Column: Sheppard, Overton, Pierce, & WoO Late Models Prep For $50K-To-Win Prairie Dirt Classic

Column By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – FAIRBURY, IL – The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models is gearing up for one of its highest-paying races of 2021—the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury Speedway in Fairbury, IL.

The highly anticipated crown jewel has two nights of jam-packed action July 30-31, with one driver collecting $50,000.

It starts Friday, July 30, with Slick Woody’s Qualifying, followed by four 25-lap showdowns, paying $3,000-to-win. They will help set the lineups for Saturday’s 100-lap Prairie Dirt Classic.

Drivers who don’t punch their tickets into the Feature on Friday have an opportunity to get in through Last Chance Showdowns on Saturday. If they still haven’t made the show, they’ll have one more chance in the Prairie Dirt Shootout. The winner can either collect $2,500 or start last in the Prairie Dirt Classic.

Joining the World of Outlaws on the card is the DIRTcar Summit Equipment Modified Nationals.

Here are some of the top storylines to keep an eye on this weekend:

Rocket Repeat: Brandon Sheppard found Victory Lane the last time the Prairie Dirt Classic was held in 2019. He’s one of only five multi-time winners of the event, along with Shannon Babb, Bob Pierce, Jimmy Mars, and Billy Moyer. If the New Berlin, IL driver wins again, he’ll join Moyer and Pierce as the only back-to-back winners in the history of the event.

A trip to Victory Lane would also give him a piece of World of Outlaws history. “The Rocket Shepp’s” next win will tie him with Darrell Lanigan for second on the all-time wins list.

Sheppard enters Fairbury Speedway with the Series points lead—88 points ahead of Chris Madden.

Long Distance Operator: The driver Sheppard beat to win the 2019 Prairie Dirt Classic is fellow Illinois competitor and DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Bobby Pierce.

The Oakwood, IL driver earned his first two World of Outlaws wins this season—both in events more than 50 laps.

The “Smooth Operator” brings a ton of momentum into Fairbury, having won 11 times on the Summer Nationals tour, so far. He finished fifth at Fairbury Speedway when the Summer Nationals visited the Illinois track in June.

Yung Money Returns: When there’s big money up for grabs, Kyle Larson isn’t usually far behind. The Elk Grove, CA driver will make his World of Outlaws Late Model return this weekend at the Prairie Dirt Classic.

In two starts with the Series, “Yung Money” has one top-10 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

Larson’s last two crown jewel starts were during the Dirt Late Model Dreams at Eldora Speedway in June. He finished 13th and sixth in those two events.

Big Sexy Takeover: In 2021, the words “crown jewel” and “Brandon Overton” have been a perfect match.

The Evans, GA driver swept the both Dreams at Eldora Speedway earlier in the year – collecting more than $270,000 during the event – and backed that up with his second Firecracker 100 win at Lernerville Speedway at the beginning of the month.

“Big Sexy” enters the Prairie Dirt Classic with 19 total wins this season and 16 career World of Outlaws wins overall. Of them, Fairbury Speedway is not on that list. He’ll aim to change that this week and add another notch to his impressive run on crown jewel dominance.

Making some Illi…noise: While the top names in Late Model racing will take their shot at $50,000, you can never count out the drivers from the Prairie state.

Dennis Erb Jr., of Carpentersville, IL, has been on a hot streak since the beginning of June. The “One-Man-Band” has three World of Outlaws wins in the last 11 races—two of them coming on 1/4-mile tracks like Fairbury Speedway.

Shannon Babb, of Moweaqua, IL, is another driver to keep an eye on at the Prairie Dirt Classic. The “Moweaqua Missile” has won the event three times and found Victory Lane when the DIRTcar Summer Nationals visited Fairbury in June. Babb also won a World of Outlaws race at Boone Speedway in April.

Some of Fairbury’s weekly competitors may have something to say about Saturday’s outcome, as well.

Mike Spatola leads the track points standings this season with three wins. “Opie” also scored his first career World of Outlaws victory earlier in April when the Series visited Farmer City Raceway.

Another driver to watch out for is Fairbury’s own McKay Wenger. He owns a win at the speedway in 2021 and is second in track points.

The Rookie Battle Continues: While all the drivers are battling for $50K this weekend, Ryan Gustin and Tyler Bruening will continue their battle for top Rookie.

Bruening leads Gustin by 102 points heading into the Prairie Dirt Classic. Both drivers have seven top-fives and 17 top-10s this season. If either driver can win on Saturday, it would be their first World of Outlaws victory.

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