SMOKEY RISING: Chris Madden Nets Third World of Outlaws Win of 2023 at Cedar Lake
Ricky Thornton Jr. and Hudson O'Neal will start on the front row of Saturday's $50,000-to-win finale
NEW RICHMOND, WI – August 4, 2023 – After fireworks entertained a packed Cedar Lake Speedway crowd, Chris Madden put on his own “Smokey” show. 
Night two of the USA Nationals saw Madden return to his winning ways at Cedar Lake, thundering around Hudson O’Neal for the lead on the first lap and never looking back, claiming his third World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series win of the season. 

Madden, who started second, wasted no time getting to the front as the field took the green. In one swift move, “Smokey” drove around the outside of O’Neal, the pole sitter, in Turns 1 and 2. Not even a caution with four laps to go could stop him from there as he cruised to the $6,000 win. 

The triumph is Madden’s first since Memorial Day weekend at Sharon Speedway—a track similar in size to Cedar Lake. He said he’s thankful for the supporters who stuck by him as he fought to return to Victory Lane. 

“We had a real good racecar all night,” Madden said. “We were just a tick free in Qualifying, and I wasn’t able to get off of (Turn) 4 to get a better lap. We had a great car in the Heat Race in traffic, and then we had a great race car in the race tonight.  

“We’ve been down a little bit. But my guys have been working extremely hard. I want to thank my whole team and all my sponsors for sticking behind us, and we appreciate all of them.” 

While he’s happy with the win, he’s also looking ahead to Saturday’s 100-lap finale—a race the Gray Court, SC driver won in 2019. 

“I know this place pretty well,” Madden said. “A hundred laps here; it takes some driving. So, we’ll see.” 

Madden also cut the deficit in the chase for the World of Outlaws Late Models championship. He’s currently second in points, 92 points behind Bobby Pierce. 

O’Neal crossed the line second—his fourth straight World of Outlaws top five. He lost the spot to English in traffic, before gaining it back on the restart following the race’s only caution for Jonathan Davenport on Lap 21. Despite missing out on the win, O’Neal said he felt Rocket1 Racing is gaining momentum toward Saturday’s finale. 

“We’re building, man,” O’Neal said. “We’re getting a little bit better. It’s been long couple of months, and it’s been a long road trip. As much as I feel like we’re getting better, we’re starting to find our way back to where we were a couple of months ago.  

“Tonight, we were just one spot short. But I feel like we have a really good race car. If we just keep building, then maybe we’ll have something for them tomorrow night.” 

English finished third, earning his sixth podium finish of 2023. While he was in second, the Benton, KY driver closed in on Madden with 10 laps to go, but never had a chance to wrestle the lead away from the #44.  

“We would’ve liked to have been a little better,” English said. “If our line hadn’t went away, we would’ve been alright. I had like a traction strip right in the middle of the racetrack and it kind of faded at the end, and it bit me. When it was gone, my car was gone. So, I have to figure out a little bit better deal to run through when it’s black.” 

Ricky Thornton Jr. finished fourth, and Brian Shirley rounded out the top five. 

After Friday’s Feature, the top 16 drivers in USA Nationals points are locked into Saturday’s $50,000-to-win finale. Thornton and O’Neal will start on the front row for the 100-lap race after earning the most points over two nights. 

Here are the 16 drivers locked into Saturday’s USA Nationals Feature: 

  1. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  2. Hudson O’Neal
  3. Tanner English
  4. Brandon Sheppard
  5. Bobby Pierce
  6. Brian Shirley
  7. Shannon Babb
  8. Dennis Erb Jr.
  9. Chris Madden
  10. Cade Dillard
  11. Daulton Wilson
  12. Jonathan Davenport
  13. Johnny Scott
  14. Tyler Erb
  15. Shane Clanton
  16. Nick Hoffman

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to Cedar Lake Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 5, for the final night of the 36th USA Nationals. Last Chance Showdowns and a Last Chance Qualifier will kick off the night before one driver earns $50,000 in the night’s 100-lap finale. 
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model race live on DIRTVision.      

CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Feature (25 Laps): 1. 44-Chris Madden[2]; 2. 1-Hudson O'Neal[1]; 3. 96V-Tanner English[3]; 4. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[6]; 5. 3S-Brian Shirley[8]; 6. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[7]; 7. B5-Brandon Sheppard[11]; 8. 9-Nick Hoffman[12]; 9. 18D-Daulton Wilson[5]; 10. 32-Bobby Pierce[10]; 11. B1-Brent Larson[22]; 12. 18-Shannon Babb[4]; 13. 19R-Ryan Gustin[20]; 14. 97-Cade Dillard[13]; 15. 1ST-Johnny Scott[16]; 16. 1T-Tyler Erb[15]; 17. 7-Drake Troutman[17]; 18. 25-Shane Clanton[26]; 19. 40B-Kyle Bronson[25]; 20. 28S-Dustin Sorensen[19]; 21. 174-Ethan Dotson[9]; 22. 8-Kyle Strickler[18]; 23. 49-Jonathan Davenport[14]; 24. 12-Ashton Winger[23]; 25. 15-Nick Anvelink[24]; 26. 11-Gordy Gundaker[27]; 27. 30-Todd Cooney[28]; 28. 8M-Dillon McCowan[21] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Brent Larson [+11] 

GRAND OPENING: Bobby Pierce Dominates USA Nationals Opener For First Cedar Lake Win
The Oakwood, IL driver scored his seventh win of 2023, and 11th triumph of his career
NEW RICHMOND, WI – August 3, 2023 – In a season filled with firsts, Bobby Pierce added another to his resume Thursday night at Cedar Lake Speedway.  
The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series points leader took the lead on Lap 1 and never looked back to earn the opening night win of the 36th annual USA Nationals. 

It was his second win in a three-day span, after claiming his second Hawkeye 50 triumph on Tuesday. That momentum carried into Thursday night at Cedar Lake, winning his Heat Race and then drawing the pole for the 25-lap Feature. 

Pierce drove away from three-time and defending USA Nationals champion Jonathan Davenport on the opening lap of the Feature. However, his momentum was slowed twice in the first five laps as Daniel Hilsabeck spun to bring out a caution on both occasions. 

Despite the yellow flags, the Oakwood, IL driver aced both restarts, pulling away from the field.  

Behind the “Smooth Operator,” four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard climbed to the front, locked in a battle with Davenport for second. The two traded slide jobs for a couple of laps before Sheppard got the advantage in Turn 2 on Lap 7. That’s when the New Berlin, IL driver set his sights on Pierce. 

Sheppard inched closer and closer every lap. But when they found traffic, Pierce found a better course to navigate throughout it each time. Out of traffic, Sheppard could close in, close enough to dive underneath the #32 at times, but that was as close as the #B5 would get. And every time Sheppard feel back, Ricky Thornton Jr. was there, waiting. 

In the final 10 laps, Pierce pulled away to win his seventh World of Outlaws Feature of 2023. 

Pierce said his $6,000 victory came down to tire choice and some luck. 

“It’s pretty crazy the roll we’re on,” Pierce said. “We had a little luck tonight drawing the one, and Gordy had some issues in the Heat Race, and I don’t know if I was going to pass him or not. But sometimes, a little luck goes a long way. 

“The car was a little tight in the Feature. I got tight there, and I just changed my line. I think we made the right call on tires. A lot of guys running up front had the opposite of what I had.” 

Even though Pierce is celebrating, he knows what's ahead of him this weekend as he prepares for his chance at $50,000 on Saturday. 

“We have a lot of confidence,” Pierce said. “We’ve already got this first night out of the way. We’ve got a lot of really good points, and [Series] points in general.” 

The win extends Pierce’s points lead to 112 points over Chris Madden, who finished 14th – earning the Fox Factory Hard Charger award, coming from his 23rd starting position. 

