CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 3) — Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., will soon be crowned the 2017 World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion. But first, the Rocket house car driver had to make a stop in victory lane.
Charging around the high side, the sixth-starting Sheppard overtook polesitter Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., with two laps remaining in Friday’s 50-lap World of Outlaws feature, outrunning Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., for a $12,000 Textron Off Road World Finals victory at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
“I haven’t been this pumped up in a while,” Sheppard said in victory lane. “Mark Richards and Steve Baker and everybody at Rocket Chassis, they gave me an opportunity to drive this car a few years ago in 2012 and have basically took me under their wing since then and taught me a lot and really matured me a lot as a driver. What a phenomenal year."
Marlar shot to the lead at the drop of the green flag, working his way through lapped traffic in the early running to stretch his lead over the second-running Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn. With the race slowed by a caution just shy of the halfway mark, Erb shot past Owens to take over the second spot, joining the battle up front.
As the race leaders entered lapped traffic again on lap 33, Erb began closing in on Marlar, pulling alongside the No. 157 down the backstretch on lap 37. The pair racing side-by-side, Erb edged ahead of Marlar at the line to take the race lead on lap 42.
Erb’s turn at the point would be short-lived, as Marlar pulled back ahead two circuits later. But it was Sheppard rallying around the top of the racetrack to join the battle for the lead in the final stages of the 50-lapper. Pulling ahead of Marlar in turn two, Sheppard grabbed the lead on lap 48, leading the final two circuits to tie the World of Outlaws single-season win record with his 18th series victory of the year.
“The bottom was starting to latch up a little bit at both ends,” Sheppard said. “I got around Dale (McDowell) there and got around Josh (Richards). The three of them were bunched up all together in the bottom in front of me messing around with some lapped cars. I knew we had the points wrapped up already, so I was either going to crash it or win."
Erb finished runner-up at the checkers, with Marlar running third. Owens finished fourth, with Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., rounding out the top five.
“We were both racing hard there,” Erb said of his battle with Marlar. “I wanted to be up where he was. We were trying, but he was right there being able to stay side-by-side with me. We had a real good race there, then Sheppard came around there on the outside. But we’ve had a good start to the weekend so far and to bring home a second, we’re happy with that.”
With lapped traffic slowing his momentum in the late running, Marlar settled for a third-place finish after leading much of the race.
“It was an awesome race,” Marlar said. “Dennis and I got to racing and I was behind Rick Eckert trying to get around him. When I finally squeezed by Dennis and got in front of Eckert, I thought, ‘I’m alright now, I can ride this thing out, I think.’ And here comes Brandon. I’m like, ‘New game plan. We’re going to have to do something else.’ Congratulations to Brandon. If anybody can get up and run around that wall wide open and get a win, it’s him."
Notes: Sheppard earned his 24th career World of Outlaws victory. … Notching his 18th tour victory of the season, Sheppard tied Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., for the series single-season win record. Richards posted the win total last season. ... The race had three different leaders: Marlar (1-41, 44-47), Erb (42-43) and Sheppard (48-50). … Two cautions slowed the feature event. … The first yellow flag waved on lap 17 when Zach McMillan got into the wall in turns one and two. … Jason Covert slowed in the bottom of turns one and two to draw a caution on lap 23.
Preliminary notes and results:
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 2: Jimmy Owens, Josh Richards
Row 3: Dale McDowell, Brandon Sheppard
Row 4: Shane Clanton, Hudson O’Neal
Row 5: Brandon Kinzer, Zach McMillan
Row 6: Chase Junghans, Tim McCreadie
Row 7: Scott Bloomquist, Brian Shirley
Row 8: Brandon Overton, Jason Covert
Row 9: Don O’Neal, Benji Hicks
Row 10: Jonathan Davenport, Chris Madden
Row 11: Brent Larson, Steve Casebolt
Row 12: Casey Roberts, Nick Hoffman
Row 13: Devin Moran, Rick Eckert
Row 14: Steven Roberts, Tyler Erb
Row 15: Eric Wells, Chub Frank
Row 16: Morgan Bagley
Slipping under polesitter Nick Hoffman in turn four, second-starting Brent Larson took an early lead. A yellow flag waved on the second lap when Gary Clark and Brian Ledbetter tangled in turns three and four; Steve Francis retired under the caution after getting into the wall in turns one and two. Larson held his lead on the restart, with Hoffman running a solid second. With the top-two pulling away from the field, a three-car battle ensued for the third-place spot between Morgan Balgey, Dan Stone and Clay Daly. Larson won the consolation, with Hoffman taking the second and final transfer spot.
