Following a successful week at Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, Fla.), Brandon Sheppard claimed his second DIRTcar Nationals Late Model Week Big Gator Championship in as many years.
Sheppard drove the Valvoline No.1 Seubert Calf Ranches/ Gunters Honey/ Ace Metal Works/ Durham Racing Engines-powered XR1 Rocket Chassis to two victories and five Top-5 finishes during the six-race stretch.
“It’s been a great week for us,” said Sheppard following Saturday’s finale. “We’ve been fast every night, we’ve been in contention every night. I wish we had a few more nights left. I think we got the car a little bit better tonight for Feature time, and in the Feature there it was about the best I’ve felt in the past couple of days. It’s good to leave here knowing that we got the car a little bit better before we left. … We’re definitely fortunate to get this Gator Championship, it feels really good.”
A field of 44 DIRTcar Late Models signed in for Monday’s action. After qualifying second in his group and winning a heat race, Brandon was locked into the second starting spot for the 30-lap A-Main. Picking up where he left off in 2019, Sheppard took the lead on the opening lap and held the point for a $7,000 payday and his fifth straight win at Volusia going back to last season. Brian Shirley, Dennis Erb Jr., Tim McCreadie, and Mark Whitener rounded out the Top-5 finishers.
The World of Outlaws (WoO) Morton Buildings Late Model Series took center stage on Wednesday night. A second-place finish in his heat race would earn Sheppard the eighth starting spot for the 40 lap main event.
Brandon quickly made his way into the Top-5 and after a lap 27 melee between the leaders found himself in a runner-up spot. Sheppard closed in on race leader, Dennis Erb Jr. in the closing laps and used a patented high-side charge to make one last bid to overcome Erb, who held on at the line.
Despite crossing the finishing line in first, it was Sheppard who was awarded the $10,000 victory when Erb failed to report for postrace inspection. Darrell Lanigan would finish second, followed by Josh Richards, Jimmy Owens, and Brian Shirley.
Rocket1 Racing returns from the Georgia-Florida Speedweeks with five victories overall and having never finished outside the Top-10 in any event. Sheppard claimed as his second-straight Gator Championship as well as the Wrisco Industries Winternationals Championship. The team also leads the current championship points standings in both the World of Outlaws Late Model Series and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Rocket1 Racing 2020 Speedweeks Results:
Feb 1 – Golden Isles Speedway – LOLMDS – 3rd
Feb 3 – East Bay Raceway Park – LOLMDS – 10th
Feb 4 – East Bay Raceway Park – LOLMDS – 1st
Feb 5 – East Bay Raceway Park – LOLMDS – 3rd
Feb 6 – East Bay Raceway Park – LOLMDS – 1st
Feb 7 – East Bay Raceway Park – LOLMDS – 1st
Feb 8 – East Bay Raceway Park – LOLMDS – 1st
Feb 9 – All-Tech Raceway – LOLMDS – 1st
Feb 10 – Volusia Speedway Park – UMP – 1st
Feb 11 – Volusia Speedway Park – UMP – 2nd
Feb 12 – Volusia Speedway Park – WoO – 1st
Feb 13 – Volusia Speedway Park – WoO – 6th
Feb 14 – Volusia Speedway Park – WoO – 4th
Feb 15 – Volusia Speedway Park – WoO – 5th
Rocket1 will return to action with the WoO Late Model Series at Duck River Raceway Park (Wheel, Tenn.) on March 6 and Smoky Mountain Speedway (Maryville, Tenn.) on March 7.