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Daily Dirt 03/31/2023 04:55:47

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July 31
Kokomo Speedway,
Kokomo, IN
Sanction: World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series (Hoosier Dirt Shootout) - $25,000
Information provided by: Kevin Kovac (last updated August 3, 2:30 pm)
Owens, Sheppard split $2,500 Kokomo prelims
Jim DenHamer
Brandon Sheppard (1) digs low to pass Darrell Lanigan (29v) for the lead in Friday's second qualifying feature.
Key notes: Scheduled by Fairbury (Ill.) Speedway promoter Matt Curl after his track's Prairie Dirt Classic could not be run this season due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Hoosier Dirt Shootout at Kokomo Speedway boasts a 75-lap, $25,000-to-win feature on Saturday night. ... Friday's qualifying program mirrored the format for Fairbury's PDC: time trials set the lineups for multiple 25-lap qualifying features paying $2,500 to win and $200 to start. ... Last-chance races and the Hoosier Dirt Shootout finale set for Saturday night were postponed to Sunday due to pesky rain. Gates open at 12 noon and hot laps are at 2 p.m. on Sunday. ... It's the first-ever World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series event at the quarter-mile oval. ... UMP modifieds also competed in qualifying features on Friday that lead the division's 40-lap A-main. ... DIRTVision provides live video coverage of the weekend.
Who to watch: Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., the points leader and 11-time World of Outlaws winner this season.
Points chase: Before Kokomo: 1. Brandon Sheppard (3,752); 2. Ricky Weiss (3,538); 3. Darrell Lanigan (3,484); 4. Cade Dillard (3,460); 5. Chase Junghans (3,418); 6. Dennis Erb Jr. (3,340); 7. Scott Bloomquist (3,2921); 8. Ashton Winger (3,272); 9. Boom Briggs (2,996); 10. Brent Larson (2,940).
Car count: 32
Fast qualifier: Shane Clanton
Time: 13.413 seconds
Polesitter: Ricky Thornton Jr.
Heat race winners: Jimmy Owens, Brandon Sheppard
Next series race: August 4, Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI) $10,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
By Kevin Kovac
DirtonDirt.com senior writer

KOKOMO, Ind. (July 31) — Live updates from Saturday's Hoosier Dirt Shootout finale a Kokomo Speedway, a 75-lap, $25,000-to-win event sanctioned by the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series (results unofficial):

Sunday's program postponed

Continued rain showers overnight forced event and series officials to postpone Sunday’s re-scheduled Hoosier Dirt Shootout finale for the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series. Officials are working to determine a makeup date for the $25,000-to-win event, WoO officials announced Sunday morning.

Preliminary action for the the inaugural event was held Friday with Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., each scoring $2,500 qualifying feature victories. The finale was originally planned for Saturday evening before wet weather force officials to move the program to Sunday.

Finale postponed

With drizzle and light rain continuing to fall at 6 p.m., event and series officials were forced to abandon their attempts to beat Saturday’s wet weather and postponed the finale of the Hoosier Dirt Shootout to Sunday.

Gates will open at 12 noon and hot laps are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The program will resume with the Late Model B-main followed by the UMP modified last-chance races, 75-lap WoO feature and 40-lap UMP modified A-main.

Saturday pre-race notes

The steady, day-long showers that were originally predicted for Saturday largely stayed away after some early-morning downpours muddied parts of the pit area, but officials’ attempts to start hot laps earlier at 4:30 p.m. were hampered by continued drizzle/mist that wasn’t showing up on radar. Practice sessions for both Late Models and UMP modifieds were eventually completed by 5:30 p.m. and the Late Model B-main was sent onto the track at 5:41 p.m., though very light drizzle was still falling and creating potential vision problems for the drivers. … A scramble on the opening lap of the consolation caused Derek Chandler to execute a rollover between turns three and four. He wasn’t injured — though his car sustained frame damage — and after the clean up officials pulled the field off the track due to the continued drizzle. … Ricky Thornton Jr. picked the pole position for the 75-lap Hoosier Dirt Shootout in the redraw conducted at the WoO control trailer. Friday qualifying feature winners Brandon Sheppard and Jimmy Owens will start third and fifth, respectively. … Steve Casebolt opted to head home following Friday’s action and didn’t return to run Saturday’s last-chance races. … After retiring from Friday’s second qualifying feature, McKay Wenger was able to make repairs thanks to his supporters — a group of friends led by Mark Stephens collected the approximately $600 needed for a new driveshaft and a buddy brought him a transmission from the team’s shop in Fairbury, Ill., to replace the broken piece. … Allen Murray, the Texan who fields the car Rick Eckert is driving this weekend and in other special events, traveled to Kokomo to make his first start since February’s Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla., but never turned a competitive lap. A busted oil-pump belt during hot laps on Friday forced him to scratch for the evening and he didn’t even hot lap on Saturday before returning to his pit stall and shortly thereafter leaving the track while Eckert remained to race.

