Sheppard Continues Mastery Of Belle-Clair Speedway With Run From Eighth To Victory In ‘Photobilly 50’

Wins Second Straight World of Outlaws Late Model Series Race, Third Consecutive Major Event At Illinois Bullring

By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director

BELLEVILLE, IL – Sept. 13, 2013 – Brandon Sheppard has Belle-Clair Speedway figured out.

The fast-rising 20-year-old star from New Berlin, Ill., continued his mastery of the unique one-fifth-mile bullring on Friday night, marching forward from the eighth starting spot to capture the World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Photobilly 50’ for the second consecutive year.

It was the third straight major-event victory at Belle-Clair for Sheppard, who also won the demanding track’s DIRTcar Summer Nationals A-Main earlier this year en route to being crowned the ‘Hell Tour’ champion for the first time in his career.

“We got our stuff really good here,” said Sheppard, who picked up a $10,050 check for winning a race run in memory of late Belle-Clair track photographer Charles Haffer Jr. “Actually tonight was the best we’ve had it out of all three times we’ve won here. We were able to maneuver around a lot.”

One year after driving Mark Richards’s Rocket Chassis house car No. 1 to his first-ever WoO LMS triumph in the inaugural Photobilly 50, Sheppard steered his family-owned Rocket No. b5 past the famed blue No. 1 – now driven by WoO LMS points leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va. – for the lead on lap 24 and never looked back. He repelled a late threat from Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., to record his second win of the season and the third of his career on the national tour.

Clanton, 38, settled for a close runner-up finish in the Kennedy Motorsports Capital Race Car, just a couple car lengths behind Sheppard. He passed Rick Eckert of York, Pa., for second on lap 36 and held the position to the checkered flag.

Eckert, who started 11th in his Team Zero by Bloomquist car, ran in second place for only two circuits before ceding the spot to Clanton. The 2011 WoO LMS champion chased Clanton for the remainder of the distance and placed third for his second consecutive podium finish on the tour.

Completing the top five was third-starter Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., who slipped as far back as 10th before making a late-race charge in the outside groove to finish fourth, and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., who started from the pole position and led laps 1-13.

Sheppard primarily used the inside groove to reach the front of the pack – and then ran the extreme top side to stay there. He flirted with disaster throughout the race’s late stages, scraping the historic track’s outside wall repeatedly as he manhandled his machine around the smallest oval on the 2013 WoO LMS schedule.

“We had an awesome car all night,” said Sheppard, whose previous WoO LMS victory this season came on Aug. 1 in a USA Nationals preliminary A-Main at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. “We got behind on the redraw (by picking the worst starting spot available to the top-two finishers from each heat race), but we made a few changes to the car before the feature and it was just good. I could run wherever I wanted to.

“I’m really good at rolling that cushion (at Belle-Clair), using the cushion to kind of get my momentum up and shoot me down the straightaway. But my car was good down on the bottom tonight too.”

Though four of the race’s seven caution flags flew after Sheppard gained command, he handled each restart with the savvy of a veteran. Even when Clanton made a bid for the lead on the race’s final restart, on lap 43, Sheppard didn’t waver.

“He did dive underneath me and show me a nose,” Sheppard said of Clanton. “But I was pretty confident that the high line was the place to be. If I could just make that first corner (without stumbling), then I’d be all right.”

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Clanton was disappointed to remain winless on the WoO LMS since a score on June 1 at Stateline Speedway in Busti, N.Y., but the intense nature of his second-place run gave him an emotional boost.

“It had to have been exciting for the fans,” Clanton said of a race in which he started sixth, moved quickly up to third and fell back out of the top five before figuring out the outside line to reach second late in the distance. “We ain’t going but what feels like 25 miles per hour, so you can do a lot of dicing and slicing. It’s fun racing.

“When I finally learned, ‘Hey, just get up on the wall and do it,’ it picked my pace up. I didn’t know we had to run that far up on the wall (to be fast).

“At the end of the race I was racing (Sheppard) so hard,” he added. “I was watching him bounc off the fence and then (on the final lap) we were catching (Darrell) Lanigan (to lap him) and I said, ‘This is my opportunity,’ but it was the end of the race. I actually didn’t know the race ended. I ran another lap there because I never saw the checkered flag come out.”

Eckert, 47, was also energized after working hard for a third-place finish.

