FARMER CITY, Ill. (April 6) — Brandon Sheppard’s early season hot streak continued Saturday at Farmer City Raceway, with the New Berlin, Ill., driver scoring a $15,000 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victory in the 12th annual Illini 100 presented by Douglas Dodge.
Overtaking Tanner English of Benton, Ky., on the 33rd of 75 laps, the fourth-starting Sheppard led the rest of the way, pulling away in the final circuits to capture his series-leading sixth World of Outlaws triumph of the 2019 season and third career Illini 100 victory.
“I feel amazing,” Sheppard said of his early season success. “It’s one of them deals where I’m just kind of riding the wave as long as I can. I know it’s going to come to an end at some point but it’s hard to say right now. Our car’s been consistent everywhere we go and that’s what it takes. As long as we can stay in the top three every night, the wins are going to come. Luckily for me, stuff’s playing in my favor.”
Swapping position with polesitter Ricky Weiss of Headingly, Manitoba, in the early running, Sheppard moved into second on a lap-21 restart. Charging around the high side, Sheppard shot past English as the pair worked their way down the backstretch, edging ahead at the line to assume the point on the 33rd circuit. Despite the race’s string of cautions, Sheppard would never be seriously challenged for the lead through the remainder of the distance.
“Tonight, me and Ricky (Weiss) and (Tanner) English had a really good race going,” Sheppard said. “We were slicing and dicing up there for a while. We kind of got a run there on the outside and showed Tanner, whoever was spotting for Tanner, that the top was pretty good there. Then Tanner went to the top and slowed Weiss down a little bit, then went back to the bottom and that allowed me to go back to the top. I feel like I made the right moves and the car was just phenomenal like it has been all year.”
Running in second early worked to Sheppard’s advantage, as the Rocket house car driver was able to maneuver around the track to find the fastest line. When English moved out of the high groove, Sheppard shot back to the top side of the track and powered to the front of the field.
“The way our car is right now, clean air is huge,” Sheppard said. “In clean air, we can roll. In my mind I was like, ‘I need to get the lead early so that I can clear my head and get the right line ran in and figured out.’ It’s hard, running second there, when the guy in the lead is in the right line and you’re chasing, trying to find a different line. You kind of find some other lines. That was my goal when I was running second, or even third, to try to move around, search around, and see where I could find speed.”
Fifth-starting Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., finished runner-up, with Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., charging from the 16th starting spot to run third. Seventh-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., finished fourth, with Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., advancing from the 19th starting spot to round out the top five.
“It was a good night,” Mars said. “I’d get my momentum going and kind of felt like I had a groove going and then they’d have a caution. I’d just get kind of screwed up there a little bit. But that was just me knocking the rust off more than anything. Overall, the car felt good. If there would have been a good driver in it, it might of had a chance of winning.”
Making his first start since January’s off-season action in Arizona, Mars, the 2012 Illini 100 winner, said he felt like he was able to close the distance between himself and Sheppard in the middle stages of the race. But in the final circuits, Sheppard was in a league of his own.
“I found the middle pretty good in (turns) one and two and thought I was gaining on (Sheppard) a little bit,” Mars said. “But he got moved around where he needed to be and he was probably better right then. But it was good. The second night out here after Arizona. I feel like it’s been pretty good.”
After starting outside the eighth row, Pierce worked his way through the field to run among the top five on lap 50. Battling Mars and Scott James of Bright, Ind., Pierce avoided disaster when slight contact on a lap-64 restart resulted in James spinning in turns three and four. After a quiet performance in Friday’s weekend opener, Pierce was happy with his podium finish.
“Surprisingly that middle in (turns) one and two actually kind of smoothed out a little bit and in (turns) three and four, we blew all that moisture up into the middle of the racetrack, so the middle of three and four came in,” Pierce said. “It kind of made it hard to run the top. But how the weekend started, I feel like we did a complete 180, because we were way out in left field. I’m pretty happy with a third place even though I felt like we could have possibly had something for Brandon.”
