BULLS GAP, Tenn. — After winning just once in the opening 11 races, Brandon Sheppard has since gone streaking with three straight World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victories.
His latest conquest at Volunteer Speedway on Friday night wasn’t an easy one. Becoming the fourth different leader on lap 34, Sheppard took advantage of a wild restart and roared to the top spot, a position he would not relinquish in the closing stages of the 50-lap feature.
“It feels good to get another win, especially here at a place that I typically don’t run too well at,” said Sheppard after his first victory at Volunteer Speedway. “This track was hammer down and up on the wheel tonight, just the way I like it. We should’ve won the heat race there after we qualified so good, but I just didn’t get a good start. It made us have to work a lot harder than we wanted, but my guys didn’t give up on me.”
The night started strong for Sheppard and the Rocket1 Racing, Valvoline, Rocket/Durham No.1 when they set QuickTime over the 33-car field at 12.151 seconds, which came past 10 p.m. due to a three-hour delay caused by rain.
Brandon Overton split the front row and assumed the lead with a daring third to first move to kick-start the race. Overton, who has been on top of dirt late model racing in recent weeks, led the opening five laps before Kyle Strickler found the high side and passed Overton.
The field continued to shuffle positions behind Strickler throughout the opening stages, until the caution flew on lap 27, which set up a restart that would change the entire race.
Before the green dropped, it was Strickler commanding Dennis Erb Jr., Bloomquist, Sheppard and Overton. From there, madness ensued.
First, second-running Bloomquist went high into turn one and slipped to seventh, then Strickler pushed into turn three and bounced off the turn four wall, relinquishing his lead and falling to sixth. Capitalizing on the chaos was Overton, who went from fifth-to-first in one lap as he shot out of a cannon and drove by Erb to reclaim the top spot. His freedom at the front, however, soon came crashing down. After leading laps 28-29, Overton pulled into the infield with mechanical issues and handed P1 to Erb’s Rocket No. 28.
Erb paced the next four laps until Sheppard, the two-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, brought his No. 1 into contention for the lead. On lap 34, B-Shepp rocketed off the banking off turn two and stormed by Erb down the backstretch to assume the top spot, a position he would not relinquish for the remainder of the race.
“We definitely had to some slicing and dicing in that one,” noted Sheppard. “I don’t know what happened to Overton, but man, I hated to see that. I would’ve liked to race him for the lead. That was a good battle with Dennis though, he did a great job tonight. The guys at Volunteer Speedway did a great job with this race track today. It widened out a lot more in that feature and made it a lot of fun.”
Sheppard survived two additional restarts on lap 45 and lap 46 before he officially secured his 59th career World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature victory.
The win marked his third-straight win – after a May 29-30 Davenport Speedway sweep – with the World of Outlaws, giving him his fifth-career hat trick with the series.
For Erb, the multi-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion made his return to the podium for the first time since March 6, 2020 at Duck River Raceway Park. His solid night peaked in control of the lead from laps 30-33 before Sheppard struck, but nonetheless, an impressive finish for Erb to build some momentum off of at Volunteer Speedway.
“The car was pretty good there at the beginning, but I faded towards the end,” said Erb on his car’s performance. “Once the bottom started to go away I had to move up and we just couldn’t get quite the same out of it.”
Cade Dillard finished third.
“Boy, that track was treacherous,” Dillard said. “I was wore out about halfway, I honestly didn’t know if I could go any longer. I looked at the board and it was barely halfway; I was like ‘wow this is gonna be rough.’ Fortunately, we held on and picked up a great run.”
Feature (50 laps): 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 28-Dennis Erb [$5,000]; 3. 97-Cade Dillard [$3,000]; 4. 12-Ashton Winger [$2,500]; 5. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$2,000]; 6. 18-Chase Junghans [$1,700]; 7. 23-Cory Hedgecock [$1,400]; 8. 0m-Chris Madden [$1,300]; 9. 17m-Dale McDowell [$1,200]; 10. 7-Ricky Weiss [$1,100]; 11. 29v-Darrell Lanigan [$1,050]; 12. 99b-Boom Briggs [$1,000]; 13. B1-Brent Larson [$950]; 14. 7m-Donald Mcintosh [$900]; 15. 8-Kyle Strickler [$850]; 16. 4g-Kody Evans [$800]; 17. 76-Brandon Overton [$770]; 18. 31-Tyler Millwood [$750]; 19. 24d-Michael Brown [$730]; 20. K37-Drew Kennedy [$700]; 21. 329-Travis Fultz [$700]; 22. 28w-Jeff Wolfenbarger [$700]; 23. 51m-Joey Moriarty [$700]; 24. 7t-Drake Troutman [$700]. Lap Leader(s): Overton 1-5; Strickler 6-27; Overton 28-29; Erb Jr. 30-33; Sheppard 34-50. Hard Charger Award: 12-Ashton Winger[+12]