SARVER, Pa. (June 24) — For the second year in a row, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., is a preliminary feature winner at Lernerville Speedway. Leading all 30 laps from the pole, Sheppard won Thursday’s Firecracker 100 opener, outrunning a fast-closing Chris Madden for a $6,000 victory with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series.
Sheppard pulled out to lead by as much as 1.4 seconds midway through the main event, which was slowed by only one caution. But after catching traffic with six laps remaining, Sheppard’s pace was slowed considerably, allowing Madden and a trailing Scott Bloomquist to close in. He finished 0.369 of a second in front of Madden.
“Anytime you have Chris (Madden) and Scott (Bloomquist) behind you like that, especially on a track as slick as that was, you definitely know that they're there,” said Sheppard. “We had a really good car at the beginning of the race and then it rubbered up and we got to lap traffic there and it definitely got a little bit hairy.”
After bolting into the lead ahead of fellow front-row starter Madden, of Gray Court, S.C., Sheppard was never challenged.
“Luckily, right when we got to the (lapped cars), (the track) started to latch up and I figured I would just hold my line and hope for the best and it worked out for us tonight,” said Sheppard. “I can't thank all my crew enough for sticking behind me and working their tails off on this thing trying to get it back fast for me again.
“It was a lot of fun tonight. Hopefully we can keep this thing rolling. We had a really fast race car, so hopefully we can be there at the end on Saturday.”
Madden, who lost the second spot to Bloomquist following a caution for a turn-one spin by Brent Larson of Lake Elmo, Minn., was able to regain the position when Bloomquist, of Mooresburg, Tenn., struggled to get by the slower car of Thompson, Pa.’s Dan Stone. Bloomquist, who made contact with Stone with nine laps remaining to allow Madden to slip by, settled for third, while seventh-starting Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, finished fourth.
Third-starting Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., managed to salvage a fifth-place finish after contact with Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., on the opening lap sent Hughes sliding off the track in turn four.
After catching Sheppard with a handful of laps remaining, Madden thought he could have a chance to record his fifth WoO win of 2021.
“I thought one time I was going to try him on the outside, but I seen him starting to come right and I was like, ‘I better not do it. He don't know I'm here. He’ll run me off the racetrack not meaning to,'" Madden said. "It kind of got one-laned there and lapped traffic was a little hairy for us. It's always easier to pick a guy when he makes a lot wrong choice in lapped traffic. I've been there plenty of times. Hat’s off to them guys and hat’s off to my guys.”
Bloomquist, looking for his first series win since Sept. 25, 2020, at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Knox Dale, Pa., started fifth but wasted little time getting by Zeigler for fourth. He appeared headed for his third runner-up finish of the season until the contact with Stone.
The three-time Firecracker 100 winner said he still has a little room to tweak his car’s setup.
“The track just ended up quite a bit harder (than expected),” said Bloomquist. “I haven't looked at the other tires, but it looks like we tore them off pretty bad. Just drawing the five (in the redraw among heat race winners) didn't help any. We can work on a little bit. I got a little bit tight in the center of the corner. We can fix that and come back and give it another run.”
Sheppard said the victory is a confidence builder heading into the rest of the weekend, which includes another $6,000-to-win preliminary program on Friday and Saturday’s $30,000-to-win finale.
“(I) definitely feel really good about it,” Sheppard said. “The beginning of the race was really slick and that's a condition that we’ve struggled with here in the past. I felt like we were good all night and the track was slower than typical than what we're used to starting off the weekend. That's a good confidence booster for us knowing that the car is pretty good in the slick, so hopefully we don't mess it up and we’re there at the end Saturday.”
Preliminary notes and results
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Chris Madden
Row 2: Spencer Hughes, Mason Zeigler
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Cade Dillard
Row 4: Tyler Bruening, Michael Norris
Row 5: Darrell Lanigan, Chub Frank
Row 6: Max Blair, Alex Ferree
Row 7: Brent Larson, Jason Covert
Row 8: Brandon Overton, Tyler Dietz
Row 9: Dale McDowell, Gregg Satterlee
Row 10: Mark Whitener, Rick Eckert
Row 11: Jared Miley, Ricky Weiss
Row 12: Dennis Erb Jr., Dan Stone
Row 13: Ryan Gustin, Boom Briggs
(10 laps; top 2 transfer)
First consolation finish: Mark Whitener, Ricky Weiss, Boom Briggs, Ryan Gustin, Colton Flinner, Logan Zarin, Todd Bachman, Gary Stuhler, Pancho Lawler, Cla Knight, Ken Schaltenbrand, Chad Finley.
