GIBSONTON, Fla. — On a blustery night at East Bay Raceway Park, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., blew the 30-car field away for his second Wrisco Winternationals victory of the week in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series competition.
Quickly racing to the front from his 12th starting spot, Sheppard slid under Boom Briggs to lead the 14th lap and raced to a $7,000 victory, the 17th of his career on the national tour and fifth at East Bay.
“Man, it feels good to be up here again,” the 27-year-old Sheppard said. “Hopefully, I think we maybe learned a little bit about the car tonight, so hopefully we can get our qualifying efforts a little bit better tomorrow so I don’t have to work as hard tomorrow.”
Sheppard took the checkers 1.797 seconds ahead of a charging Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., to become the week’s first two-time winner. He earned $5,000 for a Tuesday victory in the Rocket Chassis house car.
Richards, who had to start on the last row for a pre-race technical violation, rallied to second with Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., finishing third in the 40-lap main event. Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Monday’s winner Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, rounded out the top five.
Front-row starters Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., split time leading early in the race, but neither were in contention at the finish. Overton was third past the midway point but slipped back to seventh while McCreadie faded to ninth by mid-race and headed to the infield where crew members checked under the hood for a fuel pickup issue that forced him to retire in 26th.
Sheppard thanked his Rocket Chassis house car team for helping him make up ground from the second night from the 12th starting spot (he finished third Wednesday).
“It’s all thanks to my guys for not giving up on me,” Sheppard said. “Our qualifying efforts weren’t what they needed to be tonight, for sure, and you know, Mark Richards and Steve Baker (of Rocket Chassis), and my great crew, Dan, Austin and Joel, them guys stuck behind me the whole time. They were confident I could get up through there.
“I’ll tell you what, I think I’m going to have gray hair by the time we leave here. … You just don’t know where to go. I knew at some point the (high-side) cushion was going to be the place to be, but the bottom, it was working for me there at the beginning of the race, and I just, you know, you don’t really know when to move. So I just stuck with it and stuck with it and then I seen 14 (Richards) on the board there, and I knew I had to get my elbows up.”
Richards, who was scheduled to start 20th but had to go to the tail because his rear deck height was too high in pre-race technical inspection, broke into the top 10 at halfway and reached the second spot on a lap-32 restart.
“We’ll certainly take it. Brandon’s been really good and I just can’t thank those guys enough for the help (from) my dad and everybody,” Richards said. “We’ve had a great car in the feature, we just haven’t been able to show it. I think they made a little bit of a bogus call putting us to the tail there, but we’ll have to discuss that later.
“It can’t take away from the night that we had … We’ve just gotta get a little bit better and starter (closer to the front) and I think we’ll be there,” Richards added.
Billy Moyer Jr., who matched his best career Lucas Oil finish (a previous third-place finish at East Bay in 2015), started sixth and moved into the second position early in the second half of the race.
“I didn’t have nothing for (Sheppard). I think that one caution, my right-front (tire) completely went away, and I couldn’t run that bottom like earlier in the race. Then you just gotta go up there and run like an idiot around that top and steer with the back tires, but this Capital Race Car’s awesome. I’m just tickled to death to drive it,” said Moyer, who didn’t have a single top-five on the Lucas Oil Series in 2019. “We didn’t need that one long caution. I think we’ve might’ve had a shot at second, but I didn’t have nothing for Sheppy and them guys.
“I got my daughter and my wife watching, and all the family, my brother’s probably yelling at the TV. So it’s nice to finally get on the screen. After last year, I didn’t know if I’d just forgot how to drive.”
The 40-lapper was slowed seven times, including for a lap-32 red flag when Coleby Frye’s car rolled in turn four against the outside wall. He wasn’t hurt.
Five other cautions appeared, including for a multicar scramble on the 21st lap after Mike Marlar slowed on the backstretch, ending Jesse Stovall’s race and sending others to the pits.
The first caution appeared on the second lap when Jadon Frame hit the infield tire barrier in turn one and stopped with heavy front-end damage. Earl Pearson Jr. spun in turn four on the 10th lap for another yellow and Mason Zeigler spun exiting turn four on lap 18 after tangling with Brian Shirley. Debris caused a lap-20 caution and Marlar drew another yellow on lap 27.
