FAIRBURY, IL — The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series headlined one of the most prestigious races in the country; the 29th annual Prairie Dirt Classic presented by Bank of Pontiac. The fast quarter-mile of Fairbury American Legion Speedway (IL), located northeast of Bloomington in Fairbury, IL on Friday-Saturday, July 27-28th served as hosts as the 100-lap main paying $30,000 to win would see a rising star emerge victorious with his first major victory of his career. The 2017 Outlaws Rookie of the Year, 23-year-old Devin Moran passed defending series champion and defending race winner, Brandon Sheppard for the final time with 21 laps to go to secure the big payday.
“Once we moved up to the top, I really found something there and the car was just so phenomenal. It’s incredible what we can do with such a little team that we have. Everyone on this team have come together and to be able to do what we’re doing is so unbelievable.” The 23-year-old rising star stated standing next to his #9 Tommy Pope Construction / Rocket XR1 Chassis / Clements Racing Engines entry. “It’s by far the biggest one, this tops them all. It’s just incredible what we’ve done, and I can’t God enough for blessing us with the capabilities to come out here and race let alone win.” The Dresden, OH driver, who garnered a total of $33,200 for his efforts, added.
Chris Simpson and Sheppard would bring the star-studded 29-car field to the green flag to begin the century grind. Simpson would race out to the lead early while the rest of the field settled in behind him. After following Simpson around the fast quarter-mile, Sheppard made his move to take over the top spot and he brought Chris Madden, who started fifth and Moran, who started third, with him. The trio would then pull away from the rest of the pack with Moran getting by Madden for second. On lap 42, Moran took the lead for the first time and ked the field to the halfway point.
Madden would slip past Sheppard for second and began to challenge Moran for the race lead. Sheppard would regain the runner-up spot and quickly caught Moran who was mired in traffic. On what would be the final restart after a caution, coming on lap 69, Sheppard immediately began pressuring the race leader. On lap 72, Sheppard would steal the lead away only to lose it a lap later.
Sheppard tried one more time on lap 78 and again was scored as the leader only to again lose it right back the very next lap to Moran for what turned out to be the final time. Moran would put plenty of real estate and lapped traffic between himself and Sheppard to seal the victory, the biggest of his career.
“Man, I got nervous there on that last restart. Every time we restarted, that top just kept getting faster and faster. I could tell why once we moved up there and it was way better for us. (Crew Chief and brother) Wylie (Moran) just kept pulling the sticks apart so I just kept running up high and it worked out for us.” Explained the Buckeye State driver. “This is so cool. We just kept fine tuning little things all weekend long and it was just really good. When we can do that, I’m happy.” Moran ended.
Current points leader, Mike Marlar, who started 15th, passed Sheppard with two laps to go to claim the runner-up position. “We had a really good race car and it was a really good race track tonight. It was so congested early, but once it cleared out, I was able to get to the front. “Stated the 40-year-old driver who was able to gain some points to add to his lead in the standings in his #157 Delk Equipment Sales / Rocket XR1 Chassis / Cornett Racing Engines machine. “Also, congratulations to Devin (Moran) and his team. He’s been doing an awesome job and I’m real proud of him. If we would’ve had a caution there we might’ve had a shot. But, we had to really work to get by Brandon (Sheppard) for second, so we’ll take it and we know we did the best we can.” Added the Winfield, TN pilot.
Rounding out the podium was Sheppard who led on four different occasions for 25 total laps before finishing in third in his #1 Seubert Calf Ranches / Rocket XR1 Chassis / Durham Racing Engines entry. “We were really good the whole race, but Devin (Moran) was just a little bit better tonight. I got a little bit free when we got to the lapped traffic and that’s where we needed to be a bit better.” Explained the 25-year-old from New Berlin, IL. “It’s typical Fairbury though. There’s three grooves of racing and when you get to them. They’re all over the place and they’re fighting for position too. We’re thankful to be in the top three though.” Sheppard remarked.
Madden would finish in the fourth position ahead of Billy Drake who completed the top five with an Outlaws career high finish of a fifth. Three-time PDC winner, Shannon Babb was sixth as 2018 DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour Champion, Brian Shirley was seventh. 2017 FALS Super Late Model Track Champion, Ryan Unzicker was eighth as another former PDC winner, Dennis Erb Jr., from 20th and 2015 Series Champion, Shane Clanton, from 23rd, rounded out the top 10. Four-time Track Champion and current points leader, Kevin Weaver earned the KSE Hard-Charger award with his 25th to 11th place run.
