LAKE CITY, MI— Aug. 27, 2017— Chris Madden found his way to Victory Lane and a $15,000 payday at Merritt Speedway on Sunday night claiming his fifth World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series win after dodging an almost repeat performance by Shane Clanton from one night prior.
The Keyser Manufacturing Great Lakes Shootout at the Michigan dirt track unfolded like a two-part episode staring Clanton and Madden who took both feature events down to the wire.
On Saturday night, Series Veteran, Clanton, made a last lap pass by race long leader Madden which made for a heart wrenching defeat. On Sunday, Clanton hoped to repeat his success while Madden was looking for a shot at redemption.
To set the stage for the Integra Shocks 75, Clanton and Madden joined the redraw after winning their heats. Coincidentally, Clanton pulled the No. 1 and Madden pulled the No. 2 Craftsman wrench from the toolbox placing the pair on the front row for the feature.
With the drop of the green flag, Clanton held on to the lead until lap 11 when current Series Points Leader, Brandon Sheppard appeared on the scene. Sheppard’s run was short lived as Clanton regained control on lap 18. Madden was next to make his move and on lap 51 he found his way to front of the pack.
As the race boiled down to the final five laps, Madden’s steady lead of more than one-second began to wavier as Clanton began to slice through lapped traffic. While Clanton was gaining ground, the Gray Court, S.C. native was trying every which way to escape.
“I had got in three and four a little hot there,” said Madden. “The guy I was trying to lap, I thought he was going to the top and he decided he was going to the bottom. I had to get on the binders hard so it left the door wide open for Shane. If he would’ve been right there he would’ve been able to make the pass again.”
Luckily for Smokey, Clanton was unable to capitalize on this mistake despite his best efforts.
“He would’ve been mad if I passed him on the last lap again,” said Clanton. “Overall, we had a good car and it was a good race. It was just whoever could get through lapped traffic the best.”
The 75-lap feature went caution free which spread the 24-car field across every lane on the 3/8-mile track.
Sheppard settled for a third-place finish at Merritt Speedway, the same position in which he started the feature.
“We had a pretty good car but I don’t think we were tightened up enough for the circumstances,” said Sheppard. “We kind of expected the track to stay wet longer than it did. We got the lead there at the beginning but once the bottom went away there we just got a little bit free and them guys got around me and I lost sight of it.”
Sheppard sits with 14 Series wins so far in the 2017 season, while Clanton and Madden both leave the Michigan swing tied with five wins.
The next World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series event will be at Lernerville Speedway for the Working Man 50 on Sept. 2 followed by a shootout at Selinsgrove Speedway the following night. For more information on the Series upcoming events, visit the Series website.
Merritt Speedway Abbreviated Results:
Craftsman Club Feature (75 laps): 1. 44- Chris Madden; 2. 25- Shane Clanton; 3. 1- Brandon Sheppard; 4. 7- Rick Eckert; 5. 9- Devin Moran; 6. M14- Brandon Thirlby; 7. B1- Brent Larson; 8. 14m- Morgan Bagley; 9. 6m- Dona Marcoullier; 10. 1*- Chub Frank; 11. 27- Eric Spangler; 12. 91- Tyler Erb; 13. 12- Chad Foster; 14. 18- Eric Wells; 15. 2- Travis Stemler; 16. 99jr- Frank Heckenast Jr; 17. 51- Chad Finley; 18. 1won- Michael Luberda; 19. 87- Rich Neiser; 20. 31- Paul Stubber; 21. 4T- Andrew Terrill; 22. 16- Mike Staszak; 23. 25B- Chris Brindley; 24. 21H- Bob Hammar
Qualifying: 1. 44- Chris Madden, 13.174; 2. 1- Brandon Sheppard, 13.223; 3. 25- Shane Clanton, 13.236; 4. 7- Rick Eckert, 13.376; 5. B1- Brent Larson, 13.43;6. 9- Devin Moran, 13.439; 7. 6m- Dona Marcoullier, 13.464; 8. M14- Brandon Thirlby, 13.473; 9. 14m- Morgan Bagley, 13.476; 10. 27- Eric Spangler, 13.505; 11. 2- Travis Stemler, 13.513; 12. 91- Tyler Erb, 13.528; 13. 12- Chad Foster, 13.543; 14. 87- Rich Neiser, 13.607; 15. 31- Paul Stubber, 13.622; 16. 4T- Andrew Terrill, 13.644; 17. 18- Eric Wells, 13.646; 18. 51- Chad Finley, 13.725; 19. 99jr- Frank Heckenast Jr, 13.731; 20. 1*- Chub Frank, 13.843; 21. 16- Mike Staszak, 13.845; 22. 1r- Jeep Van Wormer, 13.872; 23. 23- Craig Foster, 13.873; 24. 1won- Michael Luberda, 13.975; 25. 25B- Chris Brindley, 14.144; 26. 52- Brad Harden, 14.148; 27. 1L- Jeff Liggett, 15.07; 28. 21H- Bob Hammar, 15.079