NAPA Wayne County Speedway
Sheppard rules Wayne Co. in house car debut
By Ryan PearsonNAPA Wayne County Speedway
ORRVILLE, Ohio (May 18) — Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., wasted little time reaching victory lane in the Rocket Chassis house car. Less than two weeks after being named the successor to two-time World of Outlaws champion Josh Richards in Mark Richards’ famous blue No. 1, Sheppard, 19, won in his first outing in the car Friday night at NAPA Wayne County Speedway.
The 19-year-old from New Berlin, Ill., made a stirring high-side run from the eighth starting spot and outdueled Russ King and Ron Davies to win the unsanctioned weekly event.
Former track champions Ryan Markham of Ashland, Ohio, and Charlie Duncan, also of Ashland, led the stout 20-car field of Lias Tire Super Late Models to the green flag with Duncan grabbing the initial lead as Markham quickly faded.
The battle for the lead began to pick up around lap five as King of Bristolville, Ohio, and Davies of Warren, Pa., began to pressure Duncan. The third-running Davies pressured both drivers on the high side while King kept peeking under Duncan for the lead.
The epic battle for the lead continued for several laps as the top three cars were waging a full on battle. Meanwhile, Sheppard found the cushion in turns one and two to his liking and powered to the fourth position.
King kept working on Duncan and eventually motored past Duncan to take the lead with Davies in tow. Duncan’s night got even worse just a few laps later when he was forced mechanical issues forced his to the pits under a lap-12 caution.
When the racing resumed, eyes turned back to the Rocket house car, as Sheppard closed on Davies for the second position.
Davies turned back several strong runs by Sheppard, but the young driver eventually got the best of Davies, pulling a crossover move on the back straightaway to pull alongside. He then completed the pass as they raced off turn four.
The low groove was Sheppard's lane of choice in overtaking Davies, but he quickly returned to the cushion, throwing a rooster tail of dirt on the guard rail as he set his sights on King.
Sheppard ran down King by lap 18 and made quick work of the leader, taking the top spot and pulling away for the victory. King settled for the runner-up finish with Davies holding the third spot at the line. George Lee of Loudonville, Ohio, was fourth with hometown driver Cory Conley rounding out the top five.
Wayne County Speedway: (1) Brandon Sheppard, (2) Russ King, (3) Ron Davies, (4) George Lee, (5) Corey Conley, (6) Shane McLoughlin, (7) Ryan Markham, (8) Dave Hornikle, (9) J.R. Gentry, (10) D.J. Cline, (11) John Lobb, (12) Rick Bond, (13) David Liles, (14) Eric Smitley, (15) Travis Mensching, (16) Blaine Aber, (17) Charlie Duncan, (18) Rick Armstrong, (19) Mark Gardiner, (20) Thomas Baker. Heat race winners (among 26 cars): Markham, Duncan, King. Consolation race winner: Gentry.