PFC Brakes Fast Time and a new track record in qualifying, Chris Madden began his first feature series of the race season on the outside pole at New Mexico’s Vado Speedway Park.
Following the wave of the green flag, Madden quickly took the lead away from Ricky Weiss after a great move down the backstretch on lap two to kick things off in the 30-lap main event. Madden then continued to lead the way in a three-way battle against pole sitter Ricky Weiss as well as the 2019 World of Outlaws champion Brandon Sheppard.
While Sheppard continued to chase down the race leader in the closing laps, Madden maintained the race lead for his 28th career World of Outlaws victory.
“This win was pretty awesome, and it definitely gets our season off to a great start,” said Madden. “We had a great car and I hope that we can stay just as consistent throughout this race season.”
While Weiss missed out on a win in Friday night’s feature, second time was the charm in Saturday night’s 30-Lap feature at Vado Speedway Park. Although forced to start this race behind Friday night’s victor Chris Madden, Ricky Weiss would prove that he could rectify the situation on Saturday.
Although Madden and Cade Dillard led the field to the drop of the green with Weiss and three-time Series champ Darrell Lanigan following closely behind, last year’s champion also made himself a candidate for Saturday night’s feature win after racing his way from a seventh place starting position to set up a three-car battle for the lead between himself, Weiss and Madden inside of 10 laps.
Soon, the race’s only caution flew with nine laps complete, putting Weiss right on the rear bumper of Madden and eventually getting him a great run on the inside lane out of turn four to swipe the lead away at the line. As Weiss continued to dominate, the final eight laps led to a boiling point for both Sheppard and Weiss. Despite one heck of a duel, Weiss shut the door while Sheppard slipped up the track and said goodbye to his last serious challenge for the lead, as Weiss just stayed smooth and out of trouble in the remaining laps to get his first Series win.
“It was a great feeling to get this monkey off of my back,” said Weiss. “I just hope that Chris Madden is right: Once you get the first one, the rest are easy, and they even can come in six-packs.”
Sunday’s closing 75-Lap feature didn’t exactly lead to a six-pack of wins for Saturday night’s feature race winner. Instead, the Battle at the Border finale gave Robeline, LA’s Cade Dillard his first win of the New Year. Starting the race inside the top-5 with two-time and defending Series champion Brandon Sheppard setting the pace, Dillard found a way to battle side-by-side with three-time Series champion Darrell Lanigan on almost every inch of the 3/8-mile dirt track in Vado, NM.
Although no other drivers seemed able to catch Dillard or Sheppard, the final nine laps gave Dillard a chance to turn his MB Customs chassis #97 down off the fourth corner, freeing him to blast past the 2019 Champion and find a way to turn on the jets to score the first World of Outlaws victory of his young career.
After celebrating with his crew and embracing the other drivers in Victory Lane, Dillard had some time to let it soak in, and described the feeling of a national tour victory by reflecting back on the heroes of the Series he has long looked up to.
“I have watched these guys for a long time, back when I was Modified racing, and dreamed of the day of getting to race with them. Never in a million years did I think something like this, especially a win over them, would ever happen for me,” said Dillard.
The stars of the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series will be back at it at Volusia Speedway Park, for the 49th annual DIRTcar Nationals, on February 12. Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for the news straight from the dirt throughout the 2020 racing season.