The Rocket1 Racing team’s return to competition amid the Covid-19 pandemic was highlighted by a pair of podium finishes over the weekend.
The World of Outlaws (WoO) Morton Buildings Late Models Series returned to racing for the first time in 77 days with a doubleheader at Minnesota’s Jackson Motorplex. Piloting the Valvoline No. 1 Seubert Calf Ranches/ Durham Racing Engines-powered Rocket Chassis, Brandon Sheppard raced to Top-3 finishes both nights.
On Friday night, Sheppard locked his spot into the $6,000-to-win A-Main with a fourth-place finish in his heat race. Starting 10th in the 30-lap affair, a slew of cautions hampered the early running.
Once the pace picked up, Sheppard made his presence known and drove to the third spot in just six laps; then moved into second on lap 9. From there, Sheppard set his sights on race-long leader, Ricky Weiss.
Sheppard closed the gap on Weiss, cutting his lead from more than 2.4 seconds down to less than one second, but he could never mount a serious charge for the top spot. Sheppard settled for second behind Weiss, with Shannon Babb, Chase Junghans, and Chris Madden completing the Top-5.
“We had a really balanced car in the feature, I mean before the top got dirty, I could really move around,” Sheppard stated. “I just messed up qualifying with the wrong line. I haven’t been up to par lately and it has cost us later in the night. I’ve been really struggling there since the pandemic, so I’ve got to do a better job of qualifying to position us better in the feature.”
Saturday’s finale painted a picture much-like Friday for Sheppard and the Rocket1 crew. A third-place finish in his heat race earned Brandon the 11th starting position on the grid for the $20,000-to-win main event.
Making his way into the Top-5 early in the 60-lapper, Sheppard was in contention throughout much of the race. A restart with six laps to go set the stage for one last ditch run at the race lead, but it wasn’t enough. Sheppard took the checkered flag in third behind winner Ricky Thornton Jr., and Ricky Weiss. Chad Simpson and Chris Madden rounded out the Top-5.
“I’m definitely disappointed we didn’t win one this weekend,” said Sheppard. “Especially considering how good my car was. I just needed to be more aggressive in the beginning. We have got to work on qualifying and win some heat races to start up front.”
Sheppard continues to lead the latest WoO Morton Buildings Late Model Series standings. For more results from these events and complete series standings, please visit www.WoOLMS.com.
Earlier in the week, the team traveled south to kick off the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Reopening Tour at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Ga. A tripleheader of $7,000-to-win events began on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s opener saw Brandon record a 14th-place outing after suffering front-end damage from a dirt clod on the opening circuit. On Wednesday, Sheppard rallied from his 18th starting spot in the A-Main to a ninth-place finish. After rain delayed Thursday’s program for several hours, Brandon was forced to scratch from the night in order to catch his flight to Minnesota.
For complete results from these events, please visit www.LucasDirt.com.
This upcoming weekend – May 29-30 – takes Rocket1 Racing to Davenport Speedway in Davenport, Iowa with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series. On Friday the racing will be on Davenport’s 1/4-mile bullring inside the infield, then Saturday on the outer 1/2-mile dirt oval. To learn more about this doubleheader, visit www.WoOLMS.com.
Rocket1 Racing would like to thank all of their marketing partners, which include Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Rocket Chassis, Ace Metal Works, Durham Racing Engines, FiveStar RaceCar Bodies, Gunters Honey, Hoosier Racing Tire, Integra Racing Shocks, Keyser Manufacturing, Petroff Towing, Slavic Custom Racing Shirts & Decals, Sweet Manufacturing, Sunoco Race Fuels, Accu-Force Shock Service, ATL Fuel Cells, Aurora Rod Ends, Barnes Dry Sump Oil Systems, Bazell Race Fuels, Beyea Custom Headers, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Brinn Transmissions, Cometic Gasket, COMP Cams, CP Carrillo, Dohm Cycles, Edelbrock, Fibreworks Composites, Hardrock Powder Coating, Howe Racing Enterprises, Jones Racing Products, Kenny’s Components, Maxima Racing Oils, MSD, NGK Spark Plugs, Tel Tac, Performance Bodies, Peterson Fluid Systems, Powers Performance, Performance Rod & Custom, Quarter Master, QuickCar Racing Products, Rocket Pre-Owned Motors, Safecraft, Show Trucks Unlimited, Simpson, Stealth Carburetors, Strange Oval, Suave Talk, Total Power Valvoline Pro-V Racing, Walker Performance Filtration, Weld Racing, Wiles Driveshafts, Wilwood Brakes, Winters Performance Products, Wrisco Aluminum, Xceldyne Valvetrain, and MSR Mafia Marketing Services.