VADO, N.M. — Three days into the new decade Chris Madden is right back at it again, picking up a win in the first World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature of the year on Friday night at Vado Speedway Park’s inaugural Battle at the Border.
Madden, who ended last season on a hot streak aboard his Scott Bloomquist Racing machine, picked up where he left off.
“It’s pretty awesome, it definitely keeps the momentum going,” Madden said. “I definitely want to stay consistent.”
Two-time and defending series champion Brandon Sheppard was gaining on Madden in the final laps but was ultimately unable to catch the leader, settling for second while Ricky Weiss finished third.
Setting PFC Brakes Fast Time and a track record during qualifying, Madden was simply dominant throughout the night. The Gray Court, S.C.-native led flag to flag in the first heat and drew the outside pole for the feature.
He grabbed the lead from Weiss on the second lap and controlled the 30-lap main event.
A three-car battle between the podium finishers ensued shortly thereafter, Madden showing the way into lapped traffic as Weiss snuck a nose under on lap 10 and got his second lap led in before Madden took it right back one circuit later.
“I thought maybe I could’ve given Madden a little run for his money there,” Weiss said. “I got beside him, just the lap cars didn’t play in my favor.”
The next 15 laps tightened up the leaders as they dove head-first into a long chain of lapped traffic that threw everyone, including Madden, a curveball.
“I was able to get my right rear fired up and get my momentum going to pull back by Ricky on the start,” Madden said. “Then, we were out there holding our own and I guess those lapped cars might’ve knocked the yuke tires into the infield, and a whole bunch of dirt and crumbs started coming across the racetrack, so it got pretty sketchy then.”
Sheppard benefitted the most from the changing terrain, getting underneath Weiss off of turn four on lap 18 to take second at the line. From that point forward, Sheppard held his ground in the runner-up spot and remained in hot pursuit of Madden, but still felt as though he had the car to win when the checkered flag dropped.
“Once we got lined-out there, Ricky slipped up and I was able to get to second,” Sheppard said. “I think I had a better car than them guys did. I stayed right on Madden’s bumper the whole time.”
Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis house showed its strength on the track Friday night, but met its match in Madden.
“We had a really good racecar, I could drive wherever I wanted to go,” Sheppard said. “The momentum line, kind of diamonding the corners off and keeping your speed up was about the best line, and that was what Chris and I were both doing there, so it was going to be hard to pass him.”
As for Weiss’ venture through traffic, he was forced to make extra passes to regain position after slipping back a bit in the final third of the race.
“I knew our car was real good, it was definitely good enough to run up front with Madden. It was maneuverable, I just needed a few breaks with the lapped cars,” Weiss said.
Feature (30 Laps) 1. 0M-Chris Madden [$5,000]; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$3,000]; 3. 7-Ricky Weiss [$2,000]; 4. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$1,500]; 5. 157-Mike Marlar [$1,200]; 6. 0e-Rick Eckert [$1,100]; 7. 3s-Brian Shirley [$1,000]; 8. 97-Cade Dillard [$900]; 9. 12-Ashton Winger [$850]; 10. 28-Dennis Erb, [$800]; 11. 32-Bobby Pierce [$750]; 12. 29v-Darrell Lanigan [$700]; 13. 28m-Jimmy Mars [$650]; 14. 18-Chase Junghans [$625]; 15. 2s-Stormy Scott [$600]; 16. 99jr-Frank Heckenast [$575]; 17. 20RT-Ricky Thornton, [$550]; 18. 1P-Earl Pearson, [$525]; 19. 21jr-Billy Moyer, [$500]; 20. 1st-Johnny Scott [$500]; 21. 91-Tony Toste [$500]; 22. 99B-Boom Briggs [$500]; 23. 66c-Matt Cosner [$110]; 24. B1-Brent Larson [$500]; 25. 42s-Don Shaw [$500]; 26. 4G-Kody Evans [$110]; 27. 6-Blake Spencer [$110] Hard Charger: 28-Dennis Erb,[+9]