From Alex Nieten | World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series
WISELY DONE: Zeb Wise Rolls to First World of Outlaws Victory in Port Royal’s Nittany Showdown
Angola, IN driver holds off Friday’s winner – Tyler Courtney – to complete Hoosier sweep of weekend
PORT ROYAL, PA (October 7, 2023) - Zeb Wise is continuing along a path to Sprint Car stardom.
Only a few weeks ago, the Angola, IN native finalized his first All-Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) title. But even with 13 ASCoC wins and a championship under his belt, a World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car win had eluded him.
Until Saturday night.
Entering the World of Outlaws vs. PA Posse battle as an Indiana invader, Wise earned the pole for the 30-lap Feature at Port Royal Speedway. The 20-year-old slipped to second early before rallying to move by a Pennsylvania legend and held off one of his closest friends to make his first trip to Victory Lane with The Greatest Show on Dirt and pocket $15,000.
As with any first time World of Outlaws winner, emotion spilled over after the checkered flag. In only his 23rd career Feature start with the Series, Wise drove the Rudeen Racing #26 to his first win. And not only did Wise collect his first victory, he also brought Kevin Rudeen’s team their first Series triumph since 2011, 4,418 days ago, when Sam Hafertepe Jr. topped a World of Outlaws visit to Skagit Speedway.
“It’s been a long road,” Wise said. “I remember my first few Outlaw races. One of them was actually here, and I had no clue what I was doing. I was definitely out in left field. And coming back here as many times as I’ve been here, I’ve gotten really comfortable here. And this is always a place I love coming to but always seemed to struggle at… Last night we didn’t really have a good showing. We came back and were really strong out of the gate, so I’m just very proud of our team.”
Wise’s win completed an Indiana invader sweep of the weekend at “The Speed Palace” as fellow Hoosier and ASCoC competitor – Tyler Courtney – topped Friday’s portion of the Nittany Showdown. Wise also became the third first time World of Outlaws winner this season, joining Brady Bacon and Corey Day. With Wise’s triumph, 152 different drivers have now won a World of Outlaws Feature, and Wise is the 12th to do so from the state of Indiana.
The path to Victory Lane was by no means an easy one. After winning the Toyota Racing Dash, Wise started the main event on the pole, but it was Lance Dewease rolling by Wise on the bottom to lead the first lap.
After Dewease grabbed the top spot, the Fayetteville, PA native established a solid gap between himself and Wise in the early going, and the margin stabilized around one second. As Dewease rolled the bottom and middle aboard the Macri Motorsports #39M, the distance between the two stayed roughly the same through much of the first half of the race. It was just before the halfway mark when Wise began to flex his muscle.
Wise started to build momentum by ripping the cushion through Turns 1 and 2 to create a massive run down the back straightaway. On the 16th lap, that line allowed Wise to close on Dewease’s tail tank. Three laps later, Wise used the high side to blast by Dewease exiting Turn 2.
“I knew Lance wasn’t going to go to the top in (Turns) 1 and 2, but he was just high enough on entry where it was really hard for me to get into the corner good enough to clear him off of (Turn) 2. I got close multiple times and just didn’t want to show my nose too early and put us in a bad spot for later. So, I kind of took my time, and I knew we had a really fast race car. Even right after Lap 1 when I was in second, I figured we’d have a shot at it for sure.”
Wise might’ve had the lead with only 10 laps to go, but the race was far from over. Dewease surged back to his inside over the next couple laps in a bid to regain the lead. And when those efforts came up short, a new challenger arose.
All the way from the 10th starting spot, Tyler Courtney passed Dewease on the 25th circuit as the Indianapolis, IN native was eying a weekend sweep. Wise had to fend off Courtney to secure an All-Star title with Rudeen Racing, and he’d be forced to hold off the same driver with his first World of Outlaws win on the line.
Courtney began to close in aboard the Clauson Marshall Racing/NOS Energy Drink #7BC, trimming Wise’s lead from a second nearly down to half a second in two laps. But with two laps to go, Wise pieced together a strong enough trip around the half mile to pull slightly ahead and make for a comfortable final lap as he locked up a win he’ll never forget with his close friend following him to the line.
“It’s really cool,” Wise said. “Me and Tyler have an awesome relationship. Obviously, we were teammates a handful of years back. It makes it even more special to be able to battle toe to toe like this it seems like every night. He was way ahead of us last night. But tonight I looked up and saw he was in third of fourth on one of those restarts and figured he was going to be coming. It’s really cool for us to be able to go head-to-head like this and have fun.”
Courtney came home second, narrowly missing a weekend sweep after his Friday victory. While he would’ve liked to go back to back, he was happy to run second to Wise and see him reach the major career accomplishment.
“Every time I’d get to him with my wing that far back I would kind of just lose my nose just a little bit right at the entry of the corner just kind of slip by grip a little bit,” Courtney said. “I tried the middle there coming to the checkered, and I should’ve moved up there about five laps before that. But I had made all my ground there on the bottom and felt like if I could hit my marks I was better than him down there, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight. It’s cool to see him win. He’s had a hell of a year. I know how special those first ones are.”
And rounding out the top three was Shark Racing’s Logan Schuchart as he led the way for the World of Outlaws regulars. The result marked Schuchart’s 14th Series podium of the season as he methodically worked his way forward from eighth.
“We just slowly but surely moved the wing back and were able to run through the middle,” Schuchart said. “It wasn’t like you could just pound the fence or anything, so I don’t know what the cars were doing behind me or even the cars up front. I just felt like I had to pull the wing back, float through the middle, and just work on each car that was in front of us lap by lap. Slowly, we just kind of picked them off.”
David Gravel and Lance Dewease completed the top five.
David Gravel grabbed his 13th Simpson Performance Products QuickTime of the year and 110th of his career.
CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat Race One was claimed by Zeb Wise. NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Four were topped by Brad Sweet, Logan Schuchart, and Brian Brown.
Danny Dietrich won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.
After an early Feature crash, Donny Schatz was awarded the Smith Titanium Brake Systems Break of the Race.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars head back to the heartland next weekend for a Kansas doubleheader. First up is a stop at 81 Speedway in Wichita, KS on Friday, October 13. The next night is a trip over to Kansas City’s Lakeside Speedway for the Micro-Lite Harvest Rumble. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the racing live on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps): 1. 26-Zeb Wise; 2. 7BC-Tyler Courtney; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 4. 2-David Gravel; 5. 39M-Lance Dewease; 6. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 7. 24-Rico Abreu; 8. 41-Carson Macedo; 9. 1T-Tanner Holmes; 10. 19-Brent Marks; 11. 49-Brad Sweet; 12. 21-Brian Brown; 13. 45-Jeff Halligan; 14. 91-Kyle Reinhardt; 15. 23-Devon Borden; 16. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 17. 9P-Parker Price Miller; 18. 11T-TJ Stutts; 19. 5-Spencer Bayston; 20. 20G-Noah Gass; 21. 5W-Lucas Wolfe; 22. (DNF) 48-Danny Dietrich; 23. (DNF) 47K-Kody Lehman; 24. (DNF) 13-Justin Peck; 25. (DNF) 1-Hunter Schuerenberg; 26. (DNF) 15-Donny Schatz; 27. (DNF) 83JR-Michael Kofoid
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Photo's: World Of Outlaws Sprint Car Series | Trent Gower | Rudeen Racing