VADO, N.M. — Ricky Weiss finally achieved his long-overdue goal of becoming a World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature winner, and he did it in style on Saturday night, taking home the trophy in the second round of the inaugural Battle at the Border at Vado Speedway Park.
Making a brilliant move for the lead past Friday night winner Chris Madden on lap 14, Weiss drove through lapped traffic and fended-off a hard-charging Brandon Sheppard to become the first Canadian-born driver to win a World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature.
“It’s a great feeling, finally, to get it accomplished,” said Weiss. “Hopefully, Madden’s right when he says once you get the first one, the rest are easy and they come in six-packs.”
Sheppard surged forward from seventh in the 30-lap race, tried to steal the win from Weiss, and managed to hold off Madden for his second consecutive runner-up finish. Madden was third after his late-race move to catch Sheppard came up just short.
Madden and Cade Dillard led the field to the drop of the green with Weiss and three-time Series champ Darrell Lanigan following closely behind. Sheppard soon poked his head inside the top four and set up a three-car battle for the lead between himself, Weiss and Madden inside of 10 laps.
The race’s only caution flew with nine laps complete, putting Weiss right on the rear bumper of Madden. Try as he may, however, Smokey was unable to hold off Weiss or Sheppard in the circuits that followed, as Weiss got a great run on the inside lane out of turn four to swipe the lead away at the line.
“The caution came out and I knew Sheppard was right beside me, and I knew he was gonna give it everything he had to get around me. I figured if I could clear him, I’d have something for Madden,” Weiss said.
In fact, both he and Sheppard had something for Madden, as they lit the fire in their own battle for the lead a few laps later, Sheppard on the top and Weiss continuing to hug the bottom.
“When I got up to the lapped cars, I looked up at the board and saw lap 18, so I figured I’d have to go around them sooner or later, or I was going to get passed” Weiss said. “It was a little nerve-wracking going up there, because I knew it was definitely not the preferred lane.”
Sheppard’s duel with Weiss came to a boiling point on lap 22 when Sheppard tried to thread the needle going into turn three with Weiss and the slower car of Brent Larson on either side. Weiss shut the door while Sheppard slipped up the track and said goodbye to his last serious challenge for the lead, as Weiss just stayed smooth and out of trouble in the remaining laps to get his first series win.
Lanigan’s consistent run netted him a fourth-place finish while 2018 champ Mike Marlar rounded out the top five.
Sheppard picked up his second runner-up spot in two races on Saturday night, driving what he said was a very stable race car.
“I slipped up and [Weiss] got back by me, then we both got by Madden,” Sheppard said. “It just didn’t fall my way tonight. We had a really good race car, we were right there where we needed to be.”
Madden led the opening laps and looked strong out of the gate and held his own inside the top three throughout the night.
“We need to keep doing what we’ve done the past few days. We need to qualify well, get us a Heat race win, or at least a second to put us in the top-eight for the feature. That way, we’re able to be within striking distance and make our moves when we have to. If not, maybe we’ll be on the pole tomorrow and be able to set our own pace,” Madden said.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 7-Ricky Weiss [$5,000]; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$3,000]; 3. 0M-Chris Madden [$2,000]; 4. 29v-Darrell Lanigan [$1,500]; 5. 157-Mike Marlar [$1,200]; 6. 97-Cade Dillard [$1,100]; 7. 21-Billy Moyer [$1,000]; 8. 2s-Stormy Scott [$900]; 9. 18-Chase Junghans [$850]; 10. 1P-Earl Pearson [$800]; 11. 3s-Brian Shirley [$750]; 12. 28-Dennis Erb [$700]; 13. O1-Garrett Alberson [$650]; 14. 12-Ashton Winger [$625]; 15. 32-Bobby Pierce [$600]; 16. 21jr-Billy Moyer [$575]; 17. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$550]; 18. 0e-Rick Eckert [$525]; 19. 99B-Boom Briggs [$500]; 20. 1st-Johnny Scott [$500]; 21. 66c-Matt Cosner [$110]; 22. 98-Jason Rauen [$500]; 23. B1-Brent Larson [$500]; 24. 6-Blake Spencer [$500]; 25. 6L-Ivedent Lloyd [$110]; 26. 4G-Kody Evans [$110]; 27. 91-Tony Toste [$500] Hard Charger: 18-Chase Junghans[+7]