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CHAMPION'S HEARTLAND: Dennis Erb Jr. Wins Wichita Late Model Showdown, Earns First World of Outlaws Win of 2023
Polesitter Kyle Bronson grabbed the early lead, holding the top spot for the first six laps before a caution for Dustin Walker slowed the field.
On the restart, Ryan Gustin challenged Bronson for the lead, powering underneath the Brandon, FL driver, and taking the lead in Turn 4 on Lap 7.
But as “The Reaper” pulled away from the field, Nick Hoffman and Dennis Erb Jr. moved to the front, taking over second and third as Bronson fell out of the top five.
Hoffman started to close on Gustin but missed his mark in Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 20, opening the door for the defending Series champion.
Erb snuck under the Germfree Labs Rookie of the Year contender for the position and set his sights on Gustin.
He only needed two laps to get within a few car lengths of the #19R as Gustin started to work through lap traffic.
Then, in Turn 2, Erb found the daylight he needed on the bottom, diving under Gustin and taking the lead down the backstretch on Lap 22.
From there, Erb held off a challenge from Hoffman and was cruising to victory until a caution for Chase Junghans flew on the final lap, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
Hoffman tried to go around Erb in Turn 2, but Erb drove away down the backstretch, holding on to score the $30,000 prize.
“To get out here and win again is a really good feeling,” Erb said. “Things haven’t been going well this year. The car’s been good, but we’ve been caught up in some things. To get back here and get a win really feels good.”
Erb’s win is the 14th World of Outlaws CASE Late Models win of his career and the first in 364 days.
He took a patient approach despite only needing 22 laps to move from seventh to the lead.
“The car was running really good, and I was trying to pace myself and watch what them guys were doing,” Erb said. “I was able to get underneath them and get a clean track, and everything was really good there until that last lap. That caution at the end got me a little nervous. Luckily, everything fired off good, and we were able to hold them off.”
Hoffman settled for second, earning his fourth straight top-five, and 10th consecutive top 10 finish.
The Rookie of the race said once he left the bottom open for Erb on Lap 20, he knew he’d have a tough time getting back around the defending champion.
“No one remembers who runs second,” Hoffman said. “But we were really good, and I feel like we were keeping pace with Gustin. But obviously, Dennis just slipped by me. We missed the bottom one time, and he never misses the bottom.
“I tried the middle for quite a bit of time, and with like 10 to go, I went and blitzed the top and almost wadded her up. So, I thought I just better cut my losses here and run second.”
Hoffman’s runner-up finish broke a three-way tie for second in points between himself, Bobby Pierce, and Bronson.
The driver of the Tye Twarog Racing #9 is now second in points, 16 points behind Chris Madden, who finished 14th.
For a complete look at the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models points standings: CLICK HERE.
Tanner English rounded out the podium, moving from fifth to third on the race’s final restart.
The Benton, KY driver took advantage of a battle between Gustin and Pierce and seized an opportunity on the final lap.
“Gustin went in there and missed the bottom, and Bobby went underneath him in the next corner and got a little tight,” English said. “Both of them missed the bottom then, and I got a really good run off [Turn 4] and just snuck up underneath Bobby. Then I got a run on Gustin on the backstretch, and it all worked out perfectly. I needed a restart earlier,
“I felt like I was faster with them but couldn’t do anything with them. It just didn’t fall my way.”
Gustin, who led 15 Laps slipped to fourth, and Bobby Pierce rounded out the top five.
Early race leader Kyle Bronson finished 24th after breaking a rear-end on Lap 24.
UP NEXT: World of Outlaws Heartland Speedweek continues as the Series heads north to visit Off Road Speedway in Norfolk, NE, on Sunday, June 25.
Then, the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models head to Mason City Motor Speedway (June 27), Red River Valley Speedway (June 28), River Cities Speedway (June 30), and I-94 EMR Speedway (July 1).
For Tickets: CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Feature (60 Laps): 1. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 2. 9-Nick Hoffman; 3. 96V-Tanner English; 4. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 5. 32-Bobby Pierce; 6. 3S-Brian Shirley; 7. 1ST-Johnny Scott; 8. B1-Brent Larson; 9. 174-Ethan Dotson; 10. 54-David Breazeale; 11. 25-Shane Clanton; 12. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 13. 22-Daniel Hilsabeck; 14. 44-Chris Madden; 15. 97-Cade Dillard; 16. 30-Todd Cooney; 17. 18-Chase Junghans; 18. 14W-Dustin Walker; 19. 92S-Delbert Smith; 20. 28S-Dustin Sorensen; 21. 99-Jesse Sobbing; 22. 60-Kip Hughes; 23. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 24. 7D-Dusty Leonard; 25. B5-Brandon Sheppard Fox Factory Hard Charger: Brent Larson [+15].