Tampa, FL — Brandon Sheppard passed Devin Moran coming off turn four on the final lap to win the opening night of the Wrisco Industries 42nd Annual Winternationals – Presented by E3 Spark Plugs.
The 30-lap, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event saw four different leaders. Moran held the top spot at two different points and finished in second, with Earl Pearson, Jr. claiming the third position. Jonathan Davenport was in contention for the win until the end when he came home fourth. Scott Bloomquist romped from his eighteenth-place starting spot to finish fifth.
“I really didn’t find anything, it was treacherous getting off the corners. I had to get off the bottom in the brown. It’s tricky. I guess I never lifted on that last lap. My dad texted Mark [Richards] before the race and told him to get on me and that I needed to get up on the wheel more,” said the former Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Year.
“I knew my dad was at home watching on television. I can’t thank Mark Richards and Steve Baker enough for what they have done for me, and everybody at Rocket Chassis as well. It’s a dream come true to drive for them. My dad and my grandpa have always supported me, and I appreciate that.”
Kyle Bronson started from the pole and led the first lap of the event until Moran forged ahead. Josh Richards then picked up the pace as he took the lead for the first time on lap thirteen. Richards led three circuits until Sheppard appeared at the head of the field for the first time on lap sixteen.
Two circuits later, Moran regained the point and looked to be on his way to first career win at “The Clay by the Bay.” However, Moran was forced to battle lapped traffic entering turn three on the final lap, allowing Sheppard to go high on the track and beat Moran to the finish line by a narrow margin.
Moran was pleased with his second-place finish, but disappointed he didn’t get that first win at the 1/3-mile oval. “It was an awesome race. With all the rain they got yesterday, Al [Varnadore] did a great job with the track. It would have been better if we would have won. My dad [Donnie] and brother [Wylie] were at home tonight and I had my brother Tristan here. It was a good run. We will come back tomorrow and try to improve one more spot,” said the driver of the Tye Twarog-owned, Eddie’s Sunoco, Rocket.
The Ronnie Stuckey Enterprises, Black Diamond, Lucas Oil entry driven by Earl Pearson Jr. battled amongst the top five the entire race before crossing the finish line in third. “Those kids up front put on a good show, that’s for sure,” smiled Pearson afterwards. “For the first night here at East Bay we will take this and build from there. That was a heck of a show in front of me. They were dicing it out, back and forth, the fans had to enjoy that one.”
Sheppard’s winning Mark Richards Racing-owned, Rocket Chassis entry is powered by an Andy Durham Racing Engine and sponsored by: Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Gunter’s Honey, Integra Racing Shocks, Ace Metal Works, Sallack Well Service, and Sunoco Race Fuels.
Completing the top ten were Josh Richards, Billy Moyer Jr., Tyler Erb, Austin Hubbard, and Corey Conley.
-Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Heath Lawson
Feature Finish (30 Laps):
FINISH START CAR # DRIVER NAME HOMETOWN EARNINGS 1 9 1s Brandon Sheppard New Berlin, IL $5,000 2 3 9 Devin Moran Dresden, OH $3,000 3 7 1 Earl Pearson, Jr. Jacksonville, FL $2,000 4 6 49 Jonathan Davenport Blairsville, GA $1,500 5 18 0 Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg, TN $1,000 6 2 1R Josh Richards Shinnston, WV $900 7 8 21JR Billy Moyer, Jr. Batesville, AR $750 8 5 91 Tyler Erb New Waverly, TX $700 9 19 11 Austin Hubbard Bridgeville, DE $650 10 22 14C Corey Conley Wellsburg, WV $600 11 24 71 Hudson O’Neal Martinsville, IN $550 12 12 28 Dennis Erb, Jr. Carpentersville, IL $500 13 4 32 Bobby Pierce Oakwood, IL $500 14 1 40B Kyle Bronson Brandon, FL $500 15 20 00 Jesse Stovall Billings, MO $500 16 17 22 Gregg Satterlee Indiana, PA $500 17 14 56 Jonathan Rowan Jackson, TN $500 18 10 6T Tim Dohm Cross Lanes, WV $500 19 21 7m Donald McIntosh Dawsonville, GA $500 20 11 25Z Mason Zeigler Chalk Hill, PA $500 21 15 33 Jeff Mathews Brandon, FL $500 22 25 22G Greg Oakes Franklinville, NY $500 23 26 87 Walker Arthur Forest, VA $500 24 23 39 Tim McCreadie Watertown, NY $500 25 16 25B Mike Benedum Salem, WV $500 26 13 22* Brian Shirley Chatham, IL $500