Saturday schedule

With Saturday's weather forecasts calling for an increasing chance of heavier rain later in the day, event officials announced Saturday morning that the start of the racing program will be moved up in an effort to beat the precipitation. Spectator gates will now open at 3 p.m. with hot laps now scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.

Saturday's schedule after practice includes the Late Model B-main; UMP modified consolations; 75-lap Late Model feature; and 40-lap UMP modified A-main.

Friday's qualifying features

The two current national touring series points leaders — Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. — split Friday night’s twin 25-lap qualifying features at Kokomo Speedway, putting them in position to start among the first three rows of Saturday’s 75-lap World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series-sanctioned Hoosier Dirt Shootout.

Owens scored a flag-to-flag victory in the first 25-lapper, while Sheppard overtook Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., for the lead on lap four of the nightcap and wasn’t challenged for the remainder of the distance. Both drivers earned $2,500 for their efforts will redraw with the second- and third-place finishers for the first six starting spots in the finale.

The first preliminary was dominated by the 48-year-old Owens, who bolted off the outside pole at the initial green flag to assume command over front-row mate Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., and never looked back. The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader pulled away following restarts on laps 11 and 21 and beat Clanton to the checkered flag by 0.856 of a second.

“The car was really, really on kill tonight,” said Owens, whose only previous appearance at the quarter-mile bullring was a runner-up finish in last September’s Lucas Oil Series event. “We didn’t have to go nowhere but the high side … the cushion was there and I didn’t really know where we needed to be, but we was able to cruise around through there and really not tear nothing up.

“The more we fired off, the car just kept getting better and better the whole race,” he added. “It worked out great. We’re in the pill draw for tomorrow so maybe we can keep it rolling.”

Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., advanced from the sixth starting spot to third by lap four and finished in the show position. Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., placed fourth after regaining the spot on lap 23 from Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., who settled for a fifth-place finish.

Also among the eight transfers to Saturday’s headliner were Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., and Hall of Famers Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.

Sheppard, 27, captured the second qualifying feature in equally convincing fashion after vaulting his Rocket Chassis house car from third to first in four circuits. After watching most of the first prelim’s field run the outside lane, he put his car on the inside of the track as soon as the race commenced and used the lane to glide by Lanigan for the top spot and run away from the pack.

Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., grabbed second from Lanigan for the final time on lap 17 but never threatened Sheppard while racing to a runner-up finish, 1.675 seconds behind the victor.

“They kept working on the track all night long and the top finally slowed down there,” said Sheppard, the WoO points leader making his first career start at Kokomo. “I could roll the top pretty good too, but my car just worked right off the bat on the bottom so I just stayed there. I didn’t see no reason to go knock the deck out until somebody was getting ready to try and pass me.

“I just rolled with it down there and the car felt really good. I tried the middle a few laps and it was good there, and I tried the top a few laps and it was really good there too. It was just a good balance all around, and a good long-race car.”

Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., ran the outside to reach third place on lap 18 and finished in the position. Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, shot from sixth to fourth on lap 19 and finished there while Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., completed the top five after following Erb for the final six circuits.

Lanigan faded to sixth in the final rundown after leading laps 1-3. Daryn Klein of Fairview Heights, Ill., and 15th-starter Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., rounded out the transfers in a race slowed by caution flags on laps 10 and 21.

