MANSFIELD, Ohio — Brandon Sheppard and Mike Marlar won featues on Friday night of the second annual Dirt Million presented by Arizona Sport Shirts at Mansfield Motor Speedway.
Each driver earned $10,000 for their 30-lap victories and are guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday night’s Dirt Million finale.
Sheppard took the lead on lap two from polesitter Kent Robinson and led the rest of the way to win the first Duel. It was not an easy win for the 26-year-old Illinois racer, as he had to hold off both a charging Jimmy Owens and the defending Dirt Million winner Earl Pearson Jr.
Brandon Overton was fourth, with Hudson O’Neal coming from the fifteenth starting spot to register a fifth-place finish at the checkers.
“It was really hard staying out front,” said Sheppard. “They have got the track really good right now. You had to have a line where the car would go best. With traffic in front of us, we really didn’t know where to go. My crew guys are awesome, they kept me up to date on where I needed to be on the track. It was tricky out there. I felt good around the top of three and four and in one and two I felt good all over.”
Owens was in the hunt for the win from the halfway mark and came home in second after passing Pearson on lap 21.
“It is hands down better than we ran here last night,” Owens said. “It felt good to be battling for the win. Brandon [Sheppard], he is one of the toughest guys in the country right now, and to have him moving around and looking over his shoulder the whole race was pretty awesome.”
Pearson, who collected over $202,000 for his win in the Dirt Million a year ago, returned to the Lucas Oil podium with his third-place finish.
“It wasn’t too bad tonight, “ he said. “We got up on the cushion and did our thing, which is unusual for me to go to the cushion. We weren’t bad up on the cushion either. When Brandon moved up there, we couldn’t do much after that.”
Marlar claimed his fourth Lucas Oil win of the season, leading all 30 laps for a convincing victory.
Chase Junghans, for the second night in a row, recorded a second-place finish. Michael Norris, in the Clint Bowyer Racing No. 5 entry, posted his best career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series finish rounding out the podium. Jonathan Davenport finished fourth with Tyler Erb crossing the finish line in fifth.
Marlar who also started on the pole of a Thursday night duel was not going to be denied tonight as he stormed to the lead early on over Norris and Junghans. Norris, who like Junghans, was seeking his first career Lucas Oil win, closed on Marlar in heavy traffic with twelve laps scored. Junghans made the pass on Norris for second on lap 20.
Marlar held steady in lapped traffic as Junghans and Norris could not get close enough in the waning laps to challenge for the win. Like Sheppard, the win also marked Marlar’s thirteenth career win with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Marlar led every lap for his win.
“Last night was a bummer when you get a good starting spot like that,” Marlar said. “It’s tough when you win a heat and get to start up front like we did. The car was something I could deal with today better than last night. It was definitely ‘elbows up’ early. Last year we had a real good shot for the win and a carburetor spring broke I think I was running second when it broke and I had to start lifting on the gas pedal.”
Junghans was pleased with another runner-up finish.
“The third times the charm, right? Mikey is hard to beat,” Junghans said. “I wish the track would have gotten a little wider for us. We still have a little bit of tuning on the car to do yet. But it’s really good right now. We just need to build off of last night and tonight.”
First feature: Brandon Sheppard, Jimmy Owens, Earl Pearson Jr., Brandon Overton, Hudson O’Neal, Kent Robinson, Shannon Babb, Shane Clanton, Max Blair, Gordy Gundaker, Devin Moran, Brian Shirley, Johnny Scott, Mike Benedum, Dan Angelicchio, Ryan Markham, Doug Drown, David Scott, Bobby Pierce, Scott Bloomquist, Stormy Scott.
Second feature: Mike Marlar, Chase Junghans, Michael Norris, Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Rick Eckert, Ricky Weiss, Jared Landers, Josh Richards, Darrell Lanigan, Tim McCreadie, Steve Casebolt, Boom Briggs, Dennis Erb Jr., Shanon Buckingham, Mason Zeigler, Kyle Bronson, Dale McDowell, Billy Moyer, Billy Moyer Jr.