Jonathan Davenport had what was without doubt the greatest season in Dirt Late Model history back in 2015. That’s not just because of the number of wins but more so because those wins were coming in big races against the toughest competition in the sport. In all, the K&L Rumley Racing team parked their Longhorn Chassis in victory lane a total of 21 times including feature and preliminary wins. And consider that of those 21 victories, fully eight of them paid $20,000-to-win or more.
Among Davenport’s triumphs in 2015 were crown jewel events such as the Dirt Late Model Dream, the World 100, the USA Nationals, the North-South 100, and the Prairie Dirt Classic. By all accounts, that was an amazing season.
And while many believed it would be impossible for any driver and team to ever challenge Davenport’s run of four years ago, Brandon Sheppard and his Mark Richards Racing team are putting up strikingly similar numbers here in 2019.
To date, Sheppard has pulled off a total of 17 feature wins in the Rocket Chassis house car. Among those wins have been 15 points-paying victories on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. And like Davenport, Sheppard has scored wins in the crown jewel events. The Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway and the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway have fallen to the No. 1 machine so far in the current campaign.
Incredibly, Sheppard has had one streak this season that saw him garner six consecutive wins(five WoO and one LOLMDS) and another that saw him earn five consecutive checkered flags.
For the sake of comparison, Davenport had amassed nine points-paying wins on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series by the end of July. And by this time of year, the Blairsville, GA native had won three crown jewels. Like Sheppard, Davenport had taken winner’s checks away from the Dirt Late Model Dream and the Prairie Dirt Classic. However, the No. 6 machine had also earned first place honors at the Show-me 100 as well.
This weekend will mark a pivotal time if the comparison between Davenport’s 2015 run and Sheppard’s 2019 efforts are to continue. Davenport won the USA Nationals at Wisconsin’s Cedar Lake Speedway, which is the next crown jewel event on the Dirt Late Model calendar.
A significant point here is that the USA Nationals will mark the final crown jewel to be sanctioned by the WoO Late Models(September’s World 100 is run under the very similar rules of the UMP/DIRTcar organization). Many of the remaining events that offer massive purses and the most coveted trophies will be officiated by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Sheppard has won one LOLMDS race at Brownstown Speedway earlier in the year. The Dirt Million, North-South 100, Hillbilly 100, Knoxville Nationals, and Dirt Track World Championship are among the bigger events left on the racing schedule and all of those fall under Lucas Oil sanction.
Sheppard is not slated to compete in the North-South 100 as there is a conflict between that race and events on the WoO Late Models schedule.
Brandon Sheppard is having an amazing season so far in 2019 no matter whether it is considered better than equal to or less than Davenport’s campaign of 2015. But if the New Berlin, Ill. racer does indeed win this weekend’s USA Nationals, those comparisons will become much more relevant.
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