When it comes to dirt late model racing, no driver has been better in recent seasons than Brandon Sheppard and Jonathan Davenport.
Sheppard and Davenport have combined to win more than 50 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series features during the last two years.
The two racers have dominated their respective tours, with Sheppard winning two of the last three World of Outlaws titles while Davenport has won the last two Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series crowns.
In short, the road to winning a World of Outlaws or Lucas Oil Late Model feature goes through Sheppard or Davenport.
Sheppard, a 26-year-old native of Illinois, drives the Rocket Chassis house car owned and prepared by Mark Richards. He took over the car full time for the 2017 season after previously driving the No. 1 entry for a short time in 2012. Since then, Sheppard has won 49 WoO features and two championships, including this year’s title.
This season has been one for the record books as Sheppard racked up 18 WoO LMS victories en route to the championship. He also won four Lucas Oil Late Model Series races and three events that paid $100,000 or more to win.
“I knew we were capable of it, obviously. My team, in my eyes, is the best team in the business,” said Sheppard. “For us to go as above and beyond as we have this year is definitely mind blowing even to me.”
Sheppard and the Rocket team started the season slowly, but once they found their groove they were nearly unstoppable.
“At the very beginning part in Florida in February we didn’t necessarily struggle, but we didn’t have the win we were looking for at East Bay and then Golden Isles (in Georgia),” Sheppard said. “We weren’t off necessarily, but we weren’t as good as we needed to be. We went into Volusia on Monday and we got into a little crash and then we rained out Tuesday.
“Me, Mark and the guys kind of gathered our thoughts and got things together,” Sheppard noted. “Mark got together what he thought was going to be the best package for the rest of the weekend and we just found a really, really good balance for our race car that basically ended up changing our whole season.”
From there, Sheppard rattled off six straight victories, including four in a row during the DIRTcar Nationals at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park. It was the start of a monumental season that resulted in 26 victories across multiple sanctioning bodies.
After his first win of the season Feb. 13 at Volusia, Sheppard didn’t finish worse than second again until a sixth-place finish during a co-sanctioned MARS Super Late Model and Sunoco American Late Model Series event at Illinois’ Farmer City Raceway on May 10.
“When we did that and we made those changes, it redirected the way our cars get around race tracks,” Sheppard said. “We went from chasing the brown and needing the cushion a lot of the times to be able to make something happen. Now we can run in the middle of the race track on the slick. That’s anywhere we go, whenever we need to.
“That’s been the ultimate goal, to have a race car we can take to any race track in the country and be competitive.”
Davenport, meanwhile, has been no slouch. Driving for Double L Motorsports and team owner Lance Landers, Davenport has owned the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series the last two years.
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