Brady Smith Steers New Rocket Car To Victory In World of Outlaws Late Model Series Season Opener At Bubba Raceway Park

Wisconsin Standout Holds Off Substitute Rocket Chassis House Car Driver Brandon Sheppard For $7,000 Triumph

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

OCALA, FL – Feb. 14, 2014 – Brady Smith loves his new car.

After steering the three-race-old machine to a wire-to-wire victory in Friday night’s caution-free 35-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series season opener at Bubba Raceway Park, Smith’s decision to join the Rocket Chassis fold in 2014 was vindicated.

“We just couldn’t be happier with the support we’ve been getting (from Rocket Chassis),” Smith said after capturing the milestone 400th WoO LMS A-Main contested since the national tour was reborn in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner. “All those guys over there – (Steve) Baker, Mark (Richards), Cody (Duncan), Matt (Barnes), Josh (Richards) – have been just so helpful. I couldn’t be happier with the effort they’ve been giving me to help us get going here.”

Smith, 36, of Solon Springs, Wis., took off from his pole position starting spot and led the entire distance in his Vic Hill-powered car, but his $7,050 triumph in the first of three Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals events didn’t come easy. He had to hold off a furious late-race challenge from Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. – the substitute driver of Mark Richards’s Rocket Chassis house car while reigning WoO LMS champ Josh Richards is sidelined by undisclosed medical issues – to secure his fifth career win on the WoO LMS.

The 21-year-old Sheppard’s last-lap bid fell short by 0.367 of a second as he settled for runner-up money. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished about one second behind Sheppard in third driving his new self-designed Club 29 car. Rick Eckert of York, Pa., burst forward from the 12th starting spot to fourth place in 11 laps and stayed there to the finish in his Bloomquist car, while seventh-starter Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., completed the top five in his Kennedy Motorsports Capital Race Car.

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In a non-stop race that was completed in a mere 9 minutes, 28.214 seconds, Smith found himself dealing with heavy lapped traffic throughout the closing stages. Never far behind was Sheppard, who started fourth and reached second with a lap-10 pass of Lanigan.

Sheppard repeatedly slid underneath Smith in the corners of the egg-shaped, three-eighths-mile oval over the final 10 laps, but Smith made the correct moves to hang on for his first WoO LMS checkered flag since Aug. 20, 2011, at Merritt Speedway in Lake City, Mich.

“The lapped traffic was somewhat hellacious tonight so we had our hands full out there,” said Smith, whose best finish in four previous WoO LMS starts at BRP was a seventh on Feb. 16, 2013. “I was just trying to do the best I could without roughing anybody up too bad and still keep my pace up.

“I saw that blue nose (of Sheppard’s car) poked under me a couple times but just got back up on the wheel and tried to finish the job.”

Smith smiled broadly through a bushy winter’s beard while celebrating with family and friends during the post-race ceremonies. An annual competitor in Florida dirt Late Model Speedweeks events since 2005, Smith was triumphant during the February stretch of action for the first time since Feb. 13, 2010, at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.

“I’m extremely happy to be here in Victory Lane,” said Smith. “I’ve got almost all my best supporters here – my family (wife Jenni and young children Travis and Rowan), a couple of my great sponsors (Michaletz Trucking and Jim Gummerson from Mid-States Equipment Inc.). This means a lot.”

Sheppard, meanwhile, graciously accepted his solid second-place finish.

“The lapped traffic was just tough,” said Sheppard, who registered a career-best WoO LMS finish in the state of Florida. “Every time I’d get up there to (Smith), get close to him, we’d always catch up to lapped traffic. Every batch of lapped traffic we got to was two-wide, so it was hard to do anything with him.”

Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., improved four positions to finish sixth in his first WoO LMS start driving a car fielded by his father-in-law Ron Davies while Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., was seventh and earned the $500 WoO LMS Bonus Bucks for being the highest-finished non-touring regular who has never won a series event. Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., placed eighth at his hometown track; Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., advanced from the 20th starting spot to finish ninth; and possible WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender Frankie Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park, Ill., rounded out the top five.

Sheppard topped the evening’s 27-car field in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials with a lap of 14.872 seconds. It was his second career WoO LMS fast-time honor.

