PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Brandon Sheppard captured the biggest race of his young career winning the 33rd annual RED BUCK Dirt Track World Championship at Portsmouth Raceway Park Saturday night.
Sheppard, 20, became the youngest driver in the history of the DTWC to win the crown jewel event. Sheppard earned $50,000 as he became the 24th different driver to win the DTWC and captured his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory.
Sheppard, piloting the No. 1 Mark Richards Racing, Rocket House Car charged through the field from his seventh starting position using the very top groove to pass Scott Bloomquist for the lead on lap 43.
Sheppard motored away from the field after each restart through the middle stages of the race fending off challenges from several seasoned veterans en route to his victory in front of a capacity crowd.
Steve Francis advanced from 15th-starting position to finish second. Jackie Boggs took home third, followed by 14th-starting Jason Feger.
Jimmy Owens rounded out the top five and secured his third straight Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series title.
Sheppard, who was subbing for Josh Richards in the Rocket Chassis House car this weekend, was stunned with his accomplishment in victory lane.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Sheppard. “To come here in this car and win this race is just unbelievable. We had a great weekend. We set fast time last night and almost won our heat race, but to come from seventh tonight and win was just unbelievable.
“And to beat the caliber of drivers in this field and the history of this event is just awesome. We’ve really had such a good year with our own Rocket car as well and I have to thank my dad and grandpa for all of their help this season.”
Francis, driving the No. 15 Clint Bowyer Racing entry grabbed the second spot on lap 79 from Boggs. But over the final 21 laps of the race Francis could not catch Sheppard.
“Congrats to those guys on the win, Brandon and Mark they did a great job all weekend,” Francis said. “I thought maybe I had enough to chase him down at the end, but we finished the year strong and got second in the Lucas Oil points. We had a good battle all season with Jimmy (Owens) and congrats to him and his team on their championship. We’ll be back next year with Clint Bowyer Racing and Georgia Boot to try and win this championship again.”
Jackie Boggs, whose hall of fame father was the late Jack Boggs, won the DTWC three times. Jackie was in the hunt for his first DTWC win over the last half of the race, but came up just short in finishing a solid third place.
“The nose of our car was digging in the track at times and I couldn’t get off the corners like I wanted to,” Boggs said. “But we had a real good set-up for the feature and was hoping all the laps I’ve ran here would pay off with a win. To run third with these guys is still great.”
Brandon Sheppard set fast time (Group A) among the 79 entrants with a lap of 14.575 seconds
Brandon Sheppard, Steve Francis, Jackie Boggs, Jason Feger, Jimmy Owens, Don O’Neal, Billy Moyer, Dennis Erb Jr., Eric Wells, Steve Shaver, Earl Pearson Jr., Jonathan Davenport, John Blankenship, Mason Zeigler, Rod Conley, Jared Landers, Scott Bloomquist, R.J. Conley, Jared Hawkins, Will Vaught, Dustin Linville, Eddie Carrier Jr., Dale McDowell, Davey Johnson, Jeep VanWormer, Jimmy Mars.