Sheppard Drives To Convincing World of Outlaws Late Model Series Victory On Opening Night Of USA Nationals At Cedar Lake Speedway

DIRTcar Summer Nationals Champion Adds To Career Year With Triumph Over Richards

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

NEW RICHMOND, WI – Aug. 1, 2013 – The greatest summer of Brandon Sheppard’s life grew even better on Thursday night at Cedar Lake Speedway.

Building on the career-first DIRTcar Summer Nationals ‘Hell Tour’ title he clinched less than two weeks ago, Sheppard drove to a convincing $6,000 victory in the 40-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main that kicked off the 26th annual USA Nationals weekend.

Sheppard, 20, of New Berlin, Ill., started from the pole position and controlled the entire distance. He hammered his family-owned Rocket car around the top side of the high-banked, three-eighths-mile oval to register his second career WoO LMS triumph without receiving a single serious challenge.

“We’ve been working hard a lot of years, me and my dad (veteran racer Steve Sheppard Jr.), to try and accomplish that Summer Nationals deal,” said Sheppard, who became the youngest champion in the history of the famed ‘Hell Tour.’ “To finally do it was really uplifting for me. It was almost like a weight lifted off my shoulders. There’s not as much pressure now. We can go out there and know we can run with them all the time.”

WoO LMS points leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., crossed the finish line 2.051 seconds behind Sheppard in his Rocket Chassis house car after slipping by Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., for the runner-up spot on lap 37. Babb settled for third place in his Victory Circle mount, Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., placed fourth in Larry Moring’s MasterSbilt car and World of Outlaws rookie Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., finished fifth after starting from the outside pole.

The night belonged to Sheppard, who two years ago made a stirring run into the top five in the USA Nationals 100 before breaking and last year entered the event in the Rocket Chassis house car that he drove for much of the 2012 season while Richards raced on the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Driving a 2007-vintage car that his team purchased two years ago from fellow Illinois driver Brian Shirley, Sheppard thrust himself onto the list of favorites to capture the $50,000 top prize on the line in Saturday night’s 100-lap USA Nationals finale.

“This is by far my favorite racetrack,” said Sheppard, who reached Victory Lane for the first time at the Badger State facility. “Since the day I came here, I’ve loved it. It’s super racing. It’s hammer-down, get-up-on-the-wheel, run-the-cushion – just like our Midwest tracks. I definitely get along with it pretty good, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow and Saturday.”

Sheppard dominated the preliminary event, leading by as much as a straightaway when not slowed by lapped traffic. Caution flags on laps 18 and 29 cleared slower cars out of the picture for B-Shepp and then he took care of the rest.

“I just knew that I had to stay up on the wheel and run every lap as hard as I could – just stay consistent and not mess up,” said Sheppard, whose previous WoO LMS victory came behind the wheel of the Rocket Chassis house car on Sept. 14, 2012, at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill. “That’s what you gotta do when you’re running against this much competition.

“Now that we know that we can do it, there’s gonna be the same amount of competition tomorrow night and Saturday night – and maybe a couple more (drivers) – so we’re real confident.”

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Richards, 25, was able to slice more than a half-second off Sheppard’s lead after finally grabbing second place from Babb on lap 37, but the two-time WoO LMS champion didn’t have enough time to catch his rising-star understudy.

“At end of the race I was way too tight to run the top so it forced me to work with the bottom,” said Richards, who started fifth. “I found a pretty good line there slow on the bottom and I felt like we were pretty good. I feel like if it was a 50-lapper we might have had something for him.

“But Brandon did a great job. If we couldn’t win, he’s the next person I’d like to see win. It’s good to see the young guys win. It’s good for the sport.”

The second-place finish pushed Richards’s WoO LMS points lead to 78 points over Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., who finished sixth after starting 13th. That gap will not change the rest of the weekend since the USA Nationals 100 offers only show-up points because it will not be run using the normal WoO LMS qualifying format.

Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished seventh after starting 14th, falling 98 points behind Richards in the WoO LMS standings. Rick Eckert of York, Pa., used a points provisional to start 25th in the A-Main but battled forward to finish eighth.WoO LMS rookie Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, settled for a ninth-place finish after starting sixth and Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., rounded out the top 10 in his first WoO LMS start following the conclusion of the three-month suspension from WoO and DIRTcar UMP competition he served after a tire he used during April’s Illini 100 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway failed a laboratory test.

Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., brought out the race’s first caution flag on lap 18 when – while running sixth – he stopped in turn two with flames visible under his hood. He said a pressure tube out of his Team Dillon car’s fuel-pressure gauge apparently vibrated and caused the back of the gauge to break, leading to an arc off the gauge light that sent fire into his cockpit. A flame was visible on McDowell’s leg when he climbed out of his car, but it was quickly extinguished and he wasn’t burned.

Later, on lap 29, Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., slowed in turn four with damage to the right-front suspension of his Sweeteners Plus car. It appeared that he got the worst of a Clanton/Feger scrape underneath him as all three drivers battled for a spot inside the top 10.

Fifty-two cars were entered in the program, which was run under almost perfect clear and seasonably warm conditions.

Ohlins Shocks Time Trials were split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups, with the first half competing for starting positions in heats 1-3 and the second half racing against the clock to align heats 4-6.

Babb registered the overall fastest circuit of the night with a lap of 13.237 seconds in Group ‘B.’ It was his 14th career WoO LMS fast-time honor but first since Sept. 17, 2011, at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.

Heat winners were Wells, Richards, O’Neal, Babb, Bagley and Sheppard. The B-Mains were captured by Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., Ronny Lee Hollingsworth of Northport, Ala., and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa.

The USA Nationals weekend continues on Friday night (Aug. 2) with Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, heat races and a dash for preliminary winners. The event concludes on Saturday evening (Aug. 3) with B-Mains, a Last Chance Race and the 100-lap finale.

Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT and competition at 7 p.m. CT both nights. More information is available by logging on to www.cedarlakespeedway.com.

Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series USA Nationals Preliminary A-Main At Cedar Lake Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (1) Brandon Sheppard/40 $6,000
2. (5) Josh Richards/40 $3,150
3. (4) Shannon Babb/40 $2,050
4. (3) Don O’Neal/40 $2,250
5. (2) Eric Wells/40 $1,950
6. (13) Shane Clanton/40 $1,450
7. (14) Darrell Lanigan/40 $1,450
8. (25) Rick Eckert/40 $1,350
9. (6) Morgan Bagley/40 $1,250
10. (15) Jason Feger/40 $1,050
11. (8) A.J. Diemel/40 $950
12. (17) Bobby Pierce/40 $900
13. (23) Tim Fuller/40 $900
14. (16) Devin Moran/40 $800
15. (26) Chub Frank/39 $875
16. (22) Brian Shirley/33 $750
17. (11) Tim McCreadie/28 $850
18. (29) Bub McCool/28 $160
19. (9) Chris Simpson/27 $640
20. (24) Tim Isenberg/25 $620
21. (10) Jonathan Davenport/19 $600
22. (7) Dale McDowell/18 $600
23. (28) Dennis Erb Jr./16 $600
24. (20) Ronny Lee Hollingsworth/15 $600
25. (27) Kevin Weaver/14 $600
26. (12) Gregg Satterlee/13 $625
27. (18) Kent Robinson/11 $600
28. (21) Brian Birkhofer/5 $600
29. (19) Pat Doar/3 $600

* Earnings include cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 17 Mins., 22.835 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 2.051 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 2 (laps 18, 29)
Lap Leaders: Sheppard (1-40)
Provisional Starters: Eckert, Frank (WoO); Weaver, Erb (DIRTcar UMP); McCool (WoO emergency)
Rookie of the Race: Wells ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: O’Neal ($500)

Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):

Group ‘A’

1. 18W-Eric Wells/Hazard, KY 13.491
2. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 13.668
3. 1d-Don O’Neal/Martinsville, IN 13.708
4. 3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL 13.709
5. 1w-Dillon Wood/New Smyrna Beach, FL 13.713
6. 25-Jason Feger/Bloomington, IL 13.786
7. 25-Shane Clanton/Zebulon, GA 13.824
8. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 13.856
9. 32s-Chris Simpson/Oxford, IA 13.916
10. 17M-Dale McDowell/Chickamauga, GA 13.921
11. 57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS 13.955
12. 19-Tim Fuller.Watertown, NY 13.969
13. 37-Jared Hawkins/Fairmont, WV 14.011
14. 58-A.J. Diemel/Elk Mound, WI 14.022
15. 18RH-Ronny Lee Hollingsworth/Northport, AL 14.123
16. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA 14.237
17. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 14.245
18. 99 Clay Fisher/Dewitt, AR 14.266
19. 77-Jordan Yaggy/Rochester, MN 14.334
20. c8-Timothy Culp/W. Monroe, LA 14.615
21. 7-Ricky Weiss/Winnipeg, Manitoba 14.653
22. 15-Nick Anvelink/Navarino, WI 14.822
23. 17J-John Winge/Sioux Falls, SD 14.849
24. 71-Andrew McKay/Edina, MN 14.89
25. 3-Bret Swedberg/Shawano, WI 15.083
26. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 13.994 (DQ – light)

