SUPERIOR, Wis. — Social media ran rampant throughout Tuesday afternoon as dirt late model fans nationwide prepared for a mid-week showdown between the two hottest drivers in the country — Brandon Sheppard and Jimmy Owens.
Entering the night, Sheppard and Rocket1 Racing had 12 total wins this year and controlled the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series point lead; whereas Owens and Ramirez Motorsports owned 11 victories and stood on top of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
At the end of a smooth and slick 50 laps around Gondik Law Speedway, it was Sheppard standing atop his Valvoline sponsored, Durham Racing Engines powered Rocket Chassis No. 1 having led every lap.
Cade Dillard finished second, with Owens third.
“Jimmy has been so tough all year, especially since we picked back up and started racing again,” Sheppard said. “He’s been real dominant over there on the Lucas Oil deal and has been winning a ton of races, so I knew it would be tonight. Not that it’s not tough every night, because we’ve got a great bunch over here with Cade, Ricky, Scott, Chase, Darrell, and all the rest of the guys.”
Beginning the battle in qualifying, Sheppard timed in fourth, while Owens went second, and James Giossi earned his first career World of Outlaws Fast Time Award.
Owens won his heat and drew the pole for the main event, but Sheppard jumped to the early lead in the 50-lapper. Carving through lapped traffic and surviving a pair of restarts at halfway, B-Shepp and the Rocket1 were simply untouchable at Gondik Law Speedway.
However, with rising sophomore Cade Dillard and superstar Jimmy Owens behind him, Sheppard knew he had to keep it together.
“I was kind of watching the scoreboard just to see who was back there,” Sheppard noted. “I knew once Cade got to second and Jimmy was third, that I needed to stay on top of my game. I knew they were gonna be there when it came down to it. It’s definitely nice to to know we hold those two guys off, especially in this type of condition which isn’t really my style.”
Finishing second to Sheppard to pick up his fourth podium over the last three weeks was Dillard.
“He probably got a little too conservative out there while leading and I bet he picked it back up there at the end,” Dillard said. “I felt like we got a lot better as the race went on, I just struggled in the beginning and lost those crucial spots. Once I finally them back I thought we were really good in the open air and ran up to him in lapped traffic. He was just too good. It would’ve taken a big mistake to get around him. Finishing second to those guys right now is nothing to be upset about. This place is awesome though. I dream of tracks like this.”
Owens finished third.
“It was definitely worth the trip coming up here,” Owens said. “We’ve got a few kinks to work out on this car. We don’t run the quarter panel height rule a lot, so we made some swings at it after how we felt in the heat race. We got rolling pretty well there around halfway though. I think we kind of chunked the right rear tire out there at the end, which hurt us a little bit. Not making excuses though, we had a great car to come home in third tonight. Looking forward to the next time I can come back and run with these guys.”
Completing the top five behind Sheppard, Dillard and Owens were Darrell Lanigan and Ashton Winger.
Feature (50 laps): 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 97-Cade Dillard [$5,000]; 3. 20-Jimmy Owens [$3,000]; 4. 29v-Darrell Lanigan [$2,500]; 5. 12-Ashton Winger [$2,000]; 6. 55c-Chad Mahder [$1,700]; 7. 7-Ricky Weiss [$1,400]; 8. 1k-Kevin Eder [$1,300]; 9. 68-Mike Prochnow [$1,200]; 10. 18-Chase Junghans [$1,100]; 11. 11g-James Giossi [$1,050]; 12. 16-Derek Vessel [$1,000]; 13. 11-Pat Doar [$950]; 14. B1-Brent Larson [$900]; 15. 28-Dennis Erb [$850]; 16. 17-Deven VanHouse [$800]; 17. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$770]; 18. 6m-Jeff Massingill [$750]; 19. 99b-Boom Briggs [$730]; 20. 31-Travis Budisalovich [$700]; 21. 519-Steve Laursen [$700]; 22. 28m-Jimmy Mars [$700]; 23. 24a-Aaron Lillo [$700]; 24. 11d-Tim McMann [$700]. Lap Leader(s): Sheppard 1-50. Hard Charger Award: 7-Ricky Weiss[+9]