Ricky Weiss entered his first full season of racing with the World of Outlaws Late Models this year with the lofty goals of winning Rookie of the Year and finishing Top 5 in points.
Weiss, a former River Cities Speedway regular and Headingly, Man., native, has made those aspirations look easy.
Weiss’ sparkling rookie campaign will have a homecoming of sorts Friday night when the Outlaws Late Models highlight the RCS show in Grand Forks. The late models will race 50 laps for a $10,000 prize.
Weiss leads the Rookie of the Year standings by 292 points. He also sits third overall in points, 38 points behind second-place driver Darrell Lanigan.
Last year, Weiss sat on the pole of the RCS show and led laps in the early stages before surrendering the top spot to eventual winner Mike Marlar.
Weiss could be running out front again, as he has seven Top 5 finishes and 14 Top 10 finishes through 20 Outlaws races.
“That’s pretty damn good for what we’re trying to do,” Weiss said.
There’s expected to be a strong Canadian showing at the quarter-mile Bullring to support Weiss, who’s now based out of Tennessee.
“We have quite a bit of a following (in Manitoba),” Weiss said. “They don’t get to watch us very often. A big race like this should bring out quite a few (fans). I hope to have a good showing for them.
“If we can get a Top 3 or even a win, that’d be a dream come true in front of all these home fans.”
Weiss and Lanigan are chasing the runaway points leader for the Outlaws in Brandon Sheppard, who took second at RCS in 2018.
In 20 races, Sheppard has 12 wins and 19 Top 5s.
About 10 to 15 local drivers will be mixed in with the Outlaws, although just getting a chance to race in the feature is the typical goal for the local drivers.
“When (the Outlaws) come in here, they bring a gun and we have a knife,” said Grand Forks’ Brad Seng, a veteran late model driver. “We look forward to it, but they’re the show.”
Seng said he aims to finish above the other local drivers.
“It’s a race within a race,” he said. “What happens with the locals is that if they feel like they’re going to impact the outcome of the race as a lapped car, we’ll pull off. By no means do any of us locals want to be somewhere we shouldn’t be.”
The local late models are a deep, experienced group this season -- led by veterans Seng, Dustin Strand, Joey Pederson, Mike Balcaen, Steve Anderson and Tom Corcoran.
It’s a busy week for the Outlaws, who raced in Ashland, Wis., on Tuesday, then will race Friday in Grand Forks, Saturday in Ogilvie, Minn., and Sunday in Menomonie, Wis.
RCS World of Outlaw
Late Model winners
2018 -- Mike Marlar
2017 -- Shane Clanton
2016 -- Rain
2015 -- Tim McCreadie
2014 -- Tim Fuller
2013 -- Rain
2012 -- Darrell Lanigan
2011 -- Tim McCreadie
2010 -- Austin Hubbard
2009 -- Josh Richards
2008 -- Brady Smith
Top local finishers
2018 -- 4. Ricky Weiss; 6. Dustin Strand
2017 -- 11. Weiss
2015 -- 8. Joey Pederson, 9. Brad Seng
2014 -- 15. Strand
2012 -- 12. Seng
2011 -- 14. Seng
2010 -- 14. Seng
2009 -- 15. Dustin Hapka
2008 -- 15. Seng