JAMESTOWN, N.Y. – The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series started with 47 races ahead of them in February and it’s now come down to the final eight.
Those final eight races start with visits to the New Stateline Speedway on Thursday, Outlaw Speedway on Friday and Selinsgrove Speedway on Saturday.
Thursday night’s show will certainly be one to watch live on DIRTVision, as points leader Brandon Sheppard will make his first attempt at World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series history to become the first driver to reach 19 feature victories in a single season.
Rocket1 Racing has had an incredible season thus far, but now the team converges into the backyard of two of the Northeast’s most respected and fan-favorited drivers in all of Dirt Late Model Racing – original Dirty Dozen member Chub Frank and current full-time World of Outlaws veteran Boom Briggs.
Stateline Speedway and the two Bear Lake, Pa., drivers have a deep-rooted connection. Frank’s father originally built and operated both Stateline and Eriez Speedway in the 1950s, where both Frank and Briggs cut their teeth in dirt track racing. Taking after their fathers before them, the two cousins jumped behind the wheel of their own cars, racing locally for several years before coming together as a driver/crew-chief combo to tackle Frank’s first stab at the World of Outlaws tour in its inaugural season of 2004.
After two seasons on the road as crew chief, Briggs returned to his local operation in 2006 and saw several seasons of success with his local operation at Stateline and Eriez, before embarking on his own national tour attempt in 2014. Now in his fourth season of full-time competition, Briggs was on a mission this season to give the tour one fair shot after two 11th-places and a 14th-place finish in the overall points standings from 2014-2016.
“We just want one good, fair shot at a solid, competitive year out on the tour,” he said back in January.
His 2016 World of Outlaws campaign took an unfortunate turn after a violent crash in the Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway that broke his arm and sidelined him until the beginning of July, where he was able to continue, but had fallen way back in points. The sour taste that lingered in Briggs’ mouth from his third attempt at the national level in the sport he and his family so deeply loved just could not sit with him any longer.
So, he saddled up once more last February and headed out for the season opener at Screven Motor Speedway, the site of his best finish with the World of Outlaws – a runner-up to Rick Eckert in 2016. Since this past February, Briggs admits it’s definitely been a challenge to get his new Club29 Chassis under him, but he feels as though he’s made some real progress.
“We tried to give it 100 percent,” Briggs said. “I’m not disappointed, and I feel like we could have run better than we did, but there’s been growing pains with this new car that I think are finally starting to pay off.”
Just as it was in his first years as an Outlaw, Briggs doesn’t have the abundant crew help that some of the other big-name teams do. This, Briggs admits, has also been a contributing factor to his struggles this year. But he has had episodes of success as well.
The No. 99B sat on the pole of the Sundrop Shootout at Shawano Speedway back in July, as well as the outside pole at Plymouth Dirt Track the night before. Most recently, he picked up the PFC Brakes Fast Time Award for his efforts in qualifying on night one of the Battle at the Border at Sharon Speedway. He’s also collected three Drydene Heat Race wins over the course of the season.
That all adds into the confidence pool he’s had going as of late, now heading to a track he knows more about than anyone else aboard the full-time Outlaws roster.
“A win is a win, but I’m realistic. A good, competitive top-five run [at Stateline] would be a win to me,” Briggs said.
And that’s a very attainable goal for he and his crew. The Briggs Transport INC racing team has yet to score a top-five so far this season, and they’re due. The apples are ripe for the picking at this time of year, especially ones at a track they know so well.
However, if there’s any driver in the area that would know more about Stateline than Briggs does, it’s cousin Frank.
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