WHAT TO WATCH FOR: 32nd Prairie Dirt Classic awaits World of Outlaws Late Models

Cars battle at the Prairie Dirt Classic
A potential $100,000 is on the line at Fairbury Speedway

All eyes are on Central Illinois this weekend for one of the highly anticipated events on the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model schedule. The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet return to Fairbury Speedway in Fairbury, IL, for the 32nd running of the Prairie Dirt Classic, July 29-30.

For the second straight season, the 100-lap event will pay $50,000-to-win. However, each lap also pays $500, meaning if a driver leads every lap, they’ll walk away with $100,000 from the 1/4-mile bullring.

The event kicks off on Friday, July 29, with My Place Hotels Qualifying, followed by four 25-lap, $3,000-to-win Prairie Dirt Showdowns to help set Saturday’s field.

On Saturday, July 30, drivers who haven’t transferred to the 100-lap finale will run in three Last Chance Showdowns.

Drivers who don’t transfer from those Last Chance Showdowns have one more chance in the 25-lap Prairie Dirt Shootout, where the winner can take home $2,500 or start the Prairie Dirt Classic.

The 100-lap, $50,000-to-win finale will cap off the night as drivers hope to etch their name into Fairbury Speedway’s history.

Joining the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models for the weekend are the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals, who will finish their summer tour with a 40-lap, $5,000-to-win Feature.

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online or through the DIRTVision App

Here are the top storylines this weekend:  

ERB’S TIME TO SHINE: Dennis Erb Jr. is having one of the best seasons of his career. He’s reached Victory Lane five times in World of Outlaws CASE Late Models competition, along with 14 top-fives and 21 top-10s in 26 races.

The Carpentersville, IL driver has previously found success in the Prairie Dirt Classic, winning the event in 2004. He’s also found success on bullrings in 2022. Erb won at Marion Center Speedway with the World of Outlaws and at Spoon River Raceway, another Illinois bullring in May.

Dennis Erb and Tanner English
Dennis Erb Jr. battles with Tanner English at Red Cedar Speedway/Daniel Plan photo

Erb enters the weekend with a 186-point lead over second-place Max Blair in the chase for the World of Outlaws championship.

ENGLISH LESSON: World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year contender Tanner English may have a leg up on his competition heading into the Prairie Dirt Classic.

The Benton, KY driver already found Victory Lane at Fairbury this season, winning the Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial at the 1/4-mile bullring in June. If he can find Victory Lane again at the Illinois facility, it would be a career-defining moment for the Bluegrass State competitor.

He’s also closing the gap on Max Blair in the battle for Rookie of the Year—only eight points behind the Centerville, PA driver entering the weekend.

OPERATING FOR VICTORY: Bobby Pierce has won some of dirt Late Model racing’s most notable events. However, one event has eluded the Oakwood, IL driver — the Prairie Dirt Classic.

The “Smooth Operator” has knocked on the door to Victory Lane twice in the previous two events, finishing second to Kyle Larson last year, and finishing third after a thrilling battle with Brandon Sheppard for the win in 2019.

A Prairie Dirt Classic win would also be the sixth win for the Pierce family, as his dad Bob has won the event five times.

Bobby Pierce
Bobby Pierce has knocked on the door of Victory Lane in the last two Prairie Dirt Classics/Jacy Norgaard photo

If Pierce wins at Fairbury this weekend, it’ll be his third World of Outlaws win of the season — his last coming on June 3 at Tri-City Speedway (IL).

THE STARS OF FAIRBURY: When the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models head to the Prairie Dirt Classic, they’re battling some of the best drivers Late Model racing has to offer and also a stout field of Fairbury track regulars.

Ryan Unzicker, from El Paso, IL, currently leads the track’s points standings entering the weekend and already has a World of Outlaws top five this season (Tri-City). Unzicker has three wins at Fairbury in 2022 so far.

A couple of drivers battling Unzicker who have also won at Fairbury in 2022 are hometown driver McKay Wenger, and Manhattan, IL driver Mike Spatola, who scored a World of Outlaws victory last season at Farmer City Raceway.

Along with those three names is veteran campaigner Kevin Weaver in his patented #B12 car. The Gibson City, IL driver won the Prairie Dirt Classic in 1991.

BEWARE OF ILLINOIS: While Fairbury Speedway boasts a stout field of drivers, that’s not all Illinois has to offer.

