BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 21) — Fourth-starting Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., passed leader Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., on lap 14 and then held off a furious charge from Shane Clanton over the final five laps Tuesday night, winning the second race of the 46th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.
Sheppard took the checkers .660 of a second ahead of Clanton. The former World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion from Zebulon, Ga., passed Shirley on lap 21 and immediately began chewing into Sheppard's lead. But after Clanton stuck the nose of his car under Sheppard's with five laps remaining, the race leader changed his line and kept Clanton at bay over the final few laps.
Shirley finished third, while Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., was fourth and Rodney Sanders of Happy, Texas, completed the top five.
Once out front, Sheppard had smooth sailing until Clanton dove to the bottom of the track as the pair raced through turn one.
“I couldn't see (Clanton). I could hear him a little bit and (car owner) Mark (Richards) was down there telling me I needed to move down a little bit so from what we talked about before the race, I knew I just had to get down there and try something,” said Sheppard. “Normally, where I'm from you'd run down there and park in the bottom and follow that inside wall all the way around but you can't really do that at a place like this, especially when it slows down like that.
“You've got to keep your momentum up, so I would go in there and catch the bottom and leave in the middle and that was a lot better for me. I feel like I learned a lot for later in the week hopefully.”
For two straight nights, Shirley has been lucky in drawing the pole for the DIRTcar Nationals feature following a heat race win. And each time, that luck has turned on the most ominous of numbers: 13.
Twice now, Shirley has jumped into the lead from the front row, only to give up that lead after pacing the 13th circuit. Monday night it was Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., who passed Shirley for the top spot as lap 14 was scored and went on to win. Tuesday night it was Sheppard who did the same thing.
“It's the transition in the race that's really hurting me,” said Shirley. “I look up at the board and it says lap 15 and I'm, like, 'Jesus.' Cause even at the end there, I looked at our lap times and our lap times are just as good as theirs. We're just making the wrong moves at the wrong time.
“I don't know if it's harder to be out front here because of the way the race does transition from top to bottom, but all-in-all, I'm just proud of my team.”
After giving up the lead, Shirley held onto the second spot for another eight laps. But Clanton charged by on the low side and quickly set his sights on the leader. He managed to challenge Sheppard briefly, but when he couldn't make his bid for the lead stick as the lead duo raced off turn two, he knew it would be difficult to get a second chance.
“He started taking my line through (turns) one and two,” said Clanton. “Where I passed Shirley, I was gonna do it to him too. But Richards is in the infield telling him what to do. When he's got a good teacher as good as Richards is, if you don't follow what he does, you're a dummy.
“He had the preferred line and that's what it took tonight.”
Notes: The win marked Sheppard's first-ever victory at the Volusia oval and his third victory during this year's Georgia-Florida Speedweeks since slipping into the seat of the Rocket Chassis house car in the offseason. His three wins have come at three different tracks: Golden Isles Speedway, East Bay Raceway and Volusia. … Texan Rodney Sanders was happy with his top five finish, one day after missing the opener by one spot in his B-main. “It was definitely a lot better,” said Sanders, who has been leaning on the help of veteran Jimmy Mars this week. “We got better for the 'B' last night, but you get so far behind with these guys, timing is everything.” … In three DIRTcar-sanctioned races, one at North Florida and two at Volusia, Shirley has three podium finishes.
The feature field rolled onto the racetrack at 9:30 p.m. … Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., drew the pole position for the second consecutive night. He finished second in Monday evening’s A-main after leading laps 1-13. … Ten of the race’s 24 starters have reached victory lane in DIRTcar Nationals action at Volusia, but only two of the top 10 starters — third-starter Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., and eighth-starter Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. — have their names on the event’s all-time win list. … Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, starts from the outside pole one night after finishing third in his first-ever DIRTcar Nationals feature start. He failed to qualify for all four DCN events he attempted in 2016. … Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., who starts 11th, has two career DCN wins, but his last triumph came in 1999.
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Tyler Erb
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Rodney Sanders, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 4: Donny Schatz, Darrell Lanigan
Row 5: Boom Briggs, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 6: Dale McDowell, Kyle Bronson
Row 7: Eric Wells, Austin Hubbard
Row 8: Devin Moran, Tim McCreadie
Row 9: Rick Eckert, Chris Madden
Row 10: Chase Yunghans, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 11: Kenny Pettyjohn, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 12: Donald McIntosh, Ricky Weiss
Preliminary notes and results:
Winning by 1.636 seconds, Kenny Pettyjohn claimed the final B-main. Ricky Weiss finished second, with Frank Heckenast Jr. missing the feature by one spot.
