Sheppard dominated the preliminary event, leading by as much as a straightaway when not slowed by lapped traffic. Caution flags on laps 18 and 29 cleared slower cars out of the picture for B-Shepp and then he took care of the rest.
“I just knew that I had to stay up on the wheel and run every lap as hard as I could – just stay consistent and not mess up,” said Sheppard, whose previous WoO LMS victory came behind the wheel of the Rocket Chassis house car on Sept. 14, 2012, at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill. “That’s what you gotta do when you’re running against this much competition.
“Now that we know that we can do it, there’s gonna be the same amount of competition tomorrow night and Saturday night — and maybe a couple more (drivers) — so we’re real confident.”
Richards, 25, was able to slice more than a half-second off Sheppard’s lead after finally grabbing second place from Babb on lap 37, but the two-time WoO LMS champion didn’t have enough time to catch his rising-star understudy.
“At end of the race I was way too tight to run the top so it forced me to work with the bottom,” said Richards, who started fifth. “I found a pretty good line there slow on the bottom and I felt like we were pretty good. I feel like if it was a 50-lapper we might have had something for him.
“But Brandon did a great job. If we couldn’t win, he’s the next person I’d like to see win. It’s good to see the young guys win. It’s good for the sport.”
The second-place finish pushed Richards’s WoO LMS points lead to 78 points over Shane Clanton, who finished sixth after starting 13th.
Brandon Sheppard, Josh Richards, Shannon Babb, Don O’Neal, Eric Wells, Shane Clanton, Darrell Lanigan, Rick Eckert, Morgan Bagley, Jason Feger, A.J. Diemel, Bobby Pierce, Tim Fuller, Devin Moran, Chub Frank, Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie, Bub McCool, Chris Simpson, Tim Isenberg, Jonathan Davenport, Dale McDowell, Dennis Erb Jr., Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, Kevin Weaver, Gregg Satterlee, Kent Robinson, Brian Birkhofer, Pat Doar.