With an insurmountable 158-point lead, Dennis Erb, Jr. will be crowned the World of Outlaws Late Model champion Saturday night at the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway while Tanner English and Max Blair battle for second in the standings on November 2-3 and 5 at the Late Model World Finals.
Erb’s title will end a three-year run by Brandon Sheppard, who competed only part time with the series this year. Sheppard moved into the Lucas Oil Late Model Series in 2022, where he captured seven wins in 54 starts.
Erb’s Outlaws’ point lead was built on the back of four wins, 21 top-fives and 32 top-10s in 40 starts with three races remaining. He leads in all categories among full-time drivers.
His last victories were earned back-to-back in a two-night show this June at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. and while he has not won in 18 races since, he earned 15 top-10s. Erb’s last five attempts ended in top-fives, including a second-place finish at Humboldt Speedway three races ago.
While winning any of the final three races is not essential for Erb to take the title, it is nonetheless important. Mike Marlar currently has the most Outlaws wins on the season with five in 16 starts. Last year’s champion Sheppard has four wins in 19 races to accompany his seven in Lucas Oil. Jonathan Davenport also has four trophies on his mantel in nine starts plus nine victories in the other major Late Model sanction in 29 starts there.
Erb already has a win in the season finale at Charlotte. In 2017, he earned his only win of that season in 10 starts. His victory came in Race 2 of the World Finals ahead of Marlar. The night before, Erb finished second to Sheppard, so pride is on the line.
The most interesting battle of the week is the battle for Rookie of the Year honors, which is also a contest to see who will finish second in the standings.
Entering Wednesday night’s race, English holds a 20-point advantage over Blair with season tallies that are almost identical. English and Blair hold two wins each and both have scored 11 top-fives. English holds a two-race lead in top-10s with 27.
But momentum is on Blair’s side. In the most recent round at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo., English broke the frame on his right front and retired on Lap 17. Blair finished sixth to close the gap.
Blair also has experience on his side with five previous appearances in this race and a best of ninth earned last year. English is making his debut in the World of Outlaws Late Model Finals.
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Dennis Erb Jr. leads World of Outlaws Late Model field into World Finals originally appeared on NBCSports.com