FARMER CITY, Ill. (April 5) — Holding off a late-race challenge from Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., reigning DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., scored a $6,000 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victory Friday on the opening night of Farmer City Raceway’s Illini 100 presented by Douglas Dodge.
After nearly rolling his car on the sixth circuit and retaking the lead from fellow front-row starter Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., on lap 12, Shirley fought back a hard-charging Sheppard to capture his sixth career World of Outlaws victory, his first since the 2017 series stop at Farmer City.
“My heart was pounding and I was like ‘Holy Cow,’” Shirley said of his early mishap, which saw his car bicycle onto its right side between turns three and four but come back to earth on all four wheels after he made contact with the lapped Brent Larson. “I swerved to the right and it came back down. Thank the good Lord we were able to finish it out strong.”
Winning his heat and redrawing to start on the pole of the 25-lap main event, Shirley shot out to an early lead. After the close cal with his No. 3s machine in turns three and four, Shirley was able maintain his spot at the front of the field when Lake Elmo, Minn.'s Larson spun from the contact to draw the race’s first caution.
Using momentum from the restart, Madden charged ahead of Shirley to assume the point on lap seven. With Madden slipping out of his groove as the frontrunners exited turn two, howver, Shirley edged back ahead down the backstretch to regain the lead on lap 12. The home-state driver led the remaining distance for his second victory of 2019.
“I damn near went over there,” Shirley said. “Thank God. He knew we’d already been through that havoc once already this year.”
Throwing everything he had at Shirley in the final circuits, Sheppard finished runner-up, with Madden holding on to finish third after his mid-race misfortune. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., advanced from the eighth starting spot to run fourth, with sixth-starting Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., rounding out the top five.
Sheppard got his racing start at Farmer City and is the two-time and defending Illini 100 winner. But the Rocket house car driver admitted that Friday’s racing surface, much the result of heavy Thursday rain, threw him and his fellow WoO competitors a few curve balls. Sheppard saw a window of opportunity when Madden slipped mid-race and he took advantage.
“There was a lot of chaos out there,” Sheppard said. “I was trying to make sure that I swung out wide enough getting in the corner that I could be pointed straight when I got to the holes. I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of that. I was staying clear of most of the ruts and stuff. We had a really good race car.”
Sharing after his heat race win that his car owner Greg Bruening’s mother had died earlier this week, Madden was hopeful that he would end Friday evening in victory lane as a tribute to Bruening. But after nearly rolling his car, he was happy to come away with a third-place finish.
“I got turned in really nice right there in the middle of the racetrack,” Madden said. “I was going to run off the bottom when I hit that middle and the right-rear grabbed and held. It did everything but turn over. I don’t know how it didn’t turn over. I was able to get it back down and come out in third. The racetrack was really rough right there. We were just trying to hold on and dodge each other.”
Notes: Shirley celebrated his 38th birthday earlier in the week. … Shirley also won the opening night of the 2017 edition of the Illini 100. … The race was slowed by three cautions. … The first yellow flag waved on lap six when Brent Larson spun in turns three and four. … Larson slowed with a flat tire to draw another caution on lap 13. … The final yellow flag flew on lap 20 when Boom Briggs slowed on the frontstretch.
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Chris Madden
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Kyle Hardy
Row 3: Tanner English, Darrell Lanigan
Row 4: Shane Clanton, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Chase Junghans, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 6: Kent Robinson, Billy Moyer
Row 7: Ricky Weiss, Jimmy Mars
Row 8: Mike Spatola, Ryan Unzicker
Row 9: Blake Spencer, Bob Gardner
Row 10: Cade Dillard, Bobby Pierce
Row 11: Jose Parga, Spencer Diercks
Row 12: Boom Briggs, Brent Larson
First consolation finish (top three transfer): Blake Spencer, Cade Dillard, Jose Parga, Jeff Curl, Chuck Hummer, Boom Briggs, Scott James, Myles Moos, Shannon Babb. Scratched: Jason Feger.
Second consolation finish (top three transfer): Bob Gardner, Bobby Pierce, Spencer Diercks, Chris Simpson, Lyle Zanker, Allen Murray, Allen Weisser, Kevin Weaver. Scratched: Scott Schmitt, Brent Larson.