Heat winners were Sheppard, Brandon Overton of Appleton, Ga., and Brady Smith. Morgan Bagley of Tyler, Texas, captured the B-Main.

The Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals continue with a 50-lap, $10,000-to-win event on Saturday night (Feb. 15) and a 60-lap finale paying $12,000 to win on Sunday evening (Feb. 16).

More information on the Winter Nationals is available by logging on to www.bubbaracewaypark.com.

Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals’ Night 1 at Bubba Raceway Park (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (1) Brady Smith/35 $7,050
2. (4) Brandon Sheppard/35 $3,550
3. (3) Darrell Lanigan/35 $2,650
4. (12) Rick Eckert/35 $2,400
5. (7) Tim Fuller/35 $2,050
6. (10) Shane Clanton/35 $1,650
7. (9) Mike Marlar/35 $1,900
8. (15) Ivedent Lloyd Jr./35 $1,300
9. (20) Tim McCreadie/35 $1,450
10. (18) Frankie Heckenast Jr./35 $1,050
11. (5) Brandon Overton/35 $950
12. (6) Eric Wells/35 $950
13. (11) Chub Frank/34 $900
14. (14) Jack Sullivan/34 $750
15. (19) Morgan Bagley/34 $750
16. (17) Clint Smith/34 $730
17. (16) Dalton Myers/34 $660
18. (21) Raymond Merrill/34 $640
19. (13) Chase Junghans/33 $620
20. (23) Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/33 $600
21. (22) Casey Roberts/17 $600
22. (8) Austin Kirkpatrick/14 $600
23. (2) Mark Whitener/13 $700
24. (24) John Winge/3 $625

NOTE: Chase Junghans was listed as finishing one lap down in 13th in the original finish released after the race, but a review of scoring found that he was two laps down and finished 19th

* Earnings include cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 9 Mins., 28.214 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.367 Secs.
Yellow Flags: None
Lap Leaders: B. Smith (1-35)
Provisional Starters: Briggs, Winge
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Marlar ($500)

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

1. 1-Brandon Sheppard/New Berlin, IL 14.872
2. 76-Brandon Overton/Appleton, GA 15.176
3. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.215
4. 58-Mark Whitener/Middleburg, FL 15.222
5. 18-Eric Wells/Hazard, KY 15.244
6. 2-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 15.246
7. 18c-Chase Junghans/Manhattan, KS 15.275
8. 11-Austin Kirkpatrick/Ocala, FL 15.309
9. 157-Mike Marlar/Winfield, TN 15.310
10. 25-Shane Clanton/Zebulon, GA 15.400
11. 14M-Morgan Bagley/Tyler, TX 15.481
12. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 15.502
13. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 15.547
14. 18x-Jack Sullivan/Greenbrier, AR 15.554
15. 21L-Ivedent Lloyd Jr./Ocala, FL 15.196
16. 101-Casey Roberts/Toccoa, GA 15.557
17. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 15.581
18. 99Jr-Frankie Heckenast/Orland Park, IL 15.591
19. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 15.716
20. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 15.815
21. 2M-Allen Murray/San Antonio, TX 15.925
22. 54-Daltn Myers/Riverview, FL 15.968
23. 99B-Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/Bear Lake, PA 15.987
24. 12M-Raymond Merrill/Salisaw, OK 16.130
25. 1G-Michael Lake/Uniontown, PA 16.134
26. 17J-John Winge/Sioux Falls, SD 16.329
27. 16H-Mike Hammerle/St. Charles, MO 17.500

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Sheppard, Whitener, Fuller, Clanton, Junghans, Myers, McCreadie, Roberts, Lake

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): Overton, Wells, Kirkpatrick, Frank, Sullivan, C. Smith, Bagley, Winge, Briggs

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 6 Transfer): B. Smith, Lanigan, Marlar, Eckert, Lloyd, Heckenast, Merrill, Murray, Hammerle

B-Main (12 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Bagley, McCreadie, Merrill, Roberts, Briggs, Lake, Winge, Hammerle

