NEW RICHMOND, Wis. — With six laps remaining in Saturday night’s USA Nationals feature at Cedar Lake Speedway, it appeared as though defending event winner Brandon Sheppard was going to repeat victory in the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series race.
But there was one driver behind him who had never been so hungry for his first win in the prestigious event — Chris Madden.
Madden slid his Scott Bloomquist Racing “Team Zero” No. 0m up in front of Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis house car in turn two to take the lead, which he held onto through a green-white-checkered finish to claim his first USA Nationals title over Tim McCreadie and Sheppard.
“It’s pretty awesome to come back home,” Madden said. “We drove our first race with Scott back at I-80, had a shot to win that race and wound up second. So, to come here and back it up with a win, it’s pretty awesome. It says a lot for Team Zero.”
That’s right – Saturday night was only Madden’s second event behind the wheel of his Great America Steak Company machine.
Put simply, Madden had the most consistent car on the race track on Saturday night. Never dropping below fourth over 100 laps, he spent the better part of the race’s final quarter battling door-to-door with Sheppard. Madden dominated the bottom lane, while Sheppard preferred the top.
The two played cat-and-mouse until the race’s deciding moment with six laps to go. Sheppard bobbled on the cushion coming out of turn two, allowing Madden to get a run on him down the backstretch. Madden patiently waited for the right moment and pulled the trigger as they came back around into turn one, driving it in deep to slide directly into Sheppard’s line on the top.
“I knew I wasn’t going to catch Sheppard at the pace I was running,” Madden said. “So I just slowed down my pace a bit, got in a rhythm. I said, ‘if I catch him right here, I’ve got to go by him.’”
When Sheppard got to the exit of turn two, the hole had already closed and he was forced to get on the binders, giving up the top spot to Madden. A green-white-checkered finish put a tiny bit on extra pressure on Madden out front, but he got a great restart and persevered to seal the deal.
Madden and the team banked $50,000 and a brand-new wooden eagle trophy. It was the biggest payday of his career.
The USA Nationals title also serves as SBR’s very first win in 2019 under new part-owner Cody Sommer and first with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series.
“Cody is a great guy. I didn’t really know him that well until I came to do this. But he puts a lot of effort in to this, and he works as hard on these cars as anybody else does in the pit are does,” Madden said.
After all was said and done, Sheppard settled for a solid third-place finish after McCreadie got by Sheppard on the green-white-checkered restart and drag-raced him to the stripe to claim the runner-up spot.
“To be up there with [Madden and Sheppard] on the stage is truly amazing,” a grateful McCreadie said after the race. “These guys are some of the best in the business. Just to be a part of it, fighting hard for wins is fun — that’s why we all do it.”
Feature (100 Laps) 1. OM-Chris Madden ; 2. 6m-Tim McCreadie ; 3. 1-Brandon Sheppard ; 4. 7-Ricky Weiss ; 5. 17M-Dale McDowell ; 6. 20-Jimmy Owens ; 7. 0-Scott Bloomquist ; 8. 28-Dennis Erb ; 9. 99jr-Frank Heckenast ; 10. 15b-Brian Birkhofer ; 11. 18-Chase Junghans ; 12. B1-Brent Larson ; 13. 97-Cade Dillard ; 14. 99B-Boom Briggs ; 15. 25z-Mason Zeigler ; 16. 1T-Tyler Erb ; 17. 40B-Kyle Bronson ; 18. 32-Bobby Pierce ; 19. 2-Brandon Overton ; 20. 29-Darrell Lanigan ; 21. 25-Shane Clanton ; 22. 3s-Brian Shirley ; 23. 1P-Earl Pearson ; 24. 18b-Shannon Babb ; 25. 28m-Jimmy Mars ; 26. 32s-Chris Simpson ; 27. 25F-Jason Feger  Hard Charger: 0-Scott Bloomquist[+14]