“That bottom was working well for me for quite awhile,” said Eckert, who animatedly relived the race while talking with Clanton during the Victory Lane ceremonies. “But as it died I knew I was gonna have to go to that top – and then I drove it into the frontstretch wall twice till I figured it out. Then at the end I got to watching those guys (Sheppard and Clanton) and realized you just gotta drive up on the wall on entry so you can get turned off and get good runs. It’s odd, but I guess that’s the best way around here.”

Of the race’s seven caution flags, none was more noteworthy than the lap-34 slowdown for Richards, who suddenly fell off the pace while running second. A broken ring-and-pinion forced him to the pit area, leaving him with a 19th-place finish that cut his lead over Clanton in the WoO LMS standings from 96 to 62 points with six events remaining on the 2013 schedule.

Lanigan, who is third in the WoO LMS points standings, saw his opportunity to gain ground on Richards disintegrate when he pitted with a right-rear flat tire just as the race was restarting on lap 34. He lost several laps before pulling back on the track and slowing to draw a caution flag on lap 39. The defending tour champion finished two laps down in 17th place.

Sixteen-year-old Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., used a provisional to start 24th in the A-Main after suffering rearend problems with his car in heat action but rallied to finish sixth. Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., climbed into the top five from the 20th starting spot before settling for a seventh-place finish. Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., also drove forward to the top five after starting 15th but slipped to eighth at the finish; WoO LMS rookie Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, advanced from 19th to finish ninth; and outside-polesitter Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., faded to 10th at the checkered flag.

Forty-seven cars were signed in for the event.

Ohlins Shocks Time Trials were split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups, with the first half competing for starting positions in heats one and two and the second half racing against the clock to align heats three and four.

Shirley registered the overall fastest circuit of the night with a lap of 11.253 seconds in Group ‘a.’ It was his second career WoO LMS fast-time honor – more than six years after his first such accomplishment, which came on June 23, 2007, at Autodrome Drummond in Drummondville, Que.

Heat winners were Shirley, Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., Clanton and Sheppard. The B-Mains were captured by Rick Salter of Aviston, Ill., and Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill.

The WoO LMS’s weekend doubleheader in the St. Louis concludes on Saturday night (Sept. 14) with the 55-lap, $10,000-to-win Pevely Nationals at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.

Results of World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Photobilly 50’ at Belle-Clair Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):

1. (8) Brandon Sheppard/50 $10,050
2. (6) Shane Clanton/50 $5,550
3. (11) Rick Eckert/50 $3,650
4. (3) Shannon Babb/50 $2,500
5. (1) Brian Shirley/50 $2,000
6. (24) Bobby Pierce/50 $2,400
7. (20) Bub McCool/50 $1,950
8. (15) Billy Moyer/50 $1,400
9. (19) Morgan Bagley/50 $2,050
10. (2) Tim Fuller/50 $1,750
11. (13) Billy Moyer Jr./50 $1,200
12. (18) Ryan Unzicker/50 $1,250
13. (16) Tyler Reddick/50 $1,200
14. (12) Eric Wells/50 $1,750
15. (7) Jason Feger/50 $1,200
16. (10) Chub Frank/50 $1,750
17. (4) Darrell Lanigan/48 $1,850
18. (22) Daryn Klein/34 $1,250
19. (5) Josh Richards/34 $1,850
20. (14) Matt Taylor/29 $1,200
21. (23) Tim McCreadie/20 $1,850
22. (9) Randy Korte/13 $1,200
23. (17) Rick Salter/6 $1,225
24. (21) Brent Kreke/6 $1,200

* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses

Time of Race: 32 Mins., 11.636 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 7 (laps 6, 13, 21, 30, 34, 39, 43)
Lap Leaders: Shirley (1-13); Richards (14-23); Sheppard (24-50)
Provisional Starters: McCreadie, Pierce
Rookie of the Race: Bagley ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Pierce ($500)

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

Group ‘A’

1. 3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL 11.253
2. 25F-Jason Feger/Bloomington, IL 11.315
3. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 11.414
4. 28-Dennis Erb Jr./Carpentersville, IL 11.442
5. 21Jr.-Billy Moyer Jr./Batesville, AR 11.535
6. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 11.568
7. 81-Randy Korte/Highland, IL 11.694
8. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 11.707
9. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 11.709
10. 14M-Morgan Bagley/Longview, TX 11.729
11. 1s-Rick Salter/Aviston, IL 11.888
12. 24T-Matt Taylor/Springfield, IL 11.939
13. 33-Steve Lampley/Benton, IL 11.968
14. 27M-Rodney Melvin/Benton, IL 11.973
15. 13-Brent Kreke/Fairview Heights, IL 11.981
16. 30-Mark Voigt/Marine, IL 12.008
17. 22-Charlie McKenna/Clear Lake, IA 12.193
18. 42-Steve Lach/Brownstown, IL 12.206
19. 27s-Mike Schulte/Summerfield, IL
20. 16H-Mike Hammerle/St. Charles, MO 12.401
21. 10-Rick Standridge/Collinsville, IL 12.419
22. 32G-Vince Grondzki/Belleville, IL 12.518
23. 27-Greg Kimmons/Pleasant Plains, IL 12.566
24. 12-Richie Standridge/Caseyville, IL 12.970

