BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Just when it looked like Mark Whitener was going to win his first World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature on Wednesday night at Volusia Speedway Park, he and Brandon Overton slammed into each other, leaving a lane for Dennis Erb Jr. and Brandon Sheppard to pass with eight laps to go.
Erb was glued to the bottom, Sheppard blasted the top side. Erb’s groove proved to be just enough to edge Sheppard at the line by the blink of an eye. But Erb was penalized when his car was not presented for post-race inspection.
That gave Sheppard his second victory of the DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford. It was his first WoO win of the season and his fifth victory during a two-week span in Florida.
“The car was phenomenal again tonight,” Sheppard said. “We came from eighth and were able to get up through there and challenge Dennis. Unfortunately for him, things happen, and I sure hate to see that for him.”
But before all of the post-race drama played out, Whitener and a hounding Overton reached their boiling points on lap 33, when the two made heavy contact in turn four battling for the lead, leaving Overton in the outside clay-buildup and Whitener slowing at the top of turns one and two.
“He ran me up the track two or three times, run me up into the fence, pretty much, in turn three,” Overton said. “I kinda just got tired of messing with him. I slid him, and I left him a lane, I left him some room to get by. I just made it tight for him because I was trying to show him like ‘quit doing that.’ I guess he felt like I flattened his tire, I didn’t run in there and flatten his tire.”
Whitener said he saw the incident differently.
“He just wrecked me. He slid all the way into me, put me in the fence and flattened my left-rear tire. He just completely fenced me. I just got wrecked,” Whitener said.
When asked about the contact in turn four being retaliatory, Whitener said, “100 percent. And the bad part about it is, me and Brandon have raced crates, we’ve raced spec for $3,000, $5,000, $10,000, whatever the case is. But this is a World of Outlaws $10,000-to-win race. You don’t wreck somebody leading the race. A Crate race, a local race, whatever. However he wants to race is good with me, I’ll rub doors all day long. But you don’t take someone’s first World of Outlaws win away from them by putting them in the fence. You don’t do that.”
Overton was scored with a 27th-place finish and had this to say about the contact in Turn 4:
“We got together, and I guess he felt like I ran him over, so he came back and ran me over. It is what it is, I just hate it for all these guys that work on this thing, but we’ll get it fixed up and go again,” Overton said. “It is what it is. We were both trying to win, he was driving hard, I was driving hard and we just came together.”
With the two leaders now at the tail of the field, Erb inherited the lead and brought the field back around to the checkers, just .097 seconds ahead of Sheppard. But in the end, Erb was informed of his penalty and Sheppard was declared the winner.
“Not the way we wanted to win it, Dennis did a really good job there,” Sheppard said. “He kept it out in front of us that whole race. We were right there, definitely slicing-and-dicing there and had a really good race.”
With this victory, Sheppard earns his first Series win of 2020 and sixth consecutive World of Outlaws Feature at the DIRTcar Nationals. Coming from eighth, he stayed up front all race and will continue to be a favorite to repeat as Big Gator champion later this week.
“My guys have been doing a really good job, our car’s been really good night-in and night-out, so hopefully we can just keep the good runs coming,” Sheppard said.
Feature (40 Laps) – 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 29v-Darrell Lanigan [$5,000]; 3. 14-Josh Richards [$3,000]; 4. 20-Jimmy Owens [$2,500]; 5. 3s-Brian Shirley [$2,000]; 6. 25-Shane Clanton [$1,700]; 7. 39-Tim McCreadie [$1,400]; 8. 49-Jonathan Davenport [$1,300]; 9. 40B-Kyle Bronson [$1,200]; 10. 18-Chase Junghans [$1,100]; 11. 17M-Dale McDowell [$1,050]; 12. 157-Mike Marlar [$1,000]; 13. 25z-Mason Zeigler [$950]; 14. 12-Ashton Winger [$900]; 15. 0e-Rick Eckert [$850]; 16. 4G-Kody Evans [$800]; 17. 97-Cade Dillard [$770]; 18. 0M-Chris Madden [$750]; 19. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$730]; 20. 7-Ricky Weiss [$700]; 21. 99B-Boom Briggs [$700]; 22. 66c-Matt Cosner [$700]; 23. 6-Blake Spencer [$110]; 24. 5-Mark Whitener [$110]; 25. B1-Brent Larson [$700]; 26. 76-Brandon Overton [$110]; 27. 2s-Stormy Scott [$700]; 28. 21-Ivedent Lloyd [$700]; 29. 72-Michael Norris [$110]; 30. 28-Dennis Erb [$700]; Lap Leaders: Brandon Overton – 28; Mark Whitner – 3-27, 29-32; Dennis Erb – 1-2, 33-40;