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Daily Dirt 08/15/2022 13:22:48

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February 3
All-Tech Raceway,
Ellisville, FL
Sanction: Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (General Tire Winter Nationals) - $10,000
Information provided by: Robert Holman (last updated February 5, 12:24 am)
Sheppard's Speedweeks drought ends at All-Tech
General Tire Winter Nationals
  1. Brandon Sheppard
  2. Devin Moran
  3. Jonathan Davenport
  4. Shane Clanton
  5. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  6. Ashton Winger
  7. Dennis Erb Jr.
  8. Tyler Erb
  9. Brandon Overton
  10. Spencer Hughes
  11. Tim McCreadie
  12. Hudson O'Neal
  13. Earl Pearson Jr.
  14. Tyler Bruening
  15. Brian Shirley
  16. Garrett Alberson
  17. Kyle Bronson
  18. Jimmy Owens
  19. Joseph Joiner
  20. Stormy Scott
  21. Daulton Wilson
  22. Carson Ferguson
  23. Mike Marlar
  24. Mark Whitener
  25. Chris Madden
  26. Max Blair
presented by
Heath Lawson/heathlawsonphotos.com
Brandon Sheppard celebrates in All-Tech Raceway's victory lane.
What won the race: Leading all but one circuit, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., snapped his Georgia-Florida Speedweeks drought with a $10,000 victory in Thursday night’s 40-lap General Tire Winter Nationals opener at All-Tech Raceway. He briefly ceded the lead to Ricky Thornton Jr. on lap seven but controlled the remainder of the distance to score his first Speedweeks checkered since February 2020.
Key notes: Sheppard crossed the finish line 1.802 seconds in front of Devin Moran, who burst from fifth to second following a lap-37 restart. ... Moran grabbed his fourth runner-up finish in six Lucas Oil Series events on the final lap when Jonathan Davenport slowed with trouble, forcing him to settle for third place. ... Thornton slipped to fifth in the final rundown. ... Four caution flags slowed the feature.
Winner's sponsors: Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis has a Durham Racing Engine and sponsorship from Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Rocket Chassis, Ace Metal Works, Gunter’s Honey, Hoosier Racing Tire, Integra Racing Shocks, Keyser Manufacturing Co., Petroff Towing, Slavic Shirts & Decals, Sunoco Race Fuels and Rocket Preowned Motors.
Points chase: After All-Tech Thursday: 1. Devin Moran (1,220); 2. Brandon Sheppard (1,125): 3. Tim McCreadie (1,030); 4. Tyler Erb (1,020); 5. Ricky Thornton Jr. (1,000); 6. Hudson O'Neal (950); 7. Earl Pearson Jr. (935); 8. Dennis Erb Jr. (895); 9. Ashton Winger (865); 10. Shane Clanton (840).
Current weather: Overcast, 70°F
Car count: 43
Fast qualifier: Brandon Sheppard
Time: 17.087 seconds
Polesitter: Ricky Thornton Jr.
Heat race winners: Ricky Thornton Jr., Shane Clanton, Brandon Sheppard, Dennis Erb Jr.
Consolation race winners: Brandon Overton, Tyler Erb
Provisional starters: Mike Marlar, Stormy Scott, Garrett Alberson, Daulton Wilson
Next series race: February 5, All-Tech Raceway (Ellisville, FL) $15,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

ELLISVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 3) — A frustrating Georgia-Florida Speedweeks victory drought came to an end for Brandon Sheppard and the Rocket Chassis house car team Thursday at All-Tech Raceway.

Leading all but one circuit of the 40-lap General Tire Winter Nationals opener, Sheppard marched to his first win during the Southeast’s annual stretch of racing since February 2020. He briefly ceded the lead to Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., on lap seven but controlled the remainder of the distance to pocket the $10,000 top prize in the first of three nights of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action at the 4/10-mile oval.

“Glad to get our first win off our backs,” a relieved Sheppard said in victory lane after snapping an uncharacteristic 25-race Speedweeks winless streak dating back to a World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series triumph on Feb. 12, 2020, at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.

Winless through his first six starts of Speedweeks 2022, the 29-year-old superstar from New Berlin, Ill., broke through by beating Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, to the finish line by 1.802 seconds. Moran grabbed his fourth runner-up finish in six Lucas Oil Series events on the final lap when Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., slowed drastically off turn four with apparent electrical trouble, forcing him to settle for third place.

Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., finished fourth after starting third and slipping as far back as seventh early in the A-main. The polesitting Thornton, who nosed ahead of Sheppard to lead lap seven, fell to fifth in the final rundown after running second until losing three spots following a lap-37 restart.

Sheppard entered All-Tech’s program with three top-five finishes on his Speedweeks resume so far this year, but he and his Mark Richards-led team resolved to make a change in their strategy in hopes of getting over the hump. It appeared to work as he was the night’s fast qualifier, won his heat race and came off the outside pole to lead 39 of the feature’s 40 laps.

