Brandon Sheppard, Rocket1 Racing Notch Pair Of Podiums During East Bay Winternationals

Story By: BEN SHELTON / ROCKET1 RACING – SHINNSTON, WV – Brandon Sheppard Racing and the Rocket1 Racing team rolled into East Bay Raceway Park on Monday to kick off the 45th Annual Wrisco Industries Inc. Winternationals at “The Clay by the Bay.”

During the course of the weeklong affair, Sheppard drove the Valvoline No. 1 Seubert Calf Ranches/ Durham Racing Engines-powered Rocket Chassis to a pair of podium finishes.

As the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series converged on Tampa, Fla. for the first of six races during the annual Winternationals, Sheppard started his night by timing in second quick in his qualifying group.

After winning his heat race, Brandon started third on the grid for the 30-lap, $5,000-to-win feature. Several cautions throughout the race plagued a competitive battle for the lead. In the end, Hudson O’Neal would hold off Sheppard in the closing laps to take the win by just 0.359 seconds. Brandon Overton, Devin Moran, and Earl Pearson Jr. would round out the Top-5 finishers.

On Tuesday night, Brandon Sheppard once again posted the second-fastest time in qualifying before streaking to a heat race victory to earn the fourth-starting position for the $5,000-to-win feature.

Sheppard ran among the Top-4 the entire race until a right-rear flat tire on the final lap drew the caution and forced him to the hot pit area. With only one-lap remaining, Brandon only managed to salvage a 19th-place outing.

On Wednesday Brandon started the night by blazing to the fastest time in his qualifying group and backed it up with a heat race win to earn the pole position for the $7,000-to-win feature.

After Mother Nature shifted the 40-lapper to Thursday night, Sheppard spun out while running fourth on the third lap following contact with another competitor. Methodically working his way back through the field, Brandon registered a ninth-place finish.

For Thursday’s regularly scheduled $7,000-to-win program, Brandon crossed the finish line in 12th after advancing six spots from his 18th starting position.

On Friday evening, Sheppard fell one spot short of a transfer spot in his heat race, sending him to a B-Main. Finishing second, Brandon locked into the 23rd starting position for the $12,000-to-win feature. He would go on to finish 15th in the 50-lap affair.

Wrapping up the 45th Annual East Bay Winternationals on Saturday, Brandon earned his spot in the $15,000-to-win finale with a heat race victory. Starting the 50-lapper from outside the front, Sheppard led the first 13 circuits before slipping to third place finish at the checkers.

“We had a good car at the beginning of the week. We struggled in the middle of the week, but we got it back going here at the end,” Sheppard said of his Rocket Chassis house car team. “We had fun out there tonight. We got to lapped traffic there pretty heavy when I was leading and Terbo got by and McCreadie got by me. … We never really got to lapped traffic again to be able to dice it up. I was hoping we would, but the caution kept coming out.”

The Florida Speedweeks action continues with a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series doubleheader at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala. A full program is on tap for Monday and Tuesday, highlighted by a $10,000-to-win main event each night.

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