East Bay’s Super Late Model action continues Friday with a $12,000-to-win event. Hot laps are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and racing at 7:10 with MavTV providing live video coverage. Saturday’s $12,000-to-win event is scheduled to wrap up the six-race week.
Notes: High winds hampered the entire night with a severe thunderstorm warning in effect near feature time. … Ninth-running Tyler Erb ducked into the infield hot pit just before a mid-race restart. … Besides Richards (scheduled to start 20th), Chase Junghans (scheduled to start 21st) also had to start on the tail because of a too-high rear deck. … Johnny Scott was slated to get a provisional, but because he had loaded up, Tanner English got the spot just moments before the race started.
Preliminary results and notes:
Main event lineup
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie
Row 2: Boom Briggs, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Jimmy Owens, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 4: Mike Marlar, Mason Zeigler
Row 5: Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Erb
Row 6: Brian Shirley, Brandon Sheppard
Row 7: Shanon Buckingham, Shane Clanton
Row 8: Devin Moran, Billy Moyer Sr.
Row 9: David Breazeale, G.R. Smith
Row 10: Jadon Frame, Josh Richards
Row 11: Chase Junghans, Jonathan Davenport
Row 12: Hudson O'Neal, Matt Cosner
Row 13: Jesse Stovall, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 14: Stormy Scott, Tyler Bruening
Row 15: Tanner English, Coleby Frye
Brandon Overton will start the 40-lap feature from the pole position as he attempts to shed his developing status of the bridesmaid of Speedweeks 2020. The Georgia driver, who won a Winternationals feature in 2018, has finished second in three of the four Lucas Oil Series events contested so far during Speedweeks. … Overton seized command for good in the first heat after trading sliders with Jason Rauen, whose night came to a abrupt end on the first lap of the prelim when he slid high into the slime in turn two and clipped the outside wall with his car’s right-rear corner. With the damage restricted primarily to the rear deck, Rauen said the machine will be ready for action on Friday, albeit with Brian Birkhofer taking over the driving chores for the remainder of the week. Rauen quipped that he “did all the hard work” getting the car tuned up for Birkhofer. … Billy Moyer Jr.’s triumph in the sixth heat was a reward for the many hours of hard work put in by him and and his crew to repair the damage his 3-race-old Capital Race Car sustained in a Wednesday feature accident. … Kyle Bronson rebounded well from his vicious Wednesday feature wreck with Jonathan Davenport, winning the fifth heat in his backup car. He said after the victory that he was hoping to win the feature and then “take a nap” because he slept only a few hours overnight with his time occupied by switching over his Crate Late Model to serve as his second Super Late Model for the remainder of Speedweeks. … Boom Briggs continued his strong qualifying efforts, winning a heat for the second consecutive night. His winning prelim effort came after he was early retiree from Wednesday’s feature due to a broken motor; his crew spent most of Thursday morning and afternoon changing powerplants. … Hudson O’Neal was forced out of his heat after he bumped together with Brian Shirley in turn four and then slowed with a broken J-bar. The MasterSbilt house car team repaired the machine in time for O’Neal to start his consolation race but he failed to transfer, forcing him to rely on a provisional to start the headliner.
Consolation race results
(10 laps; winner transfers)
First consolation: Jadon Frame, Earl Pearson Jr., Jonathan Davenport, Freddie Carpenter, Charles Powell, Austin Burns, Blair Nothdurft, Jason Riggs, Tanner English, Joey Moriarty. Scratched: Clay Harris, Trever Feathers, Jason Rauen.
Second consolation: Josh Richards, Jesse Stovall, Rick Eckert, Pearson Lee Williams, Blake Spencer, Joel Callahan, Dan Stone, Jason Miller, Allen Murray, Justin Rattliff, Hudson O'Neal, Donald McIntosh. Scratched: Johnny Scott.
Third consolation: Chase Junghans, Matt Cosner, David Seibers, Kyle Lear, Brent Larson, Coleby Frye, Tyler Bruening, Jeff Mathews, Stacy Boles. Scratched: Stormy Scott, Logan Roberson, Colton Flinner, Joe Denby.
Berry Barn Strawberry Dash (two transfer): Jesse Stovall, Earl Pearson Jr., David Seibers, Rick Eckert, Pearson Lee Williams, Kyle Lear, Coleby Frye, Austin Burns, Brent Larson, Blake Spencer, Freddie Carpenter. Scratched: Charles Powell.
