NEW RICHMOND, Wis. - Kicking off the USA Nationals weekend in dramatic fashion, Brandon Sheppard topped a thrilling late battle with Jonathan Davenport to claim Thursday’s $6,000 World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series feature that served as a tuneup for the weekend’s crown jewel event at Cedar Lake Speedway.
Battling back after losing the lead with three laps remaining, Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., overtook Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., as the two Dirt Late Model superstars raced toward the checkered flag in the 40-lap event. Sheppard, the reigning World of Outlaws champion, crossed the finish line 0.266 seconds ahead of Davenport in scoring his 10th WoO victory of the season.
“Yeah that was fun! It was hard to know where to be most of the night, but we found a good groove in the middle of the track. I knew (Davenport) was going to the top. He kept getting a run on me up there, but we were a little bit better in the middle.” said the the 25-year-old Sheppard, who pilots the Seubert Calf Ranches-sponsored Rocket Chassis house car.
“I was pretty lucky that I could stay up to his quarter panel, so that last lap I was able to get a good run on him. I wasn’t too sure I could get by him there at the end though. But, I was able to get into the corner with both rear tires and get gripped up really good and it just worked out for us.”
Davenport, the current points leader on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, settled for second after leading laps 3-37. Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, kept his recent hot streak rolling with a third-place finish. Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., was fourth with Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., rounding out the top five.
Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., took sole possession of the WoO points lead with his sixth-place finish. He entered the night tied with Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., atop the standings, but Marlar's 18th-place finish allowed Madden to build a 24-point lead. Sheppard is third, 34 points out of the lead.
The World of Outlaws tour will spend the next two nights at Cedar Lake for the $50,000-to-win USA Nationals. The crown jewel event features a new double-heat-race format for its preliminary night on Friday, which will determine the starting order for Saturday’s 100-lap main event.
All of the weekend’s action will be presented in a live video broadcast by DirtonDirt.com. Check out their website for ordering options.
Feature Finish: (1) Brandon Sheppard, (2) Jonathan Davenport, (3) Devin Moran, (4) Hudson O'Neal, (5) Jimmy Mars, (6) Chris Madden, (7) Chris Simpson, (8) Ricky Weiss, (9) Brian Shirley, (10) Jimmy Owens, (11) Brent Larson, (12) Rick Eckert, (13) Kyle Bronson, (14) Shane Clanton, (15) Tyler Erb, (16) Chase Junghans, (17) David Breazeale, (18) Mike Marlar, (19) Tyler Bruening, (20) Jason Rauen, (21) Frank Heckenast Jr., (22) Shannon Babb, (23) Don O'Neal, (24) Billy Moyer. Fast qualifier (among 45 cars): Moran. Heat race winners: Madden, Sheppard, Davenport, Babb. B-Main winners: Simpson, Moyer.