INDEPENDENCE, Iowa — Using a lane few other drivers chose to use throughout the night at the start of the Morton Buildings Feature, Brandon Sheppard showed a packed house of Buchanan County fairgoers exactly why he’s known as “The Rocket Shepp.”
Blasting off around the outside of Iowa-native Chris Simpson on lap four, Sheppard ran away with the lead and dominated his competition over 50 laps at Independence Motor Speedway to collect his 10th World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series win of the season on Friday night.
“Everything’s clicking right now, that’s what it takes to stay on a roll as long as we have been,” Sheppard said. “It’s just a lot of fun right now, especially with this month-and-a-half long trip we’ve got upcoming here, it’s definitely good to get the first win out of the way.”
Getting this first win as part of the Northern/Midwestern swing definitely goes as a plus for the team, as they continue their march toward history and the single-season wins record of 18, which Sheppard shares with his predecessor in the Rocket Chassis house car, Josh Richards. He usually doesn’t let those outside statistics distract he and the team, and this one is no exception.
However, Sheppard has never felt more in-sync with his crew, and knows he’ll have a good shot at the record come the end of the season.
“It’s a long year, a lot of things can happen,” Sheppard said. “As long as we can keep doing what we’re doing early in the night, qualifying good and running up front in the heat races, we should be fine.”
Simpson picked up a solid second-place finish.
“Oh, it’s huge,” Simpson said. “Anytime the World of Outlaws comes into Iowa to race, I always want to do well. One of my main sponsors is from this town, so I was wheeling the Modified and then doing [my Late Model] here too. So, to run good here tonight, it’s cool for them to see it.”
In the early going, Simpson shot out to a sizable lead before Sheppard caught him and made the race-winning move on the high side. Simpson began to reel in Sheppard when Sheppard got stuck behind lapped traffic but was unable to make a move before caution flags began intermittently flying throughout the race.
Despite not being able to get underneath Sheppard to make a move, Simpson showed a lot of strength on Friday night, defending his previously set track record and picking up his first PFC Brakes Fast Time since 2013. From there, he won his Drydene Heat race and redrew the pole that set him up for a great run.
Chase Junghans, Brent Larson and Tyler Bruening rounded out the top five.
Feature (50 Laps) 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 32-Chris Simpson [$5,000]; 3. 18-Chase Junghans [$3,000]; 4. B1-Brent Larson [$2,500]; 5. 16-Tyler Bruening [$2,000]; 6. 28-Dennis Erb [$1,700]; 7. 29-Darrell Lanigan [$1,400]; 8. 25-Shane Clanton [$1,300]; 9. 7-Ricky Weiss [$1,200]; 10. 97-Cade Dillard [$1,100]; 11. 99B-Boom Briggs [$1,050]; 12. 6-Blake Spencer [$1,000]; 13. 43-Jeremy Grady [$950]; 14. 22B-Jonathan Brauns [$900]; 15. 10-Paul Parker [$850]; 16. 58-Dave Eckrich [$800]; 17. 25s-Chad Simpson [$770]; 18. 29D-Spencer Diercks [$750]; 19. 87-John Emerson [$730]; 20. 98-Jason Rauen [$700]; 21. 17-Tim Simpson [$700] Hard Charger: 6-Blake Spencer[+6]