(10 laps; top three transfer):
Row 1: Myles Moos, Shannon Babb
Row 2: Jeff Curl, Blake Spencer
Row 3: Jose Parga, Cade Dillard
Row 4: Boom Briggs, Scott James
Row 5: Jason Feger, Chuck Hummer
Row 1: Bob Gardner, Spencer Diercks
Row 2: Chris Simpson, Lyle Zanker
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Allen Weisser
Row 4: Kevin Weaver, Scott Schmitt
Row 5: Allen Murray, Brent Larson
Heat race results
First heat finish (top four transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Shane Clanton, Chase Junghans, Ricky Weiss, Myles Moos, Jeff Curl, Jose Parga, Boom Briggs, Jason Feger.
Second heat finish (top four transfer): Chris Madden, Tanner English, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jimmy Mars, Shannon Babb, Blake Spencer, Cade Dillard, Scott James, Chuck Hummer.
Third heat finish (top four transfer): Brian Shirley, Dennis Erb Jr., Kent Robinson, Mike Spatola, Bob Gardner, Chris Simpson, Bobby Pierce, Kevin Weaver, Allen Weisser.
Fourth heat finish (top four transfer): Kyle Hardy, Darrell Lanigan, Billy Moyer, Ryan Unzicker, Spencer Diercks, Lyle Zanker, Allen Weisser, Scott Schmitt, Brent Larson.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Jason Feger
Row 3: Myles Moos, Boom Briggs
Row 4: Ricky Weiss, Jose Para
Row 5: Jeff Curl
Row 1: Chris Madden, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Tanner English, Scott James
Row 3: Jimmy Mars, Shannon Babb
Row 4: Cade Dillard, Blake Spencer
Row 5: Chuck Hummer
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 2: Kent Robinson, Bobby Pierce
Row 3: Mike Spatola, Bob Gardner
Row 4: Chris Simpson, Allen Murray
Row 5: Kevin Weaver
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Billy Moyer
Row 2: Kyle Hardy, Scott Schmitt
Row 3: Allen Weisser, Brent Larson
Row 4: Spencer Diercks, Ryan Unzicker
Row 5: Lyle Zanker
Tripping the clock with a time of 11.750 seconds, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., lowered the Farmer City track record in qualifying. Clocking the overall fast time for Friday’s program, he’ll start on the pole of the first heat race.
Quickest in his respective time trial group, Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., will start on the pole of the third heat race. Other heat race polesitters are Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky.
After last year’s event was cancelled because of weather, the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series returns to Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway for the 12th annual Illini 100 presented by Douglas Dodge. Friday’s opener pays $6,000-to-win.
Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., is the two-time and defending Illini 100 winner. Other former race winners on hand for the weekend include Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, lll., Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., and Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga.
Winning five of the eight World of Outlaws events contested so far this season, Sheppard enters the weekend atop the series points standings. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., Clanton and Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., round out the top five in the points chase.
Friday’s complete WoO program includes hot laps, time trials, heats, consolations and the 25-lap main event. Pro Late Models, modified and stock cars will also be in action. DirtonDirt.com is offering live video coverage of the event.
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 11.750
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 11.952
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 11.987
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 12.054
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 12.090
Tanner English (22), Benton, Ky., 12.140
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 12.182
Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., 12.212
Myles Moos (84), Lincoln, Ill., 12.218
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 12.265
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 12.293
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 12.310
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 12.363
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 12.448
Jose Parga (6p), New Berlin, Ill., 12.514
Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 12.606
Jeff Curl (12), Forrest, Ill., 12.815
Chuck Hummer (25h), Lyons, Ohio, 14.103
Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 12.146
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 12.223
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 12.248
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 12.310
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 12.342
Kyle Hardy (36v), Stephens City, Va., 12.383
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 12.446
Scott Schitt (10), Tonica, Ill., 12.473
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 12.497
Allen Weisser (25w), East Peoria, 12.500
Bob Gardner (4G), Peoria, Ill., 12.504
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 12.603
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 12.614
Spencer Diercks (29D), Davenport, Iowa, 12.635
Allen Murray (2M), San Antonio, Texas, 12.676
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 12.838
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 12.956
Lyle Zanker (9), Cherry Valley, Ill., no time
6 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
6:30 p.m. - On-track action begins
- Hot laps
Pro Late Models
WoO Late Models
WoO Late Model qualifying (two laps)
Modified qualifying (one lap)
Pro Late Model heats (eight laps)
WoO Late Model heats (10 laps)
Modified qualifying feature No. 1 (20 laps)
Stock car heats (eight laps)
WoO Late Model consolations (10 laps)
Modified qualifying feature No. 2 (20 laps)
WoO Late Model feature (25 laps)
Modified qualifying feature No. 3 (20 laps)
Pro Late Model feature (20 laps)
Stock car feature (15 laps)