PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (Oct. 19) — Brandon Sheppard’s stellar 2019 campaign continued Saturday at Portsmouth Raceway Park with an unprecedented third six-figure payday of the season in the 39th annual Rhino Ag Dirt Track World Championship.
Regaining the lead from defending race winner Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., on lap 69, Sheppard led the remaining distance, outrunning Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., to earn $100,000 in his third career DTWC victory.
“It’s definitely a crazy feeling,” Sheppard said. “Looking back at the start of my career, I never thought I’d be standing here saying I won three Dirt Track World Championships, let alone three $100,000-to-win races in a year. It’s definitely an amazing feat that we’ve accomplished. My team is just amazing. I can’t say enough about them guys. They’re just phenomenal and they keep this thing right up front for me every night. We’re in contention everywhere we go.”
Charging around the high side, the fifth-starting Sheppard pulled ahead of early race leader Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., on lap 35. A string of mid-race cautions worked to the Rocket house car pilot’s advantage, reseting the field just as the frontrunners approached lapped traffic.
It was on a long green-flag run that Richards was able to close the gap between himself and the race leader, briefly assuming the point on lap 68 when Sheppard slipped up the track on the backstretch. Sheppard would retake the lead on the following circuit, continuing to show the way out front through a stretch of late-race cautions.
The race’s final yellow flag waving on lap 90, the field restarted single-file, with Sheppard cruising through the final laps to capture his 14th career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory, his fourth of the 2019 season.
“I was going to the top to try to pass lapped cars,” Sheppard said of his lap 67 miscue. “I knew the bottom was starting to clean up but I didn’t think it was all the way there yet. I went up there and tried it and Josh got back by me. I went down and got behind him and then he tried to pass lapped cars too. There just wasn’t anything up there. But I’m definitely lucky that he went up there to try to pass lapped cars too so I could get him back.”
After battling with Owens in the early distance and overtaking Richards for second on lap 70, Marlar wheeled his Dukes of Hazzard-themed No. 01 to a runner-up finish. Advancing from the ninth starting spot, Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, ran third, with Richards finishing fourth. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., charged from the 12th starting spot to round out the top five.
Outside polesitter Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., charged to the front of the field at the drop of the green flag, falling to Owens on the sixth circuit. Powering from fourth to second on the opening lap, Marlar fell back to fifth mid-race, working his way back past Richards to post a career-best runner-up finish.
“I was a little bit looser than I (wanted to be),” Marlar said. “I thought I tightened up enough and I was just a little too free and actually had a little softer tire on too. Early in the race I seen I was too free and and I was softer on the tires, so I just kind of made sure that I had tires at the end and tried to take care of them early, (thinking) hopefully at the end maybe those guys would slow up. But (Sheppard) and them was pretty good. We were close, we ran right there the whole race. Just wasn’t hardy fast enough to beat them.”
It was before Saturday’s main event that Erb was officially crowned the 2019 Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year. While the Best Performance Motorsports driver was hoping to capture a fourth straight DTWC victory for his team and crew chief Randall Edwards, a third-place finish was still an encouraging way too close out his first full season on the Lucas Oil tour.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Erb said. “We’d like to have won for Randall and Best. But it was my first time even making the Dirt Track. So to finish third, I think it was pretty good. I’m happy with it. The track kind of rubbered there at the end and we just weren’t close enough up front early to be able to put ourselves in a position to win. It was a really good night for us and a good cap to the Lucas season.”
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., who entered the weekend having already clinched his second straight and third overall Lucas Oil Series championship, crossed the finish line in ninth place but was penalized to last (26th) in the final rundown for changing a right-rear tire that tour officials determined wasn't flat after he slowed to bring out a caution flag on lap 40. Davenport, who maintained that he slowed because he felt his car was developing a flat tire, was assessed the penalty after the race.
