JACKSON, Minn. — It took years for Ricky Weiss to win his elusive first career feature with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series.
The second win took him only eight races.
Holding off the field from start-to-finish, Weiss rocketed around the outside past Brent Larson into turn one on the opening night of the Drydene Double Down Invitational and never looked back.
It was the first World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models race in 77 days, as Minnesota’s Jackson Motorplex hosted action following state, local and CDC guidelines.
“I was just so excited to finally get going and race again,” said Weiss in a quiet victory lane, since the event was run without fans due to local mass gathering restrictions. “I wanted to do it safely; the Outlaws took their time and did it right. This is a race I was looking forward to. We did really good at Knoxville and, well, this is a mini-Knoxville.
“It’s a wonderful facility and I was just praying the rain would hold off.”
Drawing the outside pole of the 30-lap feature, Weiss took the green flag with Larson alongside him on the pole.
Jumping to the early lead, Weiss quickly overtook Larson into turn one and brought Shannon Babb with him into second.
Babb, who pieced his new Team Zero Race Cars ride together late last night and then hauled to Jackson, was the fast qualifier to start the night with a lap of 15.886 seconds around the four-tenths-mile oval.
After a slew of cautions hampered the early running, the pace finally picked up in a hot and heavy manner. Racing on a lightning fast surface, Weiss clocked a run of 15.379 seconds on the fifth lap of the feature, over a half-second faster than Babb’s quick time and even faster than Scott Bloomquist’s track record of 15.402 from 2018.
With the absurd speed underneath him, Weiss built a full-straightaway advantage by the next caution on lap five.
“These Bloomquist Race Cars are so strong on the bottom,” Weiss said. “You know, 10 years back I was a high side guy through and through, but man … this thing just turns so great down low.”
Once the turn two calamity halted on lap six, multi-time series champion Brandon Sheppard made his presence known with an immediate charge to the front.
Starting 10th, Sheppard shot forward and drove his Rocket1 Racing No. 1 to the third spot in just six laps, then moved into second on lap nine.
With 21 laps remaining, it seemed all signs were pointing toward a showdown between Sheppard and Weiss, who sat first and second in the point standings entering the night.
“Jason was keeping me calm with the signals there,” noted Weiss on those behind him. “We have great communication together and he’d signal me for when they’re coming, when I need to go, when I need to hold back. I really just can’t thank my guys enough. I know my dad and girlfriend are driving home watching (on DIRTVision) and my mom is watching too. I wish they could be here.”
In fact, it was wishful thinking that Weiss himself made it, let alone his family.
A week ago, the 31-year old pilot was doubting he could even cross the Canada-United States border due to COVID-19 regulations.
But in the end, Weiss was able to make the trip and made it worth all the trouble.
His $6,000 score didn’t come without a hint of worry, however.
Sheppard initially cut Weiss’ lead down from more than 2.4 seconds behind to less than one second, but that was all the two-time and defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion could muster in his pursuit of the Team Drydene No. 7.
A restart with 12 laps remaining bunched the field up one more time, but Sheppard, Babb and the rest could do little to nothing to stop Weiss on this night.
The reigning Rookie of the Year ran off into the Jackson night and crossed the finish line for his second career World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victory 1.203 seconds clear of runner-up Sheppard.
“I, and all of us, really owe Drydene a big thanks for what they’re doing here,” said Weiss, who sports the Drydene Performance Products logo on his Team Zero Race Car. “They’ve thrown up a lot of money for us to compete this weekend and they support several guys back here in the pit area. It should be a great show tomorrow with $20,000 on the line.”
Behind Weiss and Sheppard, four-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Shannon Babb, Chase Junghans and Chris Madden crossed third through fifth, respectively.
Ricky Thornton Jr., Jeremy Grady, Darrell Lanigan, Ashton Winger and Matt Cosner filled out the top 10.
1. 7-Ricky Weiss [$6,000]; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$3,000]; 3. 18b-Shannon Babb [$2,000]; 4. 18-Chase Junghans [$1,750]; 5. 0M-Chris Madden [$1,500]; 6. 20RT-Ricky Thornton [$1,400]; 7. 43-Jeremy Grady [$1,300]; 8. 29v-Darrell Lanigan [$1,200]; 9. 12-Ashton Winger [$1,100]; 10. 66c-Matt Cosner [$1,000]; 11. 32-Chris Simpson [$900]; 12. 97-Cade Dillard [$850]; 13. 4G-Kody Evans [$800]; 14. B1-Brent Larson [$775]; 15. 22-Gary Brown [$750]; 16. 76-Blair Nothdurft [$700]; 17. 62-Justin Zeitner [$700]; 18. 98-Jason Rauen [$700]; 19. 25-Chad Simpson [$700]; 20. 99jr-Frank Heckenast [$700]; 21. O4-Tad Pospisil [$700]; 22. 28-Dennis Erb [$700]; 23. 1x-Chub Frank [$700]; 24. 99B-Boom Briggs [$700]; 25. X-Chuck Swenson [$700]; 26. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$700].
Lap Leader(s): Ricky Weiss 1-30.
Hard Charger: Darrell Lanigan (+14)