Is it too early to call Chris Madden the favorite for WoO title?

Chris Madden

The 2023 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series season is only two races old following the tour’s visit to Volusia Speedway Park for the Sunshine Nationals. And with one of the three scheduled races being rained out, it is difficult to say just how accurate of a picture last weekend provided. Also, factor in that there were numerous drivers, including two-time winner Devin Moran, in competition who will not follow the series on a full-time basis. But with all of that said, can observers draw any conclusions yet?

One thing that can safely be said for the remainder of the campaign is that Chris Madden will certainly be among the top contenders for the overall championship. For that matter, it might even be safe to label the 47-year-old veteran as one of the favorites to earn his first national touring series crown by the end of 2023.

After following the World of Outlaws Late Model Series in 2017, 2018 and 2021, the Gray Court, South Carolina driver opted to run a pick-and-choose schedule in 2022. And that proved to be a profitable decision as Madden won a total of 15 features with eight of them paying $20,000 or more to win.

With last year’s success in hand, Madden has decided that he will once again pursue a series title. The five-time Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals champion has had close calls on the national level finishing second in both 2017 and 2021. Is this the year in which he moves up to first?

The veteran driver believes he has a great chance in 2023.

“I’ve always been a fan of the outlaw racing, and I want to get a championship before I decide to hang it up, so we’re going to try to make it happen this year,” Madden said in a WoO press release. “I feel like we’ve been on top of our game for the past few years, so hopefully, we can just be consistent and get wins and get us a points championship.”

Changes to the series schedule made the decision to run the full schedule easier.

“They’ve worked on the schedule and got the number of races down and got it to where it interests me to come back on board,” Madden said. “We can hit up multiple money races, and it doesn’t interfere with each other.”

Madden got his campaign off to a solid start last Thursday and Friday at the Barberville, Florida track with finishes of third and fifth respectively. Importantly, the No. 44 Rocket Chassis showed speed early each night by qualifying second and first in his group. Each night also provided a heat race victory.

Being fast during the first part of the night is critical for any driver seeking a championship because qualifying sets up the heat races and heat races then set the feature starting grid.

A look at the World of Outlaws Late Model Series standings after the first two races shows that Madden is the leader ahead of Nick Hoffman, Brian Shirley, Ryan Gustin and Kyle Bronson. Even though Devin Moran won both of the two features at Volusia while Tim McCreadie finished second on both nights, those drivers did not sign up to be series regulars which denied them a 300-point bonus for doing so.

Getting off to a fast start has allowed Madden to put some space between himself and those who are likely to be his most serious competition for the season-long championship.

Chris Madden currently leads the WoO standings

Reigning WoO champion Dennis Erb Jr. kicked off his defense with finishes of 17th and 11th respectively. Four-time titlist and the tour’s all-time winningest driver Brandon Sheppard earned results of 10th and 7th while 2022 ‘Rookie of the Year’ Tanner English ended up 13th and 16th in his two efforts. WoO newcomer and five-time DIRTcar National champion Bobby Pierce began with mechanically challenged results of 25th and 17th.

To answer the question in the headline of this piece, it is too early to declare Chris Madden THE favorite to win the World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship. But one thing that can be done is to say that this driver will almost certainly be in contention throughout the full year.

Please consider also reading:

Satisfaction or Frustration? Tim McCreadie begins season with two seconds

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