Team Zero showing signs of life near end of 2020 season

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Initially, the 2020 season looked as if a Bloomquist vs. Sheppard and a Team Zero vs. Rocket battle might be in the offing

Going into the 2020 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series season it looked as if a showdown between Rocket Chassis and Team Zero Race Cars would be in order. And not only did it appear as if two of the most noteworthy chassis brands would be locked in battle but some of Dirt Late Model racing’s biggest stars would fight for the series championship throughout the campaign in those cars.

However, that chassis battle never really materialized nor did a contest between the major personalities.

While no one should be surprised that Brandon Sheppard and the Rocket Chassis house car team he drives for is on the verge of earning yet another WoO Late Model Series crown, it wasn’t supposed to be easy. The New Berlin, IL driver currently holds a commanding lead in the standings with six events remaining on the 2020 schedule. The No. 1 machine has pulled into a series victory lane on 14 occasions out of the 34 races held to this point.

Prior to the start of the 2020 campaign, it was announced that Scott Bloomquist would leave his longtime home on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in hopes of winning his second career World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series title. Sponsorship from Drydene Performance Products paved the way for the legendary driver to make the switch with the intended purpose of challenging Sheppard’s dominance on that tour.

At his side, Bloomquist was supposed to have longtime ally Chris Madden in a Scott Bloomquist Racing team car. Following a stellar ending to the 2019 season, the South Carolina driver appeared poised to make yet another run at a WoO title after coming close on two previous occasions in different rides. And with the financial backing in place, this seemed to perhaps be his best chance yet of accomplishing the goal of achieving national touring series glory.

But Madden and SBR parted ways not long after the sport’s return from the coronavirus stoppage following a string of mediocre runs.

More than just Bloomquist and Madden were originally slated to seek the championship out of the Team Zero stables. Drydene would also back the efforts Team Zero racer Ricky Weiss in his continuing efforts to earn a national touring series championship as the Canadian driver worked out of a shop near that of Bloomquist in Mooresburg, TN.

Chris Madden couldn’t find the same success in 2020 with SBR that he enjoyed in 2019

A string of consistent runs with a couple of victories sprinkled in have Weiss well placed behind Sheppard in the series standings. But as has been documented on this site, the driver has moved his team out of the Bloomquist shop to a facility located on the property of the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, TN with rumors placing him in another chassis brand for 2021.

But just as things were beginning to look gloomy for those who campaign Team Zero Race Cars, a ray of hope has emerged as the 2020 season winds toward its conclusion. Beginning with the Intercontinental Classic at Eldora Speedway, that brand of car began to show signs of life among all of its drivers and teams.

Shannon Babb pulled his Team Zero car into victory lane during one of the preliminary races prior to the main event held at the end of that weekend. In that $50,000-to-win finale, Babb and Bloomquist scored top-10 finishes along with fellow Team Zero pilot Chris Ferguson. Weiss also ran near the front of the pack for much of the night, taking the lead with less than 20 laps remaining before suffering a mechanical failure that eliminated him from contention.

Since then, Bloomquist himself won a WoO Late Models race at Pennsylvania’s Thunder Mountain Speedway this past weekend while Ferguson registered a top-10 in the Lucas Oil-sanctioned Jackson 100 at Brownstown Speedway. Weiss recently came home second in the $20,059-to-win Butterball Woolridge Memorial at Kentucky’s Richmond Raceway.

Like Weiss, Ferguson and fellow Team Zero racer Dale McDowell have shown strength throughout the season.

Dale McDowell (17m) and Chris Ferguson(22) have been steady all year

While the first two-thirds of the 2020 Dirt Late Model racing season might not have lived up to expectations as far as the Team Zero Race Cars stable was concerned, it appears as if those machines and their drivers are now beginning to do what many expected they would do all year- contend for race wins. Recent performances indicate that whatever troubles there might have been are at least partially rectified.

As has seemingly been the case throughout much of his career, just when it appears as if Scott Bloomquist and his organization are at their lowest, a comeback occurs when needed most.

The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series and many of the drivers mentioned in this piece will be in action this Friday night at the Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC and the 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN on Saturday evening.

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