WOO LMS: Super-Sub Sheppard Powers to Convincing Victory in Saturday’s Winter Nationals A-Main

RaceChaser Staff Other Late Models, Southeast, Sprints & Midgets, Stock Cars, World of Outlaws Sprint Cars 0 Comments

OCALA, FL – Feb. 15, 2014 – World Racing Group photo — Just call him Super Sub.

Continuing his spectacular performance as the interim driver of the Rocket Chassis house car, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., powered to a convincing victory in Saturday night’s 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main at Bubba Raceway Park.

Sheppard, 21, surged forward from the fifth starting spot to take the lead from hometown favorite Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., on lap seven and never looked back. The 2013 DIRTcar Summer Nationals and DIRTcar Late Model national champion easily handled four restarts over the remaining distance to defeat Friday-night winner Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., by 4.348 seconds in the second night of action during the third annual Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals.

Lloyd, who started from the pole position and led laps 1-6, swapped second place with Smith twice before settling for a career-best WoO LMS finish of third. Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., ran as high as second midway through the race but slipped to fourth at the finish and outside-polesitter Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., placed fifth after starting from the outside pole.

The $10,050 triumph was Sheppard’s first of the young 2014 WoO LMS season and the fourth of his career on the national tour. Two of his World of Outlaws checkered flags have come behind the wheel of Mark Richards’s familiar Valvoline-sponsored Rocket No. 1, which he is steering while reigning WoO LMS champion Josh Richards is sidelined by undisclosed medical issues.

Sheppard also earned his first-ever win during Georgia/Florida Speedweeks, which he has been attending annually since he was a high-school student.

“We’ve been trying a lot of years to get a win down here and had never been able to do it,” said Sheppard, who had made all his previous Speedweeks appearances in family-owned equipment. “We never really had any runs to write home about, but this year we’ve had a really good car the whole time we’ve been down here. This team is awesome and I felt like it was a matter of time before we’d get one.”

Sheppard’s great start in the first 50-lapper of the WoO LMS campaign proved to be key to his success. He passed three cars on the opening lap to reach second place and then measured Lloyd’s Snow Brothers car for several circuits before grabbing the lead on lap seven with an inside move rounding turn four.

“Everything fell into place right,” said Sheppard. “We came up through there pretty quick. We had a ton of traction off of four. I feel like that’s where a lot of guys would lose time, but I could really get through there and get down on that bottom pretty good and drive off.”

Sheppard maintained a modest edge once in command, holding his rivals at arm’s length as he marched to a victory that gave him a rare sweep of a WoO LMS program. He had some close calls in lapped traffic late in the distance but turned up the wick to power away from the 36-year-old Smith in the final circuits.

“I seen my guys telling me they were getting a little bit close to me when I was in lapped traffic,” said Sheppard, whose perfect night included fast-time honors in qualifying and a heat-race win. “I was kind of trying to save my tires a little bit there, but I knew we were pretty good on the top. I looked up and seen a couple laps to go and put it on the top and got something done.”

Smith, who hustled his Rocket machine forward from the eighth starting spot to reach second for the first time with a lap-26 restart pass of Fuller, happily accepted his runner-up finish.

“I’m not gonna complain about a second,” said Smith, who ended the night tied for the WoO LMS points lead with Sheppard. “I was probably a little too conservative trying to save my tires, but we’ll take second.”

Lloyd, meanwhile, felt a prime opportunity to snatch a memorable first-ever WoO LMS win on home turf might have slipped through his fingers.

“The track got a little rough and we had hard tires on,” said Lloyd, whose previous career-high WoO LMS finish was a fourth in last year’s Winter Nationals opener at BRP. “I never would’ve thought four 10s (soft compound tires) would beat us here, but that’s how it goes. We were hoping for a little bit better, but it was a pretty good run. It’s an accomplishment to run third with these guys.”

Finishing in positions 6-10 was Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who charged forward from the 19th starting spot after running a B-Main for the second consecutive night; Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., who briefly cracked the top five; 17th-starter Rick Eckert of York, Pa.; Frankie Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park, Ill., who ran as high as sixth; and Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga.

Four caution flags slowed the event, including a notable lap-14 spin between turns one and two by Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., who was bidding for fourth place when he lost control of his car. Other cautions flew for Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., who spun in turns one and two on lap 10; Raymond Merrill of Sallisaw, Okla. (flat tire on lap 26); and Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa. (slowed on lap 32).

Thirty cars were signed in for the event.

Sheppard was fastest in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials for the second consecutive night, turning a lap of 13.955 seconds. He was just over two-tenths of a second off the track record of 13.771 seconds set by Josh Richards exactly one year ago.

Heat winners were Sheppard, Lloyd and Clanton, and McCreadie captured the B-Main.

The Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals conclude on Sunday (Feb. 16) with the inaugural 60-lap ‘Super Sunday Showdown,’ which offers a $12,000 first-place prize. Gates are scheduled to open at 12 noon with hot laps set to start at 4 p.m.

 

RESULTS: World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals’ Night 2 at Bubba Raceway Park (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (5) Brandon Sheppard/50 $10,050
2. (8) Brady Smith/50 $5,050
3. (1) Ivedent Lloyd Jr./50 $3,600
4. (3) Tim Fuller/50 $2,550
5. (2) Darrell Lanigan/50 $2,150
6. (19) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,850
7. (9) Mike Marlar/50 $1,400
8. (17) Rick Eckert/50 $1,575
9. (6) Frankie Heckenast Jr./50 $1,250
10. (12) Casey Roberts/50 $1,150
11. (10) Morgan Bagley/50 $1,100
12. (21) Brandon Overton/50 $1,000
13. (18) Chub Frank/50 $1,050
14. (4) Shane Clanton/50 $950
15. (23) Eric Wells/50 $900
16. (7) Chase Junghans/50 $800
17. (20) Austin Kirkpatrick/50 $770
18. (11) Clint Smith/49 $800
19. (16) Raymond Merrill/49 $730
20. (13) Mark Whitener/48 $700
21. (22) Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/41 $700
22. (24) John Winge/22 $700
23. (14) Jack Sullivan/18 $700
24. (15) John Garvin Jr./14 $700

* Earnings include cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 23 Mins., 53.004 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 4.348 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 4 (laps 10, 14, 26, 32)
Lap Leaders: Lloyd (1-6); Sheppard (7-50)
Provisional Starters: Wells, Winge
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Lloyd ($500)

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