An Illinois driver has won 16 of the 31 Prairie Dirt Classics, most recently Brandon Sheppard in 2019.

Out of the Prairie State drivers projected to run this weekend’s event, Shannon Babb has more wins than any other driver, with three. Sheppard, who makes his return to World of Outlaws CASE Late Models competition with Rocket1 Racing this weekend, has won the event twice.

Jason Feger, from Bloomington, IL, has also won the event, finding Victory Lane in 2012.

DAVENPORT’S DOMINANCE: Perhaps no driver enters the Prairie Dirt Classic with more momentum than Jonathan Davenport.

Jonathan Davenport celebrates in Victory Lane at Boone
Jonathan Davenport celebrates his Hawkeye 50 win at Boone Speedway/Jacy Norgaard photo

The Eldora Million winner has already won $73,000 this week, including his $20,000 Hawkeye 50 triumph at Boone Speedway.

“Superman” has also found success at Fairbury, winning the Prairie Dirt Classic in 2015. A win on Saturday would be his fourth World of Outlaws CASE Late Models Feature win of the season.

WHEN AND WHERE

Friday-Saturday July 29-30 at Fairbury Speedway in Fairbury, IL

ABOUT THE TRACK

Fairbury Speedway is a 1/4-mile semi-banked dirt oval

ONLINE –
Fairbury Speedway: www.fairburyspeedway.com

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2021 – Kyle Larson on July 31
2019 – Brandon Sheppard on July 27
2018 – Devin Moran on July 28
2017 – Brandon Sheppard on July 29
2016 – Josh Richards on July 30
2015 – Jonathan Davenport on July 25
2014 – Tim McCreadie on July 26
2013 – Shannon Babb on July 27

TRACK RECORD

12.143 set by Kyle Strickler on 9/15/20

On the Internet
World of Outlaws CASE Late Models Series
Twitter – Twitter.com/WoOLateModels – @WoOLateModels
Instagram – Instagram.com/WoOLateModels – @woolatemodels
Facebook – Facebook.com/WorldofOutlawsLateModelSeries
YouTube – Youtube.com/WorldofOutlaws
DIRTVision – DIRTVision.com – Platinum annual FAST PASS for $299 or monthly FAST PASS for $39/month

Around the Turn: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet travel to Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, WI for the 35th Annual USA Nationals August 4-6.

Feature Winners: (15 Drivers)
Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-4
  2. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, GA-3
  3. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA- 2
    Max Blair, Centerville, PA-2
    Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-2
    Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-2
    Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-2
  4. Ashton Winger, Hampton, GA-1
    Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-1
    Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-1
    Michael Brown, Lancaster, SC-1
    Tyler Erb, New Waverly, TX-1
    Ricky Weiss, Headingley, MB-1
    Jared Miley, Pittsburgh, PA-1
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-1
    Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-1

HEAT RACE WINNERS (44 Drivers)
Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Brandon Sheppard- New Berlin, IL-8
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-8
  2. Chris Madden-Gray Court, SC-7
    Brandon Sheppard- New Berlin, IL-7
    Max Blair, Centerville, PA-7
  3. Dale McDowell-Chickamauga, GA-6
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-6
    Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-6
  4. Devin Moran-Dresden, OH-4
    Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, GA-4
  5. Tyler Erb, New Waverly, TX-3
    Gordy Gundaker, St. Charles, MO-3
    Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-3
  6. Darrell Lanigan, Union, KY-2
    Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-2
    Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, AZ-2
    Kyle Strickler, Mooresville, NC-2
    Kyle Hammer, Clinton, IL-2
    Ricky Weiss, Headingly, MB-2
    Rick Eckert, York, PA-2
    Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-2
    Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, IL-2
    Tanner English, Benton, KY-2
  7. Ashton Winger, Hampton, GA-1
    Ross Robinson, Georgetown, DE-1
    Mark Whitener, Middleburg, FL-1
    Frank Heckenast, Jr., Frankfort, IL-1
    Michael Brown, Lancaster, SC-1
    Daulton Wilson, Fayetteville, NC-1
    Ross Bailes, Clover, SC-1
    Josh Rice, Verona, KY-1
    Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, IN-1
    Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, NM-1
    Chad Simpson, Mt. Vernon, IA-1
    Cade Dillard, Robeline, LA-1
    Spencer Hughes, Meridian, MS-1
    Jeff Rine, Danville, PA-1
    Gregg Satterlee, Indiana, PA-1
    Rick Eckert, York, PA-1
    Josh Richards, Houston, OH-1
    Kyle Bronson, Brandon, FL-1
    Ryan Unzicker, El Paso, IL-1
    Billy Moyer Jr., Batesville, AR-1
    Daryn Klein, Trenton, IL-1
    Logan Martin, West Plains, MO-1
    Jason Feger, Bloomington, IL-1
    Tyler Bruening, Decorah, IA-1

