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Daily Dirt 08/09/2022 11:21:41

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February 10
East Bay Raceway Park,
Gibsonton, FL
Sanction: Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (Wrisco Winternationals) - $7,000
Information provided by: Kevin Kovac (last updated February 11, 1:30 pm)
Sheppard hangs on for East Bay victory
Wrisco Winternationals
  1. Brandon Sheppard
  2. Earl Pearson Jr.
  3. Kyle Bronson
  4. Devin Moran
  5. Hudson O'Neal
  6. Max Blair
  7. Tyler Erb
  8. Daulton Wilson
  9. Ashton Winger
  10. Brian Shirley
  11. Shane Clanton
  12. Stormy Scott
  13. Tyler Bruening
  14. Garrett Alberson
  15. Johnny Scott
  16. Ross Robinson
  17. Jimmy Owens
  18. Tim McCreadie
  19. Boom Briggs
  20. Tanner English
  21. Dennis Erb Jr.
  22. Brandon Overton
  23. Spencer Hughes
  24. Josh Putnam
  25. Colten Burdette
  26. Ricky Thornton Jr.
presented by
Heath Lawson/heathlawsonphotos.com
Brandon Sheppard takes the checkers at East Bay Raceway Park on Thursday.
What won the race: Surviving a scrape with the frontstretch wall as he raced toward the white flag, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., held on to win Thursday’s 40-lap Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature at East Bay Raceway Park for a $7,000 victory, topping Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., and Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla.
Key notes: East Bay continued its weeklong Wrisco Winternationals. ... Illinois drivers — Carpentersville's Dennis Erb Jr. on Monday and New Berlin's Brandon Sheppard on Wednesday and Thursday — have captured victories so far with Tuesday's action rained out. ... East Bay is the Lucas Oil tour's fourth and final Georgia-Florida Speedweeks track.
On the move: Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, started 25th and finished seventh.
Winner's sponsors: Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis has a Durham Racing Engine and sponsorship from Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Rocket Chassis, Ace Metal Works, Gunter’s Honey, Hoosier Racing Tire, Integra Racing Shocks, Keyser Manufacturing Co., Petroff Towing, Slavic Shirts & Decals, Sunoco Race Fuels and Rocket Preowned Motors.
Points chase: After East Bay Thursday: 1. Brandon Sheppard (1,230); 2. Devin Moran (1,220); 3. Tim McCreadie (1,125); T4. Ricky Thornton Jr. (1,055); T4. Tyler Erb (1,055); 6. Hudson O’Neal (1,050); 7. Jimmy Owens (1,040); 8. Earl Pearson Jr. (1,030); 9. Ashton Winger (1,005); 10. Dennis Erb Jr. (1,000).
Current weather: Clear, 55°F
Car count: 75
Fast qualifier: Brandon Overton
Time: 14.394 seconds
Polesitter: Max Blair
Heat race winners: Max Blair, Earl Pearson Jr., Brian Shirley, Brandon Overton, Ashton Winger, Tim McCreadie
Consolation race winners: Colten Burdette, Garrett Alberson, Johnny Scott
Provisional starters: Tyler Erb, Stormy Scott
Next series race: February 11, East Bay Raceway Park (Gibsonton, FL) $12,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

GIBSONTON, Fla. — When a caution waved with two laps remaining in Thursday’s 40-lap Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature at East Bay Raceway Park to erase Brandon Sheppard’s 1.622-second lead over Earl Pearson Jr., Sheppard knew he’d have to survive a treacherous restart and a likely charge from Pearson and third-running Kyle Bronson.

He didn’t expect to have to survive a wild last lap made much closer thanks to his own doing, however. But that was the case as the New Berlin, Ill., driver slid high exiting turn four, tapped the outside wall with the quarterpanel of his Rocket Chassis house car and then smacked the wall with this right-front as he raced toward the white flag.

Somehow, Sheppard gathered his machine in and turned back Pearson’s challenge exiting turn two. Diving low in front of Pearson in turns three and four, Sheppard beat the Jacksonville, Fla., native to the finish by a half second to win his second straight Wrisco Winternationals main event and his third Lucas Oil Series feature of the season.

