CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 3) — Coming out on top in a lead-swapping battle with Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Rocket Chassis house car driver Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., scored a $12,000 World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series victory in Saturday afternoon’s held-over 50-lap World Finals presented by Can-Am feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
Charging back ahead of McCreadie for the final time on the 30th of 50 laps, the 25-year-old Sheppard led the remaining distance to defeat the Empire State driver by 0.663 of a second. The defending WoO champion successfully navigated late-race lapped traffic for his 13th triumph of the season on the national tour and third career win on the World Finals stage.
"In lapped traffic you were in everybody’s dirty air, so it’s really hard to maneuver and keep the car underneath me," Sheppard said. "You kind of had to keep your nose out from behind guys because as soon you’d get behind them you’d get loose. Luckily, our car was really good and I could run the bottom, middle and top wherever I neeed to.
"The guys in front of me on top were pretty good too and I was able to slip by them. I was good in the bottom in three and four, but I had to run the middle-top there for a few laps because I had lapped cars down on the bottom and I couldn’t get ‘em clear getting down into three. That was the hard part for me because the top of the track in three and four was dusty and it was hard to race out there."
Third-starting Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., shot to the front of the field at the drop of the green flag as the sixth-starting Sheppard immediately battled polesitter Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., for second. Closing the gap between himself and Bloomquist when WoO championship contender Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., retired on lap seven with a heavily smoking car, Sheppard edged ahead at the line to assume the point on the ninth circuit.
With the race’s first yellow flag waving on lap 11, McCreadie used the restart to his advantage, overtaking Bloomquist for second. He reeled in Sheppard as the frontrunners worked their way through lapped traffic and then McCreadie ran door-to-door with the race leader at the halfway mark, pulling ahead at the stripe to lead lap 26. Sheppard shot back to the front of the field two circuits later, with McCreadie edging ahead again on lap 29.
Retaking the lead just one lap later, Sheppard was never headed again en route on to his 37th career WoO victory.
McCreadie drew within striking distance of Sheppard amid lapped traffic in the final circuits but settled for a runner-up finish, duplicating his placing earlier in the afternoon in the Super DIRTcar Series big-block modified feature. WoO points leader Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., advanced from the eighth starting spot to finish third — moving him another step closer to his first-ever series championship — while Bloomquist slipped back to finish fourth after leading the first eight circuits and Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, rounded out the top five.
"(Sheppard) did a great job," said McCreadie, who drove his familiar Sweeteners Plus-backed Longhorn ouse car. "I wanted to really slide him into one when we were three-wide there (battling for the lead at mid-race) and not many people could have probably stayed where he did. That was the race I thought, because I thought, Well, if I can’t see him out of the corner of my eye here I’m going right to the cushion, and he kept his flopper right on my number. I’m not gonna run over him.
"It was a lot of fun, it really was. I wish some of the cards would’ve been different, but he probably does too. What held him up and got me there did the same thing to me. But he’s a fun kid to race with. He’s one of the few people that I feel like we drive a lot alike even though he maybe drives a little harder. I feel like we operate a lot alike and it makes it hard to pass him because he’s good."
With his third-place finish, Marlar now holds a 34-point lead over Sheppard in the WoO championship points standings. Madden tumbled out of contention for the $100,000 title with his disappointing 28th-place finish, falling to third place in the standings, 66 points behind Marlar.
Marlar, 40, was very pleased with his performance in the matinee, which was postponed from Friday night due to the track's midnight curfew.
"I got to give Dale (McDowell) a shout out," Marlar said. "He started beside me (in the fourth row), and I told him, ‘Man, I have to be really aggressive so just be ready for anything.’ I laid back there and took a run there and got a good start and when I started cutting left he cut me some slack and I know that. I appreciate that from him. If he ever needs anything out of me, he’ll know he’ll always have my respect … which he does anyway.
"I got a better take-off than maybe I could have, and then I found the bottom right there and started getting by some guys. Then when we got back to that traffic I had a good car in traffic, but Sheppy, with that clean air out in open track, he was pretty fast.
"There later on in the race, when we got into traffic, I felt pretty good about that situation. Then we had that caution (on lap 31) and it singled back out.