Group ‘B’

1. 25-Shane Clanton/Zebulon, GA 11.515
2. b5-Brandon Sheppard/New Berlin, IL 11.570
3. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 11.615
4. 18-Eric Wells/Hazard, KY 11.769
5. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 11.778
6. 18b-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 11.790
7. 32-Bobby Pierce/Oakwood, IL 11.851
8. 6K-Michael Kloos/Trenton, IL 11.858
9. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 11.865
10. 11-Tyler Reddick/DuQuoin, IL 11.897
11. 24U-Ryan Unzicker/El Paso, IL 11.999
12. 57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS 12.072
13. 25M-Frankie Martin/Tamaroa, IL 12.155
14. 10K-Daryn Klein/Fairview Heights, IL 12.187
15. T4-Adam Tischhauser/Greenville, IL 12.274
16. 12T-Dave Thornton/Trenton, IL 12.286
17. 87-Jason Zobrist/Highland, IL 12.290
18. 95-Andrew Johns/Belleville, IL 12.357
19. 45-C.J. Simpson/O’Fallon, IL 12.418
20. 22-Daniel Jacober/Highland, IL 12.454
21. 316-Garrett Russell/Worden, IL 12.588
22. 66-Jim Gibson/O’Fallon, IL 12.796
23. 21T-Trevor Thornton/Trenton, IL 13.291

Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Shirley, Fuller, Korte, Moyer Jr., Salter, Kreke, McCreadie, Schulte, Rick Standridge, Kimmons, McKenna, Lampley

Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Feger, Lanigan, Frank, Taylor, Erb, Bagley, Voigt, Melvin, Lach, Richie Standridge, Hammerle, Grondzki

Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Clanton, Richards, Eckert, Moyer, Unzicker, Zobrist, Tischhauser, Martin, Simpson, T. Thornton, Pierce, Russell

Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Sheppard, Babb, Wells, Reddick, Klein, McCool, Johns, Jacober, Thornton, Gibson, Kloos

B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Salter, Bagley, Kreke, Melvin, Erb, Hammerle, Lach, McKenna, Schulte, Kimmons, Richie Standridge, Grondzki, McCreadie, Lampley, Rick Standridge, Voigt

B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Unzicker, McCool, Klein, Johns, Zobrist, Tischhauser, D. Thornton, Simpson, Jacober, Gibson, Russell, T. Thornton, Martin, Pierce

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): Dennis Erb Jr.
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner): Rick Salter/Ryan Unzicker
VP Race Fuels ‘Nice Jugs’ Award: (One VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main): Dennis Erb Jr.
Wrisco Aluminum (3 sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner only): Brandon Sheppard
Armor All (One case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main): Brandon Sheppard
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Shane Clanton
QuarterMaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner): Brandon Sheppard
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Brandon Sheppard
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main): Shane Clanton
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main): Bobby Pierce
Roush Yates ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Bobby Pierce
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Bobby Pierce
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Bobby Pierce
American Race Wheels ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main): Bub McCool
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): Tim Fuller
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 11th-place finisher in A-Main): Billy Moyer Jr.
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Ryan Unzicker
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): Eric Wells
QuarterMaster ($25 certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main): Jason Feger
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 16th-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Chub Frank
Klotz Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher in A-Main): Daryn Klein
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 18th-place finisher in A-Main): Daryn Klein
QuarterMaster ($50 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Matt Taylor
Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Matt Taylor
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Tim McCreadie
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 22nd-place finisher in A-Main): Rick Salter
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): Rick Salter
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): Bub McCool

2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Sept. 13 – 42 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):

1. Josh Richards 5808
2. Shane Clanton 5746 (-62)
3. Darrell Lanigan 5698 (-110)
4. Rick Eckert 5632 (-176)
5. Tim McCreadie 5410 (-398)
6. Eric Wells 5284 (-524)
7. Tim Fuller 5270 (-538)
8. Chub Frank 5190 (-618)
9. Bub McCool 5170 (-638)
10. Morgan Bagley 5134 (-674)
11. Clint Smith 4814 (-994)
12. Dan Stone 2486 (-3322)

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.

