BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Brandon Sheppard earned his second consecutive World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victory Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park.
Sheppard led the final 39 laps of the 50-lap feature on the half-mile dirt track, claiming his second victory of the 48th annual DIRTcar Nationals.
Early on, the gloves were off in the battle for the lead between Tim McCreadie and Sheppard. McCreadie started outside front row and bolted out to the early lead. Sheppard gave chase for 10 laps before using the shortest line around the track to power by on the inside coming out of turn two. Once he grabbed the lead, Sheppard did everything he could to protect it, growing his lead in traffic to as high as 4.2 seconds at one point.
“I kind of bided my time a little bit there at the beginning and was able to find out what line I needed to run,” Sheppard said. “When I was running third, I was kind of taking my time, trying to be patient a little bit and see where I could pass them guys clean.”
Despite a number of cautions near the end of the race, Sheppard was able to handle the pressure from numerous drivers applying it from behind him. Seven different cars took a shot at the top three in the second half of the race, and the battle ensued quickly after Sheppard grabbed the lead from McCreadie. Don O’Neal, Chris Madden, Jonathan Davenport, Scott Bloomquist, Brian Shirley and Ricky Weiss were all fighting like dogs to break into the podium in various points over 50 laps, which most everyone was able to claim at least once in that timeframe.
McCreadie defended the runner-up spot early before Madden, Shirley, Bloomquist and O’Neal came in hot pursuit. After a restart on lap 17 that bunched the field together, they raced lap-after-lap, inside and outside, swapping positions back-and-forth for about 15 laps before another caution broke the tension. After the restart, Davenport completed his vicious charge to the front with a pass for second but quickly lost it and began to fade.
This left room for one of the best battles for the podium the fans had been treated to all week among Bloomquist, McCreadie, Madden and O’Neal.
Bloomquist charged to the front in the closing laps to finish second. McCreadie and Madden held their own battle for the fifth spot near the race’s end, with McCreadie in the position as they took the checkered.
Don O’Neal had another terrific run aboard the Clint Bowyer Racing ride, fending off numerous challenges from McCreadie, Bloomquist and Madden just to protect his third spot. From lap 13 onward, “The Real Deal” was never worse than fourth, showcasing his integrity on the high-line, right where he was the night prior.
“I think I ran so hard on the top, at the beginning that I used my stuff up,” O”Neal said. “At the end, I couldn’t cut across the middle like Scott and Brandon could. I had to live on the cushion. I came home third – it’s not what we wanted but it’s what we’ll have to take.”
Ricky Weiss finished fourth.
“It’s been huge, just growing our relationship with Scott and I and our team,” Weiss said. “We’ve just been tweaking and building as a team, and it’s definitely showing.”
Morton Buildings Feature (50 Laps) 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$5,000]; 3. 5-Don O’Neal [$3,000]; 4. 7-Ricky Weiss [$2,500]; 5. 39-Tim McCreadie [$2,000]; 6. 44-Chris Madden [$1,700]; 7. 18-Chase Junghans [$1,400]; 8. 29-Darrell Lanigan [$1,300]; 9. 25-Shane Clanton [$1,200]; 10. 17M-Dale McDowell [$1,100]; 11. 14-Josh Richards [$1,050]; 12. 20-Jimmy Owens [$1,000]; 13. 49-Jonathan Davenport [$950]; 14. 3s-Brian Shirley [$900]; 15. 9-Devin Moran [$850]; 16. 22-Chris Ferguson [$800]; 17. 58-Ivedent Lloyd [$770]; 18. 28-Dennis Erb [$750]; 19. B1-Brent Larson [$110]; 20. 111-Tyler Erb [$700]; 21. 36v-Kyle Hardy [$700]; 22. 83-Scott James [$700]; 23. 2-Brandon Overton [$700]; 24. 16-Tyler Bruening [$700]; 25. 71-Hudson O’Neal [$700]; 26. 7r-Kent Robinson [$700]; 27. 6-Blake Spencer [$110]; 28. 48-Colton Flinner [$700].