SARVER, PA — Brandon Sheppard had a game plan. He implemented it. Stuck to it. And it worked.
The three-time and defending Series champion led all 30-laps during Thursday night’s Firecracker 100 opener at Lernerville Speedway, cashing in on a $6,000 payday.
Sheppard’s preparation for the weekend put him in a position to strike on a slick surface.
“We had a plan to start off the night whether [the track] was wet or slick, and we just stuck with our game plan,” Sheppard said. “We’ve been working with the [slick track] program a lot, and we’ve been getting better. Hopefully, tonight is the start of a good little run.”
Even though he led the entire race, the win didn’t come easy. Sheppard struggled to get around slower cars toward the end of the race.
“Whenever you’re following [slower cars] in the rubber, and the track is that slow and slick, you hope you can get by to put a lap car between you and second place,” Sheppard said. “Sometimes you have to ride behind them and hope for the best.”
Sheppard’s win is his second of the 2021 season, and his 71st career World of Outlaws win. He also extended his point lead over championship rival Chris Madden, who finished second.
Madden closed on Sheppard during the last few laps, searching for his fifth win of the season.
“Smokey” felt he had a shot to pass Sheppard in traffic but couldn’t make it work.
“There was only one lane when I got back to second and got to Sheppard,” Madden said. “We had one shot at him, and I knew he wouldn’t know I was on the outside of him (when he look to go around the outside of Sheppard off Turn 2). But I thought better of it and lifted and got back in line.”
Madden thought he had a car capable of winning, but a bad decision cost him during the race’s only yellow flag.
“[Sheppard] had a real good car tonight, and I did too,” Madden said. “I just chose the wrong line on the restart and fell back to third.”
Scott Bloomquist, the 2004 Series champion, crossed the line third. The Mooresburg, TN driver passed Madden on the restart but lost the spot back to him in traffic.
Despite losing the position, Thursday’s Feature gave “Black Sunshine” some optimism for the rest of the weekend.
“The track got kind of narrow, and everyone was running on the bottom,” Bloomquist said. “We ended up getting into that lap car and it got us a little messed up and slowed us down, but we have something we can work with now to keep us moving forward.”
Tyler Bruening, the top Rookie of the race finished fourth. The Decorah, IA driver extended his lead in the chase for Rookie of the Year over Ryan Gustin, who finished 22nd – after a rough start to the night when he spun in his Heat Race, trying to take the lead from Bruening. Gustin had also set Quick Time for the night.
Spencer Hughes crossed the line fifth.
With two more nights ahead at Lernerville, Sheppard is poised to use his opening as momentum to go after his first Firecracker 100 victory.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models return to Lernerville Speedway on Friday June 25th, for another 30-lap Feature paying $6,000-to-win.
Every Lap Matters during this year’s Firecracker 100, with drivers accumulating points on Thursday and Friday, to set up Saturday’s Drydene Heat Race Lineups.
Here are the Top-6 in Firecracker points, so far, heading into Friday’s event:
- Brandon Sheppard
- Chris Madden
- Tyler Bruening
- Spencer Hughes
- Mike Norris
- Scott Bloomquist
Morton Buildings Feature (30 Laps)-1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$6,000]; 2. 44-Chris Madden [$3,000]; 3. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$2,000]; 4. 16-Tyler Bruening [$1,750]; 5. 11H-Spencer Hughes [$1,500]; 6. 25Z-Mason Zeigler [$1,400]; 7. 97-Cade Dillard [$1,300]; 8. 72-Mike Norris [$1,200]; 9. 119-Chub Frank [$1,100]; 10. 29-Darrell Lanigan [$1,000]; 11. 76-Brandon Overton [$900]; 12. 72C-Jason Covert [$850]; 13. 22-Gregg Satterlee [$800]; 14. 111V-Max Blair [$775]; 15. 1C-Alex Ferree [$750]; 16. 17M-Dale McDowell [$700]; 17. 7-Ricky Weiss [$660]; 18. 0E-Rick Eckert [$640]; 19. 28-Dennis Erb [$620]; 20. B1-Brent Larson [$600]; 21. 58-Mark Whitener [$600]; 22. 19R-Ryan Gustin [$600]; 23. 99B-Boom Briggs [$600]; 24. 10-Jared Miley [$600]; 25. 2-Dan Stone [$600]; 26. 77-Tyler Dietz [$600] Hard Charger:22-Gregg Satterlee[+5]
-World of Outlaws Press Release
-Photo credit: Jacy Norgaard