PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Brandon Sheppard captured the 40th annual General Tire Dirt Track World Championship presented by Optima Batteries on Saturday night at Portsmouth Raceway Park.
Sheppard earned $100,000 for his fourth career victory in the crown-jewel event sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
With the win, Sheppard became the third driver in the 40-year history of the event to score back-to-back wins, joining Josh Richards and Scott Bloomquist.
Ricky Thornton Jr. finished in second for his best career finish in the event with Tim McCreadie claiming third.
McCreadie had led the first 23 laps of the 100-lap affair until yielding the top spot to Sheppard, who started 11th. Chris Madden; in his first DTWC start in 14 years; finished in fourth and 22nd-place starter Tyler Erb rounded out the top five.
McCreadie, who had already clinched second place in the championship point standings, sprinted to the lead at the start of the richest first-place prize money offered in dirt late model racing this year.
McCreadie held off challenges from last year’s DTWC runner-up Mike Marlar for several laps until Marlar lost the second spot to Sheppard on lap 21.
Sheppard made his move to the lead three laps later taking over the top spot on lap 24. Zack Dohm was on the move taking the second spot on lap 35 and started to challenge Sheppard for the lead.
Dohm pulled even with Sheppard a couple of times until lap 75 when Thornton moved into second place. Thornton held the second position until the finish.
In Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the fifth time this year, the 27-year-old Sheppard withstood some tense caution flags laps to get the win.
“I will tell you what, I love this place,” Sheppard said. “As hard as its been all weekend I knew it was going to be around the bottom at the end of the race. I knew when I rolled out there for the race, drive as hard as I could to get to the front as soon as I could. So that was kind of the game plan. We went a little different on tires than we normally do here. We had an early game, but once we got the lead we didn’t know what we were going to do.
“Our car was good just like it has been all year long,” Sheppard continued. “I think that’s 31 wins this year so that’s really awesome. During those cautions I had too much time to think about my right rear tire for sure. When I was in lapped traffic, I tried to pass them one time and I didn’t feel good and so I tucked back in behind them. Zack showed me his nose on the outside and when he showed the line a little bit different in one and two, that got me going a little bit better.”
Thornton was coming off his first career LOLMDS win at Pittsburgh came home in second.
“I honestly don’t think the cautions mattered,” he said. “He [Sheppard] had a really good car. I was going to try and go to the top if I got close enough. On the restarts he would really take off and it took me about 5 or 6 laps to get going. We ran a little hard on tires and I knew on the restarts we wouldn’t be as good as those other guys.”
McCreadie wound up third.
“I gave it my best shot. I was too good too early, and I didn’t know where to be on the track. When Sheppard got by me, I was just kind of got lost for a few laps and it cost us. On the restarts I just couldn’t get a clear track to make a move.”
Brandon Sheppard, Ricky Thornton Jr., Tim McCreadie, Chris Madden, Tyler Erby, Zack Dohm, Billy Moyer Jr., Boom Briggs, Kyle Bronson, Jason Feger, Jonathan Davenport, Stormy Scott, Earl Pearson Jr., Shane Clanton, Scott Bloomquist, Tanner English, Tyler Bruening, Hudson O’Neal, Chris Ferguson, Josh Richards, Steve Casebolt, Devin Moran, Jared Landers, Mike Marlar, Darrell Lanigan, Robby Hensley, Jimmy Owens, Tim Dohm, Brian Shirley, Kyle Larson, Brandon Overton.