"I’m just fortunate," he added. "This is a tough field, and to get a third there was good, and Chris (Madden) was very unfortunate. This deal all year long, I’ve told people, 'We could swap this points lead for the next however long.' It’s gonna stop here (after Saturday evening's finale) and hopefully it works out for myself. Hopefully I can get through the next 50 laps here and nothing happens to me.
But with his victory, Sheppard is still within reach of the World of Outlaws title. If he wins again Saturday night, then Marlar must finish at least 16th to claim the title. If the pair finishes dead-locked in the points, Sheppard would win the championship because he has more series wins than Marlar this season and thus owns the tiebreaker.
"I knew there was a slim chance coming into it," Sheppard said of the WoO championship chase. "Us and the team already talked about it — as long as we do our job and keep this thing up front, it’s gonna play out the way it’s gonna play out and it don’t really matter at the end of the day. We’re just here to have fun, win races and try to make a little money, and it the points happen for us, they happen."
Notes: The race was slowed by two cautions. …. The first yellow flag waved on lap 12 when Boom Briggs slowed on the frontstretch. … A caution fell on lap 31 for debris on the racetrack. … Madden crewman Lance Wright reported that Madden's engine did not run out of oil when the oil line came loose, so it was possible the team would run the same car in Saturday night's action. ... WoO Rookie of the Year contender Brent Larson of Lake Elmo, Minn., scratched from Saturday's action because he and his wife had to head home early due to a family emergency. With Larson's absence, David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss., clinched the 2018 WoO rookie crown.
The arrival of the midnight curfew for racing at The Dirt Track at Charlotte forced officials to postpone Friday night's 50-lap World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series feature to Saturday afternoon, setting up a doubleheader to conclude the World Finals presented by Can-Am.
After rain delayed the start of Friday program's for over three hours, all qualifying for the WoO Late Models, Sprint Cars and Super DIRTcar Series big-block modifieds was completed by 11:50 p.m. But the speedway's strict curfew left officials without sufficient time to start and run off the 40-lap big-block modified feature.
As a result, the big-block modified, WoO Late Model and WoO Sprint Car A-mains will be contested on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. Pit gates will open at 10 a.m. and spectator gates will be unlocked at 1 p.m.
After the features are completed, the speedway will be reconditioned for Saturday evening's regularly-scheduled program.
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Chris Madden
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Devin Moran, Brandon Sheppard
Row 4: Dale McDowell, Mike Marlar
Row 5: Don O’Neal, Jackie Boggs
Row 6: Casey Roberts, Tyler Erb
Row 7: Kent Robinson, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 8: Justin Williams, Darrell Lanigan
Row 9: Tyler Bare, Jason Jameson
Row 10: Pat Doar, Ross Bailes
Row 11: Joey Coulter, Jason Covert
Row 12: Max Blair, Boom Briggs
Row 13: Rick Eckert, Chase Junghans
Row 14: Dakotah Knuckles, David Breazeale
With front-row starters Joey Coulter and Boom Briggs racing side-by-side out of turn two, Coulter edged ahead to take an early lead. The top two cars began pulling away from the field at the halfway mark, as Kody Evans and Michael Brown battled for third. With Coulter holding a comfortable lead, Brown began reeling in Briggs in the final laps but was unable to challenge for the position. Coulter won the consolation, with Briggs taking the second and final transfer spot.
Finish (top two transfer): Joey Coulter, Boom Briggs, Michael Brown, Kody Evans, Chris Ferguson, Brent Larson, Dan Stone, Mike Maresca, Dale Hollidge, Jimmy McNamara, Jason Miller, Rick Eckert. Scratched: Benji Hicks, Tyler Millwood, Matt Cosner, Jeremy Conaway, Tyler Horst, John Henderson, Adam Yarbrough.
Outside polesitter Steven Roberts slipped over the cushion in turns one and two to fall to the tail of the field on the opening lap, as third-starting Max Blair charged to second. With polesitter Ross Bailes leading, the top three cars distanced themselves from the rest of the field in the early running. Jimmy Owens challenged Blair for second at the halfway mark, with Blair holding the position. Bailes won the consolation, with Blair holding off Owens to finish second and transfer to the main event.
