Erb Jr, Heather Lyne Make Hard Work Your First WoO Title

Dennis Erb Jr. (Photo by Jacy Norgaard)

CONCORD, NC — Dennis Erb Jr. added. the most important piece on his tainted Late Model resume in 2022—a World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series championship.

However, what makes his title unique is his path to get there.

Unlike many teams in today’s dirty Late Model landscape, the Carpentersville, IL driver owns his equipment and races on a budget. It’s something Erb said makes the victory even sweeter, knowing that years of hard work have paid off.

“We’re going up against high-dollar teams, and I’ve never shied away from it,” Erb said. “I know what we are talking about. I know the costs, the work, and I don’t have anything to complain about. We just go out and do what we do.

“Knowing that we’ve made it, owning it all to myself on the budget I have, getting the money back to give back and keep fighting for it makes it even more satisfying. It feels really good to know how we did it.”

While it was the veteran driver’s first championship, it was also the first title for his longtime crew chief Heather Lyne. She became the first female championship-winning crew chief in a national dirt Late Model series and a North American motorsport series.

Because of the way Erb and Lyne run their team – as the only two crew members – Lyne calls the “Dynamic-Duo” the underdogs.

The two have been working together since 2001, when he volunteered to join the team. Since then, they’ve accomplished a lot, including the 2016 Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora and three consecutive DIRTcar Summer Nationals championships.

Those victories paved the way for the duo’s first championship on a national tour.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Lyne said. “It’s a pretty amazing and amazing feeling. I’m proud of what we’ve done. We’ve worked really hard; we don’t have the funding and help that a lot of other teams have, so we kind of classify ourselves as underdog to some extent. But we make up for it with our work ethic and our planning.”

That planning led to a renewed focus at the start of the season for Erb, who said he felt the team was in a place to make a push for a championship.

He opened the season with a top-five finish at Volusia Speedway Park during the Sunshine Nationals, leading to a Series-high 22 top-five finishes.

“Like I said earlier in the year, I had a focus on going out and doing it this year,” Erb said. “I feel like we’re getting better every year, and I think we’re at the point where things are in place at the beginning.

“It started really well, and we just kept rolling really well, and I think after a couple of weeks I had a pretty good idea that we had a good chance of doing it.”

One of the things that helped Erb and Lyne on the road to the championship was changing their approach.

Lyne has the challenge of balancing his full-time job as an engineer and being a crew chief for a full-time national Late Model team. While not an easy balance, he overcame its obstacles and still found ways to keep the team better than ever this year.

“We really started to focus and get a better and better process going up and down the road,” Lyne said. “We used to block out a lot of our distractions. With myself also working, I always have extra stress and extra workload, but I haven’t put in a lot of time in recent years, so we can really start focusing on it.

That masterful strategy helped fuel Erb’s consistency in 2022. Along with his 22 top-fives, he added four wins and finished outside the top 10 just eight times in nearly 50- race season.

Erb mathematically clinched his first championship at US 36 Raceway with three races remaining, allowing some weight to come off his shoulders ahead of the World of Outlaws World Finals championship finale at The Dirt Track in Charlotte.

“It’s a huge relief, knowing that we finally have it locked down,” Erb said. “All the hard work paid off and then we can go to Charlotte and not worry about anything. It’s racing. Anything can happen. You can get a run of bad luck and things can turn around very quickly. .

“Just to hear that it worked out and knowing all the hard work that’s been put in all season and over the years to get to this point, it really makes me happy.”

The A World of Outlaws CASE Late Models title will always be remembered, no matter who wins it. But for Erb and Lyne, it’s a unique path they can cherish for the rest of their lives.

However, as Lyne mentioned, even if they win a championship, there is still work to be done.

“We’ve set the bar, and now we have to clear it,” Lyne said.

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