Group ‘B’

1. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 13.237
2. 9T-Tim Isenberg/Marshfield, WI 13.643
3. b5-Brandon Sheppard/New Berlin, IL 13.667
4. 49-Jonathan Davenport/Blairsville, GA 13.717
5. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 13.75
6. 7R-Kent Robinson/Bloomington, IN 13.872
7. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 13.935
8. 32-Bobby Pierce/Oakwood, IL 13.975
9. 28-Jimmy Mars /Menomonie, WI 13.975
10. 99M-Devin Moran/Dresden, OH 14.047
11. 14M-Morgan Bagley/Longview, TX 14.068
12. 22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 14.114
13. 27-Jake Redetzke/Eau Claire, WI 14.117
14. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 14.139
15. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 14.147
16. 28-Dennis Erb Jr./Carpentersville, IL 14.228
17. 1G-Scott James/Bright, IN 14.273
18. 90 Lance Mathees/Winono, MN 14.305
19. 28P-Jeff Provinzino/Hibbing, MN 14.391
20. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 14.418
21. b12-Kevin Weaver/Gibson City, IL 14.419
22. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 14.462
23. 22-Charlie McKenna/Clear Lake, IA 14.689
24. 18c-Ross Camponovo/Clarksdale, MS 14.722
25. 40B-Kyle Bronson/Tampa, FL 15.022
26. 57-Chad Williamson/Watertown, SD 16.703

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Wells, McDowell, Clanton, Hawkins, Shirley, Stone, Anvelink, Yaggy, Swedberg

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Richards, Diemel, Lanigan, Doar, Wood, Culp, Winge, McCool (DNS) C. Smith

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): O’Neal, Simpson, Feger, Hollingsworth, Fuller, Weiss, Fisher, McKay

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Babb, Davenport, Moran, Redetzke, Eckert, Provinzino, B. Smith, Bronson, Erb

Heat No. 5 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Bagley, McCreadie, Pierce, Birkhofer, Isenberg, James, Frank, McKenna, Williamson

Heat No. 6 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Sheppard, Satterlee, Robinson, Moyer, Weaver, Mars, Matthees, Camponovo

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Doar, Shirley, Wood, Hawkins, McCool, Stone, Anvelink, Swedberg, Winge (DNS) Culp, Yaggy, C. Smith

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Hollingsworth, Fuller, Eckert, Redetzke, Weiss, Provinzino, Erb, B. Smith, Bronson, Fisher (DNS) McKay

B-Main No. 3 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Birkhofer, Isenberg, Mars, Moyer, James, Matthees, Williamson, Camponovo, Frank, Weaver, McKenna

World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners (awards presented to noted finisher/qualifier or next highest displaying decal:

Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash to fast qualifier): Shannon Babb
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner): Pat Doar/Tim Fuller/Tim Isenberg
VP Race Fuels ‘Nice Jugs’ Award: (One VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main): Jimmy Mars
Wrisco Aluminum (3 sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner only): Josh Richards
Armor All (One case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main): Jason Feger
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Josh Richards
QuarterMaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner, $50 certificate to 5th-place finish): Eric Wells/Chub Frank
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Josh Richards
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
Roush Yates ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Morgan Bagley
American Race Wheels ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main): Rick Eckert
VP Race Fuels ($50 cash to 8th-place finisher in A-Main): Morgan Bagley
Edelbrock Manifolds ($50 cash to 9th-finisher in A-Main): Morgan Bagley
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main): Jason Feger
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 11th-place finisher in A-Main): A.J. Diemel
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Tim Fuller
JRI Shocks ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
Super Flow Dynos ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 16th-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Tim McCreadie
Klotz Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher in A-Main): Tim McCreadie
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 18th-place finisher in A-Main): Chris Simpson
QuarterMaster ($25 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Chris Simpson
Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Dale McDowell
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Dale McDowell
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 22nd-place finisher in A-Main): Dennis Erb Jr.
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): Gregg Satterlee
XS Power ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Brandon Sheppard
Roush Yates ($25 gift card to driver who leads most laps in the A-Main): Brandon Sheppard
Reliable Painting Award (one free tire): Darrell Lanigan