Bronson, of nearby Brandon Fla., finished third at his home track, while Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, and Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., completed the top five.

“Oh man, I about gave that one away. That was a crazy race for sure,” Sheppard said. “I knew (turns) three and four was getting really far around on top. (Crew chief) Dan (White) was kinda telling me I need to try the bottom in three and four, and I tried it … well. My car was fine down there, but that lap I entered out a little too wide, and I’m telling you, I got to the middle of the corner and I swear the only thing that turned me down the straightaway was the wall, because there was no turning whatsoever, and I was like, ‘I just gave this freakin’ race away.’”

But he didn’t. Instead, Sheppard earned his second straight $7,000 victory, his fifth overall triumph of the season and his 24th career Lucas Oil Series win, tying him with Hall of Famer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., for eighth on the tour’s all-time victory list.

“I’ve had a really fast car all Speedweeks,” said Sheppard. “It’s finally starting to come together for us here.”

It took the eighth-starting Sheppard half the race to get into position to grab the lead. Second-starting Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., jumped into the top spot ahead of polesitter Max Blair of Centerville, Pa., on the opening lap and paced the first 20 circuits.

After a pair of uncharacteristic finishes to start the week at East Bay, Overton appeared to have things turned around on Thursday. But following a caution on lap 20 he began to fade through the field, first losing the lead to Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., on lap 21 before slipping outside the top 10. Overton finally parked his Wells & Sons Motorsports mount and was credited with a 22nd-place finish.

While Overton dropped from contention after the yellow, the caution midway through the main event was exactly what Sheppard needed.

“I had just passed (Max) Blair before the caution came out and (scoring) went back to the lap before and they put him back in front of me,” said Sheppard. “That was really what got me to the lead because I knew Earl (Pearson) was gonna pick the bottom (on the restart), so if I’m behind (Blair), that puts me on the outside, that’s what I was thinking. So I was like, ‘OK, I’ll let this guy go and if they put him in front of me, great,’ because that’s gonna put me on the outside. Luckily they did and them guys were fighting for the bottom there. (Brian) Shirley took the lead and then immediately went to the bottom, so that just put me right where I needed to be to be able to get it done.”

Shirley was able to grab the lead on the restart, powering by on the outside as Overton fought to find traction on the bottom. After Shirley led lap 21, Sheppard, who was in fifth place on the restart, blasted by on the outside to lead lap 22. Despite another caution on lap 23, Sheppard stayed in control and led comfortably until the final caution waved on lap 38. After he tagged the wall heading to the white flag, Sheppard had to turn back Pearson, who started third and ran second for 38 of the 40 laps.

“I seen Earl right there and I knew at that point the only chance I had was to just send it into (turns) one and two as hard as I could and hope that I come out of (turn) two in front of him,” said Sheppard. “Luckily I didn’t push in one and two and it worked out.

"Man, it was just a crazy race. It was awesome. The car was really good, I could run the bottom or top. I was even OK in the middle there at the beginning when they were throwing crumbs out there.”

Pearson, who was able to pass Blair and move into second on the opening lap, didn’t expect to blow by Sheppard just because the reigning World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series champion had a late-race bobble.

“I knew he’d be tough on top there,” said Pearson. "He made a little bit of a mistake, which he don’t usually do, but that lap after that, he didn’t make no more mistakes. We got close to him. Ain’t no doubt he’s a tough guy around here. I guess he loves this place, ‘cause he’s won a lot of races here. Anyway, it was a good night for us. Anytime we can come to Florida and run good, we’re really excited about that. We got two more nights, so maybe we can get us a win here.”

Sitting in third after charging all the way from 16th all Bronson could do over the final two laps was watch the battle in front of him while keeping Moran and O’Neal behind him.

