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SMOKEY RISING: Chris Madden Nets Third World of Outlaws Win of 2023 at Cedar Lake

Chris Madden wins at Cedar Lake
Ricky Thornton Jr. and Hudson O’Neal will start on front row of Saturday’s $50,000-to-win finale

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.” 

Chris Madden and Hudson O'Neal
Chris Madden (left), and Hudson O’Neal (right), shake hands after battling for Feature win/Jacy Norgaard photo

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.  

Tanner English
Tanner English earns his 6th podium finish of 2023/Jacy Norgaard photo

“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. 

Ricky Thornton Jr.
Ricky Thornton Jr. will start on the pole of Saturday’s USA Nationals finale/Jacy Norgaard photo

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] 

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