Notes: Sheppard’s previous Illini 100 victories came in 2015 and 2017. … Blake Spencer spun to draw the first of many cautions on lap four. … A yellow flag flew on lap 20 when Cade Dillard spun in turn four. … Kyle Hardy slowed with a flat tire to draw a caution on lap 21; after charging from 17th to run in 10th, Shannon Babb retired under the yellow. … Boom Briggs spun in turns one and two to draw a caution on lap 26. … Briggs spun to draw another caution on lap 29. … A yellow flag waved on lap 30 for a turn-two tangle involving Scott Schmitt, Brent Larson, Allen Weisser and Dillard. … Ryan Unzicker slowed to draw a caution on lap 35. … Billy Moyer spun in turn two, collecting Briggs and Weisser to draw a caution on lap 37. … Briggs drew another caution on lap 50 when he got into an infield tire. …. Chase Junghans slowed in the top of turns one and two to draw a caution on lap 56. … Ricky Weiss slowed to draw a caution on lap 64. … Second-running Scott James spun on the ensuing restart, collecting several cars, including early race leader Tanner English. The race was stopped by a red flag as cars were towed off the track.
Row 1: Ricky Weiss, Tanner English
Row 2: Frank Heckenast Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Jimmy Mars, Billy Moyer
Row 4: Dennis Erb Jr., Scott Schmitt
Row 5: Bob Gardner, Shane Clanton
Row 6: Scott James, Kevin Weaver
Row 7: Cade Dillard, Kyle Hardy
Row 8: Chris Madden, Bobby Pierce
Row 9: Shannon Babb, Ryan Unzicker
Row 10: Darrell Lanigan, Kent Robinson
Row 11: Brian Shirley, Allen Weisser
Row 12: Chase Junghans, Brent Larson
Row 13: Boom Briggs, Blake Spencer
First consolation finish (top three transfer): Shannon Babb, Darrell Lanigan, Brian Shirley, Jason Feger, Spencer Diercks, Mike Spatola, Boom Briggs, Brent Larson, Allen Murray, Chris Simpson.
Second consolation finish (top three transfer): Ryan Unzicker, Kent Robinson, Allen Weisser, Chase Junghans, Jay Morris, Blake Spencer, Jeff Curl, Lyle Zanker. Scratched: Jose Parga.
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Chris Simpson, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Allen Murray, Jason Feger
Row 4: Spencer Diercks, Mike Spatola
Row 5: Boom Briggs, Brent Larson
Row 1: Jay Morris, Ryan Unzicker
Row 2: Allen Weisser, Blake Spencer
Row 3: Chase Junghans, Kent Robinson
Row 4: Jeff Curl, Jose Parga
Row 5: Lyle Zanker
Heat race results
First heat finish (top four transfer): Tanner English, Billy Moyer, Bob Gardner, Cade Dillard, Chris Simpson, Shannon Babb, Allen Murray, Spencer Diercks, Boom Briggs.
Second heat finish (top four transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Scott Schmitt, Shane Clanton, Kyle Hardy, Darrell Lanigan, Brian Shirley, Jason Feger, Mike Spatola, Brent Larson.
Third heat finish (top four transfer): Ricky Weiss, Dennis Erb Jr., Scott James, Chris Madden, Jay Morris, Allen Weisser, Chase Junghans, Jeff Curl, Lyle Zanker.
