Veteran late model driver Rick Eckert has never won a World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship, but that may change at the conclusion of this season.

Eckert will go into next Wednesday's World of Outlaws Late Model Showdown at The Dirt Track at Charlotte with a 22-point lead over two-time defending series champion Josh Richards.

Looking at the win column, it wouldn't seem as though the 45-year-old should be leading the points; Richards has eight wins while Eckert has just three. But Eckert's consistency has played a key role in keeping him at the top of the standings.

"We've been really consistent," said Eckert. "We've won three World of Outlaws races, but we were in the top-10 in 24 out of 28 races or something. We've had a bunch of second and third place finishes which is what has really kept us in this thing, but we really need to win some races here at the end to try to clinch this thing up."

The York, Pa., native, is up against some stiff competition in Richards, who is the defending Late Model Showdown winner and has several sponsors backing his car.

"You notice there are no names on the doors on my cars," said Eckert. "The other guys second in points have good connections and they got all kind of sponsors. We're lacking. We've got one or two little sponsors but we're fortunate enough to keep going, so we'll keep getting after it."

When it comes down to it, Eckert feels he can secure his championship by getting more victories, something he hopes to accomplish in the Late Model Showdown.

"We've got to win some more races," said Eckert. "They've got way more resources then we have. We've just got to play it smart."

The Late Model Showdown plays a vital role in the championship because it gives the drivers a preview of what to expect for the season-ending World of Outlaws World Finals, Nov. 3-5, which are also held at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

"We can take what we learn there and bring it back a month later," Eckert said. "It's not necessarily what we take there (for the Late Model Showdown); it is what we learn while we are there."

The World of Outlaws Late Model Showdown, on Oct. 12, kicks off Bank of America 500 Week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. More than 40 of the world's best late model drivers will compete to take home the $10,000 top prize.

Drivers will sign autographs on the concourse when the gates open at 5 p.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 7:20 p.m. with the World of Outlaws Late Model Showdown scheduled to start at 9:10 p.m.

In addition to World of Outlaws racing, the modifieds of the National Dirt Racing Association's Modz "Road Show" presented by Roush Yates Performance Parts will end their inaugural season at The Dirt Track after the conclusion of the Late Model Showdown.

Tickets are just $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under for reserved seats to the Late Model Showdown.

Tickets can be obtained by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455- FANS (3267) or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

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