Two weeks after Luke Horning won his first Super DIRT Week Pro Stock title, he found himself back in Victory Lane for another marquee win.
“Cousin Luke” scored his first World Short Track Championship All-Star Invitational Feature win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Thursday night – also his second World Short Track win overall and 21st Feature win of the season.
“Winning here is huge,” Horning said. “All the competitive guys are here. Nobody came here thinking they don’t have a chance to win this. To win the [All-Star Invitational], it’s one we haven’t gotten before. This is awesome.”
At Super DIRT Week, Horning had to come from seventh to win. Thursday night, he did the same during the 15-lap MSD Performance DIRTcar Pro Stock race.
John Fitzgerald started on the pole with Ken Griffin to his outside. When the green flag dropped for the first time Fitzgerald maintained the lead for the first couple laps while Griffin faded early. Behind him, Horning was on a march.
Hugging the low line, as close as he could to the infield tires, Horning was powering by cars two at a time each corner. By Lap 2, he was second. Lap 3, he was the leader.
“I had a plan,” Horning said. “I was watching the progression of the track. Everyone was migrating to the bottom, migrating to the bottom. Being up here (up on the hill)… we got to watch a little more racing than the guys down there (in the lower pit area). I was watching guys moving down, so I said, ‘Starting back there, maybe the first couple laps we can run tight to the bottom and maybe those guys won’t run tight to the bottom,’ and sure enough they kept giving me room and giving me room.”
Marc Lalonde latched on to Horning’s plan and followed him past the leaders into second. Once the two were out front, Lalonde wouldn’t let Horning get away. Lap after lap he stayed tight to his bumper. And Horning knew it.
Watching the flag directions from flagger Dave Farney, and what he could see from the big screens around the track, Horning was using every variable he could to keep Lalonde behind him. It started to pay off as Horning’s blue #2H machine inched further and further away from Lalonde in the closing laps.
“I thought we had a good lead,” Horning said. “Mr. Farney was opening up (his flags) a little bit and the Jumbotron wasn’t on me no more. I thought if there was a run for the lead, they’d be on me. And I couldn’t see me on the Jumbotron, so I just kept doing what I was doing. Then, we got the yellow (with five laps to go) and when we went back to green, Mr. Farney stopped telling me I was opening up, so I knew I was in trouble. I knew we were racing. I saw [Lalonde] alongside of me and I thought if we’re rolling this good down here there must be something good up there (where Lalonde was running).
“The yellow came out again, so I moved up, just off the bottom a little bit and it was really good.”
Horning made two more clean laps, comfortably ahead of Lalonde by the time Farney had the checkered flags in his hand.
Now, with one World Short Track Championship trophy in the trailer, Horning has one more waiting to cap off his dream season. The MSD Performance DIRTcar Pro Stocks will run Heat Races on Friday, Oct. 27, a Last Chance Showdown on Saturday, Oct. 28, and then a 25-lap Feature Saturday evening.
“We still have one more, so we have to get back to work,” Horning said. “Just what a season, you know. (Super) DIRT Week and then this, again. It’s just amazing. Amazing.”
For tickets to the World Short Track Championship, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
MSD PERFORMANCE DIRTCAR PRO STOCK RESULTS:
All-Star Feature (15 Laps): 1. 2H-Luke Horning; 2. 8-Marc Lalonde; 3. 72G-Denis Gauvreau; 4. 04-Jaxson Ryan; 5. 44X-Bruno Richard; 6. 54S-Zachary Sorrentino; 7. 2-Pete Stefanski; 8. 15-Guy Viens; 9. 9J-Eric Jean Louis; 10. 5-Ian Bressette; 11. 56-John Fitzgerald; 12. 35-Jonathan Lemay; 13. 14J-Johnny Rivers Jr; 14. 28-Philip DeFiglio; 15. 25Y-Ken Griffin; 16. 09J-Shawn Perez Jr; 17. 33-Bruno Cyr; 18. 8C-Sean Corr; 19. 9-Shane Henderson; 20. 6C-Brian Carter