Sheppard Conquers Winternationals Finale

0
828
Brandon Sheppard (1) raced to victory in Saturday's Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Winternationals finale at East Bay Raceway Park. (Jim Denhamer Photo)
Brandon Sheppard (1) raced to victory in Saturday's Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Winternationals finale at East Bay Raceway Park. (Jim Denhamer Photo)

GIBSONTON, Fla. – Brandon Sheppard came from the 11th starting position to win Saturday night’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Wrisco Industries Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park.

It was Sheppard’s third win of the week in the annual Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned event. He passed race leader Devin Moran with 12 laps to go before driving on to victory.

Moran, in the Tye Twarog Longhorn, finished second to Sheppard with Tyler Erb, Brian Shirley and Shane Clanton completing the top five.

Polesitter Moran took the lead as the green flag waved, with Clanton hot on his heels. Moran and Clanton ran one-two for the first 12 laps of the race until Clanton passed Moran for the top spot on lap 13. Clanton held the point for six circuits until Moran was able to get back around the Georgia veteran.

Meanwhile, Sheppard was patiently working his way through the field and moved by Clanton for second on the 21st lap. Sheppard started working the top groove off turn two, closing the gap on Moran, but Moran kept his car glued to the bottom of the third mile oval. Moran continued to hold the top spot until Sheppard rapidly cut into Moran’s lead as he rocketed by him on lap 38.

Sheppard expanded his lead in the final 10 laps and went on to record his sixth win at East Bay and his 18th in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Sheppard continued the trend of Saturday night East Bay finale winners, as the 27-year-old Illinois native became the 12th different winner in the last 12 years.

Brandon Sheppard and his crew in victory lane at East Bay Raceway Park. (Mike Ruefer Photo)
Brandon Sheppard and his crew in victory lane at East Bay Raceway Park. (Mike Ruefer Photo)

“The track was tricky tonight and got really slow,” said Sheppard. “It was totally unexpected, but it was typical East Bay, where it didn’t give us the same thing twice this week. We had a different surface every night and that’s what makes it so much fun to come here. It’s a shame it’s going to be gone before long. Man, it was a lot of fun out there. I can’t thank my guys enough,” said Sheppard.

Moran concluded a successful week at East Bay with a second-place finish after scoring his first win at the Florida track on Monday night.

“I think this is deja-vu. Brandon’s done this to me here before, just all part of it. I don’t think anyone’s seen the racetrack like this for the feature,” Moran said. “I don’t know what did it or why it did it, that little bit of traction strip made us stick down there (on the bottom). We aren’t the biggest or brightest team, but we had a great Speedweeks, and hopefully we can cap it off tomorrow at All-Tech.”

Erb won twice last year at East Bay, but is still winless in the Georgia-Florida Speedweeks this season. Tonight, Erb did recod a solid point finish as he rounded out the podium.

“The track was a little bit crazy,” Erb said. “You couldn’t get the top going, so just congrats to Sheppard, Devin, and everybody. It’s been a long week here and we got every race in. I really enjoy racing here although, it wasn’t the final night we were all kind of hoping for, but it was a good night for us and we’ll go on to All-Tech.”

The finish:

Brandon Sheppard, Devin Moran, Tyler Erb, Brian Shirley, Shane Clanton, Rick Eckert, Tim McCreadie, Shanon Buckingham, Jonathan Davenport, Billy Moyer Jr., Dennis Erb Jr., Pearson Williams, Chase Junghans, Jimmy Owens, Josh Richards, Tanner English, Charles Powell, Tyler Bruening, Trever Feathers, Boom Briggs, David Breazeale, Billy Moyer, G.R. Smith, Matt Cosner, Kyle Bronson, Dan Stone, Ken Monahan, Mason Zeigler, Mike Marlar, Earl Pearson Jr.