Brandon Sheppard (B5) moves under Brian Birkhofer (15B) to take command.
What won the race: Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., overtook race-long leader Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, just past halfway and cruised to his first-career MLRA victory. Earl Pearson Jr. was 4.3 seconds behind as the runner-up in his first 2016 start in the Illinois-based Moring Motorsports ride while Birkhofer retired while running third with four laps remaining.
Quotable: "The track was really tricky tonight, really slippery," Sheppard said. "Birky was really good right through the middle (of turns one and two), so I knew I had to move around and try to find a line that I was going to be able to pass him with."
Key notes: Sheppard overtook Birkhofer, back in action to run a partial schedule in 2016, on the 21st of 40 laps. ... Outside front-row starter Dave Eckrich ran second and third over the first half of the race; he ended up sixth. ... Ten drivers finished on the lead lap. ... A slowing Austin Siebert collected Reid Millard for an early yellow. ... Lee County's Thursday event opened a tripleheader weekend that takes MLRA drivers to Davenport and Scotland County Speedways.
On the move: Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, started 14th and finished third; Jason Papich started 23rd and finished eighth.
Winner's sponsors: Sheppard's Best Performance Motorsports Rocket Chassis is sponsored by Valvoline, Keyser Manufacturing, Hoosier Racing Tire and Mason Racin.
Points chase: Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon, Mo., moved into the points lead over Jason Papich of Nipomo, Calif.
Car count: 37
Polesitter: Brian Birkhofer
Heat race winners: J.C. Wyman, Brian Birkhofer, Rickey Frankel, Dave Eckrich
Consolation race winners: Denny Woodworth, Ray Guss Jr.
Provisional starters: Jason Papich, Brantlee Gotschall
Next series race: May 6, Davenport Speedway (Davenport, IA) $3,000