“I was kinda committed to the outside at that point,” said Bronson. “I kinda overheated my right-rear tire coming up through there. After that I was just kinda married to the top there. I didn’t get a good enough restart there at the end, just a driver mistake, just didn’t fire off like I should’ve. I felt like when (Sheppard) made a mistake, I wasn’t (close enough) to (take advantage). It’s just the way it goes. We’ll take it and learn and go work on the car and get a little better for tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be a couple spots better.”

Notes: It was Brandon Sheppard’s 19th career Georgia-Florida Speedweeks win and eighth victory in East Bay’s Winternationals. … Max Blair inherited the pole position for Thursday’s 40-lapper when Garrett Smith of Eatonton, Ga., the apparent winner of the first heat race, was disqualified because his spoiler was deemed too tall by series officials. It was the break Blair needed, helping him to a sixth-place finish after running inside the top five for the first 23 laps. … After leading lap 21, Brian Shirley stayed in the top three until getting into the wall on lap 28. He fell out of the top five for good on lap 31 and then lost two positions on the final lap to finish 10th. … Brandon Overton faded to seventh in just two laps after losing the lead. He completed 31 laps before parking. It was his third straight DNF. Overton, who said he’s yet to figure out East Bay’s tricky surface, said he struggled to get his car to turn after the midpoint. … The race was slowed by four cautions.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Max Blair, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Earl Pearson Jr., Ashton Winger
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Spencer Hughes, Brandon Sheppard
Row 5: Devin Moran, Tyler Bruening
Row 6: Dennis Erb, Tanner English
Row 7: Jimmy Owens, Shane Clanton
Row 8: Daulton Wilson, Kyle Bronson
Row 9: Hudson O’Neal, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 10: Colten Burdette, Garrett Alberson
Row 11: Johnny Scott, Ross Robinson
Row 12: Boom Briggs, Josh Putnam
Row 13: Tyler Erb, Stormy Scott

Consolation race results

(10 laps; top two transfer)

First consolation: Colten Burdette, Ross Robinson, Chase Junghans, Blair Nothdurft, Bob Gardner, Mark Whitener, Freddie Carpenter, Jake O’Neil, Michael Lake, Ryan King, Chase Osterhoff, Kyle Lear, Ken Monohan, Bryant Dickenson, Deshawn Gingerich. Scratched: Drake Troutman, Jason Miller, Dale Hollidge, Clinton Hersh.

Second consolation: Garrett Alberson, Boom Briggs, Colton Flinner, Todd Brennan, Matt Cosner, Kody Evans, Tim Dohm, Will Roland, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Brian Nuttall Jr., Brenden Smith, Jadon Frame, Adam Boyd, Mason Oberkramer, Pierce McCarter, John Henderson, Blake Spencer, Josh Rice. Scratched: Billy Boyd Sr.

Third consolation: Johnny Scott, Josh Putnam, Cody Overton, Jason Riggs, Jeff Mathews, Kyle Hardy, Frank Heckenast Jr., Chad McClellan, Trevor Collins, Jason Hiett, Jason Miles, Kerry King, Logan Zarin, Joe Denby, Tyler Erb, Dan Stone, Chris Nash. Scratched: Stormy Scott.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top three transfer)

First heat: Max Blair, Spencer Hughes, Jimmy Owens, Blair Nothdurft, Bob Gardner, Michael Lake, Chase Osterhoff, Drake Troutman, Ken Monahan, Jason Miller, Dale Hollidge (DNS) Jake O’Neil (DQ) Garrett Smith.

Second heat: Earl Pearson Jr., Devin Moran, Daulton Wilson, Colten Burdette, Ross Robison, Mark Whitener, Freddie Carpenter, Chase Junghans, Ryan King, Deshawn Gingerich, Kyle Lear, Clinton Hersh, Bryant Dickinson.

Third heat: Brian Shirley, Dennis Erb Jr., Hudson O’Neal, Garrett Alberson, Colton Flinner, Mason Oberkramer, Todd Brennan, Will Roland, Tim Dohm, Brenden Smith, Adam Boyd, Pierce McCarter.

