PEVELY, Mo. — Brandon Sheppard claimed his eighth victory of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series season and his second win of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on Saturday.
“We had a really good racecar… and we had a good rhythm goin’ once we got goin’,” said Sheppard. “This race track is awesome. I love coming here and it means a lot to get a win here at I-55. It’s been a while since I’ve been here but it’s definitely been a while since I got a win here.”
Sheppard and his Rocket 1 Racing team claimed their first Summer Nationals win of the season just two days earlier at Plymouth Speedway by out dueling a late-race charge from Scott Bloomquist.
The race at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 marked the first time that the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series collided with the DIRTcar Summer Nationals for one show.
Placing two of the best dirt late model tours on one stage did not leave the fans disappointed, as many times throughout the event fans were up and out of their seats cheering, gasping, and/or booing. Nothing got more of a reaction out of the fans than a crash on lap-43 wiping out all but one car in the top five.
Sheppard was leading the field at the time so avoided the wreck. Behind him, Brian Shirley, Chris Madden, Tyler Erb and Frank Heckenast Jr. were fighting for the final two podium spots. With multiple sliders and three-wide action around the track, it was only a matter of time until the inevitable.
With seven laps to go, Shirley got under Madden’s left rear tangling the pair. Erb and Heckenast were trailing closely behind so there was no time to avoid the wreck.
“Lapped traffic was terrible to get through,” said Erb. “Every time I would get behind those lapped cars, it would just kill all of my momentum and then we would get all bunched up. Squirrel (Shirley) got in there hot when Madden slid him and they wrecked and I did everything I could to keep going but the track was covered up. It sucks. We gave away a lot of money tonight.”
The event was running on Summer Nationals rules, so the cars involved in the wreck had to go to the tail of the feature, even if they did not cause the wreck.
Rather than returning to the field, Madden and Shirley headed off the track and to the pit area. On Shirley’s way out, one of Madden’s crew members threw a stick at Shirley’s car in displeasure with the way things unfolded.
Eric Wells and Rick Eckert were able to cash in on the other drivers’ misfortune, by moving up the ranks to finish second and third.
“This place was really racey,” said Wells. “I was watching everyone in front of me and watching sparks flying. I was just trying to keep my stuff together. It’s a misfortune for Madden and Shirley and them guys involved in that crash but we’re happy with a second-place finish.”
“That wreck happened about 15 times, it just finally did happen,” said Eckert. “I lost a couple of spots trying to miss it the times that it didn’t happen but it was a gift to us because we were backing through the field there. I kept getting off of that top because I thought they were crashing and finally they did and I was lucky enough to be far enough away from it.”
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…