“We just stopped messing ourselves up,” Sheppard said. “I feel like we’ve been over-adjusting a little bit. We had a good car all night long, and then we think we’re making ourselves better for the feature and then we always seem to be just a little bit off. So we kind of came into tonight thinking we weren’t gonna change quite as much and it really paid off.”

After Sheppard turned back Thornton’s early challenge, the four-time WoO champion was never seriously threatened again aside for a momentary mid-race spell when lapped traffic allowed Thornton to close within striking distance. Once Sheppard had open track he was untouchable, pulling away to a nearly 3-second advantage before the feature’s final caution flag, on lap 37, tightened the field.

Sheppard’s path to the 22nd Lucas Oil Series victory and 17th Speedweeks triumph of his career wasn’t uneventful, though. He never was able to relax as he battled to tame the difficult All-Tech conditions and had to withstand a three-lap dash to the checkered flag.

“I was honestly just hoping that everybody was having as hard of a time steering as I was out there,” Sheppard said. “Man, this track is so tricky. It’s super slippery and the brown spots got a lot of grip to ‘em.

“It was definitely stressful for me. I thought for sure the last restart that one of them guys was gonna come cruising by me on the outside, but I guess they were having the same issues I was.”

Thornton didn’t have anything for Sheppard following the final restart — he said he simply couldn’t steer his car as the track slowed down in turns one and two late in the distance — but Davenport appeared capable of a last-ditch bid when he swung around the outside of Thornton to snatch second. Davenport hopes were dashed, however, because ignition trouble in his Lance Landers-owned Longhorn car sapped it of the strength necessary to mount a challenge.

“It started right before that last caution,” Davenport said of his mechanical woes which cost him second place on the last lap. “I think something electrical went wrong, I don’t know if we got a ground loose or whatever, but it started popping real bad. Under that caution it wouldn’t hardly run at all and I was flipping all kinds of switches just trying to get something to work. It made it almost to the checkered flag, so at least we finally got us a podium run.

“I would’ve like to run those last three laps at full power because I found a little bit through (turns one and two) and passed Ricky and I even gained on Brandon a little bit, but the one part where I needed a little bit of power it just wasn’t there. It was missing too bad.”

The 27-year-old Moran — the Lucas Oil Series points leader entering the event with two wins and three runner-up finishes in the tour’s first five races — benefitted from Davenport’s hiccup to keep his streak of top-two runs alive. His final-turn pass of Davenport completed an impressive advance that saw him steer his Tye Twarog-owned Longhorn forward from the 15th starting spot and shoot from fifth to second following the lap-37 restart.

“You just had to be patient,” Moran said. “It was wild out there. We all ran the bottom for the first it felt like a hundred laps because it was such a slow pace. Then we started throwing them crumbs out and we could finally move out on the track just a little bit.

“It was so sketchy, it was like East Bay where you have no tires. It’s just like racing a four-wheeler on a pond of ice, so I just had to make sure I didn’t make too many big mistakes. I feel bad for (Davenport), but that kind of got us a second.”

Four caution flags slowed the race. Joseph Joiner was involved in three of them, tangling with Earl Pearson Jr. on the original start and spinning on laps four and 37. Mark Whitener triggered the other caution when mechanical trouble caused him to slow on lap nine and retire from the race as he ran in fifth.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Ricky Thornton Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 3: Mark Whitener, Spencer Hughes
Row 4: Jonathan Davenport; Kyle Bronson
Row 5: Earl Pearson Jr., Joseph Joiner
Row 6: Max Blair, Tim McCreadie
Row 7: Tyler Bruening, Carson Ferguson
Row 8: Devin Moran, Brian Shirley
Row 9: Brandon Overton, Tyler Erb
Row 10: Hudson O'Neal, Jimmy Owens
Row 11: Ashton Winger, Chris Madden
Row 12: Mike Marlar, Stormy Scott
Row 13: Garrett Alberson, Daulton Wilson

Consolation results

(10 laps; top three transfer)

First consolation: Brandon Overton, Hudson O’Neal, Ashton Winger, Drake Troutman, Johnny Scott, Dan Stone, Daulton Wilson, Jake O’Neil, Ryan Markham, Trey Mills, Logan Zarin, Mike Marlar, Jasion Miles. Scratched: Dalton Cook.

Second consultation: Tyler Erb, Jimmy Owens, Chris Madden, Blair Nothdurft, Austin Kirkpatrick, Ross Robinson, Matt Cosner, Garrett Alberson, Garrett Smith, Stormy Scott, Todd Cooney. Scratched: Colton Flinner, DeShawn Gingerich.

