WoONight1RR

Sheppard Shines as He Rockets to DIRTcar Nationals Victory at Volusia

BARBERVILLE, FL – Feb. 13, 2019 – Brandon Sheppard was the third different winner in three races to start the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series season, and he dominated on Wednesday night at Volusia Speedway Park’s 48th Annual DIRTcar Nationals.

While “The Rocket Shepp” was in control, a wild race waged behind him. Don O’Neal had fallen as far as 16th before he hooked up and charged all the way to second while former DIRTcar Nationals champion Josh Richards hung tough all night in the top five and finished third.

But a perfect setup in the Morton Buildings Feature was exactly what Sheppard needed to hold off Scott Bloomquist and Dale McDowell in the early going, and then be able to move through traffic on the expertly prepared racing surface.

“I think our car was maneuverable enough that we could have passed cars if we needed to,” said Sheppard, of New Berlin, IL. “We passed a few lapped cars there. Like I said, our car was maneuverable. It was very balanced and fun to drive, and the track was fun to drive too. It was kind of a little bit different at both ends and you could move around on it, so it was fun.”

Sheppard started his night off with a hammer-down qualifying effort, clocking in at 16.097 – good enough for fifth overall. He grabbed the early lead in Heat 2 and redrew the pole, never looking back once through multiple restarts toward the end of the race. For he and his crew, Sheppard was just glad to pick up a victory at Volusia, as he was feeling the pressure after going winless in his first 14 starts this year from Arizona to Georgia and Florida.

“Sometimes, it takes a while to get the first win out of the way and get it off your back,” Sheppard said with a sigh of relief. “Everybody’s under a lot of pressure to get the first win.

“I knew as long as we could keep up front and keep running good that the wins would come. Usually, we’ve got one by now, so the pressure was on. For me, it’s a big relief to finally get the first one out of the way… I almost thought I forgot how to do it for a minute.”

After scoring 13 wins last season, the Mark Richards Racing, Rocket Chassis house car wound up second in the Series championship after a few unfortunate DNFs, creating a gap he was unable to make up in the end despite a victory in the World Finals at Charlotte. This year, Sheppard put all that behind him and has never been more focused on posting good, consistent finishes. And what start he’s gotten off to, taking the points lead after just three races.

“Truthfully, there’s less pressure because we didn’t win the championship last year,” Sheppard said. “I think we’ve 100 percent, in my mind, got a championship team. At the end of the day, we’re going to go out and concentrate on getting wins.”

O’Neal has certainly sprung to a great start at Volusia. After finishing fourth in Heat 1, placing him 13th on the starting grid, “The Real Deal” steadily picked off the traffic in front of him, lap-by-lap, earning him a runner-up finish. And what a charge he had, falling as far back as 16th on lap six.

“I stayed on the bottom for probably 15-to-20 laps and then I restarted on the outside after a caution,” O’Neal said. “Then I pretty much just slid on the top after that, and that’s when we got to rolling good.”

This second place sat well with the Clint Bowyer Racing pilot and will give him plenty to build off of going forward through the next three nights of action at Volusia.

“It’s a big thing to build off of, having a good run like we did the more we started,” O’Neal said. “[We’re] just working a little bit on this package we’ve got right here to see if we can’t fine-tune it a little bit.”

The field was full of big movers on the racy half-mile surface as Brian Shirley powered from 20th to eighth and Jonathan Davenport motored from 14th to fifth.

While Richards earned his second top-five this week at Volusia, Chase Junghans motored to his third top-five finish in three World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series races this season. Junghans is the only driver who has three top-five finishes in the first three points races.

He agreed this is something to build on throughout the weekend, saying “We’re just going to keep on working on this car, trying to fine-tune it and hopefully get a couple wins before we leave here.”

The Series is back in action Thursday night as it looks for its fourth consecutive different winner to start the season after Brandon Overton, Shane Clanton and Sheppard have taken the first three checkered flags.

Get your tickets here, or your Late Model Fast Pass on DIRTVision to watch every lap live!

