While it’s likely that psychiatrists had not been called in to either the Newport, Tennessee shop of Jimmy Owens and his Ramirez Motorsports operation nor the Shinnston, West Virginia shop of Brandon Sheppard and his Rocket Chassis house car team to deal with panic attacks brought on by the fact that neither of those drivers had yet won a feature in 2021, there was at least some degree of concern over the fact that neither of those defending series champions had graced victory lane in 2021. Well, following the twin World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series features held at the Cherokee Speedway on Friday night, that concern has been laid to rest.
Please consider also reading “Jimmy Owens owns first WoO Late Models feature at Cherokee“
By this point in the season last year, which is just about the time when all racing action was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Owens had amassed three wins while Sheppard had already posted five victories.
Owens scored his first win of the 2021 season when he drove under the checkered flag at the Gaffney, SC track on Friday night in the first of the pair of races being used as a prelude to Saturday night’s $40,000-to-win WoO Late Model Series feature. The ‘Newport Nightmare’ is coming off of a 2020 season in which he won a total of 20 features and claimed his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship.
Sheppard finished first in the second race of Friday night’s twin bill to earn his first victory of this year’s campaign. In 2020, ‘B-Shepp’ took a total of 23 winner’s trophies home on his way to a third World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series title.
While much of Owens’ post-race interview with DirtVision.com on Friday was specific to the race itself, he did bring up the fact that he and his team have had a fast car all season but just had not been able to find victory lane.
“We’ve had a really good car,” Owens stated in victory lane. “This Ramirez Motorsports car has been awesome. The team has been awesome this year and I can’t thank my guys enough.”
Please consider also reading “Brandon Sheppard notches first victory of 2021 at Cherokee“
Sheppard, however, was more reflective on a season that had seen him go deeper into the year without a win than at any other time in his run as the driver for the Mark Richards-owned team.
“I can’t thank my guys enough, they’ve been working their tails off, everybody involved with this deal,” Sheppard said after his win. “We’ve been on the struggle bus here at the beginning of the year but I knew not to count ourselves out. I knew we were just off by a little bit and we were just searching and what-not. Man, that was a fun race. Hopefully we can get that thing that good again tomorrow night and have the track like it is.”
He then summed it up by expressing what most followers of Dirt Late Model racing figured would come sooner rather than later.
“Like I said, thanks to my guys for how hard they’ve been working and standing behind me and not giving up on me. We’re back, I guess.”
Cherokee Speedway will be the scene of Saturday night’s $40,000-to-win main event that will include Owens, Sheppard, and many more of the sport’s top stars.
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