2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Aug. 1 – 32 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Josh Richards 4518
2. Shane Clanton 4440 (-78)
3. Darrell Lanigan 4420 (-98)
4. Rick Eckert 4358 (-160)
5. Tim McCreadie 4190 (-328)
6. Eric Wells 4126 (-392)
7. Tim Fuller 4116 (-402)
8. Chub Frank 4054 (-464)
9. Morgan Bagley 4028 (-490)
10. Bub McCool 4006 (-512)
11. Clint Smith 3788 (-730)
12. Scott James 2046 (-2472)
13. Gregg Satterlee 1838 (-2680)
14. Dan Stone 1786 (-2732)
15. Brady Smith 1774 (-2744)

The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: American Racing Custom Wheels (Official Custom Wheel), Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), KMC (Official Custom Truck Wheel), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Dominator Race Products, Edelbrock, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos, Wrisco Aluminum and XS Power Racing Batteries; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, TNT Rescue, and Warrior Chassis.

080113 CLS1Live

LIVE UPDATES 8/1: World of Outlaws Late Model Series USA Nationals Preliminary Night At Cedar Lake Speedway

NEW RICHMOND, WI – Aug. 1, 2013 – The 26th annual USA Nationals weekend at Cedar Lake Speedway kicks off tonight with something new: a full World of Outlaws Late Model Series racing program.

The crown-jewel weekend’s Thursday-night preliminary show has been sanctioned by DIRTcar UMP and the Cornbelt Clash over the past three years, but this year it’s a points-paying WoO LMS card for the first time. A 40-lap A-Main paying $6,000 to win will top the agenda.

For live blog-style updates including news, notes and results from tonight’s action, click the ‘Full Story’ button below. Be sure to refresh your browser throughout the night to read the latest information.

It’s all B-Shepp

11:30 p.m. CT – Twenty-year-old Brandon Sheppard shined brightly in Thursday night’s 40-lap WoO LMS A-Main, hammering his Rocket car around the outside of the high-banked oval from start-to-finish to score his second career win on the national tour.

The 2013 DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion was never seriously challenged en route to a 2.051-second victory over Josh Richards, who slipped by Shannon Babb for second on lap 37. Babb settled for third, Don O’Neal placed fourth and WoO LMS rookie Eric Wells was fifth.

A-Main Finish: 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Josh Richards, 3. Shannon Babb, 4. Don O’Neal, 5. Eric Wells, 6. Shane Clanton, 7. Darrell Lanigan, 8. Rick Eckert, 9. Morgan Bagley, 10. Jason Feger, 11. A.J. Diemel, 12. Bobby Pierce, 13. Tim Fuller, 14. Devin Moran, 15. Chub Frank, 16. Brian Shirley, 17. Tim McCreadie, 18. Bub McCool, 19. Chris Simpson, 20. Tim Isenberg, 21. Jonathan Davenport, 22. Dale McDowell, 23. Dennis Erb Jr., 24. Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, 25. Kevin Weaver, 26. Gregg Satterlee, 27. Kent Robinson, 28. Brian Birkhofer, 29. Pat Doar

Feature time

10:35 p.m. CT – With the three 12-lap B-Mains complete — Pat Doar beat Brian Shirley in the first, Ronny Lee Hollingsworth topped Tim Fuller in the second and Brian Birkhofer won the third over Tim Isenberg (who beat Jimmy Mars by inches for the final transfer spot) — the A-Main is ready to be lined up.

WoO provisionals are going to Rick Eckert and Chub Frank, and Kevin Weaver and Dennis Erb Jr. will receive the DIRTcar Summer Nationals provisionals. In addition, Bub McCool, who dropped out of his heat due to a busted power steering line, will use a WoO LMS emergency provisional.

A-Main Lineup:

Row 1: Brandon Sheppard/Eric Wells
Row 2: Don O’Neal/Shannon Babb
Row 3: Josh Richards/Morgan Bagley
Row 4: Dale McDowell/A.J. Diemel
Row 5: Chris Simpson/Jonathan Davenport
Row 6: Tim McCreadie/Gregg Satterlee
Row 7: Shane Clanton/Darrell Lanigan
Row 8: Jason Feger/Devin Moran
Row 9: Bobby Pierce/Kent Robinson
Row 10: Pat Doar/Ronny Lee Hollingsworth
Row 11: Brian Birkhofer/Brian Shirley
Row 12: Tim Fuller/Tim Isenberg
Row 13: Rick Eckert/Chub Frank
Row 14: Kevin Weaver/Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 15: Bub McCool

B-Shepp on the pole

10:15 p.m. CT – Sorry for the delay since the last post, but some spotty internet has prevented steady updates tonight….

