BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Brandon Sheppard has been the model of consistency, not only during the 2019 Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, but since his season began at the Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout in Arizona last month. But with just four events remaining before teams leave the Sunshine State, the driver of the Rocket Chassis house car had uncharacteristically failed to reach victory lane.
Sheppard, of New Berlin, Ill., checked that off the list Wednesday.
Leading all 50 laps, Sheppard won the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series main event at Volusia Speedway Park, topping a charging Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and O’Neal’s Clint Bowyer Racing teammate, Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.
Seventh-starting Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., finished fourth, while Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., completed the top five after starting 14th.
Sheppard, who finished 1.925 seconds ahead of O’Neal, earned $10,000 for his 38th career World of Outlaws victory and third career DIRTcar Nationals triumph. He bolted into the lead at the start and was never seriously challenged.
“We’ve had a good car all Speedweeks. We just haven’t had things go our way. Luckily I got a great crew … Dan, Austin, Joel, Mark Richards, Steve Baker … they give me a great piece to drive,” said Sheppard. “Them guys never give up on me and that’s what it takes, a good team that’s got your back all the time. It’s a fun piece to drive and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”
The win comes after Sheppard registered 12 top-five finishes in 14 feature starts to begin his 2019 campaign. A winner of at least one DIRTcar Nationals race in each of the last two seasons, Sheppard was relieved to extend his Volusia win streak to three straight years.
“The first win (of the season) has been avoiding me for a long time it seems like,” Sheppard said “Last year I got a win in Arizona, but I didn’t get one this year. I think we’ve got 13 out of 15 top-fives so far. You know we’ve got a great team and we’ve got a great race car. We’ve been right there every night, we just haven’t had things fall our way and finally things are playing our way, so hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
Sheppard left Arizona’s FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway back in January as the points champion of the six-race Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout miniseries, but in the 10 races since recording a runner-up finish on Jan 12, he’d yet to duplicate that result despite a string of seven straight top-five runs. He said that even with those quality results, waiting on the first win of the season was a little taxing and left him a little introspective.
“When you are used to being out front and getting a win by now … at least one … I’m not trying to be greedy and say we should’ve won four by now, but just to get the first win out of the way … It just takes a toll on you sometimes,” he said. “(I’m) definitely glad to get the first one.
“The whole team’s doing their job and if we’re not winning, it’s like, I feel like the car’s pretty close, so we’re like, what are the other variables that it could be … we’ll me. Maybe I’m not doing something right.”
Sheppard, 26, could hardly do any wrong. He regularly held leads of more than three seconds over the second-running driver, whether it was O’Neal, Richards, or Scott Bloomquist, of Mooresburg, Tenn., who was never a factor after starting on the outside front row.
Not even three cautions — which can often shape the outcome of a race after a driver vaults out to a huge lead — could quell Sheppard’s momentum. O’Neal, who started well back in 13th, made a valiant run. He was even slightly faster than the leader over the final five laps. But he never got close enough to challenge Sheppard.
“The lapped traffic just didn’t go my way,” O’Neal said. “We were digging there at the end. It’s just nice to finish a race for a change. Clint Bowyer (Racing) second and third ain’t too bad.”
Richards, the second half of that Clint Bowyer Racing combination, took second from Bloomquist on lap 19 and he was still in second on lap 35. But he gave up the position to his teammate O’Neal on lap 43 and settled for third.
“We’ve been in contention, we’ve just been fighting some things. I think we found some ground (wiring) issues. I think we’ve got the engine stuff settled out and that was a lot better,” Ricarhds said. “Brandon was real good. He could turn just a little bit better entering turn three up on the cushion. I could maintain if I hit it just perfect, but I was too tight.”
