Late Model News

Chris Madden Ascends 21 Positions For Comeback Win at Marion Center Raceway

“Smokey” went from making the final transfer spot into the Feature to collecting the $15,000 payday

MARION CENTER, PA (May 18, 2024) – Chris Madden faced an uphill battle in the mountains of Pennsylvania during the Connor Bobik Memorial at Marion Center Raceway Saturday night.

His climb: a 21-position ascent to win the 50-lap Feature.

He entered the night coming off his first World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model win of the season on Thursday, but that momentum didn’t translate early on. He qualified 15th in Group B of Sea Foam Qualifying and then missed a transfer spot in his Heat Race.

That forced him to transfer in through the Last Chance Showdown, which he did by grabbing the final available transfer spot – placing him 22nd on the starting grid for the Feature.

When the Feature commenced, “Smokey” didn’t waste time making his climb, using the bottom lane to pass clusters of cars.

Multiple cautions across the 50-lap race helped keep Madden in the mix for the Feature win.

Moving into the top five with 20 laps to go, the toughest stretch of work began for him, having to get by the leading contenders with the hourglass running out.

He started by passing Cade Dillard and Nick Hoffman, who spent most of the race battling each other, with ease to move into second. Then, Madden evaporated the gap on race leader Kyle Bronson with 10 laps to go.

With momentum back on his side, Madden took his chance for the lead with five laps to go by getting to the bottom of Bronson in Turn 1. They stayed side-by-side until he slid up the track to clear Bronson off of Turn 4.

Madden used the final four laps to create as much of a gap as he could between the No. 44 and the field to score his 38th Feature win – tying with Rick Eckert for sixth in all-time Feature wins with the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models.

“We were no good at all till the Feature,” Madden said. “We came in after the (Last Chance Showdown) and went to work on it and made an overhaul instead of tweaking a bit on the car to make it better. As a team, we came to the agreement of what we wanted to do there and did it. We had a heck of a hot rod there in the Feature, so that’s what got it done tonight.”

Bronson crossed the finish line in second place. While losing stung, the Brandon, FL continues to push the optimism that he will capture a Feature win with the Series soon.

“I should’ve stayed running my line there,” Bronson said. “I moved down to try and block (Madden’s) run a bit there and my signal guy was telling me he was pretty low. I just couldn’t cut like I wanted to and be able to have a smooth transition to the bottom there. I feel like we were a couple of adjustments away from being a lot better. Overall, (Madden) was really good to come from the (Last Chance Showdown) to win the damn race. We just needed three more laps to get the deal done, but overall, we’re headed in a right direction, and I think we’re in a spot where we could win a bunch of these races here.”

Hoffman completed the night’s podium with a third-place run. After a tough battle throughout the night between him and Dillard, the Mooresville, NC driver is happy to leave Marion Center Raceway in one piece and grow his points lead to 12 points over New Berlin, IL driver Brandon Sheppard.

“The racetrack was really good for the guy that came from 22nd, so that’s pretty impressive,” Hoffman said. “I probably just bided my time too much with Cade, and maybe played too nice to be honest. I should’ve been more aggressive and threw a slider sooner and got myself clear of him. Because once I got clear, I could track down Kyle. But the caution and going too deep into Turn 1, locked it down so I didn’t hit Kyle and got myself loose. Then, they swarmed me on both sides, so I had to go back to defense and fend off everyone, then when I got clear again, it was the white flag. My car was really good there and gave myself less work to do for tomorrow.”

On the final lap, Sarver, PA driver Michael Norris snagged a fourth-place result on Turn 4 from Dillard as they passed the finish line – with the Robeline, LA driver scored with a fifth-place finish.

With Madden’s win, he also continued his climb toward a potential first Series title, now sitting 28-points behind Hoffman. 

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