While many things have changed in the 1,031 days since the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models last raced at Atomic Speedway, one thing remained the same — Tyler Erb finished on top.
Erb, of New Waverly, TX, held off a monster challenge from four-time and defending Series champion Brandon Sheppard in Friday’s Feature to win the opening night of Atomic’s Outlaw Invasion.
Through the first 30 laps of Friday’s Feature, Erb couldn’t be touched before Sheppard challenged him late. Sheppard, a four-time Series champion from New Berlin, IL, tried high and low to sneak by Erb, but the Lone Star State competitor stayed one step ahead.
The victory is Erb’s third career World of Outlaws triumph — all coming at Atomic Speedway. He stated he needed a strategy to walk away with the $10,000 prize in the closing laps.
“I could see in [Turns] 1 and 2 obviously he was beneath me, but I couldn’t figure out how [Sheppard] was getting a run on me,” Erb said. “Before that, I was entering in the middle/top of 3 and 4 and just kind of carrying my momentum. Then when I seen him beneath me, I just kept chopping the corners.
“I was really searching in 3 and 4, and I could never really figure out the right line, and I figured if I ran on top in 1 and 2 the last 10 laps, he’d have to be really good in 3 and 4 to pass me.”
The Texas campaigner stated he loved the banking Atomic offers and ran well on that type of track in the past.
“I really enjoy this place; I don’t know what it is,” Erb said. “I don’t know why it is. Any place that’s got banking like this, I tend to run well. It’s been good to me, and it’s been really good to Devin Moran, too. Hopefully, I’m taking a little money out of the pot.”
Sheppard crossed the line second, but was disqualified after failing the droop check in post-race technical inspection. He’s credited with a 25th-place finish.
Sheppard’s disqualification moved Josh Rice to second — his first top-five with the World of Outlaws in 2022. Rice, of Verona, KY, felt his car’s handling was off, otherwise he would’ve contended for the win.
“We started out really good, I thought we had a shot out there to start,” Rice said. “The left rear was kind of chewed up after that Heat Race, so we grounded it down to make it work the best we could.
“I have to get where I can just steer a bit better [Saturday]. I feel like I have to sling it very hard to get it to turn, and then I’m just free after that.”
The Rookie of the Race, Tanner English, was credited with a third — his first top-five of 2022. English, of Benton, KY, debuted a new Rocket XR1 Friday, a car he was pleased with for its first night out.
“I felt like we were running the same speed as the leaders,” English said. “I felt like we had a car to win, but I got together with another car early in the race and knocked the toe out. I’d like to have known what it was like if that hadn’t of happened.”
Series points leader Dennis Erb Jr. was credited with fourth, his fourth top-five of 2022. The Carpentersville, IL driver stated he needed a better start to the night to help his chances of finding Victory Lane.
“I wish we would’ve started up a little closer tonight, but the car worked real good, and I was able to maneuver up through there,” said Erb, who is not related to the winner despite sharing the same last name. “We’ll take it and go on to [Saturday] night, and hopefully, we can be up there again and hopefully start closer to the front to make it a little easier.”
The fourth-place finish helped Erb gain points in the Series standings. He’s now 42 points ahead of rookie Max Blair.
Jacob Hawkins, from Fairmont, WV, rounded out the top five.
Tyler Erb now has the most wins in World of Outlaws history at Atomic Speedway — a number he’d like to add to. Another win on Saturday gives him two-weekend sweeps — four years apart.
The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to action Saturday, April 23, at Atomic Speedway for the Outlaws Invasion finale — a 50-lap Feature paying $15,000-to-win.
If you can’t make it to the tracks, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.
CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 1T-Tyler Erb; 2. 11R-Josh Rice; 3. 81E-Tanner English; 4. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 5. 37-Jacob Hawkins; 6. 111V-Max Blair; 7. 71-Hudson O’Neal; 8. 9-Devin Moran; 9. 29-Darrell Lanigan; 10. 1R-Josh Richards; 11. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 12. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 13. C9-Steve Casebolt; 14. B1-Brent Larson; 15. 99-Chub Frank; 16. 16-Tyler Bruening; 17. 29C-Clint Keenan; 18. 99B-Boom Briggs; 19. 95-Jerry Bowersock; 20. 45-Kyle Hammer; 21. 53C-Andy Bond; 22. 20-Todd Brennan; 23. 44H-Dave Hess Jr; 24. 1AM-Austyn Mills; 25. (DQ) 1-Brandon Sheppard Fox Factory Hard Charger: Gordy Gundaker +12