Finish (top two transfer): Brent Larson, Nick Hoffman, Morgan Bagley, Dan Stone, Logan Martin, Clay Daly, Ross Robinson, Kyle Hardy, Dustin Mitchell, Ross Bailes, Andy Fries, Bob Gordon, Carder Miller, Greg Clark, Tyler Horst, Tom Decker III, Brian Ledbetter, Steve Francis.
Charging around the high side, Chris Madden shot to an early lead, with Eric Wells and Rick Eckert challenging Tyler Erb for the third-place spot. As Madden and second-running Casey Roberts distanced themselves from the field, the battle for third continued, with Eckert pulling ahead of Erb on lap six. As the race leaders approached lapped traffic, Roberts started reeling in Madden, with a yellow flag waving on lap eight for the slowing Rusty Schlenk. Madden held on to win the consolation, with Roberts finishing second to transfer to the feature.
Finish (top two transfer): Chris Madden, Casey Roberts, Rick Eckert, Jared Hawkins, Tyler Erb, Tyler Millwood, Gary Stuhler, Eric Wells, Jason Jameson, Joey Coulter, T.J. Reaid, Chad Ruhlman, Corey Conley, Matt Sponaugle, Kody Evans, Rusty Schlenk, Russ King, Kerry King. Scratched: Chris Ferguson.
Polesitter Jonathan Davenport shot out to an early lead, as Steve Casebolt slipped ahead of Dale Hollidge to run in second. A yellow flag waved on lap three when Tyler Carpenter and Brian Ruhlman tangled in turn two. Another yellow flew on the ensuing restart when Riley Hickman got into the turn one wall. Rolling around the high side, Casebolt began closing in on Davenport as the race went back green, but was unable to challenge for the lead. Davenport pulled way late-race to win the consolation, with Casebolt grabbing the second and final transfer spot.
Finish (top two transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Steve Casebolt, Dale Hollidge, Jason Feger, Steven Roberts, Justin Williams, Donny Schatz, Mike Lupfer, Chub Frank, Mason Zeigler, Blake Spencer, Kyle Lear, Nick Davis, Freddie Carpenter, Ryan King, Riley Hickman, Darrell Lanigan, Tyler Carpenter, Brian Ruhlman, Devin Moran.
(12 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Dale Hollidge
Row 2: Steve Casebolt, Steven Roberts
Row 3: Riley Hickman, Jason Feger
Row 4: Darrell Lanigan, Mason Zeigler
Row 5: Devin Moran, Ryan King
Row 6: Kyle Lear, Freddie Carpenter
Row 7: Nick Davis, Brian Ruhlman
Row 8: Justin Williams, Blake Spencer
Row 9: Chub Frank, Tyler Carpenter
Row 1: Rusty Schlenk, Chris Madden
Row 2: Casey Roberts, Eric Wells
Row 3: Tyler Erb, Rick Eckert
Row 4: Jared Hawkins, Joey Coulter
Row 5: Gary Stuhler, Tyler Millwood
Row 6: Jason Jameson, Corey Conley
Row 7: Chad Ruhlman, Matt Sponaugle
Row 8: T.J. Reaid, Kody Evans
Row 9: Russ King, Kerry King
Row 1: Nick Hoffman, Brent Larson
Row 2: Morgan Bagley, Steve Francis
Row 3: Clay Daly, Dan Stone
Row 4: Ross Robinson, Kyle Hardy
Row 5: Dustin Mitchell, Tyler Horst
Row 6: Andy Fries, Bob Gordon
Row 7: Logan Martin, Carder Miller
Row 8: Greg Clark, Ross Bailes
Row 9: Tom Decker III, Brian Ledbetter
Slipping under polesitter Tim McCreadie in turn two, Brandon Sheppard took an early lead. The pair raced side-by-side, with McCreadie challenging for the lead down the backstretch on lap three. As Sheppard and McCreadie distanced themselves from the field, a yellow flag waved on lap five when Brian Ledbetter spun in turns three and four. Ross Bailes spun in turns one and two to draw another caution on lap six. Sheppard led the final two laps, with McCreadie and Benji Hicks grabbing transfer spots.
