BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Staying just ahead of a charging Mike Marlar, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., won his third straight DIRTcar Nationals feature Friday at Volusia Speedway Park. Sheppard took the lead from Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., on lap 10 and led the final 40 laps en route to a $10,000 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series triumph.
Marlar, of Winfield, Tenn., started 23rd and rallied through the field, finally reaching second on lap 42. He closed to within three car lengths with four laps remaining but never managed to make a bid for the lead and settled for second.
Eighth-starting Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., finished third, while Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., placed fourth after starting ninth. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., started 12th and improved seven spots to complete the top five.
Sheppard has now led 129 of the last 150 feature laps during Volusia’s 48th annual DIRTcar Nationals, while becoming the first driver since Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., in 2015 to win three straight DIRTcar Nationals main events. It was his 40th career World of Outlaws victory.
“I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m ecstatic,” said Sheppard. “My team’s been working their tail off this entire Speedweeks and it’s really showing here at the end. It’s just awesome. I can’t thank Mark Richards enough, Steve Baker, everybody at Rocket Chassis. Obviously they’re great race cars. There’s a bunch of them up front every night. It’s a cool deal to be a part of for sure.”
McCreadie shot to the front from outside of row one and led the first nine laps, but the fourth-starting Sheppard wasted little time reeling him in. Once in front he pulled away to comfortable leads, slowed only by the race’s five cautions. He’d just taken the lead when the first yellow flag waved.
“We went up there when we had to and just kept it out front,” said Sheppard. “That was the big thing. It’s hard to get the lead, but when you get the lead you’ve got clean air, especially with them cautions and stuff. And that plays a big part … whenever you can get the lead before a caution comes out.”
Marlar seemingly came from nowhere to challenge Sheppard over the final 10 laps. Thanks in part to attrition, he was up to fourth when the final caution appeared on lap 39. After getting by O’Neal and Shirley he cut into Sheppard’s lead.
Despite thinking he was a little vulnerable running alone at the front, Sheppard was confident he’d managed his equipment well enough to keep any challengers at bay.
“I didn’t know where to go to be honest with you,” he told World of Outlaws announcer Rick Eshelman in victory lane. “I felt pretty good wherever I went. Them guys behind you can see your weak spots, where you’re slowing up and where they’re gaining on you, so I’m just banking on (crew chief) Dan (White) telling me the right place to go and he did a good job.
“We’ve been working on our signals here this week you know, during Speedweeks, and we’re clicking pretty good right now. That means a lot, especially here, because the grove changes so much and you’re all over the racetrack.”
Marlar was well aware that, as he drew closer, Sheppard began to alter his line around the D-shaped half-mile.
“They moved him down. We went down the straightaway there and they moved him down in front of me,” said Marlar. “You know, it’s just teams doing their job. We don’t do that. Like, we don’t signal or we don’t manipulate the race. My team don’t. It’s just part of racing.
“Everybody does it … but us I think. It really hurts the racing a lot of times, but they moved him down and he just took the air off of me. Nowadays the air is so big if they move down in front of you and they block that air, you’re just in a vacuum and don’t work good.”
Marlar never got close enough to make a move on the leader. For that matter, nor did Shirley, who grabbed second on lap 18 and held the position for most all of the ensuing 25 laps until Marlar came flying by to take the spot away.
“(Sheppard) was just a little bit better than us,” said Shirley. “He got a little more zip, just a little better, but all in all, even if I got to him, he was gonna have to make a big mistake. He moved up to where I was running and was just as good.”
Seventeen of the 28 starters finished in what became a race of attrition over the final 25 laps. Five cautions slowed the race, including three involving front runners in the final half of the event. Polesitter Chris Madden, Jonathan Davenport, Kyle Bronson and Clanton were among drivers slipping in and out of the top five in the early stages of what became a tumultuous race for many of the front runners.
A lap-27 crash — the third caution of the night — eliminated Ricky Weiss, Gregg Satterlee and Devin Moran. Two laps later, McCreadie’s night ended when he ran over something on the track destroying his car’s nosepiece and radiator, knocking the early leader out of the race.
“I don’t know if it was a mud clod or what it was,” said McCreadie afterwards.
The final caution, with just 11 laps remaining, was the most significant. Bronson, running fifth at the time, jumped the cushion in turn one and slammed into the wall. Unable to avoid Bronson’s spinning car, both Madden and Davenport clipped Bronson’s car with the right side of their own machines.
Both with heavy damage, Davenport pulled in the pit area, while Madden soldiered on to a 17th-place finish, one lap off the pace.
