Tanner English’s third World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series Feature win of the season Thursday night was worth a lot more to he and his team than just another trophy in the cabinet.
With his wire-to-wire victory in the 40-lap main event at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, English garnered enough points in the standings to lock-up second place overall and officially clinch the 2022 Rookie of the Year Award.
This effectively settles the 10-month-long battle for the prestigious honor between English and fellow full-time Outlaw Max Blair. With only one race remaining on the schedule and the points advantage at 58, English now becomes the highest-finishing rookie in points in World of Outlaws Late Models history – breaking the previous record of third place, shared by Ricky Weiss (2019) and Tyler Bruening (2021).
“It’s big to me to be able to do that and get second in points,” English said. “Everybody’s been tough. Max has been tough all year, and [Ryan] Gustin… it’s just been a tough crowd, and it’s good to finish up front with all these people.”
It’s been a long and demanding season to this point, and in the 42nd race of the 2022 campaign at the World of Outlaws World Finals, The Kentucky Livewire made quick work of the field in the caution-free event that took slightly over 12 minutes to complete. At the drop of the green, English got the jump on polesitter Shane Clanton and won the mad dash into Turn 1 – a goal that he said was the key to the win.
“I knew Clanton was going to be tough getting into Turn 1,” English said. “It kinda helped me out when he pushed me up a little bit; I kinda pushed-up and hit that cushion coming off and it got me a good run down the straightaway.
“That was big. That’s what won the race. I feel like if he gets out front, he wins the race.”
Armed with clean air and the rest of the field behind him, English jumped out to a fluctuating lead of approximately 1.5 seconds on Clanton through the first 20 laps. As the laps clicked off, English dug further and further into lapped traffic, but never seemed to slow down or give up ground to Clanton.
English managed to maintain the solid gap in traffic until the final laps, when Clanton began to close the gap slightly. Try as he may, though, Clanton was unable to reel English all the way in and was forced to settle for runner-up as English crossed the stripe for his first career victory at The Dirt Track.
“I didn’t even think we’d make the show here,” English said. “I thought I was going to have to use some provisionals the way this place is. It usually takes some big motor here, and we don’t have that, for sure.
“It’s sung. It was getting after it, but it got the job done and that’s all you can ask out of it.”
Clanton crossed the stripe in second for the second-straight night. Though he managed to hold-off a relentless Chris Madden throughout the second half of the race, the 2015 Series champion said he knew how his car could have been better even before the race was over.
“We tightened it up a little too much,” Clanton said. “If I’d have left it like it was last night, I maybe could’ve charged harder getting into the corner. But when I drive harder, I’m too tight.”
Madden came home third after starting fourth on the grid. He was a strong threat to Clanton’s runner-up spot inside of 20-to-go, nearly pulling alongside him to make the pass at one point.
“I ran Shane down and ran up [beside] him and tried to move around a little bit, but the air would get dirtied-up a little bit and we’d get loose,” Madden said. “Overall, we had a good race car tonight. We just needed to draw a 1 or 2 I think and start on that front row.”
Madden’s strong Thursday showing makes up a bit for his 21st-place result in Wednesday’s Feature, where internal mechanical issues on the final lap struck him and ruined what could’ve been a top-10 finish. He’ll need those Every Lap Matters points, as they set Saturday’s Heat lineups.
“Hopefully, we’re gonna get a good starting spot for the Heat Race [on Saturday],” Madden said. “You definitely need to start on the first three rows, for sure.”
Wednesday night winner Mike Marlar crossed the stripe in fourth, while Rocket1 Racing’s new pilot Hudson O’Neal turned things around from Wednesday’s 13th-place run to complete the top-five. Scott Bloomquist was the FOX Factory Hard Charger Award winner, advancing six spots on his drive from 20th-to-14th.
The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models have the night off from racing action tomorrow at The Dirt Track and will instead headline Friday’s Fan Fest on the access road in front of the grandstands from 2-4pm. Full-time Outlaws and various other drivers in the field will be there with their cars signing autographs and taking part in the fun activities planned, then getting ready for the World Finals finale on Saturday night and the 50-lap, $25,000-to-win Feature event.
Tickets are available at WorldofOutlaws.com or at the gate on race day. If you can’t be at the track, watch every lap live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 81E-Tanner English; 2. 25-Shane Clanton; 3. 44-Chris Madden; 4. 157-Mike Marlar; 5. 1H-Hudson O’Neal; 6. 49-Jonathan Davenport; 7. 39-Tim McCreadie; 8. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 9. 17M-Dale McDowell; 10. 7W-Ricky Weiss; 11. 1T-Tyler Erb; 12. 8-Kyle Strickler; 13. 10-Garrett Smith; 14. 0-Scott Bloomquist; 15. 76-Brandon Overton; 16. 22-Chris Ferguson; 17. 93-Carson Ferguson; 18. 18D-Daulton Wilson; 19. 20-Jimmy Owens; 20. 111V-Max Blair; 21. B1-Brent Larson; 22. 15-Dale Hollidge; 23. 1-Josh Richards; 24. 22*-Payton Freeman; 25. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 26. 88-Trent Ivey; 27. 11-Gordy Gundaker