Finish (top three transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Tim McCreadie, Benji Hicks, Brent Larson, Steve Francis, Dan Stone, Kyle Hardy, Tyler Horst, Bob Gordon, Carder Miller, Ross Bailes, Brian Ledbetter.
Polesitter Dennis Erb Jr. charged to the lead at the drop of the green flag, as Chase Junghans and Don O’Neal battled for the runner-up spot in the early running. Erb stretched his lead to nearly a full straightaway at the halfway mark, with Junghans running a solid second. Erb won the heat, with Junghans and O’Neal rounding out the podium.
Finish (top three transfer): Dennis Erb Jr., Chase Junghans, Don O’Neal, Nick Hoffman, Morgan Bagley, Clay Daly, Ross Robinson, Dustin Mitchell, Andy Fries, Logan Martin, Greg Clark, Tom Decker III.
With front row starters Dale McDowell and Chris Madden holding their positions in the early running, Eric Wells began reeling in third-running Zach McMillan. A yellow flag waved on lap four for a turn-two tangle involving Matt Sponaugle and Joey Coulter. McDowell held his lead on the restart, with McMillan slipping ahead of Madden to take over the second-place spot. Another yellow flag waved on lap six when Kerry king got into the wall in turn four. McDowell won the heat, with McMillan finishing second. Jason Covert edged Madden at the line to finish third and transfer to the feature.
Finish (top three transfer): Dale McDowell, Zach McMillan, Jason Covert, Chris Madden, Eric Wells, Rick Eckert, Tyler Millwood, Corey Conley, Matt Sponaugle, Kody Evans, Kerry King. Scratched: Chris Ferguson.
A yellow flag waved on the opening lap for a turn-four tangle between Jared Hawkins and Russ King. Polesitter Brandon Kinzer took the lead as the race went green, with Jimmy Owens shooting into the second-place spot. As the race reached the halfway mark, Owens began reeling in Kinzer, pulling ahead down the backstitch of lead lap five. Owens pulled away to win the heat, with Kinzer finishing second. Brandon Overton edged ahead of Rusty Schlenk on the final lap to take the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Jimmy Owens, Brandon Kinzer, Brandon Overton, Rusty Schlenk, Casey Roberts, Tyler Erb, Jared Hawkins, Gary Stuhler, Jason Jameson, Chad Ruhlman, T.J. Reaid, Russ King.
As polesitter Josh Richards charged to an early lead, Hudson O’Neal and Brian Shirley raced side-by-side for the second-place spot, with the advantage going to O’Neal on the third lap. Richards stretched his lead to nearly a full straightaway in the late running, with the top three cars pulling away from the field. Richards, O’Neal and Shirley all transferred to the feature.
Finish (top three transfer): Josh Richards, Hudson O’Neal, Brian Shirley, Dale Hollidge, Steven Roberts, Jason Feger, Mason Zeigler, Ryan King, Freddie Carpenter, Mike Lupfer, Brian Ruhlman, Blake Spencer, Tyler Carpenter.
A yellow flag waved on the opening lap when Chub Frank spun in turn one. Polesitter Mike Marlar shot to the lead as the race went green, as Scott Bloomquist slipped back to run in third. With Marlar setting a torrid pace at the halfway mark, Jonathan Davenport attempted to reel in Bloomquist for the third-place spot, losing momentum in the late running. Bloomquist and second-running Clanton made on contact on the seventh lap, with Bloomquist nearly getting sideways in turn four. Marlar picked up the heat win, with Clanton edging out Bloomquist for second.