Finish (top 2 transfer): Kenny Pettyjohn, Ricky Weiss, Frank Heckenast Jr., Don O'Neal, Jason Jameson, Hudson O'Neal, G.R. Smith, Chub Frank, Mike Hammerle, Nick Hoffman.
Billy Moyer Jr. dominated the second B-main, winning by .317 of a second in front of Donald McIntosh, who won a mid-race battle with Donald Bradsher for the final transfer spot.
Finish (top 2 transfer): Billy Moyer Jr., Donald McIntosh, Donald Bradsher, Joey Coulter, Brent Larson, Coleby Frye, Stacy Boles, Dennis Franklin. Scratched: Charles LaPlant, Michael Norris.
Chase Junghans led all the way after pulling ahead of Dennis Erb Jr. in turn two. Erb Jr., finished second to gain a spot in the feature. Brandon Overton got into the wall to bring out the first caution. Jeff Beyers spun on the front stretch and brought out a yellow on lap three.
Finish (top 2 transfer): Chase Junghans, Dennis Erb Jr., Morgan Bagley, Steve Francis, Tyler Bruening, Blake Spencer, Reif Millard, Jeff Beyers, Brandon Overton. Scratched: Ivendent Lloyd Jr.
(10 laps; top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Chase Junghans
Row 2: Steve Francis, Blake Spencer
Row 3: Tyler Bruening, Jeff Beyers
Row 4: Brandon Overton, Reid Millard
Row 5: Morgan Bagley, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 1: Billy Moyer Jr., Donald Bradsher
Row 2: Donald McIntosh, Stacy Boles
Row 3: Coleby Frye, Brent Larson
Row 4: Joey Coulter, Charles LaPlant
Row 5: Michael Norris, Rambo Franklin
Row 1: Kenny Pettyjohn, Don O’Neal
Row 2: Ricky Weiss, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 3: Jason Jameson, G.R. Smith
Row 4: Nick Hoffman, Chub Frank
Row 5: Mike Hammerle, Hudson O’Neal
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., grabbed the lead at the start as Chris Madden slipped ever-so-slightly high in turn two. Clanton led all eight laps to win the heat. Madden chased Clanton down, but couldn't make an inside pass stick as his car pushed up the track, allowing home-state driver Kyle Bronson to get by for second. Bronson couldn't catch Clanton, but managed to hold off a hard-charging Madden for second at the finish.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Shane Clanton, Kyle Bronson, Chris Madden, Don O'Neal, Frank Heckenast Jr., G.R. Smith, Chub Frank, Hudson O'Neal.
Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., easily won the fifth heat ahead of Dale McDowell. McDowell emerged from a tight three-car battle for second place to claim the runner-up spot over Rick Eckert.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Brian Shirley, Dale McDowell, Rick Eckert, Kenny Pettyjohn, Ricky Weiss, Jason Jameson, Nick Hoffman, Mike Hammerle.
Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, became the second heat winner from the Longhorn State when he motored to a victory in the fourth heat race. Erb won a lap-one dual with Chad Hollenbeck and won by .662 of a second. Hollenbeck was second with Tim McCreadie grabbing the third transfer spot from Donald Bradsher. The original start was waved off, bringing up a complete restart.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Tyler Erb, Chad Hollenbeck, Tim McCreadie, Donald Bradsher, Stacy Boles, Brent Larson, Charles LaPlant, Dennis Franklin.
Jacksonville, Fla.'s Jason Fitzgerald led all the way to pick up the win in the third heart. Boom Briggs finished second, 1.766 seconds behind the winner. Devin Moran slipped by Billy Moyer Jr. with a couple laps remaining to earn the final transfer spot. Moyer Jr., was fourth, with Donald McIntosh a distant fifth. After the third heat, there's a break in the action to give the big block modifieds on hand a chance to hot lap.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Jason Fitzgerald, Boom Briggs, Devin Moran, Billy Moyer Jr., Donald McIntosh, Coleby Frye, Joey Coulter, Michael Norris.
Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., took the lead from Austin Hubbard on the first lap and cruised to an easy heat win. Hubbard slipped high in turn two, allowing Darrell Lanigan to get by. Lanigan took the second spot ahead of Hubbard, with Chase Junghans finishing fourth. Ivedent Lloyd's car let out a puff of smoke just as the race ended.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Darrell Lanigan, Austin Hubbard, Chase Junghans, Blake Spencer, Jeff Meyers, Reig Millard, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Rodney Sanders of Happy, Texas powered by polesitter Donny Schatz to win the first heat race. Schatz finished second as the top to pulled away from third-running Steve Francis. Eric Wells passed Francis for third, bring Dennis Erb. Jr. with him. Wells held onto the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Rodney Sanders, Donny Schatz, Eric Wells, Dennis Erb Jr., Steve Francis, Tyler Bruening, Brandon Overton, Morgan Bagley.
The hot-lap/qualifying produced a rare sight indeed: a tie for the overall fastest lap. In the sixth and final group, Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., and Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., both turned identical circuits of 15.928 seconds. With Clanton's lap coming first, he will start from the pole in the heads-up Heat 6 lineup. Other drivers setting fast time in their group to earn heat race poles: Donny Schatz, Austin Hubbard, Tyler Erb, Brian Shirley and Boom Briggs.
With some partly cloudy skies, temperatures haven’t quite reached the 80-degree mark as they did on Monday night. But weather conditions remain spectacular — although rain might be a factor come Wednesday. … A 48-car field is signed in with the addition of Clint Bowyer Racing teammates Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., Rambo Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., Kenny Pettyjohn of Millsboro, Del., and Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla. … Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., is hoping for a better night after having his Monday effort put behind on the opening lap of his heat when a scrape with Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., got him stuck in the cushion, putting him to the rear of the field for the restart. He qualified through a B-main but only managed a 19th-place feature finish. … Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., has a backup engine in his Rattliff Racing No. 16 after breaking an oil-pump belt in a Monday-night heat. … Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., has typically skipped the first two nights of DIRTcar Nationals Dirt Late Model action in recent years, but he’s competing all six nights this year. His schedule is more open this year because he and his brother, Shane, do not have to tend to the open-wheel modified efforts of the Dillon brothers as they have in the past.
Round 2 of the six-night DIRTcar Nationals features a 30-lap UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned A-Main paying $7,000 to win. One more evening of UMP action will follow before the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series takes the spotlight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Tuesday night’s program includes group qualifying, six heat races (transferring three from each), three B-Mains and the 30-lap headliner. Group qualifying by heat races will be utilized; heats will be aligned straight-up and the heat winners will redraw for the top-six starting spots in the feature.
Qualifying results/Heat lineups
(8 laps; top 3 transfer)
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 16.411
Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 16.616
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 16.731
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.8
Steve Francis (15), Bowling Green, Ky., 16.81
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 17.066
Dennis Erb Jr. (28e), Carpentersville, Ill., 17.112
Morgan Bagley (14M), Tyler, Texas, no time
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 16.613
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.695
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 16.815
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 17.000
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21L), Ocala, Fla., 17.063
Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.407
Reid Millard (14), Jefferson City, Mo., 17.885
Jeff Beyers (27), Pana, Ill., 17.933
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.333
Jason Fitzgerald (7F), Middleburg, Fla., 16.409
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.651
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.673
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 16.728
Coleby Frye (0v), Dover, Pa., 17.562
Donald McIntosh (7M), Dawsonville, Fla., 17.59
Joey Coulter (2c), Charlotte, N.C., 18.012
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 16.054
Chad Hollenbeck (4ds), Kingsley, Pa., 16.267
Donald Bradsher (93), Burlington, N.C., 16.333
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.455
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.831
Charles LaPlant (3c), East Prairie, Mo., 16.84
Stacy Boles (11b), Clinton, Tenn., 16.937
Dennis Franklin (2F), Gaffney, S.C., 16.979
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 16.111
Dale McDowell (17M), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.197
Rick Eckert (7), York, Pa., 16.369
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 16.654
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.754
Ricky Weiss (7w), Headingley, Manitoba, 16.824
Jason Jameson (16), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 17.053
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., 19.135
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.928
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.928
Kyle Bronson (40b), Brandon, Fla., 16.022
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.068
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Frankfort, Ill., 16.17
G.R. Smith (22*), Cornelius, N.C., 16.448
Don O'Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.498
Hudson O'Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 16.605
10 a.m.: Pit gate opens for team entry
3 p.m.: Pit area secured; pit passes required after 3 p.m.
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5:30 p.m.: Fan pit pass gate opens
6 p.m.: Hot laps
- DIRTcar Modifieds (Triple 20 competitors, by feature race)
6:20 p.m.: Hot laps/Time trials
- DIRTcar Late Models (timed hot laps/group qualifying)
7:20 p.m.: Opening ceremonies