Rhino Ag Dirt Track World Championship
Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $100,000
2. Mike Marlar (01), Winfield, Tenn., Rocket, $20,000
3. Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, Rocket, $10,000
4. Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., Rocket, $7,000
5. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., Rocket, $5,000
6. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Pierce, $3,500
7. Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., Rocket, $3,200
8. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., Bloomquist, $3,000
9. Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., Longhorn, $2,800
10. Kyle Bronson (40b), Brandon, Fla., Rocket, $2,500
11. Devin Moran (1), Dresden, Ohio, Rocket, $2,450
12. Jason Covert (72), York Haven, Pa., Rocket, $2,400
13. Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., Longhorn, $2,350
14. Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., Longhorn, $2,300
15. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., Bloomquist, $2,250
16. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Rocket, $2,200
17. Jacob Hawkins (8), Fairmont, W.Va., Bloomquist, $2,150
18. Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., Black Diamond, $2,100
19. Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., Rocket, $2,075
20. Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., Rocket, $2,060
21. Shannon Thornsberry (17), Martin, Ky., Swartz, $2,050
22. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $2,040
23. Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba, Bloomquist, $2,030
24. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., Capital, $2,020
25. Stormy Scott (2), Las Cruces, N.M., Bloomquist, $2,010
26: Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $2,000
Lap leaders: Clanton 1-5; Owens 6-34; Richards 68; Sheppard 35-67, 69-100
Fast qualifier (among 66 cars): Ferguson, 14.658 seconds
Heat race winners: James, Davenport, Bloomquist, D. O’Neal, Clanton, Pierce
Consolation winners: Bloomquist, D. O’Neal
Provisional starters: Pearson, Moyer, Casebolt, Thornsberry
Non-qualifiers’ race winner: Dale McDowell
Main event notes
Lap 100: Sheppard wins the Dirt Track World Championship.
Lap 90: O'Neal gets into the wall in turn one to draw a caution. Sheppard leads Marlar, Erb, Richards and Dennis Erb Jr.
Lap 85: Another yellow flag waves on the ensuing restart when sixth-running Don O'Neal makes hard contact with the backstretch wall after colliding with Bobby Pierce.
Lap 85: Shannon Thornsberry slows to draw a caution.
Lap 80: A yellow flag waves when Earl Pearson Jr. slows. Sheppard leads Richards, Marlar, Erb and James.
Lap 73: Owens slows with a right-rear flat tire to draw a caution. Sheppard leads Marlar, Richards, James and Tyler Erb.
Lap 69: Sheppard regains the lead, with Marlar overtaking Richards for second.
Lap 68: With Sheppard slipping up the track on the backstretch, Richards leads at the line.
Lap 65: As the race leaders enter lapped traffic, Richards and Marlar have closed in on Sheppard.
Lap 53: Weiss slows on the frontstretch to draw a caution. Fifth-running McCreadie comes to a stop in turn four with rear suspension issues. Sheppard leads Richards, Owens, Marlar and Scott James.
Lap 51: Devin Moran slows off the pace to draw a caution just as the frontrunners approach lapped traffic. Sheppard leads Richards, Owens, McCreadie and Marlar.
Lap 40: A yellow flag waves when Jonathan Davenport slows off the pace in turn three. Sheppard leads Owens, Richards, McCreadie and Marlar.
Lap 35: Slipping ahead of Owens down the backstretch, Sheppard takes the lead.
Lap 29: Owens, Sheppard and Marlar race three-wide down the backstretch, with Owens holding the advantage at the line.
Lap 28: As the frontrunners enter lapped traffic and a charging Sheppard closes in on Owens, Bloomquist slips over the berm and slows to draw a caution. Owens leads Sheppard, Marlar, Richards and Tim McCreadie.
Lap 15: Steve Casebolt slows with a left-rear flat to draw a caution. Weiss and Scott Bloomquist head to the hot pit under the yellow flag.
Lap 13: Owens reaches the tail of the field, leading Clanton, Mike Marlar, Brandon Sheppard and Josh Richards.
Lap six: Gaining momentum from the restart, Jimmy Owens races door-to-door with Clanton down the backstretch, pulling ahead out of turn four to take the lead.
