The DIRTcar Nationals for Late Model machines kicked off on Monday night at Volusia Speedway Park. At the end of the night, it was Brandon Sheppard who left the Barberville, FL track with the alligator shaped trophy symbolic of a victory and a winner’s check valued at $7,000.
Sheppard finished the 2019 DIRTcar Nationals with four consecutive wins and he picked up right where he left off on Monday evening.
Michael Norris was fastest in Group A qualifying by turning a lap in 16.575 seconds around the .425-mile clay oval to beat out Ashton Winger, Brian Shirley, John Blankenship and Jimmy Owens. Ricky Weiss led the way in Group B time-trials with a time of 16.232 seconds to better the efforts of Brandon Sheppard, Dale McDowell, Darrell Lanigan and Dan Stone.
Donny Schatz set fast time in Group C at 16.267 seconds to top Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Logan Martin, Tim McCreadie and Blake Spencer. Tyler Breuning was best in Group D with a lap of 16.419 seconds to better the times of Chris Madden, Cade Dillard, Dennis Erb Jr. and Boom Briggs.
The top-5 from each heat race would transfer to the feature.
Michael Norris won the first heat race of the night by besting Brian Shirley, Ashton Winger, Kyle Bronson and Jimmy Owens while Brandon Sheppard took the second preliminary ahead of Ricky Weiss, Dale McDowell, Darrell Lanigan and Rick Eckert.
Tim McCreadie outran Donny Schatz, Mark Whitener, Ivedent Lloyd Jr. and Kyle Lear in the third heat just before Chris Madden beat out Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Bruening, Boom Briggs and Cade Dillard in the fourth and final heat.
G.R. Smith took the first Last Chance Showdown by beating out Mason Zeigler with Brandon Overton getting the win in the second LCS over Blake Spencer.
The DIRTcar redraw placed Tim McCreadie on the pole with Brandon Sheppard, Michael Norris and Chris Madden lining up in order on the starting grid.
At the start of the 30-lap feature Sheppard took the early lead ahead of McCreadie, Madden, Weiss and Norris. On the third lap the No. 72 of Norris moved by Weiss to grab fourth which then opened the door for Shirley and Erb to also pass by Weiss to take fifth and sixth.
Shriley continued his move forward on lap 8 when he took fourth from Norris. Erb would also move around Norris for fifth two laps later.
A lap 11 caution flag waved when Blake Spencer slowed on the back stretch. On that restart, Madden grabbed the second position away from McCreadie. At the same time, Sheppard was pulling away from the field.
But a lap 13 caution for a crash involving Bruening would erase the front runners advantage.
The lap 13 restart provided Madden with a brief opportunity as he made a bid to get under Sheppard at the entry of turn 3 but the No. 1 was up to the challenge. However, Shirley was able to move up the running order as he took third away from McCreadie on lap 14.
By lap 18 Sheppard had pulled away by the length of a straightaway but another yellow flag on lap 21 for the ailing car of Bronson would take away that lead.
Shirley, Erb and McCreadie got by Madden on the lap 21 restart but Sheppard went largely unchallenged over the closing laps.
Feature Finish: 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Brian Shirley, 3. Dennis Erb Jr., 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Mark Whitener, 6. Chris Madden, 7. Michael Norris, 8. Darrell Lanigan, 9. Ricky Weiss, 10. Brandon Overton, 11. Cade Dillard, 12. Jimmy Owens, 13. Ashton Winger, 14. Donny Schatz, 15. Dale McDowell, 16. Boom Briggs, 17. Rick Eckert, 18. Kyle Bronson, 19. Ivedent Lloyd Jr., 20. Mason Zeigler, 21. Tyler Bruening, 22. Blake Spencer, 23. Kyle Lear, 24. GR Smith