Shinnston, WV July 31, 2017 – Two hours away from his home and on familiar turf in the state of Illinois, the current World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series points leader Brandon Sheppard and Rocket1 Racing had momentum and confidence on their side heading into the 2017 Prairie Dirt Classic (PDC) at Fairbury American Legion Speedway (FALS).
Sheppard and the team went on to dominate the 2017 PDC from night one with a victory in Showdown qualifying feature #3 on Friday and the 100 lap $30,000 to win A-Main on Saturday night in their Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Rocket Chassis XR1, Rocket1.
The PDC at FALS has become one of the “must see” events for fans and drivers alike. The Fairbury, Illinois facility hosted the 28th running of the 100 lap, $30,000 to win World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series (WoOLMs) event. This year’s race was the richest dirt oval event ever in the history of the state and attracted 65 entries.
The PDC preliminary qualifying races on Friday night were broken down into four 25 lap “Showdown” qualifying races worth $2,500 to win. Brandon qualified fifth in group B, which lined him up P3 in the third “Showdown” race. Sheppard settled into P4 for the first nine laps. Once Bobby Pierce showed Brandon some pressure, he found some speed and began his charge to the front. On lap 18, Brandon secured the lead from Chris Madden and won by .978 seconds.
Sheppard said the following, “The track was a little bit treacherous up there (on the outside), but if you can get up there and make it happen, you can make it happen,” Sheppard said. “A hundred laps tomorrow like that will make it interesting.”
Sheppard’s win in the third qualifier earned him a P4 starting spot in the 100 lap, $30,000 to win PDC.
It took forty laps for Brandon to get Rocket1 in control of the race and never look back. Sheppard lead the final 60 laps and won with a margin of 3.260 seconds over 2nd place Ryan Unzicker.
“I kind of wanted everyone to get lined out a little bit before I started making moves,” said Sheppard, who started fourth and grabbed the lead for the first time on lap 25 but didn’t immediately press the issue to stay there. “The track was a little bit slimy there right from the get-go — and I think that’s why Moran pushed across the track there in front of Unzicker (through turns one and two on the opening lap to begin his slip backward) — so I was just kind of trying to let everyone get settled into a line to where I could figure out where I was gonna run.”
“We had a really maneuverable car at the beginning of the race, and that’s what it took to get the lead,” said Sheppard, “Once the track started cleaning off and moved up, I could kind of get around better and push it a little more. I ran the top, and luckily there weren’t a lot of (lapped) guys running the cushion so it worked out pretty good.”
“We’ve had a lot of success over the years here, but we’ve just had a lot of bad luck also,” said Sheppard, who won the 2016 UMP DIRTcar Summernationals feature at Fairbury. “Being teamed up with Mark Richards and Steve Baker and everybody at Rocket Chassis has really sped up my learning curve as a driver. It just seems like we have a really good program for the long races.”
Sheppard’s triumph at the PDC also added to his already impressive WoOCLMS points lead. Which now sits at 258 points over Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C..
Rocket1 Racing finishes up their grueling five week road trip this week. The races below outline this week’s schedule.
August 1st – Oshkosh Speedzone (Oshkosh, WI)
August 2nd – Shawano Speedway (Shawano, WI)
August 3rd-5th – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)
Rocket1 Racing’s list of 2017 marketing partners
Valvoline, Seubert Calf Ranches, Ace Metal Works, Sallack Well Service, Gunter’s Honey, Petroff Towing, Andy Durham Racing Engines, Keyser Mfg., Integra Racing Shocks, Hoosier Racing Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, Sweet Mfg., Five Star Bodies, Slavic Corp, Accu-Force Shock Services, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Aurora Rod Ends, Barnes Dry Sump Systems, Bazell Race Fuels, Beyea Custom Headers, Braswell Competition Carburetors, Brinn Transmissions, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Butler Built Professional Seat Systems, Dohm Cycles, Edelbrock, Hardrock Powder Coating, Howe Racing Enterprises, Jones Racing Products, Kenny’s Components, Maxima Racing Oils, MSD Ignition, Performance Bodies, Performance Rod & Custom, Peterson Fluid Systems, Powers Starters, Quick Car Racing Products, R2C Competition Series Filters, Show Trucks Unlimited, Simpson, Snap-On Tools – Paul Greenwood, SRI, Strange Oval - Kera Axle Tuning, Tel Tac Oval Track Pro, Weld Racing, Wiles Racing Driveshafts, Wilwood Brakes, Winters Performance Products and Wrisco Aluminum.
Valvoline™ is a leading worldwide producer and distributor of premium-branded automotive, commercial and industrial lubricants, and automotive chemicals. In 2016, it ranks as the #2 quick-lube chain by number of stores and #3 passenger car motor oil in the DIY market by volume brand in the United States. The brand operates and franchises more than 1,050 Valvoline Instant Oil ChangeSM centers in the United States. It also markets ValvolineTM lubricants and automotive chemicals; MaxLifeTM lubricants created for higher-mileage engines, SynPowerTM synthetic motor oil; and ZerexTM antifreeze. For more information, please visit Valvoline.com.
About Mark Richards Racing, Inc. dba Rocket Chassis
Based in Shinnston, W.V., Mark Richards Racing, Inc. dba Rocket Chassis is a dirt late model manufacturer founded in 1991 by business partners Mark Richards and Steve Baker. It's a group of talented individuals who strive to make Rocket Chassis the winningest dirt late model manufacturer in dirt oval racing. For more information on Rocket Chassis, please visit rocketchassis.com.