Notes: Brandon Sheppard became just the fifth driver in Volusia Winternationals history to win three consecutive features in the same season, joining Clanton (2015); Wayne Shugart (’76) of St. Augustine, Fla.; Morgan Shepherd (’77) of Conover, N.C.; and Hayward Plyler (’78) of Kannapolis, N.C. Shugart actually won three straight twice, as he won the final Winternationals race of the 1972 season and the first two in 1973. Sheppard — no relation to Morgan Shepherd — said the win was special. “I don’t know why, but this one hits home more than the others do for some reason,” he said. … Mike Marlar had Sheppard’s lead down to 0.437 of a second, but Sheppard eased away to win by 0.556 of a second. … Despite leading 41 of 50 laps, Sheppard said he expected a challenger sooner or later. “When I was running the top (I was) trying to not abuse my tires too much because I knew at some point somebody would be coming lower on the racetrack,” Sheppard said. … World of Outlaws rookie of the year hopeful Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, was blunt in his assessment of the lap-27 crash that ended his night. “Overdriving guy jumping the cushion … no where to go,” said Weiss, who finished 23rd. … After a rough start to his Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, Brian Shirley is glad to be back on track. “That is all (car owner) Bob (Cullen),” said Shirley. “He said get out of East Bay (Raceway Park). He said you’ve got two choices. Either get up to Screven or go watch the sun on the beach. I knew he didn’t want me to go watch the sun on the beach. He just felt like I needed to get away and get a restart, hit the restart button.” … Darrell Lanigan, who finished fifth, is pleased with his car, just the third one to come off of his jig at his Union, Ky., shop. “We really got a good piece right now. We’re working on it,” Lanigan said. “We tried something a little bit new tonight and it seemed like it was pretty good for the feature.” … Kent Robinson finished ninth, but the Bloomington, Ind., driver still isn’t satisfied. “Overall I can’t complain,” he said. “It wasn’t as good as I’d like. It’s part of it, being competitive as we all are. I’m not real happy. I feel like we’ve had speed early in the night, just haven’t made the right calls as it’s went on.” … For the second straight night, Clanton won a heat to be get himself in the feature redraw for the top six drivers. But he failed to take advantage of it and finished eighth. “We’re trying a bunch of different stuff under the rearend, so hopefully we can just get a handle on it. We’re good early and we struggle late. But we’re working on it. It’s not like we’re not,” Clanton said.
Preliminary notes and results:
Row 1: Chris Madden, Tim McCreadie
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Jonathan Davenport
Row 4: Kyle Bronson, Brian Shirley
Row 5: Don O’Neal, Chase Junghans
Row 6: Dennis Erb, Darrell Lanigan
Row 7: Donny Schatz, Boom Briggs
Row 8: Chris Ferguson, Cade Dillard
Row 9: Ricky Weiss, Gregg Satterlee
Row 10: Kent Robinson, Dale McDowell
Row 11: Tanner English, Tyler Erb
Row 12: Mike Marlar, Devin Moran
Row 13: Brandon Overton, Brent Larson
Row 14: Kyle Hardy, Blake Spencer
The 50-lap feature’s field rolled onto the racetrack at 9:30 p.m. … Polesitter Chris Madden has one career DIRTcar Nationals victory; it came in a 2017 DIRTcar-sanctioned show. … Brandon Sheppard will bid to become just the fourth driver in the history of the DIRTcar Nationals to win three consecutive Dirt Late Model features. Shane Clanton accomplished the feat in 2015; the only previous occasions it was done came in the event’s early days of 1976 (Wayne Shugart), ’77 (Morgan Shepherd) and ’78 (Hayward Plyler). … Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis house car operation has won back-to-back A-mains at Volusia three times previously, in 2009, ’13 and ’16 with Josh Richards driving. … Clanton was happy after winning the third heat but far from satisfied with his Capital Race Car’s performance. “We’ve still got to get better,” said Clanton, who starts fifth one night after fading from a pole position start to a ninth-place finish because his machine was too tight entering the corners. … Scott Bloomquist will take the green flag from the sixth spot one year after winning Volusia’s Friday-night WoO A-main. The 55-year-old Hall of Famer is still looking for his first victory of Georgia-Florida Speedway; the last time he failed to capture at least one race during the February stretch was in 2006. … WoO Sprint Car star Donny Schatz cracked the feature lineup through his heat after never contending for a transfer spot during his first Dirt Late Model appearance of the week on Thursday. … WoO rookie contender Kyle Hardy changed to his backup car after hot laps due to electrical issues in his primary machine. He missed transferring to the feature by one position in a B-main, forcing him to use a provisional to gain entry to the feature for the first time in his five WoO starts this season.
Tanner English of Benton,Ky., slid ahead of Jimmy Owens on the second lap and pulled away to win the final consolation race. Owens held second until Devin Moran slid in front of him to take the spot. Owens had to get on the brakes to keep from hitting Moran and never recovered as Moran took the final transfer spot.