Second consolation finish: Rick Eckert, Dennis Erb Jr., Dan Angelicchio, Kyle Lukon, Joe Petyak, Mike Benedum, Levi Yetter, Joshua Powell, Chris Ferguson, Eric Hamilton, Tommy Schirnhofer.
Third consolation finish: Jared Miley, Dan Stone, Ross Robinson, Ryan Scott, Charles Powell Jr., Ahnna Parkhurst, Gary Lyle, Rick Wicker, Ken Monahan, Shawn Schaltenbrand, Clinton Hersh.
(10 laps; top 3 transfer)
First heat finish: Scott Bloomquist, Tyler Bruening, Brent Larson, Mark Whitener, Todd Bachman, Chad Finley, Ryan Gustin, Colton Flinner, Gary Stuhler.
Second heat finish: Brandon Sheppard, Darrell Lanigan, Brandon Overton, Ricky Weiss, Boom Briggs, Ken Schaltenbrand, Logan Zarin, Pancho Lawler, Cla Knight.
Third heat finish: Cade Dillard, Max Blair, Dale McDowell, Rick Eckert, Dennis Erb Jr., Joe Petyak, Levi Yetter, Joshua Powell, Eric Hamilton.
Fourth heat finish: Chris Madden, Michael Norris, Jason Covert, Chris Ferguson, Dan Angelicchio, Mike Benedum, Kyle Lukon, Tommy Schirnhofer, Deshawn Gingerich.
Fifth heat finish: Spencer Hughes, Chub Frank, Tyler Dietz, Dan Stone, Ross Robinson, Clinton Hersh, Gary Lyle, Ken Monahan, Shawn Schaltenbrand.
Sixth heat finish: Mason Zeigler, Alex Ferree, Gregg Satterlee, Jared Miley, Ryan Scott, Charles Powell Jr., Ahnna Parkhurst, Rich Wicker.
Ryan Gustin (19), Marshalltown, Iowa, 15.337
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 15.749
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 15.753
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 15.982
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.041
Max Blair (111), Centerville, Pa., 16.048
Mark Whitener (58), Middleburg, Fla., 16.060
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 16.225
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.269
Chad Finley (42), Dewitt, Mich., 16.283
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.340
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.391
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.429
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 16.448
Rick Eckert (0E), York, Pa., 16.490
Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 16.544
Pancho Lawler (93), Glenville, Pa., 16.565
Joe Petyak (44P), Gallitzin, Pa., 16.634
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.736
Cla Knight (42), North Augusta, Ga., 16.865
Levi Yetter (9), Cabot, Pa., 16.999
Gary Stuhler (4), Greencastle, Pa., 17.038
Ken Schaltenbrand (29S), Sarver, Pa., 17.073
Joshua Powell (11), Sarver, Pa., 17.339
Todd Bachman (66), Natrona Heights, Pa., 17.530
Logan Zarin (1z), Moon Township, Pa., 17.567
Eric Hamilton (33x), Imperial, Pa., 19.170
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.123
Chub Frank (119), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.411
Jared Miley (10), Pittsburgh, Pa., 16.467
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 16.677
Spencer Hughes (11H), Meridian, Miss., 16.709
Alex Ferree (1c), Saxonburg, Pa., 16.869
Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 16.910
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 16.913
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.926
Dan Angelicchio (14), Mt. Pleasant, Pa., 16.946
Tyler Dietz (77), Pittsburgh, Pa., 17.002
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 17.084
Jason Covert (72), York Haven, Pa., 17.190
Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 17.247
Ryan Scott (0S), Pittsfield, Pa., 17.391
Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., 17.406
Charles Powell Jr. (94), Brookline, Pa., 17.487
Tommy Schirnhofer (8S), Pittsburgh, Pa., 17.652
Gary Lyle (10L), Leechburg, Pa., 17.690
Clinton Hersh (16H), Somerset, Pa., 17.740
Ahnna Parkhurst (23), Evans, Ga., 17.986
Kyle Lukon (C02), Burgettstown, Pa., 18.006
Shawn Schaltenbrand (26), Sarver, Pa., 18.070
Rick Wicker (2T), Mahaffey, Pa., 18.133
DeShawn Gingerich (0g), Dover, Pa., 18.453
Ken Monahan (311), Lakeland, Fla., 18.688
6 p.m. - WoO Late Model hot laps
- WoO Late Model qualifying
- RUSH Crate Late Model hot laps
7:30 p.m. - Opening ceremonies
- WoO Late Model heats (10 laps)
- RUSH Crate Late Model qualifying
- WoO Late Model redraw
- WoO Late Model consolations
- WoO Late Model feature (30 laps)