Lap four: A red flag falls when Stormy Scott rolls his No. 2s in turns three and four, coming to a stop wheels-up. He climbed out of the car apparently uninjured. Ricky Weiss and Earl Pearson Jr. stop to avoid the melee.
Lap one: The green flag waves at 8:29 p.m. Polesitter Chris Ferguson slips back to fifth and Shane Clanton leads the opening lap.
8:22 p.m.: Drivers are given the call to fire engines and start rolling out for pace laps.
8:13 p.m.: Feature cars have made their way the frontstretch and driver introductions are under way.
Dirt Track World Championship lineup
Row 1: Chris Ferguson, Shane Clanton
Row 2: Josh Richards, Mike Marlar
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Jimmy Owens
Row 4: Jonathan Davenport, Tim McCreadie
Row 5: Tyler Erb, Bobby Pierce
Row 6: Shanon Buckingham, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 7: Scott James, Kyle Bronson
Row 8: Jason Covert, Hudson O’Neal
Row 9: Scott Bloomquist, Don O’Neal
Row 10: Stormy Scott, Jacob Hawkins
Row 11: Ricky Weiss, Devin Moran
Row 12: Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 13: Steve Casebolt, Shannon Thornsberry
Jim Dunn Memorial non-qualifiers’ lineup
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Brandon Fouts
Row 2: R.J. Conley, Rod Conley
Row 3: Zack Dohm, Doug Drown
Row 4: Jackie Boggs, Colton Flinner
Row 5: Justin Rattliff, Kody Evans
Row 6: Rick Eckert, Chub Frank
Row 7: Gregg Satterlee, Eric Wells
Row 8: Boom Briggs, Mike Benedum
Row 9: Jason Jameson, Drake Troutman
Row 10: Lee Logan, Allen Murray
Row 11: Delmas Conley, J.T. Conley
Polesitter Don O’Neal charged to the lead at the drop of the green flag, closing in on the tail of the field by the fifth lap. A yellow flag waved on lap eight for a turn-four tangle involving Tyler Carpenter and Jason Jameson. Another caution fell on the ensuing restart for a pileup in the bottom of turns three and four involving Jameson, Dave Hornikel and Rod Conley. O’Neal held his lead when the race went back green, with Jared Hawkins overtaking Devin Moran for third. A yellow flag waved again on lap 11 for debris on the racing surface. Moran retook the third spot on the restart, with Brandon Fouts battling Hawkins for fourth. With five laps remaining, the top two cars began distancing themselves from the field, with Hawkins and Fouts continuing to battle for fourth. Stretching his lead late race, O’Neal won the consolation, with Jacob Hawkins and Moran grabbing feature transfer spots.
Finish (top three transfer): Don O’Neal, Jacob Hawkins, Devin Moran, Jared Hawkins, Brandon Fouts, Rod Conley, Doug Drown, Colton Flinner, Kody Evans, Chub Frank, Eric Wells, Boom Briggs, Jason Jameson, Josh Hall, Kirk Phillips, Austin Rettig, Dave Hornikel, Charlie Jude, Earl Pearson Jr., Ricky Thornton Jr., Delmas Conley, Tyler Carpenter, J.T. Conley.
Edging ahead of polesitter Stormy Scott out of turn four, second-starting Scott Bloomquist took an early lead. It was a tight battle for second in the early running, with Dale McDowell challenging Scott for the position. Bloomquist held more than a 2-second lead at the halfway mark, with Ricky Weiss and ninth-starting Brandon Overton closing in on third-running McDowell as the frontrunners worked through lapped traffic. With just a handful of laps remaining, Weiss overtook McDowell for the final transfer spot, with Overton in tow. Bloomquist won the consolation, with Scott finishing second. Weiss edged out Overton to run third and transfer to the main event.
Finish (top three transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Stormy Scott, Ricky Weiss, Brandon Overton, Dale McDowell, R.J. Conley, Chase Junghans, Zack Dohm, Justin Rattliff, Gregg Satterlee, Mike Benedum, Billy Moyer Jr., Drake Troutman, Allen Murray, Lee Logan, Jackie Boggs, Jon Hodgkiss, Rick Eckert, Robert Starett, Kevin Wagner, Steve Casebolt. Scratched: Logan Roberson, Blake Naylor, Mason Zeigler.