Last Chance Showdown Winners (38 Drivers)
Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Max Blair, Centerville, PA-3
  2. Cade Dillard-Robeline, LA-2
    Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-2
    Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, PA-2
    Kyle Hammer, Clinton, IL-2
    Brent Larson, Lake Elmo, MN-2
    Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-2
    Jake Timm, Winona, MN-2
    Josh Richards, Shinnston, WV-2
    Tanner English, Benton, KY-2
  3. Hudson O’Neal- Martinsville, IN-1
    Logan Martin, Plains, MO-1
    Tyler Bruening, Decorah, IA-1
    Chris Simpson, Oxford, IA-1
    Spencer Hughes, Meridian, MS-1
    Mike Norris, Sarver, PA-1
    Chase Osterhoff, Kankakee, IL-1
    Tyler Erb, New Waverly, TX-1
    Anthony Sanders, Spartanburg, SC-1
    Banjo Duke, Sumter, SC-1
    Steve Casebolt, Richmond, IN-1
    Austyn Mills, Cincinnati, OH-1
    Frank Heckenast Jr., Frankfort, IL-1
    Andy Bond, Coolville, OH-1
    Garrett Alberson, Las Cruces, NM-1
    Chase Junghans, Manhattan, KS-1
    Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, IL-1
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-1
    Shaun Jones, Shermansdale, PA-1
    Ryan Montgomery, Fairmont, WV-1
    Chad Myers, Hempstead, MD-1
    Mason Zeigler, Chalk Hill, PA-1
    John Garvin, Sarver, PA-1
    Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, NM-1
    Trevor Gundaker, St. Charles, MO-1
    Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, NM-1
    Brad Seng, Grand Forks, ND-1
    Chad Mahder, Bloomer, WI-1

PODIUM FINISHES (32 Drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – Podiums

  1. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-10
  2. Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-6
  3. Max Blair, Centerville, PA-5
  4. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA-4
    Josh Richards, Houston, OH-4
    Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-4
    Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-4
    Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-4
    Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, GA-4
  5. Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-3
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-3
    Tyler Erb, New Waverly, TX-3
    Ricky Weiss, Headingly, MB-3
  6. Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-2
    Darrell Lanigan, Union, KY-2
    Kyle Bronson, Brandon, FL-2
  7. Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA-1
    Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-1
    Ashton Winger, Hampton, GA-1
    Chase Junghans, Manhattan, KS-1
    Michael Brown, Lancaster, SC-1
    Ross Bailes, Clover, SC-1
    Daulton Wilson, Fayetteville, NC-1
    Josh Rice, Verona, KY-1
    Tanner English, Benton, KY-1
    Stormy Scott-Las Cruces, NM-1
    Jared Miley, Pittsburgh, PA-1
    Gregg Satterlee, Indiana, PA-1
    Billy Moyer Jr., Batesville, AR-1
    Frank Heckenast Jr., Frankfort, IL-1
    Jason Feger, Bloomington, IL-1
    Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, IL-1

FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER (19 Drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – H.C.

  1. Tanner English, Benton, KY-5
  2. Gordy Gundaker, St. Charles, MO-3
  3. Brent Larson, Lake Elmo, MN-2
  4. Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, IN-1
    Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-1
    Max Blair, Centerville, PA-1
    Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-1
    Carson Ferguson, Concord, NC-1
    Tyler Bruening, Decorah, IA-1
    Jimmy Owens, Newport, TN-1
    Ross Bailes, Clover, SC-1
    Garrett Alberson, Las Cruces, NM-1
    Chase Junghans, Manhattan, KS-1
    Josh Richards, Shinnston, WV-1
    Kyle Hammer, Clinton, IL-1
    Jordan Bauer, St. Jacob, IL-1
    Ryan Unzicker, El Paso, IL-1
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-1
    Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, WI-1

