It just keeps getting better for Rocket1 Racing. Just two days after an incredible last-lap pass to take the $30,000 victory in the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury Speedway, Brandon Sheppard has won yet again. This time, leading all but two laps of the 50-lap finale at Plymouth Dirt Track to collect his 15th World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series Feature win of 2019 over Chase Junghans and Ricky Weiss.
“The Rocket Shepp” kicked off the night by setting a new Plymouth track record with a lap of 13.709, beating the fast time set last year by almost .8 seconds. That PFC Brakes Fast Time Award paved the way for his 20th Drydene Heat Race win of the season and a fourth-place redraw, setting him up for an incredible move on the second lap of the Morton Buildings Feature to go from fourth to the lead.
“I knew from last year that if the top was going to be good, it was only going to be for a lap or two,” he said. “Those other guys, they were fighting for the bottom. I really didn’t want to join that fight behind them, so I just went to the top and floored it and I was able to get the lead.”
Sheppard held onto that lead through a whopping nine caution flags and restarts, most of which were spent with Junghans and Weiss right on his tail. Junghans’ best opportunity to claim permanent command of the race came while following Sheppard through heavy lapped traffic on lap 29.
Sheppard got stuck behind Jason Feger on the top side, while Junghans used the very bottom lane to get by Weiss for second and start a charge for the lead. Racing behind some lapped traffic of his own, Junghans stayed side-by-side with Sheppard for two whole circuits before a good run out of turn four earned him the lead as he crossed the start/finish line.
Sheppard took the lead back on the high side just two corners later before another caution flag was thrown, and Junghans joked that things may have turned out a bit different had the yellow not come out when it did.
“We were just all bottled up with the lapped cars, and the track just became bottom-dominant,” Junghans said. “Somehow, I luckily got by Sheppard. I guess the caution should have fell while I was leading and then it might have been a different story.”
From his eighth-place starting position, Junghans actually made a few of his first passes on the top side on his way to the front and said he considered using that lane to try and make a move on Sheppard in the closing stages, but deemed it too risky.
“Once I started seeing crumbs all over the track, I knew it was going to be hard to get up there and do it,” he said. “Maybe if we were on bubblegum tires, we could do it.”
Overall, it was a very clean battle between two Dirt Late Model heavyweights. Much respect between the two can be seen in the way they race each other at each track all over the country, providing wholesome racing action for everyone watching.
“Chase and I ran each other clean,” Sheppard said. “If there’s anybody that I like racing with on this tour, it’s Chase. If anybody was going to beat me tonight, I’d just assume it was going to be Chase. He and I are buddies, so it definitely was cool to see him run well too.”
In the end, Sheppard and the Rocket Chassis house car persevered through the five remaining restarts, leading every lap from that point to claim his second World of Outlaws win in-a-row.
Ricky Weiss also had another great night, coming from fifth to take the final podium spot. He ran second for much of the race but fell back to third after Junghans made the move to his inside. His best shot at the lead came just as soon as Sheppard acquired it in the first five laps. Weiss got a great run down the backstretch and dove hard into turn three underneath the leader, but Sheppard was ready for it and slammed the door.
“I think we had the car to win,” Weiss said. “We tried to make the move early and Sheppard came down just in time, and then the caution came out, which I really didn’t want to see.”
“I saw Ricky down there and I knew I needed to get down there quick at that point,” Sheppard said. “When you pass cars on the top, until someone shows you a nose, you don’t really know what to do. So, Ricky and I got together there a little bit, but it was just a racing deal – me trying to get to the bottom and him trying to pass me.”
With regards to the future Outlaws schedule, Plymouth was the first of a ‘five races in six days’ stretch through Wisconsin. On Tuesday, the Outlaws are at Shawano Speedway and will head to Cedar Lake Speedway this Thursday for the 32nd USA Nationals – a three-day racing extravaganza that will certainly test the might and muscle of everyone’s driving abilities and racing equipment. But Weiss and his crew are prepared.
“Our other car is pretty much ready; we’re going to drive it tomorrow. After that, we’ve got a brand-new Vic Hill Racing Engine coming for Cedar Lake and we’ll put that in on Wednesday. The work never ends,” he said.
Catch every minute of the next four race nights LIVE on DIRTVision with your Late Model Fast Pass!
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (click here for full results)
Morton Buildings Feature (50 Laps) 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 18-Chase Junghans [$5,000]; 3. 7-Ricky Weiss [$3,000]; 4. 3s-Brian Shirley [$2,500]; 5. 28-Dennis Erb [$2,000]; 6. 97-Cade Dillard [$1,700]; 7. 25-Shane Clanton [$1,400]; 8. 942-Terry Casey [$1,300]; 9. B1-Brent Larson [$1,200]; 10. 99B-Boom Briggs [$1,100]; 11. 89-Brad Mueller [$1,050]; 12. 15-Donny Schatz [$1,000]; 13. 97s-Justin Schmidt [$950]; 14. 74-Mitch McGrath [$900]; 15. 6-Blake Spencer [$850]; 16. 28m-Jimmy Mars [$800]; 17. 70-Justin Ritchie [$770]; 18. 29-Darrell Lanigan [$750]; 19. 11-Justin Reed [$730]; 20. 25F-Jason Feger [$700]; 21. 10-Paul Parker [$700]; 22. 10s-Taylor Scheffler [$700]; 23. 15n-Nick Anvelink [$700]; 24. 16-Tyler Bruening [$700] Hard Charger: 89-Brad Mueller[+11]