Finish top three transfer): Tanner English, Devin Moran, Jimmy Owens, Michael Norris, Brandon Overton, Chub Frank, Tyler Bruening, Dan Stone, Blair Nothdurft, Jeff Mathews.
Third-starting Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., passed race-long leader Mike Marlar on the final lap to win the second consolation race. Pulling away from polesitter Jason Jameson in turn two, Marlar led early before McDowell made a late charge around the bottom. McDowell got around Jameson and then ran down Marlar, who settled for second.
Finish top three transfer): Dale McDowell, Mike Marlar, Jason Jameson, Josh Richards, Brent Larson, Earl Pearson Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Blake Spencer, Chuck Hummer, Colton Flinner.
Polesitter Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., led all 10 laps to win the first consolation. Fourth-starting Tyler Erb finished second to pick up the final transfer spot after a mid-race duel with Kyle Hardy.
Finish (top three transfer): Kent Robinson, Tyler Erb, Kyle Hardy, Scott James, Morgan Bagley, Tyler Clem, Joey Moriarty, Stacy Boles, Mike Hammerle, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
(10 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Kent Robinson, Kyle Hardy
Row 2: Morgan Bagley, Tyler Erb
Row 3: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Scott James
Row 4: Joey Moriarty, Tyler Clem
Row 5: Stacy Boles, Steve Isenberg
Row 6: Mike Hammerle
Row 1: Jason Jameson, Mike Marlar
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Blake Spencer
Row 3: Josh Richards, Brent Larson
Row 4: Earl Pearson Jr., Colton Flinner
R0w 5: Chuck Hummer, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Tanner English
Row 2: Chub Frank, Devin Moran
Row 3: Tyler Bruening, Michael Norris
Row 4: Blair Nothdurft, Brandon Overton
R0w 5: Jeff Mathews, Dan Stone
Polesitter Scott Bloomquist rolled to a convincing victory in the final heat. Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., dominated the 10-lapper, winning by 5.993 seconds ahead of Darrell Lanigan. Gregg Satterlee finished third, with Tanner English getting by Devin Moran late to finish fourth.
Finish (top three transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Darrell Lanigan, Gregg Satterlee, Tanner English, Devin Moran, Michael Norris, Brandon Overton, Dan Stone.
Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., turned back a mid-race challenge from Chase Junghans before pulling away to win the fourth heat by 1.337 seconds. Junghans made a brief charge before falling back and settling for the runner-up spot. Cade Dillard rebounded from an early scrape to finish third, holding off Jimmy Owens for the last transfer position. Dillard and Jeff Mathews made contact on the front stretch on the first lap, bringing out a caution as Dillard spun in turn one, collecting Tyler Bruening and Blair Nothdurft. Mathews pitted before the restart and returned one lap down.
Finish (top three transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans, Cade Dillard, Jimmy Owens, Chub Frank, Tyler Bruening, Blair Nothdurft, Jeff Mathews.
Overall fast qualifier Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., beat Brian Shirley into turn one on the first lap and went on to lead the entire 10-lap caution-free fourth heat race, with Shirley finishing second. Blake Spencer’s mid-race bobble allowed fifth-starting Boom Briggs and Mike Marlar to slip by. Briggs went on to pull away from Marlar to notch the third and final transfer position.
Finish (top three transfer): Tim McCreadie, Brian Shirley, Boom Briggs, Mike Marlar, Blake Spencer, Brent Larson, Colton Flinner, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Holding off Dennis Erb Jr.’s, charge over the final two laps, Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., picked up the victory in the third heat. The two raced even across the stripe on lap nine before catching the slower car of Chuck Hummer. After dispatching Hummer, Clanton surged back ahead on the final lap. Erb settled for second, with Ricky Weiss finishing third.
Finish (top three transfer): Shane Clanton, Dennis Erb Jr., Ricky Weiss, Jason Jameson, Dale McDowell, Josh Richards, Earl Pearson, Chuck Hummer.
Controlling the second heat from the start, polesitter Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., picked up a dominating victory. Davenport finished 2.541 seconds ahead of Don O’Neal, while Chris Ferguson finished third as the top five cars spread out around the half-mile track.
Finish (top three transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Don O’Neal, Chris Ferguson, Kyle Hardy, Tyler Erb, Scott James, Tyler Clem, Steve Isenberg.
Polesitter Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., got the jump on sprint car ace Donny Schatz on the opening lap and cruised to an easy win in the first heat. Schatz settled in to second and finished 2.584 seconds back. Kyle Bronson slipped high in turn one on the first lap, but regrouped and split Kent Robinson and Morgan Bagley as they raced down the backstretch. Bronson pulled away to secure the final transfer spot.