Sheppard settled for second, but only after a battle with Thornton Jr., the Prairie Dirt Classic winner, in the last few laps. Thornton pulled underneath Sheppard’s Longhorn Chassis a few times but didn’t have the momentum to make the pass. 

The four-time champion said he was happy with his car but might’ve gone the wrong way on his tire choice. 

“My car was really good,” Sheppard said. “The car was balanced and maneuverable. I could put the car top, middle, bottom, anywhere I wanted to go. As soon as I got into lap traffic in the end, I pushed it a little bit harder, and I felt my tire getting hot and getting greasy, and I started sliding a little bit more. I think that was my biggest issue. But overall, it’s a solid start to the weekend.” 

Thornton finished third—his third consecutive World of Outlaws podium. The Martinsville, IN driver said he needed the top lane to slow down to have a chance at the win. 

“I was really good in the middle and the bottom,” Thornton said. “We’re kind of setting up for the 100 lapper. I told [my crew], really, as long as we get a top five here, it’ll set us up good for tomorrow at least. We had a good car. Bobby was a little better than us, but I feel like clean air had a lot to do with that, too.” 

Despite finishing third, Thornton didn’t walk away empty handed. He won the annual F.A.N.S. Fund dash to end the night, passing Ricky Weiss to earn the $2,500 prize. 

Brian Shirley finished fourth in Thursday’s Feature, while Hudson O’Neal rounded out the top five. 

After one night of action at Cedar Lake Speedway, Pierce leads the USA Nationals points standings by one point over Brandon Sheppard. The top 16 drivers after Friday’s Feature will lock into Saturday’s USA Nationals finale. 

Here’s a look at the Top 10 in points:  
1. Bobby Pierce 742
2. Brandon Sheppard -1
3. Ricky Thornton Jr. -12
4. Hudson O’Neal -19
5.Jonathan Davenport -20
6. Brian Shirley -21
7. Cade Dillard -23
8.Tanner English -24
9. Shannon Babb -30
10. Shane Clanton -50
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to Cedar Lake Speedway for night two of the 36th annual USA Nationals at Cedar Lake. Drivers will battle in another 25-lap Feature paying $6,000-to-win. 

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model race live on DIRTVision.     

CASE Construction Equipment Late Mode Feature (25 Laps): 1. 32-Bobby Pierce[1]; 2. B5-Brandon Sheppard[4]; 3. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[3]; 4. 3S-Brian Shirley[6]; 5. 1-Hudson O'Neal[5]; 6. 49-Jonathan Davenport[2]; 7. 96V-Tanner English[9]; 8. 97-Cade Dillard[8]; 9. 18B-Shannon Babb[13]; 10. 25-Shane Clanton[11]; 11. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[15]; 12. 31-Kye Blight[10]; 13. 40B-Kyle Bronson[19]; 14. 44-Chris Madden[23]; 15. 1ST-Johnny Scott[7]; 16. 1T-Tyler Erb[12]; 17. 19R-Ryan Gustin[24]; 18. 18D-Daulton Wilson[14]; 19. 174-Ethan Dotson[21]; 20. 55C-Chad Mahder[17]; 21. 9-Nick Hoffman[22]; 22. 11-Gordy Gundaker[25]; 23. B1-Brent Larson[26]; 24. 49T-Jake Timm[20]; 25. 30-Todd Cooney[27]; 26. 14W-Dustin Walker[28]; 27. 7-Drake Troutman[16]; 28. 22-Daniel Hilsabeck[18] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Chris Madden 

F.A.N.S Fund Dash (12 Laps): 1. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[5]; 2. 7W-Ricky Weiss[3]; 3. 14G-Trevor Gundaker[2]; 4. 12-Ashton Winger[4]; 5. 25F-Jason Feger[6]; 6. 18D-Daulton Wilson[9]; 7. 11G-James Giossi[10]; 8. 126-Kaede Loudy[1]; 9. 8M-Dillon McCowan[7]; 10. (DNS) 7-Drake Troutman