Finish (top three transfer): Mike Marlar, Shane Clanton, Scott Bloomquist, Jonathan Davenport, Steve Casebolt, Riley Hickman, Darrell Lanigan, Devin Moran, Kyle Lear, Donny Schatz, Nick Davis, Justin Williams, Chub Frank.
Weather conditions for Night 2 of the World Finals are once again splendid. Skies have been slightly overcast during the afternoon with the high temperature soaring to near 80. … No hot laps are scheduled for the three divisions in action, reducing the number of laps on the racing surface and allowing competition to begin at 5 p.m. … The World Finals’ 75-car field is the third-highest car count for a Dirt Late Model event in 2017, trailing only Eldora Speedway’s World 100 (105 cars) and Dream (79 cars). … Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., clinched his first-ever WoO championship by simply entering the weekend’s action, freeing him to go all out in his bid to establish a new single-season WoO win record. He will tie Josh Richards’s standard of 18 wins set in 2016 with one victory and pass it by sweeping the doubleheader. … Drivers who earn pole starting spots for heat races on both Friday and Saturday with their Thursday qualifying efforts were Shinnston, W.Va.'s Richards, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill. … Chris Ferguson of Mt. Holly, N.C., saw his weekend at what is effectively his home track end early due to a broken water pump during Thursday’s hot laps. He will spend the remainder of the World Finals manning the ButlerBilt Seats display in the pit area. … Kyle Hardy of Stephens City, Va., failed to log a qualifying lap in Thursday’s time trials because his car’s engine went silent as he entered turn one due to a malfunctioning emergency shut-off switch. He came back to time 11th-fastest with Shawn Martin’s XR1 Rocket in the second round of qualifying. … Rusty Schlenk of McClure, Ohio, was very pleased with his qualifying performance in his first appearance at Charlotte, timing sixth and seventh in the two rounds to earn prime starting positions in this weekend’s heat races. He said he used a z-link rear suspension on his 1-race-old C.J. Rayburn house car. … Kevin Rumley rolled into the pit area behind the wheel of his own team’s toterhome and trailer shortly after 3 p.m. Inside the transporter was the first Lance Landers Motorsports No. 49 that Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., will unveil at his merchandise trailer on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Friday's heat lineups
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Riley Hickman
Row 3: Jonathan Davenport, Nick Davis
Row 4: Steve Casebolt, Darrell Lanigan
Row 5: Kyle Lear, Chub Frank
Row 6: Justin Williams, Devin Moran
Row 7: Donny Schatz
Row 1: Josh Richards, Hudson O’Neal
Row 2: Steve Roberts, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Jason Feger, Dale Hollidge
Row 4: Freddie Carpenter, Mason Zeigler
Row 5: Tyler Carpenter, Ryan King
Row 6: Brian Ruhlman, Mike Lupfer
Row 7: Blake Spencer
Row 1: Brandon Kinzer, Rusty Schlenk
Row 2: Jimmy Owens, Casey Roberts
Row 3: T.J. Reaid, Brandon Overton
Row 4: Tyler Erb, Russ King
Row 5: Jason Jameson, Jared Hawkins
Row 6: Chad Ruhlman, Gary Stuhler
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Chris Madden
Row 2: Jason Covert, Zach McMillan
Row 3: Eric Wells, Matt Sponaugle
Row 4: Tyler Millwood, Corey Conley
Row 5: Rick Eckert, Kody Evans
Row 6: Kerry King, Joey Coulter
Row 7: Chris Ferguson
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Chase Junghans
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Nick Hoffman
Row 3: Logan Martin, Dustin Mitchell
Row 4: Clay Daly, Ross Robinson
Row 5: Greg Clark, Morgan Bagley
Row 6: Tom Decker, Andy Fries
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Ross Bailes, Benji Hicks
Row 3: Steve Francis, Carder Miller
Row 4: Brent Larson, Tyler Horst
Row 5: Bob Gordon, Dan Stone
Row 6: Brian Ledbetter, Kyle Hardy
The Textron Off Road World Finals action continues on Friday at The Dirt Track at Charlotte with the first of two World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series weekend events. The 50-lap feature pays $12,000-to-win.
