Friday night produced a thriller for the Gator Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park as Dennis Erb Jr. held off a late challenge from Chase Junghans to score his second feature win of SpeedWeeks. The driver of the No. 28 machine also won on East Bay Raceway Park on February 7th.
This was the penultimate race of the week at the Barberville, Florida facility for the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series. The Rocket Chassis driver from Carpentersville, Illinois earned $10,000 in his efforts in a race shown live by DirtVision.com.
A total of 59 cars were signed in for competition.
Group A Qualifying Results: 1. Darrell Lanigan(16.831), 2. Brandon Sheppard, 3. Frank Heckenast Jr., 4. Mike Marlar, 5. Tyler Bruening, 6. Tanner English, 7. Chase Junghans, 8. Kyle Hammer, 9. Devin Moran, 10. Dylan Thompson
Group B Qualifying Results: 1. Brandon Overton(16.487), 2. Dennis Erb Jr., 3. Dale McDowell, 4. Chris Madden, 5. Tim McCreadie, 6. Dan Stone, 7. Shane Clanton, 8. Max Blair, 9. Garrett Smith, 10. Brian Shirley
Heat 1 Finish(Top-3 transfer): 1. Darrell Lanigan, 2. Chase Junghans, 3. Mike Marlar
Heat 2 Finish: 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Tyler Bruening, 3. Mike Benedum
Heat 3 Finish: 1. Frank Heckenast Jr., 2. Tanner English, 3. Hudson O’Neal
Heat 4 Finish: 1. Brandon Overton, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Shane Clanton
Heat 5 Finish: 1. Dennis Erb Jr., 2. Ashton Winger, 3. Earl Pearson Jr.
Heat 6 Finish: 1. Dale McDowell, 2. Spencer Hughes, 3. Ricky Thornton Jr.
Last Chance Showdown 1 Finish(Top-2 transfer): 1. Michael Norris, 2. Nick Hoffman
Last Chance Showdown 2 Finish: 1. Devin Moran, 2. Brian Shirley
Last Chance Showdown 3 Finish: 1. Max Blair, 2. Garrett Smith
WoO Late Models Redraw: 1. Heckenast, 2. Erb, 3. Overton, 4. Lanigan, 5. Sheppard, 6. McDowell
Feature Account: At the start of the 40-lap feature it was Erb went to the front with Overton, Heckenast, Lanigan and Sheppard in his tire tracks. Lanigan went on the move on the second circuit as he passed by Heckenast for third. The parade around Heckenast continued over the next two laps as Sheppard and Junghans moved around for fourth and fifth.
Erb pulled away from the pack in the early going but the lead machine began having to work slower traffic by lap 12 which allowed Overton to close in. However, the first caution flag of the feature waved on lap 15 when Winger slowed. At that time, Erb led Overton, Lanigan, Sheppard and Junghans.
Sheppard jumped to second on the restart pulling Lanigan along with him by Overton. On the next lap, Overton regained the third position as he went by Lanigan. Junghans also got around Lanigan for fourth as the race approached the halfway point.
Sheppard went to the high side and took the lead from Erb on lap 23 then Erb took the spot back one lap later just before a caution came out for a flat on third running Overton.
Sheppard began to harass Erb for the race lead when green flag racing resumed. But Erb would open some separation with less than 10 laps to go. Junghans got by Sheppard for second on lap 33 while Erb continued to lead.
Junghans charged to Erb’s rear spoiler late in the going but the No 28 machine was able to fight back the challenge and sail under the checkered flag for the victory.
“I knew there were a lot of good cars behind me and it was going to be close there at the end,” Erb told DirtVision.com when asked if he knew that Junghans had closed on him. “When we got into lapped traffic I was just trying to maneuver around there and keep the car underneath me. I was just holding on there towards the end. We had a good car, we could move around a little bit and I think that’s what was able to get it done for us tonight.”
Feature Finish: 1. Dennis Erb Jr., 2. Chase Junghans, 3. Darrell Lanigan, 4. Brandon Sheppard, 5. Dale McDowell, 6. Chris Madden, 7. Tyler Bruening, 8. Hudson O’Neal, 9. Shane Clanton, 10. Devin Moran, 11. Frank Heckenast Jr., 12. Tanner English, 13. Nick Hoffman, 14. Ricky Thornton Jr., 15. Gordy Gundaker, 16. Mike Marlar, 17. Max Blair, 18. Boom Briggs, 19. Josh Richards, 20. Kyle Hammer, 21. Ashton Winger, 22. Earl Pearson Jr., 23. Brian Shirley, 24. Mike Benedum, 25. Brent Larson, 26. Spencer Hughes, 27. Garrett Smith, 28. Brandon Overton, 29. Michael Norris, 30. Ryan Gustin
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