Both qualifying features were briefly red-flagged after cautions were thrown because a portion of the catch fence on the outside of turns one and two was torn up by a passing car and pulled onto the racing surface. The track crew made fence repairs on lap 21 of the first qualifier and lap 10 of the nightcap.

Saturday’s program will include a last-chance race and the 75-lap A-main.

First qualifying feature finish (25 laps; top 8 transfer): 1. Jimmy Owens, 2. Shane Clanton, 3. Cade Dillard, 4. Jason Feger, 5. Kyle Bronson, 6. Bobby Pierce, 7. Scott Bloomquist, 8. Billy Moyer, 9. Rick Eckert, 10. Brent Larson, 11. Ashton Winger, 12. Derek Chandler, 13. Boom Briggs, 14. Bry Johnson, 15. Kent Robinson (DNS) Allen Murray.

Second qualifying feature finish (25 laps; top 8 transfer): 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Ricky Thornton Jr., 3. Chase Junghans, 4. Tyler Erb, 5. Mike Marlar, 6. Darrell Lanigan, 7. Daryn Klein, 8. Dennis Erb Jr., 9. Gordy Gundaker, 10. Mike Spatola, 11. Kolby Vandenbergh, 12. Steve Casebolt, 13. Ricky Weiss, 14. Trevor Gundaker, 15. Chris Nash, 16. McKay Wenger.

Qualifying feature lineups

(25 laps; top 8 transfer)

First qualifying feature
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Jason Feger, Derek Chandler
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Cade Dillard
Row 4: Billy Moyer, Bobby Pierce
Row 5: Kyle Bronson, Rick Eckert
Row 6: Boom Briggs, Kent Robinson
Row 7: Brent Larson, Bry Johnson
Row 8: Ashton Winger, Allen Murray
Second qualifying feature
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, McKay Wenger
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans
Row 3: Ricky Thornton Jr., Mike Marlar
Row 4: Tyler Erb, Ricky Weiss
Row 5: Daryn Klein, Gordy Gundaker
Row 6: Steve Casebolt, Trevor Gundaker
Row 7: Kolby Vandenbergh, Mike Spatola
Row 8: Dennis Erb Jr., Chris Nash

Qualifying results

First group   
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 13.413
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 13.604
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 13.723
Derek Chandler (35), Pontiac, Ill., 13.756
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 13.766
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 13.788
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 13.826
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 13.838
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 13.919
Rick Eckert (0E), York, Pa., 13.938
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 14.067
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 14.123
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 14.125
Bry Johnson (2), Lowell, Mich., 14.701
Allen Murray (2M), San Antonio, Texas, no time
Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., no time
Second group   
Darrell Lanigan (29v), Union, Ky., 13.456
McKay Wenger (42), Fairbury, Ill., 13.477
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 13.604
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 13.633
Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 13.685
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 13.727
Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 13.816
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 13.836
Daryn Klein (10), Fairview Heights, Ill., 13.923
Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 14.070
Steve Casebolt (C9), Richmond, Ind., 14.074
Trevor Gundaker (11T), St. Charles, Mo., 14.107
Kolby Vandenbergh (15), Ashland, Ill., 14.222
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 14.230
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.263
Chris Nash (354), Portage, Mich., 15.804

Friday’s schedule

6 p.m. - Hot laps
- WoO Late Models
- UMP Modifieds hot laps/qualifying
- WoO Late Model qualifying
Opening ceremonies
- First UMP Modified qualifying feature (20 laps)
- Second UMP Modified qualifying feature (20 laps)
- Third UMP Modified qualifying feature (20 laps)
- Fourth UMP Modified qualifying feature (20 laps)
Track prep
- First WoO Late Model qualifying feature (25 laps)
- Second WoO Late Model qualifying feature (25 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Thornton, Junghans
Row 2: Sheppard, Dillard
Row 3: Owens, Clanton
Row 4: Feger, T. Erb
Row 5: Bronson, Marlar
Row 6: Pierce, Lanigan
Row 7: Bloomquist, Klein
Row 8: Moyer, D. Erb
Row 9: B-main transfers
Row 10: B-main transfers
Row 11: B-main transfers
Row 12: Provisional starters
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