Notes: Brandon Sheppard joins Screven winners Brandon Overton and Shane Clanton as the third winner in three World of Outlaws races this season. … Seventeen of the 27 starters completed all 50 laps. … Cautions waved on laps 16, 31 and 35, none serious. … Chase Junghans, who started seventh, was as fast as anyone on the track in the first 15 laps, but his charge stalled in third. He eventually settled for fourth. “I think we were the only one on a hard left rear tire, so I knew has just had to get up there and blast it. I don’t know if we wouldn’t have had any cautions if we’d been any good, but it’s a good points night for us,” Junghans said. … Scott Bloomquist ran second early but began to fade near the halfway mark. He was shuffled to seventh on lap 28 before retiring after completing 38 laps. … Monday’s winner, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., took a provisional to start the feature. He completed retired after 31 laps in 25th. … Tyler Erb, who was driving a Steven Roberts-backed Rocket XR1 retired on lap 35 as a result damage his car sustained after making contact with Bloomquist. As Bloomquist slowed, Erb hit him from behind, knocking a hole in Erb’s radiator. His 23rd-place finish was the worst of his Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. … Jonathan Davenport said he almost didn’t compete on Wednesday because his team didn’t want to get its hauler dirty after just having it washed. Almost sitting out because “the pits were so bad” following Tuesday’s overnight rain, Davenport said, “the racetrack looked really good. That’s the reason we decided to go ahead and come on over here and race.” … In victory lane, Rocket Chassis co-founder Mark Richards thanked short track legend Gary Balough, who was at Volusia selling his autobiography, for inspiring him throughout Richards’s career.
Preliminary results and notes:
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Kent Robinson, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Josh Richards, Chris Madden
Row 4: Chase Junghans, Hudson O’Neal
Row 5: Darrell Lanigan, Michael Norris
Row 6: Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens
Row 7: Don O’Neal, Jonathan Davenport
Row 8: Tyler Erb, Kyle Hardy
Row 9: Brandon Overton, Devin Moran
Row 10: Kyle Bronson, Brian Shirley
Row 11: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 12: Mike Marlar, Brent Larson
Row 13: Blake Spencer, Ricky Weiss
Row 14: Scott James
The 50-lap World of Outlaws A-main rolled onto the track at 9:27 p.m. … Feature polesitter Brandon Sheppard is shooting for not only his first victory of 2019 Georgia-Florida Speedweeks but also to extend his DIRTcar Nationals winning streak to three consecutive years. … Outside polesitter Scott Bloomquist ranks second in all-time DIRTcar Nationals triumphs (12) and has won at least once at Volusia in seven of the last eight years. … Three of the A-main’s top eight starters have never won a feature at Volusia: Kent Robinson, Chase Junghans and Hudson O’Neal. Robinson will bid for a checkered flag after making a 20th-to-fifth charge in Monday’s 30-lap headliner before a cut tire abruptly ended it with six laps remaining while Junghans will attempt to improve on his third-place finish in last year’s Wednesday-night WoO A-main at Volusia. … Scott James had to repair significant damage to his car’s right-rear bodywork after a heat-race incident. The prospective WoO traveler will start the 50-lapper as one of five provisionals, joining reigning champion Mike Marlar, Brent Larson, Ricky Weiss and Blake Spencer. … Florida’s Jason Fitzgerald saw his hopes of making the evening’s feature dulled as soon as he failed to log a qualifying lap because he did not have his car ready to take his spot in the time-trial order.
Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, pulled away to an easy victory in the second consolation. Brian Shirley finished second, with Dennis Erb Jr., using a slider in two four with a lap remaining to pick up the third and final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Devin Moran, Brian Shirley, Dennis Erb Jr., Ricky Weiss, Mike Marlar, Tim McCreadie, Jason Jameson, Tyler Bruening, Cade Dillard, Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Clem, Blake Spencer, Hillad Miller, Chuck Hummer.
Pulling ahead of Kyle Bronson during a green-white-checkered finish following a caution for early leader Boom Briggs, Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., won the first consolation race. Bronson finished comfortably in second, whole Ivedent Lloyd Jr., turned back a last-lap charge from Donald McIntosh to claim the final transfer position.
Finish (top three transfer): Brandon Overton, Kyle Bronson, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Donald McIntosh, Joey Moriarty, Brent Larson, Scott James, Jason Fitzgerald, Blair Nothdurft, Dan Stone, Stacy Boles, Boom Briggs, Mike Hammerle, Frank Heckenast Jr.
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Boom Briggs, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 2: Brandon Overton, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Donald McIntosh, Joey Moriarty
Row 4: Dan Stone, Brent Larson
Row 5: Blair Nothdurft, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 6: Mike Hammerle, Stacy Boles
Row 7: Frank Heckenast Jr., Scott James
Row 1: Ricky Weiss, Devin Moran
Row 2: Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley
Row 3: Tim McCreadie, Mike Marlar
Row 4: Tyler Bruening, Earl Pearson Jr.
