Brandon Sheppard has been so good this year, not even a mid-race rain shower Tuesday, July 9, at ABC Raceway in Ashland could slow him down.
In fact, the rain that halted the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series Feature after 18 laps might have actually helped him out, altering the track surface enough that when action resumed, he was even better.
Sheppard charged to his fourth consecutive victory and 12th win of the year, holding off Shane Clanton and Ricky Weiss in the Series’ debut at ABC Raceway.
Pulling onto the racetrack at 7:45 p.m. for the inaugural Red’s Auto Badgerland 50, in an incredible effort by World of Outlaws and ABC officials to beat the weather, Sheppard took the lead from the pole and smoothly led the first 18 laps with Weiss and Clanton following behind him.
At no point in the contest did lapped traffic give Sheppard any major fits, but Weiss was closing the gap in traffic and even took a peek to the inside by the time the first caution was thrown for rain on Lap 19.
The field paced under yellow for a handful of laps before the rain paused and went back to green, briefly. A three-car tangle in turn three broke out on the second attempt at a restart, signaling a track too wet to continue as the rain fell once again.
Once the then-soaked racetrack was evacuated, drivers and crews used their time in the pit area to make adjustments for a freshly packed and tacky racing surface until the rain stopped.
Quite an improvement came out from underneath most of the leaders, as Sheppard turned the fastest lap of the race on the next restart, and Clanton shot out of a cannon to get by Weiss and challenge Sheppard for the lead.
It took less than four circuits for Clanton to get a run going to the inside of Weiss for the runner-up spot, as they drag raced down the frontstretch for position, completing Lap 22. At that point, Clanton was on a mission to catch the Rocket1 Racing car out front, who was just over two seconds ahead and heading into lapped traffic.
“The Georgia Bulldog” reeled in the leader by Lap 35 and assaulted the topside in an effort to gain an advantage. He and Sheppard switched lines in the final 10 laps as Clanton began diving deep into turns three and four to try and get by on the bottom.
But it was of no use; Sheppard was too strong on the top side.
“The Rocket Shepp” led every lap on en route to his first victory at ABC and 49th of his World of Outlaws career.
The event was the 660th feature held in the history of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, with the ABC Raceway representing the 194th different racing facility that has hosted a WoOLMS event, dating back to the Series’ inaugural season of 1978.
In other action, George Dalbeck of Wakefield, Mich., won the WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature, while the WISSOTA Super Stock feature was rained out and will be made up at a later date.
Dalbeck also set the fastest lap of the race at 17.217 seconds (78.411 mph). Brandon Copp’s late drive through the field earned him a “hard charger” bonus.
Gondik Law Raceway
Racing resumes at the Gondik Law Speedway on Friday, July 12.
On hand will be late models, modifieds, street stocks, Midwest modifieds, pure stocks and Hornets.
Hot laps are at 6:30 p.m. with racing beginning at 7 p.m.
The cost is $14 for adults and seniors and $11 for students.