The 39th annual Rhine Ag Dirt Track World Championship weekends concludes Saturday night under wonderful weather conditions. Skies have been sunny most of the afternoon with a high temperature reaching 70 degrees; evening temps are expected to remain warmed than the chill than descended on Friday evening. … DTWC polesitter Chris Ferguson of Mt. Holly, N.C., is starting the 100-lap feature for the fourth consecutive year. He’s improved his performance in each of his four previous DTWC appearances, following up a non-qualifiers’ race victory in 2015 with A-main finishes of 22nd (’16), 17th (19th) and 13th (’18). … Outside polesitter Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., is making his eighth career DTWC feature start but first since 2013. His two DTWC starts at PRP (2012 and ’13) both resulted in 27th-place finishes, but he owns a career-best run of second in the 2008 event at Atomic Speedway (then K-C Raceway) in Alma, Ohio. … Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., entered the weekend having already clinched his second consecutive Lucas Oil Series championship — officials were planning to honor him in front of the grandstand for his $75,000 crown before the start of Saturday’s program — but the $47,000 second-place points spot is not quite decided. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who starts eighth in the DTWC (alongside Davenport) after transferring despite suffering flat tires Friday in hot laps and his heat, will clinch the spot over Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., if he finishes 20th or better. … Lucas Oil Series officials released the national tour’s 2020 schedule after the drivers’ meeting. The slate shows 56 events at 32 tracks in 18 states.
(20 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Stormy Scott, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Ricky Weiss, R.J. Conley
Row 4: Mike Benedum, Zack Dohm
Row 5: Brandon Overton, Gregg Satterlee
Row 6: Drake Troutman, Justin Rattliff
Row 7: Nick Hoffman, Rick Eckert
Row 8: Kevin Wagner, Allen Murray
Row 9: Jon Hodgkiss, Lee Logan
Row 10: Steve Casebolt, Mason Zeigler
Row 11: Blake Naylor, Robert Starett
Row 12: Logan Roberson
Row 1: Jacob Hawkins, Don O’Neal
Row 2: Devin Moran, Jared Hawkins
Row 3: Chub Frank, Jared Hawkins
Row 4: Jason Jameson, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 5: Brandon Fouts, Eric Wells
Row 6: Kody Evans, Boom Briggs
Row 7: Dave Hornikel, Shannon Thornsberry
Row 8: Ricky Thornton Jr., Delmas Conley
Row 9: Doug Drown, Rod Conley
Row 10: Kirk Phillips, Austin Rettig
Row 11: Colton Flinner, Josh Hall
Row 12: J.T. Conley, Eric Webber
Row 12: Charlie Jude
The 39th annual Rhino Ag Dirt Track World Championship wraps up on Saturday night with the 100-lap, $100,000-to-win finale. Sixteen drivers have already been locked in to the feature through Friday’s preliminaries.
The top points earners in their respective preliminary groups, Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., and Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., will start on the front row of Saturday’s main event. Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who has won the last two DTWCs, rolls off from the third starting spot.
Saturday’s program will include two consolations, with the top three finishers from each transferring to the feature. Series and track provisionals will set the final rows of the feature lineup. A $4,000-to-win Limited Late Model event and the Jim Dunn Memorial non-qualifiers’ race are also on the card.
As part of Saturday’s festivities, Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., will officially be crowned the 2019 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion. The 2020 National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame class will be announced prior to Saturday’s racing action.
5:30 p.m.: Drivers meeting
6 p.m.: Hot laps
- Super Late Models
- Limited Late Models
Lucas Oil championship presentation
- Super Late Model consolations (15 laps)
- Dirt Track World Championship (100 laps)
- Limited Late Model feature (25 laps)
- Jim Dunn Memorial non-qualifiers’ race (25 laps)