OGILVIE, Minn. — Amid Brandon Sheppard’s recent hot streak on the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, Shane Clanton knew he was on the edge of outrunning the series points leader.
"We’re getting closer,” Clanton said after a runner-up finish Tuesday night at ABC Raceway in Ashland, Wis. “We’re just a little bit short here.”
The 43-year-old driver from Zebulon, Ga., found that extra something Saturday night at Ogilvie Raceway, taking second from Sheppard on the 22nd lap, then grabbing the lead from Ricky Weiss seven laps later en route to a $10,000 payday in snapping Sheppard's five-race win streak.
Clanton had his hands full with a charging New Berlin, Ill., driver amid traffic in the closing laps, but he got some breathing on the white-flag lap and took the checkers 1.033 seconds of Sheppard.
“It’s just a testament to how hard we’ve worked this year. (New car owner) Greg Bruening stepped forward to give me a ride that Chris (Madden) stepped out of, and it’s paying off,” Clanton said after hugging the bottom groove over the last half of the 50-lapper. “I was just trying to make the best (laps) I could, to make sure I didn’t mess up. (His crewman signaled that) that (Sheppard) was right on me. I was just trying to make my lines right and (use) what got me to the front, and try to keep it going.”
Sheppard got the runner-up spot ahead of Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., while Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., and front-row starter Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., rounded out the top five.
Leading series rookie Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, led the first 28 laps in looking for his first series victory, but he faded to finish sixth in the tour’s fourth trip to the 3/8-mile oval.
While Weiss was comfortably in control in the first half of the race, the ninth-starting Clanton got off to a quick start, moving into the third spot after an early caution. He overtook Sheppard before the halfway point and then went around Weiss to make the winning pass on lap 29.
“It was blowing stuff up onto the middle of the racetrack there, and I had just enough bite off turn two over there to stay out there,” said Clanton, whose second victory of the season came more than five months after his first. “I was just biding my time and we got into heavy lapped traffic there, and (Weiss) slipped up just at the right time and I went by him.
“Hopefully we can do the same tomorrow,” Clanton said, looking toward Sunday’s first-ever series visit to Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie, Wis.
Sheppard, who took second from Weiss on the 34th lap, didn’t make Clanton’s life easy late in the race, nosing up behind Clanton on the 43rd lap exiting turn four. With Clanton facing three slower cars on lap 46, Sheppard took a peek under Clanton’s car on the frontstretch with the frontrunners making slight contact before Clanton held the spot heading into turn one.
Clanton cleared the slower cars on lap 47, and a lead that was down to virtually nothing was back out to 1.1 seconds with one lap remaining. Sheppard couldn’t quite overcome his seventh starting position and match Lanigan’s series-record six-race winning streak set in 2012.
“I got us behind there in qualifying. I messed up in qualifying, you know, and had to start fourth in a heat race,” said Sheppard, the owner of a series-high 13 victories as he chases the tour’s single-season record of 18. “The level of competition we’re racing with here on this Outlaw series is really tough. It’s hard to be behind and come from the back there.
“Congrats to Shane, he did a heckuva job there and Jimmy also. It was a lot of fun out there like it always is at Ogilvie,” he added. “Just another good night at the races. We’re definitely not disappointed with that — we had another good race car again.”
Mars, who briefly took the second spot from Sheppard on the 36th lap following a restart, said his car “couldn’t get into turn one and run the bottom like I normally can. (But) we’ll take it. I was happy.”
He’ll take another shot at WoO drivers Sunday at his hometown track.
“It’s definitely going to be interesting,” said Mars, an eight-time winner on the national tour. “The big guys have never been there, so I think the fans are going to be pretty pumped up watching them hot rods go around there.”
Notes: Clanton won his 44th career WoO victory, fourth on the all-time list. … His previous 2019 victory came on Feb. 9 at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. … Ten of 23 starters completed 50 laps. … Seventeen cars were running at the finish. … A lap-seven caution appeared for a slowing Chase Junghans. … Blake Spencer drew the second and final caution with a lap-35 spin. … The tour wraps up its upper Midwest trek at Red Cedar.