Heat race recap
When outside front-row starter Jason Rauen threw an elbow at first heat polesitter Brandon Overton in turn four on the first lap, Overton went right back under him to regain the lead as Rauen got too high and slid into the turn-two wall. Rauen retired while Overton grabbed the victory. … Second-heat winner Boom Briggs took a prelim for the second straight night. … In the third heat, Hudson O’Neal apparently lost power after making contact with Brian Shirley in turn two while trying to take the second spot. … Fast-timer Tim McCreadie led the final three laps of the fourth heat after a side-by-side battle with Mason Zeigler, who settled for second. … Kyle Bronson, who destroyed a car Wednesday, raced to a fifth heat victory in a backup car. … Billy Moyer Jr. overcame a first-lap slipup in turn two and cruised to victory in the final heat.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top three transfer)
First heat: Brandon Overton, Mike Marlar, Shanon Buckingham, Jadon Frame, Charles Powell, Joey Moriarty, Blair Nothdurft, Clay Harris, Treer Feathers, Jason Rauen.
Second heat: Boom Briggs, Dennis Erb Jr., Devin Moran, Tanner English, Jonathan Davenport, Freddie Carpenter, Earl Pearson Jr., Jason Riggs, Austin Burns.
Third heat: Jimmy Owens, Brian Shirley, David Breazeale, Josh Richards, Jesse Stovall, Pearson Lee Williams, Rick Eckert, Dan Stone, Hudson O'Neal.
Fourth heat: Tim McCreadie, Mason Zeigler, Shane Clanton, Donald McIntosh, Blake Spencer, Johnny Scott, Allen Murray, Justin Rattliff, Jason Miller. Scratched: Joel Callahan.
Fifth heat: Kyle Bronson, Tyler Erb, Billy Moyer, Brent Larson, Stacy Boles, Coleby Frye, Kyle Lear, Stormy Scott, Colton Flinner. Scratched: Joe Denby.
Sixth heat: Billy Moyer, Brandon Sheppard, G.R. Smith, Matt Cosner, David Seibers, Chase Junghans, Tyler Bruening, Logan Roberson, Jeff Mathews.
Time trials (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown
- Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 15.126
- Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.147
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.370
- Jason Rauen (98), Farley, Iowa, 15.425
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.463
- Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 15.496
- Charles Powell (94), Brookville, Pa., 15.497
- Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.588
- Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 15.606
- Jadon Frame (J8), Decherd, Tenn., 15.673
- Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 15.687
- Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.710
- Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.746
- Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 15.754
- David Breazeale (10), Four Corners, Miss., 15.791
- Trever Feathers (20), Winchester, Va., 15.803
- Tanner English (81e), Benton, Ky., 15.840
- Jason Riggs (81r), Harrisburg, Ill., 16.069
- Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 16.087
- Jesse Stovall (00), Billings, Mo., 16.108
- Pearson Lee Williams (2), Dublin, Ga., 16.133
- Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 16.135
- Austin Burns (22), Morgantown, Ind., 16.137
- Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.195
- Rick Eckert (0), York, Pa., 16.307
- Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 16.453
- Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 16.636
- Clay Harris (6), Jupiter, Fla., 17.132
- Kerry King (KB0), Delmar, Del., no time
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 14.985
- Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.109
- Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.195
- Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.296
- Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 15.318
- Matt Cosner (66c), Ridgeley, W.Va., 15.319
- Jason Miller (94), Winchester, Va., 15.350
- Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.401
- G.R. Smith (89), Cornelius, N.C., 15.447
- Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.471
- Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 15.491
- Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 15.492
- Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 15.521
- Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 15.522
- Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.559
- Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 15.578
- Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 15.614
- David Seibers (18), Chapel Hill, Tenn., 15.638
- Allen Murray (2), San Antonio, Texas, 15.681
- Stormy Scott (2), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.695
- Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 15.697
- Joel Callahan (40), Dubuque, Iowa, 15.699
- Kyle Lear (000), Severna Park, Md., 15.701
- Logan Roberson (17), Waynesboro, Va., 15.708
- Coleby Frye (F1), Dover, Pa., 15.834
- Jeff Mathews (33), Brandon, Fla., 15.911
- Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.914
- Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 15.950
- Joe Denby (27), Tullahoma, Tenn., 16.127
Thursday’s pre-qualifying notes
