PEVELY, MO – Patience has been an incredible virtue for Brandon Sheppard this week.
In the DIRTcar Summer Nationals’ first visit to the hallowed high banks of the Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 since 2018, Sheppard timed his strike for the lead perfectly, riding top-five for most of the race before tracking down then-leader Daryn Klein and making the slide job stick en route to his third Hell Tour victory in five days.
A sea of blue #B5 t-shirts on the backs of hollering race fans lined the fence during Sheppard’s Victory Lane interview with announcer Ruben Mireles, cheering him on after what is also his third consecutive I-55 Summer Nationals victory.
“It was just an awesome night. Summer Nationals in the B5 – it feels really good to come out here and get some wins. I know the [Rocket1] boys are back home watching, and they’re probably proud of me, and it means a lot to me a lot to me to win on the Summer Nationals and be competitive, night-in and night-out,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard began his hunt for the front from outside Row 2, keeping pace with Billy Moyer, Jason Feger and Dennis Erb in the opening circuits. He soon picked up the pace and a few positions, cracking the podium by Lap 9. From there on out, it was only a matter of time.
Earlier in the night, Fairview Heights, IL-pilot Daryn Klein had set overall quick time in Qualifying, won his Heat Race and redrew the pole for the 50-lap Feature. He jumped out to the early lead and was setting a rapid pace on the high side, looking as though he had the competition covered.
For 34 laps, he did. But Sheppard had other plans.
A big slide job from the B5 came flying in Klein’s direction in Turn 3 as they came around to complete Lap 35. Klein answered back with a crossover move to Sheppard’s inside and returned the favor with a slide job of his own in Turns 1-2, but he couldn’t hold it. Sheppard got a great bite off Turn 2 and dove into Turn 3 with the lead, already pulling away as he hit the flag stand.
“This thing was flawless, I could put it wherever I wanted to,” Sheppard said of his #B5 Rocket Chassis ride. “The bottom really wasn’t that good the whole race, but I could momentum across there pretty good. Really what won me the race was down here in [turns] one and two – I was able to turn down off the cushion really good and get a good run down the backstretch.”
Meanwhile, defending champion Brian Shirley was busy putting on a passing clinic, having driven all the way up to second from the 11th starting spot. The Bob Cullen Racing #3s was very fast, but once it took second from Klein on Lap 43, Sheppard was almost five whole seconds ahead.
Smoothly running the big I-55 cushion, Sheppard wheeled his #B5 Rocket Chassis all the way back to the stripe to pick up the win and $10,000 for his efforts.
Shirley maintained the second spot while Shannon Babb kept his top-five finish streak alive with a third-place finish. Heckenast Jr. and Moyer rounded out the top-five.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Model action continues Sunday from the Lincoln Speedway in Lincoln, IL for Round #21 – 40 laps and $5,000 to the winner. Catch every lap broadcasted LIVE on DIRTVision.com presented by Drydene.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (click for full results)
Feature (50 Laps) 1. B5-Brandon Sheppard ; 2. 3S-Brian Shirley ; 3. 18-Shannon Babb ; 4. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr ; 5. 21-Billy Moyer ; 6. 91-Rusty Schlenk ; 7. 25-Jason Feger ; 8. 111-Steven Roberts ; 9. 33M-Tim Manville ; 10. 10-Daryn Klein ; 11. 4G-Bob Gardner ; 12. 15-Kolby Vandenbergh ; 13. 33-Ricky Frankel ; 14. 11H-Jeff Herzog ; 15. 16-Rusty Griffaw ; 16. 28-Dennis Erb ; 17. 33T-Adam Tischhauser ; 18. 30-Mark Voigt ; 19. 78-Chad Zobrist ; 20. 11T-Trevor Gundaker ; 21. 6K-Michael Kloos ; 22. 48-Tim Lance  Hard Charger: 91-Rusty Schlenk[+14]