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): Mark Whitener
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Brady Smith
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Brady Smith
Quartermaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner): Rick Eckert
Wrisco (three sheets of aluminum/certificate to A-Main winner): Brady Smith
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main): Darrell Lanigan
Penske Racing Shocks ($50 to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main): Mark Whitener
Roush-Yates ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Rick Eckert
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Tim Fuller
Lincoln Welders ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Shane Clanton
American Racing Wheels ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main): Tim McCreadie
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 8th-place finisher in A-Main): Tim McCreadie
Edelbrock ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main): Tim McCreadie
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main): Frankie Heckenast Jr.
Cometic ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
JRI Shocks ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
Superflow Dynos ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
Quartermaster ($25 certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main): Jack Sullivan
JE Pistons (one set of rings certificate to 16th-place finisher in A-Main): Morgan Bagley
Roush-Yates ($50 certificate to 18th-place finisher in A-Main): Dalton Myers
Quartermaster ($50 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Raymond Merrill
Arizona Sports Shirts ($100 certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Casey Roberts
JE Pistons (one set of rings certificate to 21st-place finisher in A-Main): Casey Roberts
Roush-Yates ($50 certificate to 22nd-place finisher in A-Main): Mark Whitener
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): John Winge
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO driver): Brady Smith

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.

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LIVE UPDATES 2/14: World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals’ At Bubba Raceway Park

OCALA, FL – Feb. 14, 2014 – The 2014 World of Outlaws Late Model Series kicks off tonight with the first leg of the third annual Bubba Army Dirt Late Model Winter Nationals tripleheader at Bubba Raceway Park.

A 35-lap A-Main paying $7,000 to win will headline tonight’s program, which will begin the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the national tour’s rebirth in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner. Tonight’s A-Main will also mark the 400th contested since ’04.

For live updates of all the news, pit notes and results from tonight’s action, click the ‘Full Story’ link below. Be sure to refresh your browser throughout the night to see the latest information.

It’s Brady’s night

10:10 p.m. – Brady Smith vindicated his decision to switch to Rocket Chassis for 2014, scoring a flag-to-flag victory in the 35-lap WoO LMS season opener.

Smith led every lap after starting from the pole position, but he had to hold off Brandon Sheppard’s strong late-race challenges to score his fifth career win on the WoO LMS.

Sheppard settled for second in the Rocket Chassis house car. Darrell Lanigan was third, followed by Rick Eckert and Tim Fuller.

A-Main Finish (35 laps): 1. Brady Smith, 2. Brandon Sheppard, 3. Darrell Lanigan, 4. Rick Eckert, 5. Tim Fuller, 6. Shane Clanton, 7. Mike Marlar, 8. Ivedent Lloyd Jr., 9. Tim McCreadie, 10. Frankie Heckenast Jr., 11. Brandon Overton, 12. Eric Wells, 13. Chase Junghans, 14. Chub Franik, 15. Jack Sullivan, 16. Morgan Bagley, 17. Clint Smith, 18. Dalton Myers, 19. Raymond Merrill, 20. Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs, 21. Casey Roberts, 22. Austin Kirkpatrick, 23. Mark Whitener, 24. John Winge

 

Feature time

9:10 p.m. – Morgan Bagley won the 12-lap B-Main over Tim McCreadie, Raymond Merrill and Casey Roberts, completing the qualifiers for the 35-lap headliner. Provisional starting spots went to Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs and John Winge.

With temperatures becoming quite cool, officials have already blown the eight-minute horn to line up the A-Main

A-Main Lineup

Row 1: Brady Smith/Mark Whitener
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan/Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Brandon Overton/Eric Wells
Row 4: Tim Fuller/Austin Kirkpatrick
Row 5: Mike Marlar/Shane Clanton
Row 6: Chub Frank/Rick Eckert
Row 7: Chase Junghans/Jack Sullivann
Row 8: Ivedent Lloyd Jr./Dalton Myers
Row 9: Clint Smith/Frankie Heckenast Jr.
Row 10: Morgan Bagley/Tim McCreadie
Row 11: Raymond Merrill/Casey Roberts
Row 12: Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs/John Winge

 

Brady in the catbird’s seat

9 p.m. – Brady Smith carefully studied four kids standing in front of him as he prepared to step up for his feature-position. He had to choose one of the youngsters to pick his spot.

“Which kid looks lucky?” asked Smith, wearing a Green Bay Packers ski hat and a thick winter’s beard. “I think the kid in the cowboy hat. You gotta go with the kid wearing a cowboy.”