QUICK TIMES (16 Drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – QTs

  1. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-4
  2. Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-2
    Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-2
    Ricky Weiss, Headingly, MB-2
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-2
    Max Blair, Centerville, PA-2
  3. Kyle Hammer, Clinton, IL-1
    Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA-1
    Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-1
    Trent Ivey, Union, SC-1
    Josh Rice, Verona, KY-1
    Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-1
    Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-1
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-1
    Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA-1
    Logan Martin, West Plains, MO-1
    Tanner English, Benton, KY-1
    Tyler Bruening, Decorah, IA-1

CASE Feature Lap Leaders (26 Drivers).
Rank – Driver, Hometown – Laps Led

  1. Max Blair, Centerville, PA-123
  2. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-119
  3. Tyler Erb, New Waverly, TX-99
  4. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-80
  5. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-66
  6. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA-65
  7. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-61
  8. Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-60
  9. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, GA-59
  10. Ricky Weiss, Headingley, MB-54
  11. Ashton Winger, Hampton, GA-39
  12. Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-31
  13. Billy Moyer Jr., Batesville, AR-28
  14. Jason Feger, Bloomington, IL-27
  15. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, IL-27
  16. Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-25
  17. Kyle Hammer, Clinton, IL-24
  18. Michael Brown, Lancaster, SC-22
  19. Jared Miley, Pittsburgh, PA-20
    Rick Eckert, York, PA-20
  20. Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-16
  21. Kyle Strickler, Mooresville, NC-15
  22. Tyler Bruening, Decorah, IA-14
  23. Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-11
  24. Cade Dillard, Robeline, LA-10
  25. Spencer Hughes, Meridian, MS-1

2022 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule & Winners

No./ Day, Date / Track / Location / Winner (Total Wins)
1. Thursday, Jan. 20 / Volusia Speedway Park / Barberville, FL / Dale McDowell (1)
2. Friday, Jan. 21/Volusia Speedway Park/Barberville, FL/Ashton Winger (1)
3. Wednesday, Feb. 16/Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, FL/Brandon Overton (1)
4. Thursday, Feb. 17/Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, FL/Dale McDowell (2)
5. Friday, Feb. 18/Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, FL/Dennis Erb Jr. (1)
6. Saturday, Feb. 19/Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, FL/Chris Madden (1)
7. Friday, March 25/Cherokee Speedway, Gaffney, SC/Michael Brown (1)
8. Saturday, March 26/Cherokee Speedway, Gaffney, SC/Max Blair (1)
9. Friday, April 22/Atomic Speedway, Waverly, OH/Tyler Erb (1)
10. x, April 23/Atomic Speedway, Waverly, OH/ Brandon Sheppard (1)
11. Friday, April 29/ Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN/Jonathan Davenport (1)
12. Saturday, April 30/Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN/Ricky Weiss (1)
13. Thursday, May 5/Mississippi Thunder Speedway, Fountain City, WI/Bobby Pierce (1)
14. Friday, May 6/Mississippi Thunder Speedway, Fountain City, WI/Jonathan Davenport (2)
15. Saturday, May 7/Mississippi Thunder Speedway, Fountain City, WI/Mike Marlar(1)
16. Thursday, May 19/Bloomsburg Fair Raceway/Bloomsburg, PA/Max Blair (2)
17. Friday, May 20/Marion Center Raceway/Marion Center, PA/Dennis Erb Jr. (2)
18. Saturday, May 21/Port Royal Speedway/Port Royal, PA/Jared Miley (1)
19. Saturday, May 29/Sharon Speedway, Hartford, OH/Ryan Gustin (1)
20. Friday, June 3/Tri-City Speedway, Granite City, IL/Bobby Pierce (2)
21. Friday, June 24/Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, Pevely, MO/ Dennis Erb Jr. (3)
22. Saturday, June 25/Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, Pevely, MO/Dennis Erb Jr. (4)
23. Sunday, June 26/Jacksonville Speedway, Jacksonville, IL/Brandon Sheppard (2)
24. Friday, July 15/River Cities Speedway/ Grand Forks, ND/ Shane Clanton (1)
25. Sunday, July 16/Red Cedar Speedway/ Menomonie, WI/Mike Marlar(2)
26. Monday, July 25/Boone Speedway/Boone, IA/Jonathan Davenport(3)

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