Friday’s heat race lineups were determined by Thursday’s first round of time trials. Fast qualifiers Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., and Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., will start on the pole of the first and fourth heat races, respectively. The top three from each of the night’s six heats will transfer to the main event.
Consolations will set the remainder of the feature field. Along with Late Models, big-block modifieds and World of Outlaws Sprint Cars will be in action. DirtonDirt.com is offering live pay-per-view coverage of the event.
Friday’s time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 14.385
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 14.521
Brandon Kinzer (18), Allen, Ky., 14.56
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 14.651
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 14.771
Rusty Schlenk (CJ1), Weston, Ohio, 14.789
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 14.858
Steve Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., 14.867
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 14.867
Riley Hickman (R1), Ooltewah, Tenn., 14.89
Brian Shirley (22*), Chatham, Ill., 14.903
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 14.92
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 14.931
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 14.951
T.J. Reaid (41r), Acworth, Ga., 14.971
Nick Davis (92), Millsboro, Del., 14.978
Dale Hollidge (0), Mechanicsville, Md., 14.981
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 14.998
Steve Casebolt (C9), Richmond, Ind., 15.001
Freddy Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 15.161
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 15.166
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 15.175
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.176
Russ King (56) Bristolville, Ohio, 15.178
Kyle Lear (151), Severna Park, Md., 15.181
Tyler Carpenter (28), Parkersburg, W.Va., 15.188
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 15.189
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.224
Jared Hawkins (11), Fairmont, W.Va., 15.232
Justin Williams (89), Shipman, Va., 15.237
Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 15.292
Brian Ruhlman (49), Clark Lake, Mich., 15.363
Chad Ruhlman (4s), Bemus Point, N.Y., 15.364
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 15.584
Mike Lupfer (06),Shermans Dale, Pa., 15.711
Gary Stuhler (55S), Greencastle, Pa., 15.714
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 15.932
Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.182
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 14.628
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.636
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 14.722
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 14.78
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 14.8
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 14.807
Jason Covert (72), York Haven, Pa., 14.932
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 14.963
Ross Bailes (40), Clover, S.C., 14.973
Zach McMillan (14), Gladewater, Texas, 14.993
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 15.088
Benji Hicks (55), Mount Airy, N.C. , 15.116
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 15.121
Logan Martin (36), West Plains, Mo., 15.144
Steve Francis (15), Bowling Green, Ky., 15.178
Matt Sponaugle (8), Wiley Fork, W.Va., 15.224
Dustin Mitchell (89), Pine Level, N.C., 15.249
Carder Miller (69*), Salem, Va., 15.335
Tyler Millwood (31m), Kingston, Ga., 15.339
Clay Daly (32B), Watsonville, Calif., 15.394
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 15.418
Corey Conley (14), Wellsburg, W.Va., 15.438
Ross Robinson (7r), Georgetown, Del., 15.482
Tyler Horst (14h), Rouzerville, Pa., 15.493
Rick Eckert (7E), York, Pa., 15.497
Greg Clark (39c), Stanley, N.C., 15.55
Bob Gordon (31), Keyser, W.Va., 15.585
Kody Evans (4g), Camden, Ohio, 15.616
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 15.677
Dan Stone (72), Thompson, Pa., 15.73
Kerry King (K&B), Delmar, Del., 15.773
Tom Decker III (43d), Tyrone, Pa., 15.885
Brian Ledbetter (07), Dallas, N.C., 16.186
Joey Coulter (2), Concord, N.C., 16.203
Andy Fries (82), Mercersburg, Pa., 16.647
Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., no time
Kyle Hardy (3v), Stephens City, Va., no time
4:45 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- Big-block consolations (12 laps)
- WoO Late Model heats (8 laps)
- WoO Sprint heats (8 laps)
- WoO Late Model B-main No. 1 (12 laps)
- WoO Sprint C-main (eight laps)
- WoO Late Model B-Main No. 2 and 3 (12 laps)
- WoO Sprint Dash (six laps)
- WoO Sprint B-main (12 laps)
- Big-block feature (40 laps)
- WoO Late Model feature (50 laps)
- WoO Sprint feature (30 laps)