LINCOLN, IL — Dennis Erb Jr. appeared well on his way to stinking up Thursday’s Castrol® FloRacing Night in America feature at Lincoln Speedway. But Brandon Sheppard made sure fans got their money’s worth at the quarter-mile fairgrounds oval hosting the richest event in track history.
Furiously cutting Erb’s three-second lead with 10 laps remaining to mere tenths of a second in the final laps, Sheppard’s Hail Mary charge pushed Erb to the limit in a thrilling finish that saw Erb hang on by a half-second to secure a $22,022 paycheck for the second-richest victory of his career.
“We were just trying to finish it off there,” the Carpentersville, Ill., winner said in victory lane.
“We did what we could,” the runner-up from New Berlin, Ill., said a moment later.
Sheppard nearly pulled alongside Erb exiting turn two on the final lap, but his Rocket Chassis house car caught the backstretch fence and allowed Erb to escape in the 50-lap feature that marked the second round of an Illinois Speedweek that has drawn more than 50 entrants from over 20 states.
Pole-starting Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M., who led the first four laps before Erb took command, finished third for Iowa-based Roberts Motorsports with Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, and another Las Cruces driver, Stormy Scott, rounding out the top five.
A hub-running Alberson led from the outset, but Erb’s middle groove carried him into the lead as he pulled away from his pursuers, building a three-second lead before a lap-20 caution. Sheppard took the second spot on the restart, but Erb again built a huge lead while running successfully in any groove he chose.
Sheppard made up ground with 15 laps remaining as Erb faced a pack of slower cars, but Erb stretched his margin back to three seconds with 10 laps remaining and the race seemed all but over.
But with Erb continuing to face heavy traffic, Sheppard turned up the wick and nearly caught Erb in the closing laps, thrilling home-state fans watching the Prairie State drivers duke it out.
Erb seemed to downplay Sheppard’s charge, but of course he hadn’t seen the video before his victory lane interview.
“I didn’t know who was back there, you know. I mean, I was just concentrating on hitting my marks,” Erb said. “The car was pretty good where we were rolling through there, just trying to get through the lapped traffic smoothly. We had a good night tonight and I was able to keep this thing up front and had a real good car and it really didn’t matter. We were just trying to finish it off there.”
Sheppard said he struggled with steering for much of the race before finally getting his blue No. 1 rolling.
“About 10 laps to go I finally found the line that I needed to run in (turns) one and two, and that was the key to getting me up there a little bit,” Sheppard said. “I don’t know if we had the wrong tire on or what, but I couldn’t steer very good through (turns) three and four really. But all in all, a pretty good night. Congratulations to Dennis. He did a really good job there.
“We were right there, man. We just, I don’t know … I wish I would have found my line in (turns) one and two a little quicker. But it was definitely treacherous up there. Another great night at Lincoln. (Promoter Bob Sargent has) got the track really good again — we did what we could.”
Two cautions slowed the action.
The first appeared on the seventh lap when Mike Marlar and Ricky Thornton Jr. got tangled up in turn two. On the 21st lap, Cade Dillard spun in turn two just in front of the leading Erb, who slipped by unscathed.
While the Castrol® FloRacing Night in America portion of the inaugural FloRacing Illinois Speedweek has drawn to a close, there will be a pair of Mid-America Racing Series (MARS) Super Late Model sanctioned events on May 13-14 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway ($15,000-to-win) and Fairbury (Ill.) Speedway ($30,000-to-win). The latter two races will not be point’s events for Castrol® FloRacing Night in America, but a stout miniseries point fund makes it lucrative for drivers to enter all four programs.
The four-race swing includes a $23,500 point’s fund for the Top 6 in the FloRacing Illinois Speedweeks standings with $10,000 going to the champion followed by: 2)$5,000 3)$3,000 4)$2,500 5)$2,000 6)$1,000.
Meanwhile, Castrol® FloRacing Night in America rolls into Marshalltown (Iowa) Speedway on Wednesday, May 18 with a $22,022-to-win / $1,000-to-start event. The event will be the fifth round of the 2022 season for sophomore tour and marks its first appearance at the oval.
Castrol® FloRacing Night in America
Lincoln Speedway (Lincoln, Ill.)
May 12, 2022 Feature Results
A Feature 1 (50 Laps): 1. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard; 3. 58-Garrett Alberson; 4. 32S-Chris Simpson; 5. 2S-Stormy Scott; 6. 36-Logan Martin; 7. 81E-Tanner English; 8. 18B-Shannon Babb; 9. 71-Hudson O’Neal; 10. 9-Devin Moran; 11. 157-Mike Marlar; 12. 1T-Tyler Erb; 13. 3S-Brian Shirley; 14. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr; 15. 11H-Jeff Herzog; 16. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 17. 42W-Mckay Wenger; 18. 24-Ryan Unzicker; 19. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 20. 89S-Mike Spatola; 21. 22-Daniel Hilsabeck; 22. (DNF) 15-Kolby Vandenbergh; 23. (DNF) 97-Cade Dillard; 24. (DNF) 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr
DNS: Kevin Weaver, Morgan Bagley, Ryan Gustin, Bobby Pierce, Myles Moos, Spencer Hughes, Jake Timm, Daryn Klein, Dean Carpenter, Trevor Gundaker, Tommy Sheppard Jr., Matt Furman, Corey Conley, Jason Feger, Cody Maguire, Bob Gardner, Tony Jackson Jr., Chad Finley, Logan Nickerson, Josh Putnam, Roben Huffman, Jake Miller, Paul Stubber, Rich Bell, Kent Rosevear, Jake Little, Chase Osterhoff, Kyle Hammer, Ashton Winger, Bob Sidener, Brandon Carpenter
Renegade Race Fuels Qualifying Group A (and overall): Garrett Alberson (13.779 seconds)
Renegade Race Fuels Qualifying Group B: Dennis Erb Jr. (13.670 seconds)
Integra Racing Shocks Heat Race #1 Winner: Garrett Alberson
Pit Stop USA Heat Race #2 Winner: Chris Simpson
K1 Race Gear Heat Race #3 Winner: Stormy Scott
Buzze Racing Heat Race #4 Winner: Dennis Erb Jr.
FK Rod Ends Heat Race #5 Winner: Brandon Sheppard
Hoker Trucking Heat Race #6 Winner: Billy Moyer Jr.
B-Main Winners: Frank Heckenast Jr., Devin Moran
Hoosier Tire Drawing Winners: Tony Jackson Jr., Corey Conley
$150 Cash Drawing Winners: Jake Miller, Mike Spatola
Digital Copy Systems $500 Bonus: Dennis Erb Jr.
For more information on Castrol® FloRacing Night in America sponsors, visit the company websites at www.castrol.com; www.renegaderacefuel.com; www.integrashocksandsprings.com; www.pitstopusa.com; www.k1racegear.com; www.buzzeracing.com; www.hokertrucking.com; www.rocketchassis.com; www.dirtdraft.com; www.hoosiertire.com; and www.fkrodends.com.
For complete Castrol® FloRacing Night in America details, visit the brand-new series website at www.FloSeries.com. For other questions, contact general manager Ben Shelton at email@example.com or 901-335-3037.