Finding Victory Lane at the right time can turn a driver’s season around. That’s precisely what Cade Dillard did Tuesday to win the FVP Platinum Battery Showdown at Outagamie Speedway.
Dillard jumped on the roof of his car with joy, and signs of relief showing from the smile beaming across his face.
The Robeline, LA driver, made his move on a Lap 15 restart. He ran down Brandon Overton in two laps, dove to the bottom in Turn 3, and slid up in front of “Big Sexy” to take the lead. Dillard used his momentum to drive away from Overton, pounding the cushion with speed to collect the $10,000 prize.
The “Thriller’s” fourth career World of Outlaws win comes in a season with few bright spots so far.
“It’s been a really tough year, and things haven’t went our way,” Dillard said. “We’ve been changing a lot on the car just to find something to get it clicking again. I knew [Brandon Overton] and [Brandon Sheppard] would be hard to compete with when we were lined up in staging. So to be able to outrun those guys is very rewarding for us. “
The Lap 15 caution, involving then race leader Ryan Gustin changed the entire complexion of the race. Dillard was running third when “The Reaper” spun, putting him on the second row for the restart. That’s when Dillard stated some luck fell his way as Brandon Sheppard chose the bottom lane while running second.
“I really expected [Sheppard] to restart on the top,” Dillard said. “I think there was a little mud on the bottom to kind of get you going, but I think it just so wore out down there, so we were lucky to get a good jump right there because if the roles were reversed and he was upfront, he would’ve been hard to get by.
Sheppard settled for second, his 16th podium finish of 2021. He also extended his points lead over Chris Madden to 88.
The New Berlin, IL driver knew passing Dillard would be a challenging climb to the lead once he got into second.
“[Dillard] was in the preferred line there, and once I got to him, I knew he was going to be tough to pass just because he rolled the top about as good as I could,” Sheppard said. “I could turn off of it and keep up with him, but I just wasn’t fast enough down low to be able to pass him.”
Madden followed Sheppard over the line in third after passing Overton late for the podium position.
The Gray Court, SC campaigner thinks he’s close to finding his way back into the win column.
“I know what I need; I just got to figure out how to get it,” Madden said. “We’re missing just a little bit right now, we’re steady and getting podium finishes, but I need just a little bit to get back into Victory Lane.”
Even though Dillard won the race, Gustin put on a show. He seemed destined to win his first Morton Buildings Feature before the incident on Lap 15, when trouble in traffic forced him to spin in Turn 3.
“I don’t know what that [lap car] was doing,” Gustin said. “It looked like he was going to the bottom, and he pulled it to the right at the last minute, and I was already on the gas and couldn’t get off it. I tried and just ran it straight into the fence.”
After re-starting at the tail of the field, “The Reaper” was on a mission. He continuously ripped his right-rear tire off the cushion, thundering past drivers on the outside to grab a fourth-place finish.
“I was just mad,” Gustin said. “I was trying to get as many points as we can after we get wrecked leading. I thought it was our night, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Brandon Overton finished fifth, his seventh top-five with the World of Outlaws in 2021.
Cade Dillard’s win Tuesday gives his team momentum heading into a Crown Jewel event. If the “Thriller” can build off his triumph, he may be able to put his bad luck in the rear-view mirror and turn the season around.
UP NEXT: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet travel to Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, WI Aug. 5-7 for the 34th annual USA Nationals.
Morton Buildings Feature (40 Laps)-1. 97-Cade Dillard [$10,000]; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$6,000]; 3. 44-Chris Madden [$3,500]; 4. 19R-Ryan Gustin [$2,800]; 5. 76-Brandon Overton [$2,500]; 6. 28M-Jimmy Mars [$2,300]; 7. 16-Tyler Bruening [$2,200]; 8. 28-Dennis Erb [$2,100]; 9. 7-Ricky Weiss [$2,050]; 10. 0E-Rick Eckert [$2,000]; 11. 25-Jason Feger [$1,600]; 12. 12-Ashton Winger [$1,400]; 13. 66-Ron Berna [$1,200]; 14. B1-Brent Larson [$1,100]; 15. 99B-Boom Briggs [$1,050]; 16. 111V-Max Blair [$1,000]; 17. 3-Brett Swedberg [$1,000]; 18. 38-Thomas Hunziker [$1,000]; 19. 10-Paul Parker [$1,000]; 20. D1-Turk Letizia [$1,000]; 21. 1st-Johnny Scott [$1,000]; 22. 5-Lukas Postl [$1,000]; 23. 74-Mitch McGrath [$1,000]; 24. O3-Kyle Raddant [$1,000]Hard Charger: 66-Ron Berna[+6]
Qualifying Flight-A –1. B1-Brent Larson, 13.996; 2. 7-Ricky Weiss, 14.061; 3. 28M-Jimmy Mars, 14.14; 4. 111V-Max Blair, 14.148; 5. 15-Nick Anvelink, 14.171; 6. 19R-Ryan Gustin, 14.194; 7. 44-Chris Madden, 14.301; 8. 0E-Rick Eckert, 14.331; 9. 3-Brett Swedberg, 14.445; 10. 1st-Johnny Scott, 14.529; 11. 38-Thomas Hunziker, 14.651; 12. 66-Ron Berna, 14.755; 13. 5-Lukas Postl, 14.818; 14. 10-Paul Parker, 15.115; 15. 27-Derek Janke, 15.351
Qualifying Flight-B-1. 1-Brandon Sheppard, 14.127; 2. 28-Dennis Erb, 14.171; 3. 76-Brandon Overton, 14.33; 4. 97-Cade Dillard, 14.346; 5. 10S-Taylor Scheffler, 14.477; 6. 12-Ashton Winger, 14.524; 7. 16-Tyler Bruening, 14.572; 8. 99B-Boom Briggs, 14.615; 9. 25-Jason Feger, 14.795; 10. 74-Mitch McGrath, 14.948; 11. 33E-Chris Engels, 15.101; 12. 70-Justin Ritchie, 15.19; 13. D1-Turk Letizia, 15.244; 14. O3-Kyle Raddant, 15.294