The Dirt Track at Charlotte played host to a thrilling Thursday of Textron Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals qualifying, as an enthralled crowd of dirt-racing fans witnessed a spectacular first day of World Finals action on Charlotte's lightning-fast, four-tenths-mile oval.

David Gravel and Trey Starks led the way in World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series qualifying. Gravel posted the quickest time for Friday's events with a 12.53-second lap, while Starks circled The Dirt Track in 12.606 seconds to top the charts for Saturday's action.

Thursday's time trials also marked the return of three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart to The Dirt Track. Stewart will drive his No. 14 Rush Truck Centers-sponsored machine in this weekend's races.

The stars of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models scorched Charlotte's dirt, but no one was faster than Mike Marlar and Josh Richards. Marlar's 14.385-second lap gave him the best time for Friday's races, while Richards' 14.536-second run paced the field for Saturday's proceedings.

Mike Mahaney made The Dirt Track his personal playground on Thursday. Mahaney's 15.609- and 15.678-second laps were good enough for the quickest times for Friday's and Saturday's Super DIRTcar Series events.

Mahaney, Mat Williamson, points leader Matt Sheppard, Keith Flach and Demetrios Drellos won heat races for Friday. Drellos, Sheppard, Mahaney, Flach and Tim Fuller claimed heats for Saturday's action.

"The cushion is moving up with the sprint cars out there," Mahaney said. "There's still a lot of speed there. The cushion's good for us and we have a lot of confidence in what we're doing."

Gates for Friday's races - which feature a sunny forecast - open at noon with opening ceremonies beginning at 4:45 p.m.

Fans from 48 U.S. states including Alaska and Hawaii have joined attendees from as far away as South Africa and Scotland to make the World Finals a truly world-class showcase of speed, excitement and championship drama.