Finish (top three transfer): Chris Madden, Kyle Bronson, Donny Schatz, Kent Robinson, Morgan Bagley, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Joey Moriarty, Stacy Boles, Mike Hammerle.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Chris Madden, Donny Schatz
Row 2: Kent Robinson, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Morgan Bagley, Joey Moriarty
Row 4: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Stacy Boles
Row 5: Mike Hammerle
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Don O’Neal
Row 2: Chris Ferguson, Kyle Hardy
Row 3: Tyler Erb, Scott James
Row 4: Tyler Clem, Steve Isenberg
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 2: Jason Jameson, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Dale McDowell, Josh Richards
Row 4: Earl Pearson, Chuck Hummer
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Brian Shirley
Row 2: Blake Spencer, Mike Marlar
Row 3: Boom Briggs, Brent Larson
Row 4: Frank Heckenast Jr., Colton Flinner
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans
Row 2: Cade Dillard, Jeff Mathews
Row 3: Tyler Bruening, Jimmy Owens
Row 4: Chub Frank, Blair Nothdurft
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Gregg Satterlee, Tanner English
Row 3: Devin Moran, Michael Norris
Row 4: Dan Stone, Brandon Overton
The third of four World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series events during the DIRTcar Nationals comes on a gorgeous Friday. Partly cloudy skies have prevailed throughout the day with the high temperature reaching the upper 70s. … A 49-car field is signed in for competition. … Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and his SSI Motorsports team departed Volusia after the teenage standout dropped out of Thursday night’s feature due to terminal engine trouble. O’Neal did not have another powerplant available after losing one earlier in Speedweeks. … Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., who won Monday’s DIRTcar Nationals opener, struggled throughout Thursday’s program in the K&L Rumley No. 6 and failed to transfer to the feature. He was eligible for a provisional spot as the reigning WoO champion but declined the berth. … Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., was strong again on Thursday — he started eighth after finishing second in his heat — but retired early from the feature. A vibration that plagued him throughout the evening finally ended with his car’s torque arm, and in turn his driveshaft, breaking during a caution period. … Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., is sporting a new look today after shaving his thick beard following Thursday night’s program. His wife, Kelsey, gave him an ultimatum: finish top three in the feature or have a razor taken to his beard. Satterlee failed to transfer to the A-main — missing by one spot in a consolation — so it was off with his facial hair (save some stubble), making his wife happy. “That was my Valentine’s gift,” Kelsey said. “I’ve been trying to get rid of it for months.”
The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series visits Volusia Speedway Park’s D-shaped half-mile for the third of four races during the 48th annual DIRTcar Nationals. The 50-lap main event pays $10,000 to win. Only a driver’s best two finishers from the four events count toward the tour points chase.
Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., followed up a dominating performance on Wednesday night with another impressive win on Thursday. The driver of the Rocket Chassis house car has led 90 of the last 100 laps at Volusia and has a pair of victories, becoming the first back-to-back DIRTcar Nationals winner since Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., in 2016. A win Friday would make Sheppard the first driver to win three straight since Shane Clanton in 2015.
Thursday’s event drew 52 entries. With at least 48 expected on Friday, the schedule includes hot laps, group time trials, six heat races (if 48 entries or more), three consolations and the 50-lap main event. Series provisionals will set the final rows of the feature lineup.
Time trial results (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 16.210
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 16.266
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.270
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 16.274
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.352
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.369
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 16.382
Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 16.431
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 16.434
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.494
Kyle Hardy (36v), Stephens City, Va., 16.504
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 16.505
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 16.523
Tyler Erb (111), New Waverly, Texas, 16.588
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.613
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 16.674
Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., 16.752
Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 16.859
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21), Ocala, Fla., 16.948
Tyler Clem (14), St. Petersburg, Fla., 16.995
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 17.119
Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 17.180
Steve Isenberg (942), Marshfield, Wis., 17.453
Chuck Hummer (25), Lyons, Ohio, 18.084
Mike Hammerle (16), St. Charles, Mo., 19.456
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.079
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.087
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.145
Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 16.199
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.370
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 16.386
Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 16.525
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 16.532
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.564
Mike Marlar (6), Winfield, Tenn., 16.583
Jeff Mathews (33), Brandon, Fla., 16.622
Tanner English (116), Benton, Ky., 16.632
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.634
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.634
Devin Moran (1), Dresden, Ohio, 16.669
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.678
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.735
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.841
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 16.847
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.953
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 16.984
Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 17.024
Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 17.046
Brandon Overton (2), Evans, Ga., 17.102
10 a.m.: Pit gate opens
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; Fan pit pass gate opens
5:15 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting (WoO Late Models)
5:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting (SDS modifieds)
6 p.m.: WoO Late Models hot laps
6:30 p.m.: Big-block modified hot laps/group qualifying
6:55 p.m.: WoO Late Models group qualifying
7:20 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- WoO Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Big-block modified heats (8 laps)
- WoO Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- Big-block modified consolations (8 laps)
- WoO Late Model feature (50 laps)
- Big-block modified feature (30 laps)