BULLS GAP, Tenn. — Brandon Sheppard’s quest toward World of Outlaws history took another step forward Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway. But without some luck, it might not have happened.
Sheppard was fortunate enough to draw the outside pole, putting him on the front row with Championship rival Chris Madden. Sheppard used the outside lane to his advantage, launching ahead of Madden in turn two and holding on for his eighth win of the season.
The “Rocket Shepp” gave himself a chance to win after making sure he finished his Drydene heat race in a redraw spot.
“I really wanted to win that heat race, but I knew as long as I finished in the top two, we’d get into the redraw,” Sheppard said. “With this tire rule we’re on here this weekend, it’s kind of hard to pass, so just getting a good starting spot and getting out front early has been key all weekend.”
The win is Sheppard’s 77th World of Outlaws triumph—one win away from tying Josh Richards at the top of the all-time wins list (78). Even though he’s knocking at history’s door, it’s not something that’s on his mind.
“It’s really cool, but I just try not to think about it, you know, because when you think about it, it’s gets in your head, and then you want to win too bad, and then it messes you up,” Sheppard said.
Madden crossed the line second, but not without adversity. The feature needed three attempts at the initial green flag, including one where Madden received severe body damage to the left side of his car.
Ricky Weiss wheel-hopped Madden’s left rear on one of the attempts, hooking them together as cars wrecked behind them. Both drivers continued, but Madden was upset with what happened despite the runner-up finish.
“Me and [Sheppard] tried two or three times and had perfect starts with no problems,” Madden said. “It’s just the guys behind us can’t do what they’re supposed to do.”
Michael Chilton rounded out the podium. While most of the field was running the top, Chilton was one of the few cars taking a chance on the bottom.
“I was just beating the hell out of the cushion in [turn one and two], and then I kind of found a brown streak down in the bottom of [turn three and four],” Chilton said. “I could make some speed down there, and it seemed like no one else was down there; I had clean air down there, and I got a good drive off the corner and made some ground on some guys.”
Tyler Bruening finished fourth — his second top five of the weekend. Dennis Erb Jr. crossed the line fifth.
Feature (40 Laps):-1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 44-Chris Madden [$6,000]; 3. 97-Michael Chilton [$3,500]; 4. 16-Tyler Bruening [$2,800]; 5. 28-Dennis Erb [$2,500]; 6. 17M-Dale McDowell [$2,300]; 7. 1G-Ryan King [$2,200]; 8. 51-Mack McCarter [$2,100]; 9. 99B-Boom Briggs [$2,050]; 10. 7-Ricky Weiss [$2,000]; 11. 34-Ellery Leake [$1,600]; 12. 79-Ross Bailes [$1,400]; 13. 9-Dusty Carver [$1,200]; 14. 71-Pierce McCarter [$1,100]; 15. 37-Drew Kennedy [$1,050]; 16. 1H-Vic Hill [$1,000]; 17. 19R-Ryan Gustin [$1,000]; 18. 3-Austin Neely [$1,000]; 19. 126-Kaede Loudy [$1,000]; 20. 21K-Dakotah Knuckles [$1,000]; 21. 28W-Jim Whisler [$1,000]; 22. 57-Zack Mitchell [$1,000]; 23. 83-Jensen Ford [$1,000]; 24. B1-Brent Larson [$1,000] Hard Charger: 51-Mack McCarter[+12]