The Marshalltown, IA driver held off a late charge by Kyle Bronson to win his second Feature at the Ohio facility on Friday, becoming the first driver to win a second World of Outlaws race at the track.
Gustin and Bronson led the field to the green in the 25-lap Feature as “The Reaper” quickly pulled away from the #40B.
While Gustin continued his torrid pace early in the Feature, two cautions slowed the field. The first was for Stormy Scott’s flat tire on Lap 6, and the second was for Alex Ferree, who stopped in Turn 4 on Lap 15.
On the restart following the caution for Ferree, Bronson took his chance at trying to wrestle the lead from Gustin.
The Brandon, FL driver thundered to the top side, clearing Sheppard and closing on Gustin’s Rocket XR1.
But just as Bronson was a few car lengths behind, Gustin slid up the track in Turns 1 and 2, taking the lane away.
From there, Gustin held on, leading all 25 laps to earn his second World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models win of the season and fourth overall.
Gustin alluded to his team’s tire choice as one reason he bounced back from Thursday’s ninth-place finish.
“I had a little bit different tire selection,” Gustin said. “And really, the race car was a fair bit different too. I don’t know, [Taylon Center, his crew chief] just went to work and got us where we needed to be. I’ve been trying to give him the best information I can in the seat, and basically, we hit it tonight.”
Despite making the lane change in the race’s closing laps, Gustin said he didn’t realize Bronson was there.
However, he was glad he moved to the top as it helped him grab the $6,000 payday.
“It sounded like he was ripping the top,” Gustin said. “I felt really good on the bottom until the tire kind of got hot, and the brown started going away. Once that’s gone, then the top comes in hard for a little while until the bottom kind of cleans up.
“TC was telling me to rip the fence, and I’m glad we went up there when we did because it sounded like he was right there.”
Bronson crossed the line second, his second World of Outlaws podium of the 2023 season.
The Brandon, FL driver said he made one mistake that cost him the victory.
“I made one wrong move,” Bronson said. “I felt like as soon as [Gustin] moved up to the cushion, the next corner, I felt like he was going to run the top, and he was going to the bottom, and I was already committed down there. That was my chance to slide him there, and I should’ve just blasted the top. I made one mistake, and I felt like it cost me the race.”
Four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard crossed the line third—his second podium in the last four races.
The New Berlin, IL driver had a chance to pass Bronson on both restarts but couldn’t make the pass.
Despite that, Sheppard said he feels good about his weekend heading into Saturday’s finale.
“We had a really maneuverable car,” Sheppard said. “All in all, it’s been a pretty good weekend so far. I probably could’ve went to the top there and made some more speed. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. I didn’t.”
“The consistency is there; we just need to be a couple of spots better. I think we have a car capable of doing it. We just have to make it happen.”
Mike Marlar, the 2018 Series champion, finished fourth, and Series points leader Chris Madden rounded out the top five.
Gustin’s victory cut Madden’s points lead to 30 as both drivers battle for their first World of Outlaws championship.
Bronson moved back to third in points—38 points behind Madden.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to Sharon Speedway for the final night of the Battle at the Border on Saturday, May 27. Drivers will battle in a 60-lap Feature, with $25,000 on the line.
Fans can also meet their favorite drivers on Saturday in an autograph session on the track’s midway from 4-5pm.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.