Fourth heat finish (top four transfer): Frank Heckenast Jr., Jimmy Mars, Kevin Weaver, Bobby Pierce, Ryan Unzicker, Blake Spencer, Kent Robinson, Jose Parga.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Tanner English, Bob Gardner
Row 2: Billy Moyer, Shannon Babb
Row 3: Spencer Diercks, Boom Briggs
Row 4: Allen Murray, Chris Simpson
Row 5: Cade Dillard
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Scott Schmitt
Row 2: Kyle Hardy, Shane Clanton
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Jason Feger
Row 4: Darrell Lanigan, Brent Larson
Row 5: Mike Spatola
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Ricky Weiss
Row 2: Scott James, Chris Madden
Row 3: Jay Morris, Allen Weisser
Row 4: Chase Junghans, Jeff Curl
Row 5: Lyle Zanker
Row 1: Jimmy Mars, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Kevin Weaver, Kent Robinson
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Jose Parga
Row 4: Ryan Unzicker, Blake Spencer
Piloting a Tommy Pope-owned entry, Tanner English of Benton, Ky., clocked the overall fast time for Saturday’s Illini 100 finale. Tripping the clock with a time of 12.283 seconds, English will start on the front row of the first heat race.
Quickest in his respective time trial group, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., will start on the pole of the third heat. Other heat race polesitters will be Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis.
The sun is shining and the Farmer City pits that were left muddy by Thursday’s rain have dried up nicely for Saturday’s show. … Nine of the top 10 finishers in Friday’s Illini 100 opener were World of Outlaws regulars. … Of the seven previous Illini 100 winners, Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., is the only driver not on hand for Saturday’s finale. He’ll enter tonight’s Lucas Oil Series event at North Georgia Speedway in Chatsworth. … Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., tops the Illini 100 all-time win list with three victories. He was also the winner of July’s DIRTcar Summer Nationals stop at Farmer City. … Failing to qualify for Friday’s show after sustaining damage in his consolation, Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., and team changed the engine in his No. 18 on Saturday afternoon. … Suffering engine problems in Friday’s show, Myles Moos of Lincoln, Ill., will not race Saturday night. … Chuck Hummer of Lyons, Ohio, has also departed from Farmer City, while Jay Morris of Watseka, Ill., has joined the field. ... Involved in a hard crash during Friday’s heat race action, Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., and team have his car put back together for Saturday’s show.
Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway’s 12th annual Illini 100 presented by Douglas Dodge wraps up Saturday night with the $15,000-to-win finale. The 75-lap program will be the 10th World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Series event contested on the 2019 slate.
After nearly rolling his car in the early running, Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., held on to win Friday’s Illini 100 opener. Friday’s runner-up finisher Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., is the reigning race winner and current World of Outlaws points leader.
Saturday’s WoO program will include hot laps, time trials, heat races, consolations and the 75-lap main event. Pro Late Models and modifieds will also be in action. DirtonDirt.com is offering live video coverage from the event.
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Tanner English (96), Benton, Ky., 12.283
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 12.325
Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill., 12.434
Scott Schmitt (10), Tonica, Ill., 12.439
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 12.475
Kyle Hardy (36v), Stephens City, Va., 12.495
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 12.500
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 12.509
Spencer Diercks (29D), Davenport, Iowa, 12.513
Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 12.556
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 12.559
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 12.602
Allen Murray (2M), San Antonio, Texas, 12.637
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 12.661
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 12.670
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 12.703
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., no time
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., no time
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 12.411
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 12.428
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 12.464
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 12.539
Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., 12.541
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 12.547
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 12.550
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 12.657
Jay Morris (77M), Watseka, Ill., 12.671
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 12.731
Allen Weisser (25w), Peoria, Ill., 12.868
Jose Parga (6p), New Berlin, Ill., 13.018
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 13.019
Jeff Curl (12), Forrest, Ill., 13.074
Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 13.104
Lyle Zanker (9), Cherry Valley, Ill., 13.635
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 13.635
5:30 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
6 p.m. - On-track action begins
- Hot laps/time trials
Pro Late Model hot laps
WoO Late Model hot laps
Modified hot laps (for consolation starters)
WoO Late Model qualifying (two laps)
Pro Late Model heats (eight laps)
WoO Late Model heats (10 laps)
Modified consolations (10 laps)
Modified hot laps (for feature starters)
WoO Late Model consolations (10 laps)
Modified (30 laps)
WoO Late Models (75 laps)
Pro Late Models (20 laps)