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Daily Dirt 12/11/2023 14:10:21

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July 17
I-94 Sure Step Speedway,
Fergus Falls, MN
Sanction: World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series - $10,000
Information provided by: Series and track reports (last updated July 20, 7:20 pm)
Heckenast rules at I-94 for second WoO victory
  1. Frank Heckenast Jr.
  2. Brandon Sheppard
  3. Tyler Bruening
  4. Chris Madden
  5. Ryan Gustin
  6. Cade Dillard
  7. Jimmy Mars
  8. Ricky Weiss
  9. Chad Mahder
  10. Pat Doar
  11. Bryce Sward
  12. Dave Mass
  13. Kyle Hammer
  14. Jeff Massingill
  15. Brent Larson
  16. Blair Nothdurft
  17. Cole Schill
  18. Boom Briggs
  19. Jordan Yaggy
  20. Lance Matthees
  21. Dennis Erb Jr.
  22. Shawn Kirwin
  23. Paul Parker
  24. Ben Wolden
presented by
Jacy Norgaard/jacynorgaardphotography.com
Frank Heckenast heads for his second WoO victory of 2021.
What won the race: Leading every lap to earn his second World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victory of the season, Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., dominated Saturday’s 50-lap feature at I-94 Sure Step Speedway to earn $10,000 as the national tour made its debut at the high-banked 3/8-mile track. Heckenast took the checkers 2.024 seconds ahead of runner-up Brandon Sheppard in earning the third WoO victory of his career.
Key notes: Heckenast also won WoO's July 9 event at Jackson (Minn.) Motorplex. Prior to that, his only WoO win came in 2015. ... The WoO tour made its first ever visit to I-94 as part of its 10-day Upper Midwest swing. The 3/8-mile track hosted the fifth race of the six-race trek through Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. … Saturday’s race was the middle leg of the tour’s tripleheader weekend. River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., hosted the tour on Friday and Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie, Wis., hosts the tour on Sunday.
On the move: Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., started 21st and finished 10th.
Winner's sponsors: Heckenast’s Rocket Chassis is powered by a Durham Racing Engine and sponsored by JR Hauling, Storage Squares, Petroff Towing, Jim Weber Motorsports, Jay Morris Construction, Allstar Performance, TeamDemo.com, Penske Shocks, Swift Springs, DirtOval66.com, Chase Decals, Hoosier Racing Tire and Dragon Racing Fuels.
Points chase: After I-94: 1. Brandon Sheppard (4,082); 2. Chris Madden (4,000); 3. Tyler Bruening (3,794); 4. Ricky Weiss (3,746); 5. Dennis Erb Jr. (3,726); 6. Ryan Gustin (3,688); 7. Cade Dillard (3,666) 8. Boom Briggs (3,480); 9. Brent Larson (3,422) 10. Kyle Strickler (2,536).
Current weather: Clear, 75°F
Car count: 27
Fast qualifier: Tyler Bruening
Time: 17.270 seconds
Polesitter: Tyler Bruening
Heat race winners: Tyler Bruening, Chris Madden, Brandon Sheppard
Consolation race winners: Cole Schill
Next series race: July 30, Fairbury Speedway (Fairbury, IL) $50,000
Editor's note: Corrects winner’s engine builder.
From series reports

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (July 17) — After going more than six years between scoring his first and second World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victories, Frank Heckenast Jr.’s wait for his third series win didn’t last nearly as along. In fact, it barely lasted more than a week.

Earning his second WoO victory in nine days, Heckenast of Frankfort, Ill., led every lap of Saturday’s 50-lap feature at I-94 Sure Step Speedway to earn $10,000 in the tour’s first ever visit to the high-banked 3/8-mile oval. The dominant performance followed Heckenast’s victory in the tour’s July 9 event at Jackson (Minn.) Motorplex.

After climbing from his No. 99 Rocket Chassis in I-94’s victory lane, Heckenast was quick to give credit for his recent success to new crew chief Taylon Center, who joined Heckeast’s team in late May.

“I just got to thank T.C.,” Heckenast said of the Center who was previously the head wrench for SSI Motorsports and driver Ricky Thornton Jr. “He came along with us a couple months ago and changed our program around. Todd’s always been there for me and he’s been doing a great job … T.C. came in and taught me how to race. I’ve been racing a long time, but he’s teaching me things I just looked past. All this is to him. I can’t thank him enough.”

Starting from the outside pole of Saturday’s 50-lapper, Heckenast got the jump on polesitter Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, and never looked back. He took the checkers 2.024 seconds ahead of WoO points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., while Bruening took third. Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., was fourth with Ryan Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa, rounding out the top five.

With the race’s only caution coming with one lap competed, Heckenast faced heavy traffic for much of the distance, but he handled it without issue thanks largely to signals he received from Center.

“T.C. was pretty much driving me every lap,” Heckenast said. “He was telling me where to go, where they were at and where they were messing up. He couldn’t see everything. I seen a couple times down there lapped cars were pulling away from me down through the middle, so I was just trying to watch that.”

Center wasn’t the only team member who played a part in Heckenast’s victory. He also received some crucial coaching from his father Frank Heckenast Sr. that helped him get the jump on the race’s initial start, a move that proved pivotal.

“My dad told me the if I don’t learn how to start races we won’t win,” Heckenast said. “We won that race on the start. Hopefully he’s proud of that.”

Sheppard padded his points lead with his 11th straight top-five finish. While the three-time series champion ran among the top five for the entire race, it wasn’t until he found the top groove during the race’s closing stages that he really picked up speed and made his way by both Bruening and Madden.

“I thought I had a pretty good car, but I didn’t think the top was that good all the way around,” said Sheppard, whose Rocket Chassis house car had heavy rear damage after he got into the wall late in the race. “Then we got to slicing and dicing with Madden and Bruening there a little bit and I finally started hustling the top pretty hard there and just found another lane and it was working.

“It was one of them deals, if you’re gonna run that line you’re gonna get the deck knocked out. I pushed one time and really cleaned it off. If we would’ve had many more laps than that it wasn’t gonna last that’s for sure because I got free once I knocked the deck out.”

Bruening, a Rookie of the Year contender on this year's WoO tour, fell short of his coveted first series victory, but he was happy with his podium performance.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster when you get a podium against this competition. You’re definitely doing something, so we’re really pleased,” said Bruening, who earned his seventh top-five finish in 30 WoO races this season. “Our team’s hitting on all cylinders right now. We’re right there for that win. I know everybody keeps telling me that we’re right there, we’re right there. We almost put a whole night together tonight. We were real close.”

Feature lineup

Row 1: Bruening, Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Madden, Briggs
Row 3: Sheppard, Weiss
Row 4: Dillard, Gustin
Row 5: Mahder, Mars
Row 6: Erb Jr., Yaggy
Row 7: Mass, Wolden
Row 8: Sward, Hammer
Row 9: Larson, Massingill
Row 10: Schill, Parker
Row 11: Doar, Nothdurft
Row 12: Matthees, Kirwin
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