R0w 5: Jason Jameson, Cade Dillard
Row 6: Tyler Clem, Blake Spencer
Row 7: Chuck Hummer, Hillard Miller
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., started from the pole and drove to a convincing victory in the final heat. Bloomquist motored away to win by 4.379 seconds over Chase Junghans. Jimmy Owens finished third, while Kyle Hardy turned back repeated challenges from Devin Moran to take fourth. Tucked under Hardy’s rear deck at the checkered flag, Moran was just .118 of a second out of transferring to the main event. Monday winner Mike Marlar finished sixth.
Finish (top four transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Chase Junghans, Jimmy Owens, Kyle Hardy, Devin Moran, Mike Marlar, Earl Pearson Jr., Cade Dillard, Blake Spencer, Hillard Miller.
Sliding ahead of Chris Madden in turn two on the opening lap, polesitter Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., led the caution-free third head from start to finish. Madden stayed close, but finished .868 of a second back in the runner-up spot. Michael Norris finished third, while seventh-starting Jonathan Davenport steadily marched forward to finish fourth, earning the last transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Dale McDowell, Chris Madden, Michael Norris, Jonathan Davenport, Ricky Weiss, Dennis Erb Jr., Tim McCreadie, Tyler Bruening, Jason Jameson, Tyler Clem, Chuck Hummer.
Easily pulling away from Josh Richards on the start, polesitter Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., dominated the second heat. Sheppard pulled away to win ahead of Richards by 3.154 seconds. Richards finished comfortably ahead of Shane Clanton, while Tyler Erb made his way around Ivedent Lloyd Jr., midway through the 10-lap prelim to take the final transfer position. The race was slowed by one caution when Scott James slowed on lap one.
Finish (top four transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Josh Richards, Shane Clanton, Tyler Erb, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Kyle Bronson, Joey Moriarty, Brent Larson, Jason Fitzgerald, Stacy Boles, Scott James.
Overall fast qualifier Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., beat fellow front row starter Hudson O’Neal into turn one on the opening lap and led the entire 10-lap distance to win the first heat. O’Neal made a late charge on lap eight, pulling up to Robinson’s quarterpanel, but fell back on the final circuit and finished 1.162 seconds behind. Darrell Lanigan finished third and Don O’Neal grabbed the final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Kent Robinson, Hudson O’Neal, Darrell Lanigan, Don O’Neal, Boom Briggs, Brandon Overton, Donald McIntosh, Dan Stone, Blair Nothdurft, Mike Hammerle, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Kent Robinson, Hudson O’Neal
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Dan Stone
Row 3: Darrell Lanigan, Boom Briggs
Row 4: Blair Nothdurft, Donald McIntosh
Row 5: Brandon Overton, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 6: Mike Hammerle
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Josh Richards
Row 2: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Shane Clanton
Row 3: Tyler Erb, Joey Moriarty
Row 4: Kyle Bronson, Scott James
Row 5: Brent Larson, Stacy Boles
Row 6: Jason Fitzgerald
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Chris Madden
Row 2: Michael Norris, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 3: Ricky Weiss, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Bruening
Row 5: Jason Jameson, Tyler Clem
Row 6: Chuck Hummer
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Chase Junghans
Row 2: Jimmy Owens, Kyle Hardy
Row 3: Mike Marlar, Devin Moran
Row 4: Brian Shirley, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 5: Cade Dillard, Blake Spencer
Row 6: Hillard Miller
Crisp, cool conditions — Wednesday’s high temperature barely reached 60 degrees and are expected to dip into the low 40s as the evening progresses — prevail as the DIRTcar Nationals shift to World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series action for four consecutive nights. … After Tuesday night’s DIRTcar-sanctioned program was rained out and steady precipitation hit the track overnight and into the morning, the pit area was left extremely soft and muddy with standing water in some spots. That prompted a pass-through by an 18-wheeler trailer filled with hay and sales were brisk to teams seeking to cover their muddy pit stalls. … A 44-car field is signed in for competition. … Drivers entered this evening after sitting out Monday’s action include Jonathan Davenport, who pulled his Lance Landers-owned team’s hauler into the pit area for the first time this week earlier today; Tyler Erb, who will make his first start of the season in a Steven Roberts-owned car that carries Erb’s old No. 91; Jimmy Owens; Earl Pearson Jr.; Hudson O'Neal; and Scott James. … Several racers have opted to sit out the show, including Tanner English, Chub Frank, Morgan Bagley, Jeff Mathews and Colton Flinner. … The Gregg Satterlee and Donny Schatz Dirt Late Models remain in their trailers again. Satterlee is flying back to Florida from Indiana, Pa., on Thursday to run the final three nights while Schatz is expected to compete in the three remaining events as well. … G.R. Smith of Cornelius, N.C., is not racing after seeing his DIRTcar Nationals — and his hopes of chasing the WoO Rookie of the Year award — end Monday night due to terminal engine trouble in his only powerplant. … Monday-night feature winner Mike Marlar’s K&L Rumley Enterprises No. 6 was unloaded after Wednesday’s drivers’ meeting was completed. Marlar was the last driver to register for the program. … Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., was among the drivers who donned his uniform earlier than usual