Winners of the six 10-lap heats were Eric Wells, Josh Richards, Don O’Neal, Jonathan Davenport, Morgan Bagley and Brandon Sheppard — and during the ensuing redraw for the first three rows in the 40-lap A-Main, the 20-year-old Sheppard picked the pole position. Wells will start second, followed by Babb, Richards and Bagley.

Almost time to battle

8:35 p.m. CT – The Cedar Lake track crew is finishing up some reconditioning work on the racing surface before tonight’s six 10-lap WoO LMS heat races roll out.

The top-three finishers in each heat will advance to the 40-lap A-Main, with the winners redrawing for the top-six starting spots in the headliner. Three 12-lap B-Mains will each transfer two more drivers to the A-Main, and two WoO LMS provisionals and two DIRTcar Summer Nationals points provisionals (the finale of Cedar Lake’s two-day Summer Nationals program in June was rained out) will round out the field.

Still hot

8:20 p.m. CT – The momentum Shannon Babb picked up with his $20,050 victory in last Saturday night’s WoO LMS Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway appears to be carrying over to Cedar Lake after he blazed around the three-eighths-mile oval in 13.237 seconds during Group ‘B’ qualifying to earn the night’s fast-time honors.

It was Babb’s 14th career WoO LMS fast-time but first since 2011.

WoO LMS rookie Eric Wells, meanwhile, was fastest in Group ‘A’ to position himself on the pole of tonight’s first heat race. Other heat polesitters are Josh Richards (heat two), Don O’Neal (three), Babb (four), Tim Isenberg (five) and Brandon Sheppard (six).

Drivers experiencing trouble already include Clint Smith, who was disqualified from his 13th-fastest lap in Group ‘A’ for weighing in light at the scales, and Mississippi’s Ross Camponovo, who managed only the 24th-fastest lap in Group ‘B’ after mechanical trouble during hot laps forced him to hastily pull out his backup car for qualifying.

For full results from time trials, click here.

T-Mac on the attack

7:45 p.m. CT – Tim McCreadie enters this weekend’s competition with momentum – two runner-up finishes and a fourth in his last-three WoO LMS starts – and is racing at a track where he has contended for a USA Nationals 100 triumph in the past. He also won the preliminary night feature here in 2010.

The New Yorker looked good in hot laps, turning the fastest lap at 13.474 seconds. Jason Feger, who is making his first start after serving a three-month WoO LMS/DIRTcar UMP suspension for using a tire that failed a laboratory test during April’s Illini 100 weekend, was second-fastest at 13.605 seconds. Eric Wells was third (13.609), Josh Richards was fourth (14.635) and Morgan Bagley was fifth (13.674).

Ohlins Shocks Time Trials are now on the racetrack. Qualifying is split into two groups, with drivers in Group ‘A’ competing for starting spots in heats 1-3 and those in Group ‘B’ going for positions in heats 4-6….

Summer vacation is over

7:10 p.m. CT – Scott James is back in action, ending a month-long break from racing that allowed both him and the Warrior Chassis house car team he drives for an opportunity to regroup.

James, who drove the Riggs Motorsports No. 81 to victory in last year’s USA Nationals preliminary night feature sanctioned by the Cornbelt Clash, last drove Sanford Goddard’s Warrior No. 1G in a DIRTcar Summer Nationals event on June 28 at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway.

“We took a little time off to kind of catch up,” said James, who had hopes of following the WoO LMS this season but dropped off the tour in June. “It gave me a chance to get in better shape too.”

Indeed, it’s a noticeably slimmer James who will hit the Cedar Lake clay tonight.

Playing hurt

7 p.m. CT  – Brian Birkhofer will attempt tonight to make his first start since breaking a bone in his right hand on July 20 in a tangle with Jared Landers during the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb.

A bulky cast is covering Birkhofer’s right hand and part of his forearm. He said the doctor who put the cast on him “wouldn’t listen” when he tried to make suggestions for a mold that would best allow him to grip a race car steering wheel, so he had to do some minor cutting to the plaster himself in hopes of finding a level of comfort in the cockpit.

“I’m a two-hand driver so it’s gonna take some getting used to,” said Birkhofer, a two-time winner of the USA Nationals.

Late arrival

6:30 p.m. CT  – The last driver to sign in for tonight’s action was Ohio teenager Devin Moran, whose trip to Cedar Lake with his famous father Donnie took an unexpected twist just a short drive from the track.

