SARVER, Pa. — Brandon Sheppard has held the lead on the last lap of both Firecracker 100 prelims at Lernerville Speedway. But Friday’s finish turned way better than Thursday’s.
Rebounding from being turned around on the last lap of Thursday’s opening 25-lapper, Sheppard on Friday cruised to a $6,000 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victory to put memory of spin-causing contact from Thursday winner Max Blair behind him.
The pole-starting Sheppard notched his fifth WoO victory of the season and 60th of his career in taking the checkers 1.458 seconds ahead of hometown driver Michael Norris while three-time Firecracker winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., was third in the non-stop 25-lapper. Thursday runner-up Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., was fourth with outside front-row starter Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., rounding out the top five.
Blair, the Centerville, Pa., driver who captured Friday’s opener settled for a 19th-place finish in the second prelim heading to Saturday’s $30,000-to-win finale.
Sheppard, who steers the potent Rocket Chassis house car, hopes to be in contention when the big money is on the line after running on a high-speed track Thursday and a super-slick surface Friday.
“Hopefully the track’s a little more in between the way it was last night and the way it was tonight. I’d like to see it a little bit faster,” said the New Berlin, Ill., and two-time WoO champion. “It was probably kind of hard to pass there tonight. I would’ve hated to started back in the pack tonight; I feel like it would’ve been hard to pass. Once I got to the lapped cars there, I wasn’t quite as good as I wanted to be. In the dirty air there, it’s hard to keep going, and luckily we were able to hold off, I think it was Norris, behind me.
“We had a really good car though, definitely can’t complain. We’re going to work on it a little bit for tomorrow and see what they give us for a racetrack.”
Norris, who was running third in Friday’s prelim when he slipped over the turn-two banking and fell from contention, took second from Bloomquist on the 16th lap and cut into Sheppard’s two-second lead but ended up 1.458 seconds behind at the checkers.
“Definitely a little bit of redemption,” Norris said. “I messed the car up last night. I was just driving it a little too hard, still to come out with a 10th, we were happy with that. It’s crazy to think when we started (racing) we just wanted to make these (WoO features), and now we’re disappointed with a top-10.
“But tonight felt really good. I mean, we’re in pretty good company here, so I think we might have something for tomorrow. We’ll see what the weather brings and go from there.”
Bloomquist, who matched Dillard with his second straight top-five run, said he wouldn’t likely be second-guessing Saturday’s choice if conditions are what he expects.
“Last night, we put a hard tire on and it was just the wrong thing to do,” he said. “And tonight we ran soft tires and the hard tires were better, but at least we know what we’re getting into for tomorrow and hopefully the weather will be good and we’ll get up front tomorrow.”
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Boom Briggs
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Michael Norris
Row 3: Cade Dilalrd, Mason Zeigler
Row 4: Chase Junghans, Shannon Babb
Row 5: Chris Madden, Russ King
Row 6: Jason Covert, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 7: Gregg Satterlee, Doug Drown
Row 8: Darrell Lanigan, Chub Frank
Row 9: Jared Miley, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 10: Ryan Scott, Max Blair
Row 11: Dan Stone, Ricky Weiss
Row 12: Ashton Winger, Brent Larson
Row 13: Matt Cosner
(10 laps; top 3 transfer)
First consolation finish: Jared Miley, Ryan Scott, Dan Stone, Greg Oakes, Ashton Winger, Brent Larson, Ken Schaltenbrand, Dan Angelicchio, Charles Powell Jr., Mike Benedum, Tommy Beck, Cory Lawler, Tyler Dietz, Joe Petyak, Tony Burke, Heath Close.
Second consolation finish: Ricky Thornton Jr., Max Blair, Ricky Weiss, Rick Eckert, Mike Pegher Jr., Colton Flinner, Colten Burdette, Ross Robinson, Matt Cosner, Pearson Lee Williams, Will Thomas, Joshua Powell, Kelvin Kohan, Bump Hedman, Alex Ferree.
Heat race results
(8 laps; top 4 transfer)
First heat finish: Brandon Sheppard, Mason Zeigler, Chris Madden, Gregg Satterlee, Jared Miley, Charles Powell Jr., Ryan Scott, Tony Burke, Heath Close, Ashton Winger, Dan Stone, Tommy Beck.
Second heat finish: Boom Briggs, Chase Junghans, Jason Covert, Darrell Lanigan, Greg Oakes, Brent Larson, Dan Angelicchio, Tyler Dietz, Ken Schaltenbrand, Mike Benedum, Joe Petyak, Cory Lawler.