Weather conditions for Night 4 of the Wrisco Winternationals are decidedly different than the past three evenings. While Thursday’s high temperature topped 80s degrees, winds of 20-30 mph, with gusts even higher, have whipped the area all day and a front carrying heavy rain and possible severe thunderstorms is approaching Florida’s Gulf Coast. … Forecasts call for the rain to begin arriving later this evening, so Lucas Oil Series officials plan to shift to hurry-up mode in an effort to beat Mother Nature. Series director Rick Schwallie said during the drivers’ meeting that the distance of heats will be reduced to eight laps (from 10) and consolation races to 10 circuits (from 12) to push the show along and the Berry Barn Strawberry Dash could potentially be scrapped to save time. … Because of safety concerns, high winds have prompted the Lucas Oil Racing TV team to leave the camera lifts and in turns one and three and tower cameras unmanned for this evening’s live broadcast. … Another byproduct of the whipping winds: sand is blowing across the pit area, leaving everyone struggling to keep it out of their eyes and mouths. Josh Richards’s crewmen were among those who donned goggles while working in the pits. “It’s like we’re in a desert right now,” Richards team member Cody Duncan said. … Thursday’s entry list dipped below 60 for the first time this week, settling in at 58 cars. Only Greg Oakes of Franklinville, N.Y., has departed the track, however. … Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., is sitting out Thursday’s action after coming down with a sickness that has apparently made its rounds of team members in the hauler. … After turning heads with a strong qualifying effort that put him into his first-ever Lucas Oil Series feature on Wednesday, Ken Monahan of Lakeland, Fla., isn’t competing this evening because he’s feeling under the weather. Others sitting out: Vic Hill, Todd Brennan, Chris Garnes, John Tweed and Allen Weisser. … Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., said he has some slight soreness in his shoulders and lower back following his hard Wednesday-night wreck with Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla. The defending Lucas Oil Series champion is driving his backup car tonight; a new car that was sitting assembled at the Longhorn shop in Trinity, N.C., is expected to arrive at East Bay around 7 o’clock tonight to replace his heavily damaged machine. … Bronson reported no significant soreness in his body from the crash, though the 29-year-old and his crew are a bit tired after working until nearly 4 a.m. at his nearby shop to switch his Crate Late Model over to serve as his backup Super Late Model mount for the remainder of Speedweeks. … Joey Cudmore of FireAde Motorsports demonstrated fire extinguishing products at the drivers’ meeting. … Jason Miller of Winchester, Va., said Thursday would be his final night of action because he has to head north to coach his daughter’s basketball game. Acknowledging the threat of rain that Thursday’s program is running under, Miller joked to Lucas Oil Series technical director Steve Francis that “it’ll be just my luck that I finally make it into the feature tonight and then it’ll rain so they’ll push the thing to tomorrow when I can’t be here.”
Thursday's prerace setup
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series head into the fourth round the Wrisco Winternationals without a repeat winner with another $7,000-to-win event on tap at the third-mile oval near Tampa.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., on Wednesday added his name to the week’s list of winners along with Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. McCreadie’s second series victory of the season — he won Saturday’s opener at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga. — matches his series victory total from 2018-19 on the national tour.
McCreadie, Moran and Sheppard are on task to prevent 2020 from being the first six-winner Speedweeks since 2014, the last year there wasn’t a repeat winner among the six scheduled races.
Meanwhile, reigning series champ Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., and Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., will have to rebound from frontstretch calamity with five laps remaining in Wednesday’s main event when the leading Davenport’s nosepiece folded under and he collected Bronson at the flagstand in a violent wreck.
Thursday’s action includes hot laps, time trials, six heat races (top three transfer), three consolation races (winner transfers) and 40-lap main event for what’s expected to be a 30-car field. With rain expected to move in later in the evening, officials cut a couple of laps out of heat and consolation races and plan to run a hurry-up program.
2 p.m. - Pit gates reopen
5 p.m. - Grandstands open
5 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
5:30 p.m. - On-track action
7 p.m. - Opening ceremonies
7:10 p.m. - Racing begins
- Heat races (8 laps)
- Consolation races (10 laps)
- Berry Barn Strawberry Dash (8 laps)
- Main event (40 laps)