Fourth heat: Brandon Overton, Brandon Sheppard, Shane Clanton, Boom Briggs, Blake Spencer, Josh Rice, Matt Cosner, John Henderson, Kody Evans, Jimmy Sharpe Jr., Brian Nuttall Jr., Billy Boyd Sr., Jadon Frame.

Fifth heat: Ashton Winger, Tyler Bruening, Kyle Bronson, Cody Overton, Johnny Scott, Jason Riggs, Kyle Hardy, Stormy Scott, Jason Miles, Trevor Collins, Chad McClellan, Joe Denby.

Sixth heat: Tim McCreadie, Tanner English, Ricky Thornton Jr., Josh Putnam, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jeff Mathews, Tyler Erb, Dan Stone, Jason Hiett, Logan Zarin, Kerry King, Chris Nash.

Pre-race notes

Weather conditions are picture-perfect for Thursday’s Wrisco Winternationals action: bright, sunny skies with an afternoon high temperature that reached 70. … Judging by the ample amount of mud on the vintage race cars that East Bay management uses to pack the racetrack, more moisture is in the racing surface than there was for the first two nights of competitions. … The car count has grown to 75 with several additions, including Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., Brian Nuttall Jr. of Clanton, Ga., Chase Osterhoff of Kankakee, Ill., and Jeff Mathews of Brandon, Fla., who joins his hired gun Cody Overton of Evans, Ga., in the field for the first time this week. … The car driven by Briggs’s teammate, Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., is unloaded in the pit area, but the 33-year-old star won’t compete on Thursday. Richards is taking a day to regroup his personal affairs after his tag-along camper was destroyed in an overnight fire in a Walmart parking lot about about 30 minutes north of the speedway. Richards, who flew back to his home in western Ohio after last weekend’s action at All-Tech Raceway in Ellisville, Fla., parked his camper for the night after spending Wednesday traveling south and had gone to sleep with his wife, Andrea, when they noticed smoke; the couple was able to escape without injury and Richards saved his dually truck from damage, but the camper and its contents were a complete loss. … Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., is back in action after missing Wednesday’s program because he traveled to Oklahoma to visit with his under-the-weather car owner Leon Ramirez. Lucas Oil Series regular voted Owens a hardship exemption, which allows him to still count his best five finishes from Speedweeks despite not entering on show. … Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., expressed dismay with the East Bay surface after failing to convert a prime feature starting spot into a victory for the second time in as many nights. He led laps early in Wednesday’s feature but again slipped out of the preferred bottom groove, allowing eventual winner Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., to assume command for good. “I can’t keep my car on the bottom,” said Overton, who ultimately retired from the A-main due to left-front damage sustained in a scrape with Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz. “Usually you tighten your car up as the night goes on, but here I guess you have to loosen it up as much as you can to stay in that bottom. It’s a weird place.” … Lucas Oil Series rookie contender Ross Robinson of Georgetown, Del., retired from Wednesday’s feature with terminal engine trouble, forcing him to make a motor swap for Thursday’s program. ... Garrett Smith of Eatonton, Ga., was the fastest qualifier in Group A and led from flag-to-flag to win the first heat, but he was disqualified for the night in post-race tech for running a spoiler that was too tall. The infraction cost him the pole position in the feature.