When the Donnie Moran Racing hauler stopped at a truck stop in nearby Baldwin, Wis., earlier this afternoon – with both Donnie and Devin’s cars inside – they noticed a problem with the trailer. It was determined that the trailer needed immediate frame repair, so Donnie called veteran Wisconsion racer Pat Doar, who lives just miles from Cedar Lake Speedway, for help. Doar helped hook the Morans up with a local racer who offered up his open trailer so Devin could tow his car to the track and race tonight while Donnie remained behind to fix the family rig.

Donnie, who won the 1998 USA Nationals, plans to compete in tomorrow night’s USA Nationals qualifying program.

Ready to roll

6:20 p.m. CT – The drivers’ meeting has concluded and engines are firing in preparation for hot laps, which will begin shortly.

Fifty-one cars are signed in for tonight’s racing program, which will use the normal WoO LMS format (time trials/heats/B-Mains). The drivers’ roster for tonight’s competition is below:

1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV
1d-Don O’Neal/Martinsville, IN
1G-Scott James/Bright, IN
1w-Dillon Wood/New Smyrna Beach, FL
1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA
2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI
3-Bret Swedberg/Shawano, WI
3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL
b5-Brandon Sheppard/New Berlin, IL
7-Ricky Weiss/Winnipeg, Manitoba
7R-Kent Robinson/Bloomington, IN
c8-Timothy Culp/W. Monroe, LA
9T-Tim Isenberg/Marshfield, WI
11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI
b12-Kevin Weaver/Gibson City, IL
14M-Morgan Bagley/Longview, TX
15-Nick Anvelink/Navarino, WI
15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA
17J-John Winge/Sioux Falls, SD
17M-Dale McDowell/Chickamauga, GA
18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL
18c-Ross Camponovo/Clarksdale, MS
18RH-Ronny Lee Hollingsworth/Northport, AL
18W-Eric Wells/Hazard, KY
19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY
21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR
21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA
22-Charlie McKenna/Clear Lake, IA
22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA
24-Rick Eckert/York, PA
25-Shane Clanton/Zebulon, GA
25-Jason Feger/Bloomington, IL
27-Jake Redetzke/Eau Claire, WI
28-Dennis Erb Jr./Carpentersville, IL
28-Jimmy Mars /Menomonie, WI
28P-Jeff Provinzino/Hibbing, MN
29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY
32-Bobby Pierce/Oakwood, IL
32s-Chris Simpson/Oxford, IA
37-Jared Hawkins/Fairmont, WV
39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY
40B-Kyle Bronson/Tampa, FL
44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA
49-Jonathan Davenport/Blairsville, GA
57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS
58-A.J. Diemel/Elk Mound, WI
71-Andrew McKay/Edina, MN
77-Jordan Yaggy/Rochester, MN
90-Lance Matthees/Winono, MN
99-Clay Fisher/Dewitt, AR
99-Devin Moran/Dresden, OH

Pulling away

5:50 p.m. CT – Josh Richards had had sole possession of first place in the WoO LMS points since the completion of the third race of the season, on Feb. 15 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. His edge grew as large as 48 points over Shane Clanton (after Race No. 16 on May 26 at West Virginia’s Tyler County Speedway) before shrinking to a mere eight points over after Race No. 22 on June 25 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.

Richards’s advantage fluctuated between 24 and 44 points over the next seven events, sending him into the current five-race swing through the Midwest leading Darrell Lanigan by 38 points. He’s opened up some significant breathing room in the last two races, though, entering tonight’s action leading Clanton by a season-high 70 points and Lanigan by 88 markers.

If Richards’s rivals are going to cut into his points lead this weekend, they’ll have to do it tonight. With Saturday night’s USA Nationals 100 offering only show-up points (60 points per driver) because the usual WoO LMS qualifying format will not be used, tonight’s full-points 40-lap A-Main is the lone Cedar Lake race that could shake up the standings.

After this weekend’s two Cedar Lake races, 14 points races will remain on the 2013 WoO LMS schedule, including Monday night’s 50-lapper at Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway.

Lots of talent

5:15 p.m. CT – With tonight’s drivers’ meeting 45 minutes away, 50 cars are signed in for tonight’s action.

And the weather? Well, it couldn’t be better. The skies are sunny and the temperature is about 80 degrees — conditions that are expected to prevail for the next two days as well. Without a doubt, the forecast for this year’s USA Nationals is one of the best in recent memory.