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World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series

WoO, Summernationals drivers facing off

June 28, 2017, 11:54 am
By Clayton Johns
World Racing Group
Bobby Pierce tours I-55 in 2015. (stlracingphotos.com)
Bobby Pierce tours I-55 in 2015. (stlracingphotos.com)

Winning is tough enough on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series and UMP DIRTcar Summernationals. Putting both tours together this weekend makes it even tougher.

Drivers from the star-powered series face off Friday at Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track and Saturday at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in a pair of co-sanctioned races on the World Racing Group-affiliated tours. | Complete Summernationals coverage

For WoO drivers, the events conclude a busy stretch of six races in 11 days in four different states by facing the month-long Summernationals tour that’s always busy with racing virtually every night at a different track. It’ll be an additional challenge for the national touring drivers.

"It definitely gets a lot more difficult," said current WoO points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., the 2013 Summernationals champion. “There's a lot of tough competition that run that series. When you mix the two of them together, it makes for a heck of a field of cars. There's definitely a lot of good competition that we'll be running against, but that's the fun of our sport.”

Summernationals regulars are familiar with Terre Haute and I-55, but some WoO drivers like Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, will be seeing the tracks for the first time.

"I'll definitely watch quite a bit of video of those tracks and just get a feel for what's going on," Moran said. "Other than that, there's not much I would change. We try to be 100 percent prepared for every race we go to. Hopefully we show up and run pretty decent.”

Facing WoO drivers adds to the challenges for the Summernationals drivers with two-time and reigning series champion Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., on top just before the tour’s midpoint.

"You have a tough bunch of guys that run the Hell Tour and then the Outlaw guys come in and their stuff is going to be a little bit more fresh than ours by that time,” Pierce said. “It's going to make it a little tougher on us.”

Teams from both tours get in the habit of maintaining their equipment on the road while working out of haulers, sometimes in random parking lots. But leaving home ready is important, too.

"It still all happens in the race shop,” Moran said. "Before we leave we want to be 100 percent prepared. We'll have an extra car and extra parts. We could probably build an entire car, minus the frame, in the race hauler. That's really the key when we're out traveling — we have to make sure we have everything.”

Added Sheppard: "We try to start off with our stuff as fresh as we can and keep plenty of spare stuff with us. That’s the difficult part — running all those races and keep your stuff maintained and up to par or where it needs to be.”

WoO and Summernationals drivers will first tackle the flattish half-mile oval at Terre Haute, and then I-55’s high banks in tight quarter-mile action.

"I don't think it will be as hard because the one thing with the Summernationals that really benefits you as a driver is when you go to all of these different tracks, it helps you adapt really quick to different track conditions and track types," Pierce said.

Sheppard, who competed several seasons on the Summernationals, isn’t concerned.

"We've been really consistent all year long and we race two or three different tracks every weekend,” he said, “so it won't be anything different to go from one track to another.”

 While Moran hasn't turned a lap on either track, he'll use the experience he has gained traveling with the Outlaws to his benefit.

"One of my favorite things about racing is going to new tracks," Moran said. “Terre Haute is a one of a kind racetrack. We don't go to many places that are a big half-mile and flat like that. I'm really excited to go to Pevely. It's definitely an action-packed racetrack. I'm excited to get there.”

Bragging rights will be on the line for drivers on both tours.

"I wouldn't be surprised if you saw a World of Outlaws guy and a Summernationals guy battling for the lead both nights," Pierce said. "It's going to be tough.”

Sheppard in particular is looking to makeup for a previous visit to Terre Haute where he led the majority of the race, but had the win stolen late in the race.

"I ran Mark Richards' car there in 2012 at the Summernationals race and I think I led all but the last five laps when we knocked the nose off up in the cushion," Sheppard said. "I'm kind of looking forward to going back there and getting some revenge.”

For Moran, it's a chance to run against one of his good friends in Pierce with some friendly bragging rights on the line.

“I'm definitely excited to go race with the Summernationals guys,” Moran said. “Living in Ohio, I don't get to do that a whole lot. Going out there and racing with one of my good buddies Bobby Pierce, I hope I put it on him those couple of nights.”

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