091313 BelleClairLive

LIVE UPDATES 9/13: World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Photobilly 50’ At Belle-Clair Speedway

BELLEVILLE, IL – Sept. 13, 2013 – The World of Outlaws Late Model Series returns to action tonight following a 12-day break, kicking off a St. Louis-area doubleheader with the running of the second annual ‘Photobilly 50’ at Belle-Clair Speedway.

A one-fifth-mile bullring that is the smallest oval the WoO LMS will compete on in 2013, Belle-Clair is hosting the national tour for the second consecutive season. DIRTcar UMP star Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., won last year’s ‘Photobilly 50,’ which is run in memory of late Belle-Clair track photographer Charles Haffer Jr.

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.

Mr. Belle Vegas

Midnight CT – Brandon Sheppard continued his mastery of Belle-Clair Speedway, winning the Photobilly 50 for the second straight year and scoring his third consecutive victory overall at the one-fifth-mile oval.

The 20-year-old star charged forward from the eighth starting spot to take the lead from Josh Richards on lap 24 and never looked back. He turned back a late threat from Shane Clanton to score his second triumph of 2013 at Belle-Clair, where he won a DIRTcar Summer Nationals event earlier this season.

Clanton settled for second, followed by Rick Eckert, Shannon Babb and early leader Brian Shirley.

Richards led laps 14-23 and was holding second behind Sheppard on lap 34 when he slowed with mechanical trouble and retired from further action.

A-Main Finish: 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Shane Clanton, 3. Rick Eckert, 4. Shannon Babb, 5. Brian Shirley, 6. Bobby Pierce, 7. Bub McCool, 8. Billy Moyer, 9. Morgan Bagley, 10. Tim Fuller, 11. Billy Moyer Jr., 12. Ryan Unzicker, 13. Tyler Reddick, 14. Eric Wells, 15. Jason Feger, 16. Chub Frank, 17. Darrell Lanigan, 18. Daryn Klein, 19. Josh Richards, 20. Matt Taylor, 21. Tim McCreadie, 22. Randy Korte, 23. Rick Salter, 24. Brent Kreke

Photobilly 50 set

10:35 p.m. CT – The twin 12-lap B-Mains brought more success for Illinois drivers; both were won by home-state racers. Rick Salter captured the first over WoO LMS rookie Morgan Bagley and Illinois’s Brent Kreke, while former DIRTcar UMP national champ Ryan Unzicker topped the second over Outlaw Bub McCool and local Daryn Klein.

The 24-car field for the Photobilly 50 will be filled out by provisional starters Tim McCreadie and Bobby Pierce.

With the completion of the Kidz Mod race (the division’s half-dozen fresh-faced racers — as young as nine years old — were introduced to the crowd alongside their favorite WoO LMS drivers), the Belle-Clair track crew is doing some quick surface reconditioning. Then the 50-lap WoO LMS A-Main will hit the speedway.

Photobilly 50 Lineup:

Row 1: Brian Shirley/Tim Fuller
Row 2: Shannon Babb/Darrell Lanigan
Row 3: Josh Richards/Shane Clanton
Row 4: Jason Feger/Brandon Sheppard
Row 5: Randy Korte/Chub Frank
Row 6: Rick Eckert/Eric Wells
Row 7: Billy Moyer Jr./Matt Taylor
Row 8: Billy Moyer/Tyler Reddick
Row 9: Rick Salter/Ryan Unzicker
Row 10: Morgan Bagley/Bub McCool
Row 11: Brent Kreke/Daryn Klein
Row 12: Tim McCreadie/Bobby Pierce

 

Illinois boys shine

9:55 p.m. CT – Three drivers from the Land of Lincoln — Brian Shirley, Jason Feger and Brandon Sheppard — scored heat-race victories, giving the home-state racers the advantage over the Outlaws in qualifying. Shane Clanton’s win in the third heat was the lone success for the travelers.

Shirley drew the pole position for the A-Main. He’ll be flanked by WoO LMS regular Tim Fuller for the initial green flag of the Photobilly 50.

Among the drivers who failed to qualify in the heats were Outlaws Tim McCreadie, Bub McCool and Morgan Bagley and 16-year-old Illinois sensation Bobby Pierce, who stopped on the track during the third heat with rearend problems in his car.

The first of the two 12-lap B-Mains is now on the racetrack.