to report to the WoO control trailer in the pit area to have his head shot taken. Only prospective 2019 WoO regulars were asked to pose for photos; while Overton’s participation doesn’t confirm that he’ll chase the entire tour with the Joey Coulter team, it would seem to indicate that he’s seriously considering it. … A media opportunity was held outside the WoO control trailer in the pit area late Wednesday afternoon featuring second-year WoO traveler Brent Larson of Lake Elmo, Minn., who last week unveiled new primary sponsorship from Drydene Performance Products. Drydene Lubricants president Dave Klinger was on hand to comment on the company’s sponsorship program with Larson and the WoO Late Model Series and pose for photos in front of Larson’s newly-wrapped car. … Drivers will count their two best finishes from the week’s four WoO events toward the tour’s points standings. ... There was some action in the pit area even before the night's competition began. Shortly before the evening's first green flag, Volusia County Sheriff's Department officers drove into the pits to serve an arrest warrant to Scott Bloomquist crewman Cody Mallory, who was taken from the speedway and booked for a reported child support violation.
Following Tuesday’s rainout, Volusia’s DIRTcar Nationals moves to World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series action with a $10,000-to-win purse on the line for the first of four events for the national tour at the D-shaped half-mile.
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., comes in as the WoO points leader, but reigning series champ Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., comes in as the week’s only Late Model winner. Marlar regained the lead from Josh Richards with nine laps remaining in Monday’s DIRTcar-sanctioned opener to pick up his first career DIRTcar Nationals victory and first win since taking the wheel of Kevin and Lee Roy Rumley’s potent No. 6.
Darrell Lanigan, of Union, Ky. — back in his family-owned equipment sporting his familiar No. 29 — showed excellent speed in a runner-up finish on Monday, as did Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., who rallied from 18th to grab a podium finish. Richards was a fourth in a race where the top six finishers were current or former WoO champs.
While there were more then 50 Late Models in the pit area on Monday, only 42 entered the opener, so a bigger car count is expected Wednesday with time trials, heat races, consolation races and a 50-lap main event on the card. Tuesday's action never got rolling as lingering afternoon rain doomed the program by early evening.
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 15.887
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.097
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 16.117
Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 16.184
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.202
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (58), Ocala, Fla., 16.419
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 16.476
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.504
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 16.519
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 16.535
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.571
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 16.652
Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 16.705
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.766
Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 16.834
Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., 16.879
Brandon Overton (2), Evans, Ga., 16.940
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.995
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 17.028
Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 17.236
Mike Hammerle (16), St. Charles, Mo., 18.893
Jason Fitzgerald (7), Middleburg, Fla., N/T
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.895
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.931
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.961
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.187
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.209
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.288
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.322
Kyle Hardy (36v), Stephens City, Va., 16.443
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 16.463
Mike Marlar (6), Winfield, Tenn., 16.466
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.493
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 16.557
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 16.585
Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 16.590
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.591
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.735
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 16.768
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 16.852
Tyler Clem (C02), St. Petersburg, Fla., 16.879
Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.137
Chuck Hummer (25), Lyons, Ohio, 17.510
Hillard Miller (53), Defiance, Ohio, 17.906
10 a.m.: Pit gate opens for team entry
1 p.m.: Pit pass sales begin
3 p.m.: Pit area secured; pit passes required after 3 p.m.
4:40 p.m.: Grandstand area secured
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5:15 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
5:30 p.m.: Fan pit pass gate opens
6 p.m.: Hot laps
- SDS modifieds
- WoO Late Models
6:30 p.m.: Time trials
- WoO Late Models (group qualifying)
- SDS modifieds
7:20 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- WoO Late Models heats (10 laps)
- SDS modifieds heats (8 laps)
- WoO Late Models consolations (10 laps)
- SDS modifieds consolations (8 laps)
- WoO Late Models feature (50 laps)
- SDS modifieds feature (30 laps)