An underdog story played out on a massive stage Saturday night at The Dome at America’s Center (MO), as Tyler Carpenter held off some of the toughest Dirt Late Model competition before winning the race in a photo finish with Brandon Sheppard for an emotional triumph.
The West Virginia racer won the $30,000 Super Late Model feature by holding off the World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion, as well as challenges from the likes of Tanner English, Jonathan Davenport and Ryan Unzicker over the course of the 40-lap feature.
In victory lane, the triumphant Carpenter quoted a notable fictional underdog, Rocky Balboa, after his own real-life upset.
“Adrian! We did it!” shouted Carpenter while being interviewed in victory lane by DirtOnDirt.com. “My God, man. I’m better than a superstar, man, check it out. Our home-built Kyrptonite race car is in victory lane. This bada– crew, family and friends back home, we did it.”
For Carpenter, the win was a career payday and a dream come true, especially considering the stature of competition he faced. Ultimately, the margin of victory over Sheppard was 0.216 seconds, but Carpenter was willing to do whatever it took to hold him off – including leaning on some of the modern amenities of “The Dome” for some extra assistance.
“Ain’t none of these guys a joke, and Brandon Sheppard sure ain’t a joke. I only wish I could be half the dude he is at some of them tracks. I edged him out tonight. I was looking at that TV screen trying to dodge him, block him. You don’t have radios but you can watch TV. I was doing whatever it takes. I didn’t even know the checkered was out, I was ready to do some waylaying. I don’t want to drive anybody dirty but you don’t come this far just to hand it out.”
Carpenter hoped that, with some of the exposure of this win, his family can score another miracle victory, as his niece Mannon has been diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and the family is raising funds in hopes of financing treatment.
“I just hope one more miracle can come through, the last miracle I’ll ask in my life, at least I hope. That little girl back home. It’s one of those impossible deals, but with enough people we can make it happen. I’ve got a little niece back home. Mannon’s Miracle, we need everyone’s help and support. I don’t care if it’s two bucks. It costs $2.2 million for this medicine. I promise you we can’t afford that. We’ve got insurance but it won’t cover it, so what is someone supposed to do? All we can do is pray and hope as a racing family we can make dreams come true just like I made this dream come true.”
Fans can follow along with Saturday’s Gateway Dirt Nationals on Race Day Now by clicking here.
Unofficial Results – Gateway Dirt Nationals Late Models
- #28 – Tyler Carpenter
- #15S – Brandon Sheppard
- #21 – Billy Moyer
- #49 – Jonathan Davenport
- #11G – Gordy Gundaker
- #76 – Blair Northdurft
- #25 – Jason Feger
- #78 – Chad Zobrist
- #96 – Tanner English
- #24 – Ryan Unzicker
- #32 – Bobby Pierce
- #91S – Rusty Schlenk
- #J8 – Jadon Frame
- #25W – Allen Weisser
- #89 – Mike Spatola
- #75 – Patrik Daniel
- #18 – Shannon Babb
- #83 – Scott James
- #99RT – Ricky Thornton
- #J12 – Jason Wagner
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo