Brandon Sheppard laid claim to the fifth mile bullring of Belle-Claire Speedway on Friday night for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Photobilly 50. Sheppard started the night in Belleville, Ill., out by qualifying on the top spot with a new track record time of 11.195 seconds, besting number two qualifier, Bobby Pierce, by nearly 18 hundredths of a second (.179).
Richards would go on to win his heat race, and lead all 50 of the feature laps, facing off a late race charge by Billy Moyer. Many drivers did not know what to expect at the tight track, but Sheppard came prepared. The team left off part of the right rear quarter panel to minimize damage to the car so they would have less work between Friday night’s event and Saturday’s at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.
Ryan Unzicker, Jason Feger and Shannon Babb lined out the rest of the top five qualifiers with Rick Eckert qualifying in seventh place as the best WoO LMS tour driver in qualifying with an 11.578 second qualifying effort.
Luck ran short for Eckert in his heat race, when a parts malfunction took him out of the race and pushed him to the B-Main. Sheppard would go on to win heat one. Brent Kreke won heat two while Shane Clanton, Brian Shirley, Babb and Moyer would all collect heat race wins.
It would be a tough night for the Sweetner’s plus teams of Vic Coffey and Tim McCreadie as both entries would end up in the last chance race, and neither would qualify. McCreadie would use a WoO point provisional while Coffey would use an Emergency provisional to get into the race. Eckert would also be forced to use a point provisional for a starting spot in the 25 car feature event.
Sheppard would start outside of Shirley on the start of the 50 lap main event. Sheppard would hop out to the early lead with Shirley giving chase. Sheppard was on top with Shirley chasing on the top of the track while Moyer ran third working the bottom.
Just seven laps into the feature the leaders ran into the back of the pack and had to start weaving their way around lap traffic. On lap 10, Kreke brought out the caution. Sheppard lead Shirley on the inside of Moyer in the Delaware-double file restart. Sheppard held the lead through one when disaster struck for Shirley in three as he brought out the caution in a spin that piled up multiple entries as the field tried to get slowed down.
On the restart Sheppard now lead Babb and Moyer in the second row and Kyle Logue and Bobby Pierce Jr. in the second row. Sheppard launched out to the lead and the battle was for second, a four way battle as Logue, Pierce, Moyer and Babb tried to sort out the position. After another dominating fifteen laps by Sheppard, caution flew again, Moyer held second with Logue in third. It was again Sheppard out front on the restart as Babb challenged Logue. Towards the closing laps Logue would fall, as would Pierce, and Babb would capitalize to move up to third behind Moyer. Caution was brought out one more time on lap 39 by Mark Voigt with a flat left rear. Sheppard would pull away on the restart but with two to go, Moyer closed the gap. On the final corner Moyer made a dive bomb move, but the car wouldn’t stick and Sheppard collected the win. Sheppard said, “I’ve got to thank the fans for coming out and supporting Photobilly.”
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