Time trials

First group   

  1. Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 14.429
  2. Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 14.649
  3. Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 14.671
  4. Max Blair (111V), Centerville, Pa., 14.699
  5. Colten Burdette (44), Parkersburg, W.Va., 14.755
  6. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.770
  7. Spencer Hughes (11H), Meridian, Miss., 14.786
  8. Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 14.812
  9. Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 14.820
  10. Dale Hollidge (0), Mechanicsville, Md., 14.864
  11. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 14.867
  12. Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 14.886
  13. Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 14.929
  14. Mark Whitener (58), Middleburg, Fla., 14.969
  15. Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 14.997
  16. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.015
  17. Ross Robinson (7R), Georgetown, Del., 15.037
  18. Mason Oberkramer (93), Brosley, Mo., 15.066
  19. Jason Miller (94), Winchester, Va., 15.187
  20. Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.197
  21. Todd Brennan (20B), Zanesville, Ohio, 15.215
  22. Drake Troutman (7D), Hyndman, Pa., 15.216
  23. Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 15.237
  24. Pierce McCarter (71M), Pigeon Forge, Tenn., 15.303
  25. Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill., 15.356
  26. Clinton Hersh (16H), Somerset, Pa., 15.358
  27. Tim Dohm (6T), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 15.421
  28. Jake O’Neil (0), Tucson, Ariz., 15.489
  29. DeShawn Gingerich (0g), Dover, Pa., 15.499
  30. Will Roland (22R), Jasper, Ga., 15.522
  31. Michael Lake (27), Uniontown, Pa., 15.522
  32. Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 15.541
  33. Adam Boyd (6b), Riverview, Fla., 15.655
  34. Chase Osterhoff (130), Kankakee, Ill., 15.688
  35. Kyle Lear (151), Severna Park, Md., 15.689
  36. Brenden Smith (17SS), Dade City, Fla., 15.707
  37. Ken Monahan (311), Lakeland, Fla., 15.855
  38. Bryant Dickinson (5*), Ionia, Mich., 16.495

Second group   

  1. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 14.394
  2. Ashton Winger (89), Hampton, Ga., 14.498
  3. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 14.680
  4. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 14.710
  5. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 14.727
  6. Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky., 14.848
  7. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 14.918
  8. Cody Overton (97), Evans, Ga., 14.935
  9. Josh Putnam (212), Florence, Ala., 14.965
  10. Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 14.983
  11. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.046
  12. Jeff Mathews (33), Brandon, Fla., 15.054
  13. Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.064
  14. Kyle Hardy (99), Stephens City, Va., 15.098
  15. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 15.125
  16. Brian Nuttall Jr. (16), Claxton, Ga., 15.155
  17. Johnny Scott (1ST), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.159
  18. Dan Stone (2d), Thompson, Pa., 15.178
  19. Josh Rice (11), Verona, Ky., 15.205
  20. Jason Riggs (81), College Grove, Tenn., 15.225
  21. Jason Hiett (19M), Oxford, Ala., 15.227
  22. Matt Cosner (66C), Ridgeley, W.Va., 15.264
  23. Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.265
  24. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 15.270
  25. Kody Evans (4G), Camden, Ohio, 15.296
  26. Jason Miles (503), Glenwood, Ark., 15.333
  27. Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 15.410
  28. John Henderson (2x), North Augusta, S.C., 15.417
  29. Trevor Collins (11AC), Seaford, Del., 15.475
  30. Logan Zarin (1z), Moon Township, Pa., 15.549
  31. Jimmy Sharpe Jr. (26JR), Vidalia, Ga., 15.612
  32. Chad McClellan (119), Stoystown, Pa., 15.650
  33. Kerry King (KB0), Delmar, Del., 15.768
  34. Jadon Frame (J27), Winchester, Tenn., 15.939
  35. Joe Denby (27D), Winchester, Tenn., 16.064
  36. Chris Nash (354), Portage, Mich., 16.153
  37. Billy Boyd Sr. (3B), Riverview, Fla., no time

Thursday's schedule

(All times Eastern)

1:30 p.m. - Pits cleared
2 p.m. - Pits reopen
5:30 p.m. - Hot laps
- Time trials
7 p.m. - Invocation and national anthem
- Heat races (8 laps)
- Consolation races (10 laps)
- Feature (40 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Blair, Overton
Row 2: Pearson, Winger
Row 3: Shirley, McCreadie
Row 4: Hughes, Sheppard
Row 5: Moran, Bruening
Row 6: D. Erb, English
Row 7: Owens, Clanton
Row 8: Wilson, Bronson
Row 9: O’Neal, Thornton
Row 10: Burdette, Alberson
Row 11: J. Scott, Robinson
Row 12: Briggs, Putnam
Row 13: T. Erb, S. Scott
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