Heat results can be seen here.

Late Models still silent

8:50 p.m. CT – The four UMP Modified heats and single Kidz Mod prelim that kicked off the racing portion of tonight’s show have taken longer than scheduled, delaying the start of the four WoO LMS heats. The final UMP Modified qualifier is now on the track.

DIRT UMP gang strikes first

8 p.m. CT – Brian Shirley drew first blood for the DIRTcar UMP contingent in the circuit’s battle with the World of Outlaws stars, registering the fastest overall time of qualifying with a lap of 11.253 seconds during Group ‘A.’ It was his second career WoO LMS fast-time honor.

Want to take a guess where Shirley’s only previous WoO LMS fast-time performance occurred? One hint: it wasn’t in this country. (Answer at bottom of this note.)

Shirley nipped another DIRTcar UMP stalwart, Jason Feger (11.315 seconds), for the fastest lap in Group ‘A.’

WoO LMS regular Shane Clanton, meanwhile, was quickest in Group ‘B’ with a lap of 11.515 seconds, besting DIRTcar UMP star Brandon Sheppard (11.570 seconds).

Click here for full results from time trials….

Some track reconditioning is currently taking place in advance of the first green flag of tonight’s qualifying heats.

And the answer to the Shirley question: his first WoO LMS fast time came on June 23, 2007, at Autodrome Drummond in Drummondville, Que., during the season in which he traveled most of the World of Outlaws schedule in pursuit of the Rookie of the Year award.

Fast debut

7 p.m. CT – Josh Richards didn’t compete in last year’s WoO LMS event here at Belle-Clair because he was off running the NASCAR Nationwide Series (Brandon Sheppard won the race driving Richards’s familiar Rocket Chassis house car), but he took to the unique bullring very well in hot laps. He topped the speed chart with a lap of 11.265 seconds.

Richards did have a bit of trouble exiting the track after his practice circuits, however. Cars leave the racing surface through a gate that is opened at the top of turn one and then turn slightly to the right once they come over the lip, but Richards appeared to go straight. He had to jam on the brakes and stop, lest he end up sliding down the hill behind turn one and into a chain-link fence. With a line of cars halted behind him, Richards backed up slightly and then moved away without injury to return to his trailer.

Tim Fuller was second-fastest in hot laps at 11.311 seconds, followed by Randy Korte (11.337), Shane Clanton (11.338) and Brian Shirley (11.356).

Ohlins Shocks Time Trials, which will be split into two groups (Group ‘A’ for heats one and two, Group ‘B’ for heats three and four), will begin momentarily.

 Big field

6:15 p.m. CT – A banner field of 47 cars has been signed in for tonight’s action, including 10 WoO LMS regulars and a host of top-ranked challengers.

Among the drivers hoping to unseat the Outlaws are Arkansas’s Billy Moyer and Billy Moyer Jr. and an Illinois contingent that includes Brandon Sheppard, Shannon Babb, Brian Shirley, Bobby Pierce, Dennis Erb Jr., Michael Kloos, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Unzicker, Matt Taylor, Rodney Melvin, Mark Voigt and Randy Korte.

Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT.

Missing in action

5:30 p.m. CT – Tonight’s car count is nearing the 40 mark with 30 minutes still remaining before the scheduled start time for the drivers’ meeting, but one driver noticeably missing from the field is Clint Smith, who has been a tour stalwart since the full-fender circuit was resurrected in 2004 by the World Racing Group.

Smith underwent a needed scope procedure on his ailing left knee early last week and is still not recovered sufficiently to make the trip and race this weekend. He had a checkup with his doctor scheduled for today back in Georgia and was hopeful of getting the go-ahead to return to the cockpit for next weekend’s WoO LMS Down & Dirty 100 at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich.

Smith’s absence from tonight’s racing program is historic. It ends his streak of perfect attendance on the WoO LMS at 394 races, dating back to the inaugural show under the WRG banner in February 2004. He failed to start eight of those 394 A-Mains, including five DNQs this season.

As a WoO LMS fulltimer, the driver known as ‘Cat Daddy’ will receive 60 hardship points for missing each of this weekend’s events.

Postcard-perfect

4 p.m. CT – Early-arriving teams for tonight’s Photobilly 50 have been greeted by wonderful weather here at Belle-Clair, which is located about a half-hour from St. Louis. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s currently prevail, with tonight’s lows expected to settle in the 50s.

Almost identical weather is forecast for tomorrow night’s WoO LMS Pevely Nationals at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.