Story By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – WICHITA, KS – Brandon Sheppard picked up where he left off the last time the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series visited 81 Speedway.
Like in 2017, the New Berlin, IL driver found Victory Lane on Saturday, earning his fourth Series win of 2022 and 81st of his career.
Sheppard and three-time Series champion Billy Moyer led the field to the green before Sheppard slid in front of Moyer to take the lead in Turn 2.
The reigning Series champion pulled away from the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer until he hit traffic on Lap 10, allowing Moyer and a charging Ryan Gustin to close the gap.
Moyer and Gustin had their best shot at Sheppard on Lap 17 when they battled three wide for the lead in Turns 3 and 4.
Sheppard stayed on the top while Moyer rolled the middle, nosing ahead in the middle of the corner. All this while Gustin used the bottom to try and get by them both. However, neither “The Reaper” nor “Mr. Smooth” had enough momentum to pass “The Rocket Shepp” as he thundered away from both in Turn 4.
From there, Sheppard cruised for the final 23 laps to grab his second $10,000 triumph of 2022.
Despite his dominance in the CASE Construction Equipment Feature, Sheppard said he was worried about how tricky it would be to run the top.
“This place has got a shelf all the way around the top of it,” Sheppard said. “The only place it doesn’t have a shelf is like right in the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4.
“It was kind of a tricky line, and I was kind of overdriving it early in the race, trying to keep my speed up and trying to keep them guys behind me. I was just going and going as hard as I could, and finally, I started to slow down a little bit, and I found a line that was better for me in Turns 1 and 2, and I feel like that helped me just not sheer my speed and kill my momentum.”
Sheppard entered 81 Speedway with many unknowns—not knowing what to expect since the track configuration had changed since his win in 2017
“The biggest thing right now for me is it’s a guessing game for me to figure out your setup right off the bat,” Sheppard said. “Especially at these places because I’ve never had a Late Model at these places before.
“Obviously, I won in 2017, but the track was different. It didn’t even have a wall around it. It’s just a big difference figuring out where you need to start and the changes you need to make throughout the night.”
Moyer crossed the line second—his best finish with the World of Outlaws this season. He stated he was happy to have a chance at beating Sheppard as he still searches for a victory in 2022.
“To be able to run that close made me feel good with the dismal year we’ve had,” Moyer said. “[Sheppard] made a couple of bobbles and I just wasn’t there at the right time to pounce on it.
“We got to just get some momentum under us and keep going and build on our program to where I feel more confident.”
Gustin, who battled for the lead with Sheppard and Moyer, finished 19th after breaking a drive shaft while running third on Lap 38.
Series points leader Dennis Erb Jr. rounded out the podium—his second top-three finish of the weekend.
The Carpentersville, IL, driver said he had a good car but felt the top was too strong down the stretch.
“We just kept plugging away here tonight,” Erb said. “The track was awful good up around the top, and we tried to male that middle work a little bit. But we were able to maintain a little bit and got to third. That top was just a little bit too dominant for out there tonight. It was a good run for us.”
Erb extended his lead in the battle for the championship for the second consecutive night over Tanner English, who finished seventh. The veteran driver leads by 118 points with four races to go.
Chase Junghans, who won on Friday at Humboldt Speedway, finished fourth, and Gordy Gundaker rounded out the top five.
Max Blair finished sixth and narrowly closed the gap on English in the battle for Rookie of the Year. English leads by 56 points as the road to the World of Outlaws World Finals continues.
Brandon Sheppard added another win to his World of Outlaws CASE Late Models resume, remaining the only Series winner at 81 Speedway. He’ll look to keep that momentum rolling as he tries to grab his fifth win of the season on Sunday.
UP NEXT: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet head to the “Show-Me” State for the final time in 2022 with a trip to US 36 Raceway in Osborn, MO.
CASE Construction Equipment Feature (40 Laps): 1. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 2. 21-Billy Moyer Sr; 3. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 4. 18-Chase Junghans; 5. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 6. 111V-Max Blair; 7. 81E-Tanner English; 8. 11T-Trevor Gundaker; 9. 16-Tyler Bruening; 10. 25-Shane Clanton; 11. 10-Jacob Magee; 12. B1-Brent Larson; 13. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr; 14. 1-Josh Richards; 15. 99B-Boom Briggs; 16. 22-Daniel Hilsabeck; 17. 77-Jordan Yaggy; 18. 14W-Dustin Walker; 19. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 20. B1X-Dustin Bolster; 21. 7D-Dusty Leonard; 22. 157-Mike Marlar; 23. 36-Logan Martin; 24. 9-Joseph Gorby FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Tanner English [+9].