Finish (top two transfer): Ross Bailes, Max Blair, Jimmy Owens, Donny Schatz, Jonathan Davenport, Dakotah Knuckles, Colton Flinner, Mike Benedum, Ryan King, Anthony Sanders, Allen Murray, Steven Roberts, Curtis Teats. Scratched: Kyle Hardy, Zack Dohm, Brian Connor, Austin Holcombe, Greg Clark, Ross Robinson.
Polesitter Pat Doar led the opening lap, as Jason Covert and Joey Moriarty battled for second. A yellow flag waved on the first circuit when Amanda Whaley slipped over the berm in turns three and four, slowing off the pace. Covert began reeling in Doar as the race went back green, with Chase Junghans overtaking Moriarty for third. Eighth-starting Earl Pearson Jr. was on the move early, running fourth at the halfway mark. A yellow flag waved on lap six when Moriarty lost a tire and slowed off the pace. Covert and Junghangs battled for second on the restart, with the advantage going to Covert. Doar won the consolation, with Covert finishing second to transfer to the feature.
Finish (top two transfer): Pat Doar, Jason Covert, Chase Junghans, Earl Pearson Jr., Austin Smith, Matt Sponaugle, Dustin Mitchell, Blake Spencer, Justin Duty, Nick Davis, David Breazeale, Cla Knight, Joey Moriarty, Mike Lupfer, Kyle Lear, Brian Ledbetter, Amanda Whaley. Scratched: Kerry King, Brandon Overton, Donald McIntosh.
(10 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Pat Doar, Joey Moriarty
Row 2: Jason Covert, Kerry King
Row 3: Chase Junghans, Nick Davis
Row 4: Blake Spencer, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 5: Brandon Overton, Amanda Whaley
Row 6: Matt Sponagle, Austin Smith
Row 7: Cla Knight, Kyle Lear
Row 8: Brian Ledbetter, David Breazeale
Row 9: Justin Duty, Dustin Mitchell
Row 10: Donald McIntosh, Mike Lupfer
Row 1: Ross Bailes, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Max Blair, Anthony Sanders
Row 3: Dakotah Knuckles, Mike Benedum
Row 4: Donny Schatz, Jonathan Davenport
Row 5: Colton Flinner, Ryan King
Row 6: Kyle Hardy, Allen Murray
Row 7: Zack Dohm, Curtis Teats
Row 8: Brian Connor, Greg Clark
Row 9: Austin Holcombe, Ross Robinson
Row 1: Boom Briggs, Joey Coulter
Row 2: Michael Brown, Kody Evans
Row 3: Brent Larson, Benji Hicks
Row 4: Dan Stone, Michael Maresca
Row 5: Dale Hollidge, Tyler Millwood
Row 6: Jimmy McNamara, Matt Cosner
Row 7: Chris Ferguson, Jeremy Conaway
Row 8: Rick Eckert, Jason Miller
Row 9: Tyler Horst, John Henderson
Row 10: Adam Yarbrough
A yellow flag waved on the opening lap when Jeremy Conaway and Jason Miller tangled in turns one and two, bringing the race to a complete restart. Polesitter Brandon Sheppard charged to the lead as the race went green, with Jason Jameson and Tyler Erb powering ahead of second-starting Benji Hicks. Kody Evans spun in turn two to draw a caution on lap three. Slipping over the berm in turns one and two, fifth-running Matt Cosner slowed to a stop to draw a caution on the fifth lap. Tyler Millwood slowed off the pace to draw a caution on lap six. Sheppard held his lead on the restart, with Erb overtaking Jameson for second. Sheppard won the heat, with Erb and Jameson grabbing transfer spots. Only five cars completed all 10 laps.
Finish (top three transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Tyler Erb, Jason Jameson, Joey Coulter, Kody Evans, Benji Hicks, Michael Maresca, Tyler Millwood, Matt Cosner, Jeremy Conaway, Jason Miller. Scratched: John Henderson.