Earlier in the weekend on Friday, July 27th, Bobby Pierce won his first PFC Brakes Fast Qualifier award of the season and second of his career with a 13.188. Simpson, Sheppard, Moran and Babb won the Showdown Qualifier Features. On Saturday, July 28th, Gordy Gundaker, three-time series champion, Billy Moyer and Tyler Erb won the Last Chance Showdowns. Pierce would pick up the victory in the Prairie Dirt Shootout and would then forgo the $2,000 payday that came with it for the 27th starting spot in the Prairie Dirt Classic.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series will head north and make their first ever appearance at the 1/3-mile of Plymouth Dirt Track (Sheboygan County Fair Park) located east of Fond du Lac in Plymouth, WI on Monday, July 30th. The $10,000 to win Wisconsin Refrigerated 50 will see the tracks Grassroots Project Late Models waiting to challenge the Outlaw invaders including four-time and defending track champion as well as current points leader, Brad Mueller.
For more information, visit the track website located at: plymouthdtr.com
Sears Craftsman Feature (100 Laps): 1. 9-Devin Moran [$30,000]; 2. 157-Mike Marlar [$10,000]; 3. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$6,000]; 4. 44-Chris Madden [$5,000]; 5. 75-Billy Drake [$4,000]; 6. 18b-Shannon Babb [$3,000]; 7. 3s-Brian Shirley [$2,750]; 8. 24-Ryan Unzicker [$2,500]; 9. 28e-Dennis Erb [$2,300]; 10. 25-Shane Clanton [$2,100]; 11. B12-Kevin Weaver [$1,900]; 12. 11-Gordy Gundaker [$1,800]; 13. 20-Jimmy Owens [$1,700]; 14. 91-Tyler Erb [$1,650]; 15. 96-Tanner English [$1,600]; 16. 49-Jonathan Davenport [$1,580]; 17. B1-Brent Larson [$110]; 18. 9D-Daniel Flessner [$1,540]; 19. 18c-Chase Junghans [$1,520]; 20. 54-David Breazeale [$110]; 21. 32-Chris Simpson [$1,500]; 22. 6K-Michael Kloos [$1,500]; 23. 5-Don O’Neal [$1,500]; 24. 40B-Kyle Bronson [$1,500]; 25. 32p-Bobby Pierce [$1,500]; 26. 7-Rick Eckert [$1,500]; 27. 10p-Paul Parker [$1,500]; 28. 21-Billy Moyer [$1,500]; 29. 12-Jason Jameson [$1,500]
KSE Hard Charger Award: B12-Kevin Weaver[+14]
Last Chance Showdown 1 (15 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer: 1. 11-Gordy Gundaker [-]; 2. 28e-Dennis Erb [-]; 3. 15d-Justin Duty [-]; 4. 25w-Allen Weisser [$700]; 5. 12c-Jeff Curl [$300]; 6. 1m-Mike Mataragas [$500]; 7. 84-Myles Moos [$400]; 8. 54-David Breazeale [$110]; 9. 32p-Bobby Pierce [$350]; 10. 25k-Bill Kettering ; 11. 79w-Greg Wagner [$300]; 12. 9D-Daniel Flessner [$110]; 13. 25-Shane Clanton [$110]; 14. 39-Rob Toland [$110]; 15. 74-Russ Adams 
Last Chance Showdown 2 (15 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer: 1. 21-Billy Moyer [-]; 2. 20-Jimmy Owens [-]; 3. 25F-Jason Feger [-]; 4. B1-Brent Larson [$700]; 5. 29-Spencer Diercks [$300]; 6. 77-Jay Morris [$500]; 7. 28-Sammy Epling [$400]; 8. 7T-Steve Thorsten [$110]; 9. 22B-Jonathan Brauns [$350]; 10. 5d-Brian Dunn ; 11. 15-Matt Shannon [$300]; 12. 15s-Taylor Scheffler [$110]; 13. 6-Blake Spencer [$110]; 14. 7s-Jay Sparks [$110]; 15. 10-Scott Schmitt 
Last Chance Showdown 3 (15 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer: 1. 91-Tyler Erb [-]; 2. 12-Jason Jameson [-]; 3. 18c-Chase Junghans [-]; 4. 4-Bob Gardner [$700]; 5. 89-Mike Spatola [$300]; 6. 15v-Kolby Vanderbergh [$500]; 7. 4G-Kody Evans [$400]; 8. 71-Hudson O’Neal [$110]; 9. 87-Derek Doll [$350]; 10. B12-Kevin Weaver ; 11. 14-Glen Thompson [$300]; 12. 61-Curtis Radke [$110]; 13. 71k-Jim Rogers [$110]; 14. 51-Joey Moriarty [$110]; 15. 55-Collin Alexander