Third heat finish: Michael Norris, Cade Dillard, Russ King, Doug Drown, Ricky Thornton Jr., Max Blair, Ricky Weiss, Pearson Lee Williams, Mike Pegher Jr., Rick Eckert, Matt Cosner, Joshua Powell.
Fourth heat finish: Scott Bloomquist, Shannon Babb, Dennis Erb Jr., Chub Frank, Alex Ferree, Colton Flinner, Ross Robinson, Colten Burdette, Kelvin Kohan, Bump Hedman, Will Thomas.
Friday brought partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the lower 80s, but the chance of thunderstorms rises as midnight approaches. … Friday’s program started on schedule with hot laps at 6:05 p.m. … A 47-car field signed in for the second preliminary program; Drake Troutman and Gary Lyle did not return after experiencing problems on Thursday while Kelvin Kohan joined the competition. … Jared Miley of Pittsburgh, Pa., is back with his older 2017-model XR1 Rocket car after scratching from Thursday’s racing due to a broken oil pump that sidelined his new machine as he ran in a heat-race transfer spot. … Friday’s fast-timer Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., made an engine swap in his Rocket Chassis house car following Thursday’s action. … After a camshaft problem during the pace laps for Thursday’s feature prevented Will Thomas of Sharpsville, Pa., from starting his first-ever WoO A-main, he’s back in action tonight but turned a subpar qualifying lap. …Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, was hoping for a smooth night after hauler trouble en route to Lernerville delayed his arrival to minutes before the start of Thursday's feature, but the black cloud remained over him as his car was felled by a broken engine during hot laps. He scrambled with crewman Jason Palubicki to unload his backup in time to make his spot in the qualifying order but logged the 13th-fastest lap in his group.
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.007
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.062
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 16.080
Jason Covert (72), York Haven, Pa., 16.263
Jared Miley (10), Pittsburgh, Pa., 16.290
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 16.318
Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 16.320
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 16.328
Chris Madden (0m), Gray Court, S.C., 16.331
Greg Oakes (22g), Franklinville, N.Y., 16.353
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.361
Dan Angelicchio (14), Mt. Pleasant, Pa., 16.485
Dan Stone (2s), Thompson, Pa., 16.493
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.557
Ryan Scott (0R), Pittsfield, Pa., 16.577
Tyler Dietz (77), Saxonburg, Pa., 16.591
Tommy Beck (91), Murrysville, Pa., 16.598
Joe Petyak (44), Gallitzen, Pa., 16.690
Charles Powell Jr. (94), Brookeville, Pa., 16.792
Mike Benedum (25B), Salem, W.Va., 16.807
Tony Burke (23), Sarver, Pa., 17.250
Cory Lawler (93), Hanover, Pa., 17.565
Heath Close (77H), Pittsburgh, Pa., 18.144
Ken Schaltenbrand (29), Sarver, Pa., no time
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 15.941
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 16.214
Max Blair (111B), Centerville, Pa., 16.259
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.482
Russ King (56), Bristolville, Ohio, 16.484
Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 16.492
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 16.494
Alex Ferree (4), Saxonburg, Pa., 16.548
Ricky Thornton Jr. (20RT), Chandler, Ariz., 16.602
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.611
Doug Drown (12d), Wooster, Ohio, 16.618
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.692
Ricky Weiss (7w), Headingley, Manitoba, 16.790
Ross Robinson (7R), Georgetown, Del., 16.885
Pearson Lee Williams (2W), Dublin, Ga., 16.898
Colten Burdette (44), Parkersburg, W.Va., 16.929
Mike Pegher (1c), Cranberry Twp., Pa., 16.941
Bump Hedman (B22), Sugar Grove, Pa., 17.013
Rick Eckert (0E), York, Pa., 17.035
Kelvin Kohan (15), Pittsburgh, Pa., 17.096
Matt Cosner (66c), Ridgeley, W.Va., 17.128
Will Thomas (9), Sharpsville, Pa., 17.278
Joshua Powell (11), Sarver, Pa., 17.776
(All times EDT)
1 p.m.: Weenie roast and cornhole tournaments at the Fan Stage
4 p.m.: Pit gates open
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5:45 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
6:05 p.m.: Hot laps/time trials
WoO Late Model hot laps
WoO Late Model time trials
Crate Late Model hot laps
7:20 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- WoO Late Model heats (8 laps)
- Crate Late Model heats (10 laps)
- WoO Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- Crate Late Model dash (6 laps)
- WoO Late Model feature (25 laps)
- Fireworks show