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World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series

Streaking Sheppard leads WoO to Tennessee

March 21, 2019, 6:54 pm
By Jordan DeLucia
World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series
The Rocket team in victory lane. (heathlawsonphotos.com)
The Rocket team in victory lane. (heathlawsonphotos.com)

Brandon Sheppard is heading for historic territory with this weekend’s World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series events in Tennessee.

Only six WoO drivers in series history have managed to put together a consecutive win streak of four or more. After winning four consecutive races at Volusia Speedway Park during February’s Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, the Rocket Chassis house car driver will go for five in a row Friday at Wheel’s Duck River Raceway Park and, if victorious, attempt to make it six on Saturday at Maryville’s Smoky Mountain Speedway. | Order live video

Billy Moyer (1988 and ’89) has two streaks of five in a row while Rick Eckert (2006), Tim Fuller (2009) and Josh Richards (2016) put together four-race series win streaks.

Sheppard is chasing the all-time streak leader Darrell Lanigan, who posted six consecutive series victories in the summer of 2012 at Red River Co-op Speedway in Winnipeg, Manitoba; River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D.; North Central Speedway in Brainerd, Minn.; Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.; Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway, and Shawano (Wis.) Speedway.

For Sheppard to break that mark, he’ll need to sweep Tennessee’s action and the opener of the Illini 100 weekend at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway the first weekend in April. As daunting of a task as this may seem for any other driver and team, Sheppard hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down since his fourth straight victory at Volusia as he added Saturday’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Indiana Icebreaker to his victory total.

Car owner Mark Richards has full confidence in his crew to get the job done Friday and beyond.

“It speaks a lot to what this team is all about,” Richards said. “The crew guys that we have brought together to form this team, they’re really the reason why this team does what it does. I’ve been doing this for 43, 44 years. Right now, I’ve got the best team I’ve ever had.”

As most modern-day race teams employ, everyone on the team has specific responsibilities to take care of both on and off the racetrack. The difference-maker for Richards and his team being, they don’t waste time with fabrication in February through November, which allows the entire crew to focus strictly on maintenance and improvements during active periods.

“We’re working on stuff so we’re ahead of the game come June or July, we’ve got equipment ready and we’re not building stuff in the middle of the summer,” Richards said. “We build all of our stuff during the winter. We hardly ever put a car together during race season.”

With all of that personal responsibility on the team comes the expectations of being one of the most recognizable teams and cars in Dirt Late Model racing. Sheppard has always displayed his signature humility in victory lane and never admits to feeling any extra pressure behind the wheel in major events. To complement that notion, Richards has put streaks like this together before, and knows gunning for such milestones doesn’t cut a bigger check or earn any extra championship points at the end of the night.

“We don’t add any pressure,” Richards said. “Obviously, our goal is to win every race we’re in. But as far as looking at records, we’ll let them fall where they fall in the end.”

At Duck River and Smoky Mountain, setting records won’t be at the forefront of team members’ minds.

“There’s just too many variables that make it to where you could have the best plan in the world and something still happens,” Richards continued. “We’ll just do what we can do and hope for the best.”

In opposition of Sheppard and the crew’s best efforts, Lanigan will be among those trying to stop the tour’s hottest team.

“I don’t really pay that any mind,” Lanigan said. “He’s been on a hot streak and they’ve got a good team. It takes a lot of luck to win another two races — I’m not saying they can’t, but it does take a lot of luck. Everything has to go their way, but there’ll be a lot of good cars down there so it should be interesting.”

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