Polesitter Chris Ferguson charged to an early lead, as Devin Moran overtook second-starting Rick Eckert on the first lap. Ferguson stretched his lead to nearly a full straightaway at the halfway mark, with Moran running a solid second. A yellow flag waved on lap six when Ferguson slowed on the backstretch, relinquishing the lead to Moran. Third-running Eckert pitted under the caution. After racing among frontrunners, Dale Hollidge slipped over the cushion on the restart, falling to the rear of the field. Moran led the final laps to win the heat, with Jackie Boggs and Darrell Lanigan rounding out the podium.
Finish (top three transfer): Devin Moran, Jackie Boggs, Darrell Lanigan, Boom Briggs, Michael Brown, Brent Larson, Dan Stone, Dale Hollidge, Jimmy McNamara, Chris Ferguson, Rick Eckert, Tyler Horst. Scratched: Adam Yarbrough.
Polesitter Shane Clanton shot to the front of the field at the drop of the green flag, with fellow front-row starter Mike Marlar slipping over the berm to lose position in the early running. A yellow flag waved on lap four when Curtis Teats spun on the frontstretch. Clanton held his lead on the restart, with Marlar overtaking Jonathan Davenport for third. Ross Robinson spun in the top of turn one to draw a caution on lap five. Marlar rolled past Steven Roberts to take second on the restart, challenging Clanton for the lead. Davenport slowed in turn one with a flat tire to draw a caution on lap eight, just as the No. 25 of Clanton started billowing smoke. Clanton held off Marlar to win the heat, with Dennis Erb Jr. taking the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Shane Clanton, Mike Marlar, Dennis Erb Jr., Steven Roberts, Jimmy Owens, Anthony Sanders, Mike Benedum, Jonathan Davenport, Ryan King, Allen Murray, Curtis Teats, Greg Clark, Ross Robinson.
Outside polesitter Dakotah Knuckles shot to an early lead, as fellow front-row starter Donny Schatz slipped back to the rear of the field in a single lap. Tim McCreadie overtook Knuckles on the second circuit, with the top three cars starting to pull away from the field. A yellow flag waved on lap five when Zack Dohm got into the wall in turn three. Austin Holcombe slowed on the frontstretch to draw a caution on the ensuing restart, with second-running Knuckles coming to a stop in turn four under the yellow flag. A yellow flag waved on lap six when Max Blair spun in turns three and four. Brian Connor slowed in the top of turn three to draw a lap-seven caution. The top two cars distanced themselves from the field as the race went back green, with McCreadie picking up the heat race win. Casey Roberts and Tyler Bare finished second and third to transfer to the feature.
Finish (top three transfer): Tim McCreade, Casey Roberts, Tyler Bare, Ross Bailes, Max Blair, Dakotah Knuckles, Donny Schatz, Colton Flinner, Kyle Hardy, Zack Dohm, Brian Connor, Austin Holcombe.
Polesitter Scott Bloomquist edged ahead of fellow front-row starter Earl Pearson Jr. to take an early lead, with Austin Smith and Amanda Whaley falling back to the rear of the field after slipping over the berm in turns one and two. As Bloomquist began stretching his lead, a yellow flag waved on lap four when Whaley spun on the frontstretch. Bloomquist held his lead on the restart, with Don O’Neal overtaking Pearson for second. O’Neal and Pearson battled side-by-side late-race, with Pearson nearly spinning when the pair made contact in turns three and four on the final lap, relinquishing his transfer spot. Bloomquist won the heat, with O’Neal and Justin Williams rounding out the podium.
Finish (top three transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Don O’Neal, Justin Williams, Joey Moriarty, Kerry King, Nick Davis, Earl Pearson Jr., Amanda Whaley, Austin Smith, Kyle Lear, David Breazeale, Dustin Mitchell, Mike Lupfer.
Outside polesitter Chris Madden charged to the lead at the drop of the green flag, with fellow front-row starter Dale McDowell in tow. With the top two cars distanced themselves from the field in the early running, with third-running Kent Robinson closing back in on the race leaders at the halfway mark. Leading all 10 laps, Madden won the heat, with McDowell finishing second. Robinson took the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Chris Madden, Dale McDowell, Kent Robinson, Pat Doar, Jason Covert, Chase Junghans, Blake Spencer, Brandon Overton, Matt Sponaugle, Cla Knight, Brian Ledbetter, Justin Duty. Scratched: Donald McIntosh.
