August 28th, 2019 by Chris Leone
Blake Matjoulis won $10,000 and earned the chance to drive a Clint Bowyer Racing Super Late Model by scoring the 2019 iRacing World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model World Championship on Monday night. Matjoulis, who entered the season finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway as the points leader, held off title rivals Kendal Tucker and Alex Bergeron for a hard-fought race victory—and will get to drive the real-world version of the track in November with Bowyer as part of his prize package.
“Unbelievable, baby!” Matjoulis exclaimed after taking the checkered flag and completing Polish victory laps at speed around the dirt half-mile. “Unbelievable. Champion—won the race, did it all. I’m in shock right now—I waited all week for this race, and I just wanted it over. It’s so awesome.”
Qualifying and the heats couldn’t have set the stage for the championship showdown any better. Bergeron stole the top qualifying spot from Matjoulis near the end of the session, taking the maximum six points and bumping Tucker out of bonus point range in the process. Bergeron and Matjoulis then won the first two heats, but Tucker made up for qualifying seventh by bumping Jeremy Capron out of the lead early in the third heat and took the win. That meant the championship leaders would line up 1-2-3 to start the race.
Bergeron jumped to an early lead, but Matjoulis clipped him in Turn 3 of the first lap and sent Bergeron out of the immediate battle for the lead. Kevin Dedmon charged up to take advantage of the opportunity, becoming the fourth man in as the championship leaders tried to solve the race amongst themselves. Bergeron ran his traditional high line early, but all of the frontrunners began to mix it up to try and find as much speed as possible.
Eventually, the high line established itself as the dominant groove in Turns 1 and 2, but Matjoulis, Tucker, and Bergeron fanned out from low to high on the other side of the track. Bergeron began attempting sliders in Turns 1 and 2 to separate himself from Tucker, who clipped the wall multiple times early and stacked into Bergeron on Lap 14, but couldn’t make the pass in the first half of the race and lost momentum after clipping the wall himself on Lap 26.
A caution on Lap 32 for Tyler Ducharme reset the gaps, bunching the field back up and setting up the first restart of the night. But Matjoulis responded with a perfect restart, and Tucker had to fight off Bergeron to hang onto second, wasting precious laps in the process. Tucker clipped the wall once again on the second to last lap before ever getting a chance to throw the slider, and Matjoulis drove away for his series-leading third win of the season to lock up the title.
“If you didn’t like that right there, or that entire 10-race season, then I don’t know what to tell you,” said Tucker. “That was three guys there neck-and-neck to basically be 1-2-3 the entire night. None of us gave each other an inch—I wasn’t giving Matjoulis an inch, and I sure wasn’t giving Bergeron an inch there. I knew it was going to be tough, I was just praying that the track would switch up and the bottom line would come back in. But if I couldn’t get that $10,000, there’s nobody I would rather have it than Blake Matjoulis.”
“We had a good qualifying run, started first in the heat race, and won that,” explained Bergeron. “We did our best to stay up front in the feature, and I got run over a little bit, but it is what it is. After that, I just tried to keep on going and do my best for these guys, but it was very hard to pass. It was pretty much single-lane.”
The final 2019 iRacing World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model World Championship standings are as follows:
- Blake Matjoulis, 681 (3 wins)
- Kendal Tucker, 664
- Alex Bergeron, 663 (2 wins)
- Kevin Dedmon, 611
- Evan Seay, 573 (1 win)
- Dylan Houser, 510 (1 win)
- Blake Cannon, 445 (1 win)
- Steven Wilson, 444
- Shad Prescott, 415
- Zach Leonhardi, 389
Matjoulis will head to Charlotte this November for the World of Outlaws Can-Am World Finals, where he’ll be honored at the season-ending banquet with a trophy presentation. From there, he’ll also get to hit the track with Bowyer, joining Bergeron, who won this year’s iRacing World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car World Championship and will go through the same experience in a sprint car alongside Christopher Bell.