Abbreviated Results (click here for full results)

Morton Buildings Feature (50 Laps) 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [1][$10,000]; 2. 5-Don O'Neal [13][$5,000]; 3. 14-Josh Richards [5][$3,000]; 4. 18-Chase Junghans [7][$2,500]; 5. 49-Jonathan Davenport [14][$2,000]; 6. 17M-Dale McDowell [4][$1,700]; 7. 29-Darrell Lanigan [9][$1,400]; 8. 3s-Brian Shirley [20][$1,300]; 9. 25-Shane Clanton [11][$1,200]; 10. 44-Chris Madden [6][$1,100]; 11. 71-Hudson O'Neal [8][$1,050]; 12. 7r-Kent Robinson [3][$1,000]; 13. 9-Devin Moran [18][$950]; 14. 2-Brandon Overton [17][$900]; 15. 20-Jimmy Owens [12][$850]; 16. 40B-Kyle Bronson [19][$800]; 17. 36v-Kyle Hardy [16][$770]; 18. 28-Dennis Erb [22][$750]; 19. 83-Scott James [27][$110]; 20. B1-Brent Larson [24][$700]; 21. 72-Mike Norris [10][$700]; 22. 0-Scott Bloomquist [2][$700]; 23. 91-Tyler Erb [15][$700]; 24. 7-Ricky Weiss [26][$110]; 25. 6m-Mike Marlar [23][$700]; 26. 58-Ivedent Lloyd [21][$700]; 27. 6-Blake Spencer [25][$110] Hard Charger: 3s-Brian Shirley[+12] Lap Leaders - 1 - Brandon Sheppard - 1-50

GATOR CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

SPOT

CAR #

NAME

NAME

11-Feb

13-Feb

TOTAL

1

14

JOSH

RICHARDS

65

70

135

2

29

DARRELL

LANIGAN

75

53

128

3

1

BRANDON

SHEPPARD

45

80

125

4

18

CHASE

JUNGHANS

53

65

118

5

6m

MIKE

MARLAR

80

31

111

6

25

SHANE

CLANTON

60

49

109

7

5

DON

O'NEAL

33

75

108

8

17M

DALE

MCDOWELL

51

55

106

9

0

SCOTT

BLOOMQUIST

70

34

104

10

2

BRANDON

OVERTON

47

42

89

11

44

CHRIS

MADDEN

41

47

88

12

9

DEVIN

MORAN

44

43

87

13

72

MIKE

NORRIS

49

35

84

14

39

TIM

MCCREADIE

55

28

83

15

40B

KYLE

BRONSON

43

40

83

16

3s

BRIAN

SHIRLEY

32

51

83

17

7k

KENT

ROBINSON

34

44

78

18

36v

KYLE

HARDY

35

39

74

19

7

RICKY

WEISS

39

32

71

20

28

DENNIS

ERB

29

38

67

21

B1

BRENT

LARSON

30

36

66

22

97

CADE

DILLARD

40

25

65

23

12

JASON

JAMESON

38

27

65

24

16

TYLER

BRUENING

36

26

62

25

49

JONATHAN

DAVENPORT

 

60

60

26

99B

BOOM

BRIGGS

37

22

59

27

7m

DONALD

MCINTOSH

30

28

58

28

58

IVEDENT

LLOYD

28

30

58

29

6

BLAKE

SPENCER

26

29

55

30

2s

DAN

STONE

31

24

55

31

7F

JASON

FITZGERALD

28

26

54

32

11B

STACY

BOLES

29

23

52

33

76

BLAIR

NOTHDURFT

24

25

49

34

99jr

FRANK

HECKENAST

27

20

47

35

CO2

TYLER

CLEM

23

23

46

36

53

HILLARD

MILLER

24

22

46

37

71

HUDSON

O'NEAL

 

45

45

38

16H

MIKE

HAMMERLE

22

21

43

39

116

TANNER

ENGLISH

42

 

42

40

20

JIMMY

OWENS

 

41

41

41

83

SCOTT

JAMES

 

37

37

42

91

TYLER

ERB

 

33

33

43

48

COLTON

FLINNER

31

 

31

44

33

JEFF

MATTHEWS

27

 

27

45

51m

JOEY

MORIARTY

 

27

27

46

942

STEVE

ISENBERG

26

 

26

47

1x

CHUB

FRANK

25

 

25

48

22x

G R

SMITH

25

 

25

49

1P

EARL

PEARSON

 

24

24

50

25h

CHUCK

HUMMER

 

21

21

 

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