The 12-year-old cowboy was who Smith selected — and the kid promptly picked the pole position starting spot for the Wisconsin standout, who has four career WoO LMS wins but none since Aug. 20, 2011, at Michigan’s Merritt Speedway.

Florida’s Mark Whitener will start from the outside pole. Darrell Lanigan, who has won four times at BRP over the past four years, will start third, followed by Brandon Sheppard, Brandon Overton and Eric Wells.

Quick prelims

8:25 p.m. – Three caution-free heat races were spun off in rapid-fire fashion with Brandon Sheppard, Brandon Overton and Brady Smith.

Sheppard led the first heat from flag-to-flag, but the other events were closely contested. Brandon Overton emerged triumphant in the second heat after outdueling Eric Wells and Austin Kirkpatrick, and the final qualifier saw Brady Smith grab the checkered flag after slipping underneath Darrell Lanigan to assume command (photo below).

Heat race finishes can be viewed by clicking here.

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B-Shepp lookin’ good

7:55 p.m. – Brandon Sheppard didn’t take long to prove he’s a Super Sub for WoO LMS champ Josh Richards. He blazed around the BRP layout in 14.872 seconds during Ohlins Shocks Time Trials to earn his second career fast-time honor on the tour. He’s pictured below during his quick circuit.

Georgia’s Brandon Overton turned heads with his second-fastest lap of 15.176 seconds. Ivedent Lloyd Jr.’s late arrival didn’t hamper him much as he was third-fastest at 15.196 seconds, followed by Darrell Lanigan (15.215) and Florida’s Mark Whitener (15.222).

Lloyd was officially listed 15th on the qualifying list, however, because, since he was late to register, he could only qualify as high as half the field plus one.

Sheppard, Overton and Lanigan will start the three 10-lap heat races from the pole position. The top-six finishers from each race will transfer to the A-Main, with the top two drivers redrawing for the first six spots in the headliner.

Full results from time trials can be seen here.

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Late arrival

7:10 p.m. – Ivedent Lloyd Jr. pulled his trailer into the pit area just before the start of practice, adding another car to the field. With his shop located just minutes from the speedway, he made a late decision to enter the evening’s action.

Lloyd, of course, is one of the alltime greats at BRP. The veteran racer has run well in the past against the Outlaws at his hometrack, finishing as high as fourth, in last year’s Winter Nationals opener (he led laps 10-19).

Ready to go

6:55 p.m. – A 26-car field is signed in for tonight’s action, which will begin shortly with hot laps.

Among the drivers joining those already mentioned below include Mike Marlar, who has come oh-so-close to victory at BRP twice in recent years; Brady Smith, who has switched to Rocket Chassis this season; Georgians Casey Roberts and Brandon Overton (driving a Darrell Lanigan-built Club 29 car); Florida racers Mark Whitener and Austin Kirkpatrick; and teenager Michael Lake, who is making his WoO LMS debut in the Warrior house car.

Picture-perfect conditions

4:50 p.m. – With apologies to everyone up north who’s been slogging through the ice and heavy snow of Winter Storm Pax, it’s absolutely gorgeous here at Bubba Raceway Park. A brilliant clear, sunny sky is prevailing over the egg-shaped, three-eighths-mile, and temperatures are sitting in the 60s.

Nearly 30 cars are parked in the pit area, including possible WoO LMS Rookie of the Year aspirants Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., Frankie Heckenast of Orland Park, Ill., and Rick ‘Boom’ Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa. Junghans previously announced his intentions to follow the tour this season, while Heckenast and Briggs are considering hitting the road with the series depending on the results of their Speedweeks action at BRP and Volusia Speedway Park.

Another driver on hand who is contemplating a season of competition with the Outlaws is Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., who ran much of the 2012 WoO LMS schedule and this plans to enter early-season events and then evaluate his status.

The newcomers join a list of WoO LMS stalwarts ready to race that includes Darrell Lanigan, Shane Clanton, Rick Eckert, Tim McCreadie, 2013 RoY Eric Wells, Chub Frank, Morgan Bagley and Clint Smith. The familiar Rocket Chassis house car driven by reigning WoO LMS champ Josh Richards is also in the pit area, but with Brandon Sheppard behind the wheel at least for Speedweeks as Richards sits sidelined by undisclosed medical issues.