ROSSBURG, Ohio — official track release — Heath Lawson photo —
Veteran Dale McDowell and young gun Brandon Sheppard rolled to impressive preliminary feature victories on the opening night of Eldora Speedway’s 45th World 100, splitting Thursday night’s two 25-lap DIRTcar-sanctioned races at the historic half-mile oval.
The $5,000-to-win triumphs put McDowell and Sheppard in prime position for Saturday’s $48,000-to-win World 100. Saturday’s heat races for the crown jewel event will be set based on drivers’ performances on Thursday and in a second night of preliminary action on Friday.
McDowell, who won the World 100 in 2005 and finished second last year, started fourth and battled early with defending World 100 champion Scott Bloomquist and R.J. Conley. But his car quickly came to life and he found the low line and took the lead. He never looked back and took the checkered flag.
“That’s my preferred line, McDowell said. “I think that’s the best place to take care of your tires. Brandon (Sheppard) looked awfully good around the top, so I think it’s just where you get your car balanced. Our package just seems to work in the middle to the bottom — although in the heat race I was able to run up top.
“It takes two different style race cars, two different style setups to run the top and the bottom and be the best at either one. We’ll just have to see what the track conditions are, what the preparation is, what the weather may do.”
Darrell Lanigan, charged to a second-place finish, while Mike Marlar flirted with Eldora’s famous wall to finish third. Last-minute entry Chris Madden, who started 12th, worked his way to fourth, while World of Outlaws Late Models Series point leader Shane Clanton rounded out the top five.
Sheppard, who is just 22, started second in race two, but took the victory.
Early on however, he was in a fierce battle with Eldora favorite Jeep VanWormer as the two fought for control. Making contact on a few occasions, they battled for several laps before Sheppard found speed on the top and pulled away for the victory.
“It feels awesome,” said Sheppard. “It’s a really prestigious racetrack and my father and grandfather put a lot of hard earned money in my program. It means a lot to them and it means a lot to me because I’ve put a lot of hard work into the cars and the program.
“We were sitting at Rocket Chassis (in Shinnston, West Virginia) on Tuesday with basically a bare frame and two crew guys and I got it ready and left at midnight and made it here at 7 a.m., on Wednesday. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication.”
Two-time World 100 winner Jimmy Owens worked his way up to second followed by VanWormer. Dennis Erb Jr., was fourth with Dream winner Jonathan Davenport fifth.
Josh Richards was the fast qualifier for the 106-car field with a lap of 16.604 seconds on the half-mile oval.
RESULTS: DIRTcar UMP Late Models; World 100 Preliminary Night #1; Eldora Speedway; September 10, 2015
Twin 25 A-Main #1 (25 Laps): 1. 17M-Dale McDowell ; 2. 29-Darrell Lanigan ; 3. 157-Mike Marlar ; 4. 44M-Chris Madden ; 5. 25C-Shane Clanton ; 6. 5-Don O’Neal ; 7. 1P-Earl Pearson Jr. ; 8. 0-Scott Bloomquist ; 9. 7R-Kent Robinson ; 10. 47-Alex Ferree ; 11. 39-Tim McCreadie ; 12. 99M-Devin Moran ; 13. 54W-Matt Westfall ; 14. 71C-RJ Conley ; 15. 1-Josh Richards ; 16. 21B-Chris Brown ; 17. 25Z-Mason Zeigler ; 18. 93-Jay Johnson ; 19. 22-Chris Ferguson ; 20. 31-Nick Latham ; 21. 7W-Ricky Weiss ; 22. 33-Tim Manville ; 23. 32-Austin Hubbard ; 24. D8-Dustin Linville
Twin 25 A-Main #2 (25 Laps): 1. B5-Brandon Sheppard ; 2. 20-Jimmy Owens ; 3. 55-Jeep VanWormer ; 4. 28E-Dennis Erb Jr.  ; 5. 6-Jonathan Davenport ; 6. 28M-Jimmy Mars ; 7. 15F-Steve Francis ; 8. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr.  ; 9. 3s-Brian Shirley ; 10. 25F-Jason Feger ; 11. R5-Chris Simpson ; 12. 75P-Terry Phillips ; 13. 14M-Morgan Bagley ; 14. 20C-Duane Chamberlain ; 15. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr.  ; 16. 32P-Bobby Pierce ; 17. 18-Shannon Babb ; 18. C9-Steve Casebolt ; 19. 1*-Chub Frank ; 20. F5-Garrett Alberson ; 21. 777-Jared Landers ; 22. 81JR-Jason Riggs ; 23. 240-Doug Drown ; 24. 22S-Gregg Satterlee
CREDIT: Eldora Speedway