BARBERVILLE, FL – Brandon Sheppard sailed to his first victory with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series in 2018 on the final night of the 47th annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. With 44 of the best Late Model drivers in the country competing with the Series on Saturday, it wasn’t a straight shot to Victory Lane. Claiming the lead on lap 14, Sheppard had to fend off charges from Mike Marlar, Chris Madden and Rick Eckert.
“It definitely feels good to get a win here at Volusia,” said Sheppard. “I usually struggle here, I don’t know why, it’s just a tricky place for me but we keep getting better every time we come back. I gotta thank my team for never giving up on me.”
“I’ll be honest with you, the last 5 or 10 laps there I didn’t know where the heck I needed to be,” continued Sheppard. “I was trying to keep my speed up and that’s probably one of my biggest flaws here is trying to figure out where I need to be. Right when I thought I had turns one and two figured out, I would start bouncing around through the holes and on the last lap almost gave it away.”
Similar to one night prior, Madden only got better as the feature event continued. The Barry Wright Race Cars House Car Driver waited until the end to make a serious charge for the lead but was unable to complete the pass. Although, Madden didn’t win Saturday night’s feature, he did wrangle the DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator Championship (collecting three second place finishes, one fourth place, and one 25th place run due to a wreck that took him out of the race). This honor proves that out of 56 Super Late Model drivers that entered into the 2018 edition of DIRTcar Nationals, that the Chris Madden Racing No. 44 was the most consistent.
“I think it’s awesome to do this with our new team that we just put together here over the winter here and we come down here with just ideas that we thought would work and we got here and we really wasn’t that good,” said Madden. “We had speed we just wasn’t comfortable. We worked on this thing every day and man, I’m telling you, Barry [Wright] has a really good racecar. We are really, really, excited to be in it and looking forward to the year. We are just beginning to learn this thing but we really found a great balance here in the last few nights.”
Mike Marlar, of Winfield, TN, collected his best finish of the week settling for third.
“It was a tough way to lose one for sure but down here in foreign territory and you know we figured it out and that says a lot about my team. We started off struggling pretty good but I got a great group of guys and great bunch of sponsors that make this thing happen. We were getting it put to us earlier in the week but we got it figured out.”
Throughout the 12-day short track extravaganza, five different Super Late Model winners four their way to Victory Lane including Jonathan Davenport, Tim McCreadie, Dale McDowell, Scott Bloomquist and Sheppard. The 2018 season kick-off in Florida proved that night in and night out you never know who will be on top of their game and on top of the competition. The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series heads to Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN on March 9-10 for the Tennessee Tip Off. Tickets for the event at Smoky Mountain are on sale now.
Additional Race Notes:
Rick Eckert charged forward from 18th to almost making the pass by Sheppard for the lead. Eckert finished fourth.
Chub Frank was passing traffic like nobody’s business charging from 27th to finish 6th.
Craftsman Club Feature (50 Laps) – 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard ; 2. 44-Chris Madden ; 3. 157-Mike Marlar ; 4. 7-Rick Eckert ; 5. 1r-Josh Richards ; 6. 1x-Chub Frank ; 7. 71-Hudson O’Neal ; 8. 17M-Dale McDowell ; 9. 9-Devin Moran ; 10. 39-Tim McCreadie ; 11. 25-Shane Clanton ; 12. 28-Dennis Erb ; 13. 0-Scott Bloomquist ; 14. 18c-Chase Junghans ; 15. 99B-Boom Briggs ; 16. 54-David Breazeale ; 17. 14m-Morgan Bagley ; 18. 2c-Joey Coulter ; 19. 31-Tyler Millwood ; 20. 22-Chris Ferguson ; 21. 75-Colton Flinner ; 22. 20-Jimmy Owens ; 23. 40B-Kyle Bronson ; 24. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk ; 25. 72-Mike Norris ; 26. 116-Brandon Overton ; 27. 5-Don O’Neal ; 28. 49-Jonathan Davenport ; 29. C8-Timothy Culp 
Hard Charger Award: 1x-Chub Frank[+21]
Qualifying Flight-A – 1. 31-Tyler Millwood, 16.035; 2. 28-Dennis Erb, 16.073; 3. 16-Tyler Bruening, 16.308; 4. 1r-Josh Richards, 16.36; 5. 99B-Boom Briggs, 16.406; 6. 5-Don O’Neal, 16.424; 7. 157-Mike Marlar, 16.491; 8. 71-Hudson O’Neal, 16.496; 9. 21jr-Billy Moyer, 16.53; 10. 2-Nick Hoffman, 16.588; 11. 84-Austin Smith, 16.623; 12. 25z-Mason Zeigler, 16.658; 13. 20-Jimmy Owens, 16.663; 14. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk, 16.703; 15. 14m-Morgan Bagley, 16.718; 16. 9-Devin Moran, 16.726; 17. 54-David Breazeale, 16.818; 18. 7mm-Michael Maresca, 16.857; 19. 14z-Zack McMillan, 16.898; 20. 75-Colton Flinner, 16.901; 21. 116-Brandon Overton, 17.083; 22. 33-Jeff Mathews, 17.734
Qualifying Flight-B – 1. 0-Scott Bloomquist, 16.029; 2. 44-Chris Madden, 16.075; 3. 49-Jonathan Davenport, 16.257; 4. 18c-Chase Junghans, 16.279; 5. 1-Brandon Sheppard, 16.321; 6. C8-Timothy Culp, 16.323; 7. 72-Mike Norris, 16.354; 8. 25-Shane Clanton, 16.362; 9. 2c-Joey Coulter, 16.391; 10. 39-Tim McCreadie, 16.488; 11. 17M-Dale McDowell, 16.5; 12. 7-Rick Eckert, 16.531; 13. B1-Brent Larson, 16.62; 14. 40B-Kyle Bronson, 16.679; 15. 14-Darrell Lanigan, 16.739; 16. 1x-Chub Frank, 16.822; 17. 22-Chris Ferguson, 16.928; 18. 1P-Earl Pearson, 16.946; 19. 15-Donny Schatz, 17.121; 20. 6-Blake Spencer, 17.152; 21. 51-Dean Carpenter, 17.194; 22. 14r-Reid Millard, 19.344