The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series descended on the Kokomo Speedway for a two-night weekend event that will culminate on Saturday evening with a $25,000-to-win feature. But on Friday night there would be a pair of $2,500-to-win races that would help to set the field for the big show on the following night.
At the end of the night two drivers who have been ranked among the top Dirt Late Model racers in the country scored impressive wins to set themselves in excellent position for Saturday’s big show. Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, IL proved to be the best on opening night at the Indiana track.
The top-8 finishers in the two Friday night feature races would be guaranteed into Saturday big race with the top-3 in the final running order of each going to the WoO Late Models redraw to determine the first three rows of the starting grid for Saturday’s 75-lapper.
Friday night’s time-trials would set the lineups for that evening’s two feature races.
Shane Clanton led the way in Group A qualifying with a lap of 13.413 seconds around the quarter-mile clay oval beating out Jimmy Owens, Jason Feger, Derek Chandler, Scott Bloomquist, Cade Dillard, Billy Moyer and Bobby Pierce.
At the start of the first 25-lap feature Owens emerged from a three-wide battle with Clanton and Feger to grab the early lead. Dillard drove up to the fourth position on the second circuit then took third away from Feger on lap 4.
Pierce moved up to the fifth spot on lap 5 to join a breakaway led by Owens then Clanton, Dillard, Feger and Pierce. Those drivers ran in unison around the high line of the track.
A lap 11 caution for Ashton Winger slowed the action. On the ensuing restart Kyle Bronson jumped up to the sixth position then immediately passed by Pierce for fifth then Feger for fourth on lap 14.
By lap 20 Owens was getting away from his pursuers but that proved to be short lived as a red flag was displayed to the field one lap later when a second of catch fence fell onto the racing surface.
Following the restart Owens cruised under the checkered flag for the victory.
Feature 1 Finish: 1. Jimmy Owens, 2. Shane Clanton, 3. Cade Dillard, 4. Jason Feger, 5. Kyle Bronson, 6. Bobby Pierce, 7. Scott Bloomquist, 8. Billy Moyer(The top-8 transfer to tomorrow’s main event) … 9. Rick Eckert, 10. Brent Larson, 11. Ashton Winger, 12. Derek Chandler, 13. Boom Briggs, 14. Bry Johnson, 15. Kent Robinson(Finishers 9-15 will go to tomorrow’s Last Chance Showdown)
Darrell Lanigan was quickest in Group B qualifications with a time of 13.456 seconds to top McKay Wenger, Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans, Ricky Thornton Jr., Mike Marlar, Tyler Erb and Ricky Weiss.
When the green flag waved over the second 25-lap feature it was Lanigan darted to the top spot with Wenger, Sheppard, Thornton and Marlar in his wake. Wenger began to fall back quickly as Sheppard, Thornton and Marlar drove by on the second lap.
Sheppard moved in to challenge for the top spot on the scoreboard then took the position on lap 4. The top-3 of Sheppard, Lanigan and Thornton ran in tight formation for the next several laps before Thornton grabbed the runner-up position from Lanigan on lap 9.
The catch fence again came into play on lap 10 with the red flag being displayed to the field.
Following the restart, Lanigan and Thornton engaged in a fierce fight for second with Lanigan taking the position on lap 12. However, Thornton continued to hound the No. 29 until he was able to regain the spot on lap 17.
Things continued to decline for Lanigan as he then found himself in a three-wide battle for fourth with Marlar and Tyler Erb with Erb emerging from that scrap with fourth.
Heartbreak occurred for top-8 running Wenger on lap 22 when he brought out a caution by stalling on the track with mechanical trouble. After the restart, Sheppard would not be denied as he outran the field to the checkered flag.
Feature 2 Finish: 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Ricky Thornton Jr., 3. Chase Junghans, 4. Tyler Erb, 5. Mike Marlar, 6. Darrell Lanigan, 7. Daryn Klein, 8. Dennis Erb Jr.(The top-8 transfer to tomorrow night’s main event) … 9. Gordy Gundaker, 10. Mike Spatola, 11. Kolby Vandenbergh, 12. Steve Casebolt, 13. Ricky Weiss, 14. Trevor Gundaker, 15. Chris Nash, 16. McKay Wenger(Finishers 9-16 will go to tomorrow’s Last Chance Showdown)