GIBSONTON, Fla. — Brandon Sheppard passed Devin Moran coming off turn four on the final lap to win on the opening night of the 42nd annual Wrisco Industries Winternationals presented by E3 Spark Plugs at East Bay Raceway Park.
The 30-lap event saw four different leaders. Moran held the top spot at two different points and finished in second, with Earl Pearson Jr. claiming third. Jonathan Davenport was in contention for the win until the end when he came home fourth. Scott Bloomquist romped from 18th starting spot to finish fifth.
“I really didn’t find anything, it was treacherous getting off the corners,” Sheppard said. “I had to get off the bottom in the brown. It’s tricky. I guess I never lifted on that last lap. My dad texted Mark [Richards] before the race and told him to get on me and that I needed to get up on the wheel more.”
“I knew my dad was at home watching on television. I can’t thank Mark Richards and Steve Baker enough for what they have done for me, and everybody at Rocket Chassis as well. It’s a dream come true to drive for them. My dad and my grandpa have always supported me and I appreciate that.”
Kyle Bronson started from the pole and led the first lap of the event until Moran forged ahead. Josh Richards then picked up the pace as he took the lead for the first time on lap thirteen. Richards led three circuits before Sheppard appeared at the head of the field for the first time on lap 16.
Two circuits later, Moran regained the point and looked to be on his way to first victory at “The Clay by the Bay.” However, Moran was forced to battle lapped traffic entering turn three on the final lap, allowing Sheppard to go high on the track and beat Moran to the finish line by a narrow margin.
Moran was pleased with his second-place finish, but disappointed he didn’t get his first win at the third-mile oval.
“It was an awesome race,” Moran said. “With all the rain they got yesterday, Al [Varnadore] did a great job with the track. It would have been better if we would have won. My dad [Donnie] and brother [Wylie] were at home tonight and I had my brother Tristan here. It was a good run. We will come back tomorrow and try to improve one more spot.”
The Ronnie Stuckey Enterprises/Black Diamond/Lucas Oil entry of Earl Pearson Jr. battled amongst the top five the entire race before crossing the finish line in third.
“Those kids up front put on a good show, that’s for sure,” smiled Pearson. “For the first night here at East Bay we will take this and build from there. That was a heck of a show in front of me. They were dicing it out, back and forth, the fans had to enjoy that one.”
CREDIT: Lucas Communications