WAYNESVILLE, Ohio — Devin Moran took the lead from Brandon Sheppard on lap 18 and pulled away from the field to win the season opener for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series on Thursday night at Golden Isles Speedway.
The Super Clean Super Bowl of Racing presented by eBay Motors was the first race at Golden Isles since 2020, as the new promotional team of driver Kyle Bronson and his fiancé Amber Lloyd took over ownership of the track late last year.
Moran was the fourth different leader of the race as he recorded his third career win in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Sheppard was looking to celebrate his 29th birthday with his first career win at Golden Isles but came home in second.
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson, who won the series’ season-opener last year at All-Tech, finished in third.
Tyler Erb and defending Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion, Tim McCreadie rounded out the top five.
Larson grabbed the point at the start of the race after starting on the outside of the front row for the 40-lap main event. Erb challenged Larson for the first seven laps of the race as he saw the Texan move to the point on lap eight. Erb’s lead lasted until Sheppard went to the head of the pack on lap 14.
Moran started third and saw the front of the field to his liking as he charged around Sheppard 18 laps into the race to take over the top spot which he held to the finish.
Sheppard had to fight off Larson over the last half of the race to secure the runner-up finish. Moran’s winning margin was 1.370 seconds over Sheppard. It was Moran’s first career win at Golden Isles, but he also has Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series wins at his home track, Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville, Oh, and at East Bay in 2020.
“This is just awesome. I was so nervous before the race because I felt like we were good in our heat race, and I just didn’t know what changes to make.” Moran said. “I can’t thank Tye Twarog enough for giving me this opportunity. Ever since last year when we went with the Bilstein Shocks on this car it’s been really good.”
Sheppard held off Larson by .3 seconds to finish second
“It was a lot of fun out there tonight,” Sheppard said. “Our car was good. We started sixth and got to the front pretty quick. We got by Terbo for the lead and then Devin got by us. It got to where I couldn’t steer coming off of the corner late in the race. It was a real good race up front between all of us. It’s a good start to Speedweeks for us and we will try to keep up the momentum from this.”
Larson was making his debut at Golden Isles. Leading early on, Larson faded back to fifth at one point during the race but rallied on to round out the podium.
“This is a fun track to race on. We haven’t raced that much on this type of dirt, and we really haven’t raced much in Georgia,” Larson said. “We were good early on and then went back a bit, but we got going again and had a good race with Sheppard there. It was a good clean race out there; I can’t wait to come back tomorrow night.”
Devin Moran, Brandon Sheppard, Kyle Larson, Tyler Erb, Tim McCreadie, Ricky Thornton Jr., Josh Richards, Hudson O’Neal, Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens, Tyler Bruening, Earl Pearson Jr., Cody Overton, Garrett Alberson, Chris Madden, Kyle Bronson, Shane Clanton, Ashton Winger, Mike Marlar, Spencer Hughes, Garrett Smith, Kyle Strickler, Steven Roberts, Ryan Gustin, Mark Whitener, Stormy Scott, Brian Shirley.