Pre-race notes

Brilliant sunshine and a high of 83 degrees welcomed competitors to All-Tech following Wednesday’s off day. That’s 51 degrees warmer — yes 51 degrees — than the tour’s finale at Golden Isles last Saturday. …  Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, has won two features and has three runner-up finishes. If Moran wins six more Lucas Oil Series events of the final nine, he will claim a $20,000 bonus. He’ll pick up a $100,000 bonus if he wins eight of the final nine, beginning with tonight’s race at All-Tech. … During his time trial effort, the laps of Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., were impeded by a slower car as determined by Lucas Oil officials. Erb was awarded two more laps and promptly set the overall time of 17.107 seconds. That held up only temporarily as fellow Illini driver Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, set the overall fast time (17.087) just seven cars later. … Carson Ferguson of Lincolnton, N.C., is making his Lucas Oil Series debut. … Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., picked up a $26,000 Crate Late Model victory at All-Tech on Oct. 23. Ferguson was second in that race, while Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., finished third. … Jake O’Neil of Tucson, Ariz., is making a return to Late Models for the first time in six years. O’Neil has been racing modifieds.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top four transfer)

First heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Mark Whitener, Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Bruening, Ashton Winger, Drake Troutman, Trey Mills, Mike Marlar, Dan Stone, Daulton Wilson, Ryan Markham.

Second heat: Shane Clanton, Jonathan Davenport, Max Blair, Devin Moran, Brandon Overton, Hudson O’Neal, Johnny Scott, Jake O’Neil, Jason Miles, Logan Zarin, Dalton Cook.

Third heat: Brandon Sheppard, Spencer Hughes, Joseph Joiner, Carson Ferguson, Garrett Smith, Blair Nothdurft, Matt Cosner, Stormy Scott, Colton Flinner, Garrett Alberson. Scratched: Deshawn Gingerich.

Fourth heat: Dennis Erb Jr., Kyle Bronson, Tim McCreadie, Brian Shirley, Tyler Erb, Jimmy Owens, Chris Madden, Austin Kirkpatrick, Todd Cooney, Ross Robinson.

Time trials

Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)
Group A

  1. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 17.170
  2. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 17.322
  3. Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 17.364
  4. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 17.544
  5. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 17.647
  6. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 17.691
  7. Mark Whitener (58), Middleburg, Fla., 17.799
  8. Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 17.825
  9. Drake Troutman (7T), Hyndman, Pa., 17.848
  10. Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 17.880
  11. Max Blair (111), Centerville, Pa., 17.900
  12. Ryan Markham (C02), Ashland, Ohio, 17.915
  13. Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 17.921
  14. Jake O’Neil (0), Tucson, Ariz., 18.000
  15. Ashton Winger (89), Hampton, Ga., 18.033
  16. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 18.035
  17. Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 18.120
  18. Jason Miles (503), Glenwood, Ark., 18.127
  19. Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 18.327
  20. Dalton Cook (44D), Columbus, Ga., 18.591
  21. Trey Mills (14JR), St. Augustine, Fla., 18.667
  22. Logan Zarin (1Z), Moon Township, Pa., 19.442

Group B

  1. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 17.087
  2. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 17.107
  3. Carson Ferguson (93), Concord, N.C., 17.236
  4. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 17.277
  5. Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 17.327
  6. Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 17.368
  7. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 17.368
  8. Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., 17.548
  9. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 17.572
  10. Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 17.573
  11. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 17.584
  12. Austin Kirkpatrick (11), Ocala, Fla., 17.707
  13. Matt Cosner (66), Ridgeley, W.Va., 17.734
  14. Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 17.769
  15. Joseph Joiner (10), Milton, Fla., 17.779
  16. Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 17.794
  17. Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 17.843
  18. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 17.897
  19. Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 17.995
  20. Todd Cooney (30), Des Moines, Iowa, 18.647
  21. Deshawn Gingerich (0), Dover, Pa., 73.172

Thursday's schedule

2-4:45 p.m - Technical inspection and pill draw
1:30 p.m. - Pit gates closed; pits cleared
2 p.m. - Pits reopen
3 p.m. - Grandstands open
5 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
5:30 p.m. - On-track action begins
- Super Late Model hot laps
- Street Stock hot laps
- Super Late Model time trials (two laps)
7 p.m. - Invocation and national anthem
7:10 p.m.
- Street stock heats (8 laps)
- Super Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Super Late Model consolation races (10 laps)
- Super Late Model feature (40 laps)
- Street stock feature (20 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Thornton Jr., Sheppard
Row 2: Clanton, D. Erb Jr.
Row 3: Whitener, Hughes
Row 4: Davenport; Bronson
Row 5: Pearson Jr., Joiner
Row 6: Blair, McCreadie
Row 7: Bruening, Ferguson
Row 8: Moran, Shirley
Row 9: Overton, T. Erb
Row 10: O'Neal, Owens
Row 11: Winger, Madden
Row 12: Marlar, S. Scott
Row 13: Alberson, Wilson

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