Rain that began falling early in the afternoon and then intensified to downpours for about an hour around 3:30 p.m. produced a delay in the launch of Friday’s racing program; officials replaced the scheduled 5 p.m. start time to effectively whenever the track surface was ready for competition. Skies began clearing around 4:30 p.m. and track-packing went well enough for opening ceremonies to be completed by 7:30 p.m. with cars hitting the speedway shortly before 8 p.m. … With The Dirt Track forced to adhere to a hard midnight curfew, officials hope to have most, if not all, of the program completed by that deadline. Whatever racing remains would be spun off on Saturday afternoon, followed by a break in the action before the evening’s regularly-scheduled card. … Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., changed his car’s motor on Friday morning after experiencing some troubles during Thursday’s qualifying. He contemplated making the swap after the first round of time trials but decided to put off the work until after his second qualifying run. … Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who tops the all-time World Finals win list with six career victories, faces an uphill climb in Friday’s action. He starts last in the fourth heat because he failed to log a first-round qualifying lap after his car shut off while in line for time trials due to electrical problems. … Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., is scheduled to start 10th in Friday’s first heat but his Big Frog Motorsports car isn’t even unloaded for the evening’s action. With the rain likely producing a heavy track surface that will be hard on machinery, he said the team decided to sit out Friday’s show to save their equipment for Saturday’s program. … The three drivers contending for the WoO points title all have prime starting spots for their Friday heats: points leader Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., and second-place points man Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., start second in their prelims while third-place Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., goes off from the pole in his heat, increasing the likelihood that they will start close together in the 50-lap feature.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Chris Madden
Row 2: Kent Robinson, Pat Doar
Row 3: Jason Covert, Chase Junghans
Row 4: Brandon Overton, Cla Knight
Row 5: Matt Sponaugle, Donald McIntosh
Row 6: Justin Duty, Blake Spencer
Row 7: Brian Ledbetter
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Austin Smith
Row 3: Joey Moriarty, Justin Williams
Row 4: Dustin Mitchell, Mike Lupfer
Row 5: Kerry King, Amanda Whaley
Row 6: Nick Davis, Kyle Lear
Row 7: David Breazeale
Row 1: Donny Schatz, Dakotah Knuckles
Row 2: Casey Roberts, Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Tyler Bare, Zack Dohm
Row 4: Max Blair, Kyle Hardy
Row 5: Colton Flinner, Austin Holcombe
Row 6: Ross Bailes, Brian Connor
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Mike Marlar
Row 2: Steven Roberts, Ryan King
Row 3: Jonathan Davenport, Allen Murray
Row 4: Anthony Sanders, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Mike Benedum, Greg Clark
Row 6: Ross Robinson, Curtis Teats
Row 7: Jimmy Owens
Row 1: Chris Ferguson, Rick Eckert
Row 2: Jackie Boggs, Devin Moran
Row 3: Boom Briggs, Dale Hollidge
Row 4: Michael Brown, Darrell Lanigan
Row 5: Brent Larson, Tyler Horst
Row 6: Dan Stone, Adam Yarbrough
Row 7: Jimmy McNamara
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Benji Hicks
Row 2: Tyler Erb, Jason Jameson
Row 3: Kody Evans, Tyler Millwood
Row 4: Michael Maresca, Jeremy Conway
Row 5: Matt Cosner, Jason Miller
Row 6: Joey Coulter, John Henderson
The World of Outlaws World Finals action continues Friday at The Dirt Track at Charlotte with the first of two 50-lap, $12,000-to win World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series events. Heat race lineups were determined by time trials contested on Thursday night.
Afternoon rain delayed the start time for Friday’s program, with racing action set to begin around 8 p.m. Eastern. Because of the track’s curfew, racing will continue through midnight, with the remainder of Friday’s show to be completed on Saturday.
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., was the overall fast qualifier for Friday’s program and will start on the pole of the fourth heat race. Clocking fast time in his respective qualifying group, Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., will start on the pole of Friday’s first heat race. The top three finishers from each of the night’s six heat races 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.