Story By: KAYLA MAY / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – BARBERVILLE, FL – The odds were stacked against Dale McDowell when he hit the track for the 50-lap feature on Thursday during the second night of competition for the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series at DIRTcar Nationals.
McDowell, who started 15th in the feature, had the heaviest hitters in the industry lined up in front of him and a long way to go before the checkers waved over the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. The challenge proved to hold no reins on the No. 17m iron horse as McDowell was able to park it in Victory Lane claiming $10,000 and a coveted gator trophy.
“Well after the start of the week, we’ve been struggling,” said McDowell. “It was up in the air if we were going to come or not and we decided to come and it’s awesome to be here in Victory Lane.”
One of his biggest aids was a caution on lap 22 caused by Jason Jameson and Chris Madden, who got into each other on the front stretch. At the time, the pair was running third and fourth but the damage caused by their collision sidelined them from returning to the track. This put McDowell in a prime position to begin his efforts in reeling in race leader and 2017 Series Champion, Brandon Sheppard.
One of Sheppard’s many strengths is pulling away on restarts and just like multiple nights in 2017 competition, that was the case. For the following 20 laps, McDowell and Clanton exchanged the second spot several times. Once McDowell was released from the grasps of Clanton he on the loose towards Sheppard’s tail, making the pass for the lead on lap 44.
“You could run up top for a couple of laps after it was cleaned up so I was reluctant to choose the bottom but after several laps you could stay on the bottom and kind of conserve your tires, so I tried that,” said McDowell. “Brandon got a little tight and missed the bottom, and I did too, so I just caught him at the right point of the race where he missed a little bit and I could take advantage of it. We were up there racing with those guys and we started on back. I really didn’t know where I was until we had that caution (lap 22) so it was awfully exciting. It had to be exciting for the fans.”
By the time the checkers fell Brandon Sheppard settled for second and Jonathan Davenport snuck forward to finish third.
“I guess McDowell got around Clanton and got a good run around that bottom there and my tires had a lot of heat in them and so it was hard to get it back underneath of me so I kind of lost my rhythm there,” said Sheppard on McDowell’s pass for the lead. “He did a really good job and I look up to him a lot. He’s taught me a lot. I went to a school when I first started racing and if there’s anybody I would run second to, it’s him or one of them guys.”
“We had to change our car up today for some reasons, but anyways, we battled back and we were just a little off in the heat race but we got her figured out,” said Davenport. “Congratulations, Dale. I know he’s had a tough Speedweeks so far so it’s good to see him get a win.”
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series returns to action tomorrow at Volusia Speedway Park for night 11 of the 47th annual DIRTcar Nationals. Tickets are available at the ticket booth at the track or you can watch live from the comfort of your home on DIRTVision.com
Craftsman Club Feature (50 Laps): 1. 17M-Dale McDowell ; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard ; 3. 49-Jonathan Davenport ; 4. 25-Shane Clanton ; 5. 0-Scott Bloomquist ; 6. 116-Brandon Overton ; 7. 39-Tim McCreadie ; 8. 91-Tyler Erb ; 9. 18c-Chase Junghans ; 10. 28-Dennis Erb ; 11. 7-Rick Eckert ; 12. 1x-Chub Frank ; 13. 71-Hudson O’Neal ; 14. 2-Nick Hoffman ; 15. 14m-Morgan Bagley ; 16. B1-Brent Larson ; 17. 22s-Brian Shirley ; 18. C8-Timothy Culp ; 19. 20-Jimmy Owens ; 20. 9-Devin Moran ; 21. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk ; 22. 72-Mike Norris ; 23. 1r-Josh Richards ; 24. 7mm-Michael Maresca ; 25. 44-Chris Madden ; 26. 5-Don O’Neal ; 27. 12-Jason Jameson ; 28. 22-Chris Ferguson ; 29. 157-Mike Marlar ; 30. 21jr-Billy Moyer 
Qualifying Flight-A: 1. 0-Scott Bloomquist, 15.766; 2. 49-Jonathan Davenport, 15.881; 3. 7mm-Michael Maresca, 15.901; 4. 12-Jason Jameson, 15.998; 5. 18c-Chase Junghans, 16.18; 6. 5-Don O’Neal, 16.182; 7. 22s-Brian Shirley, 16.294; 8. 1-Brandon Sheppard, 16.346; 9. 33-Jeff Mathews, 16.433; 10. 14z-Zack McMillan, 16.48; 11. B1-Brent Larson, 16.486; 12. 84-Austin Smith, 16.494; 13. 25-Shane Clanton, 16.512; 14. 15-Donny Schatz, 16.548; 15. 91-Tyler Erb, 16.562; 16. 99B-Boom Briggs, 16.652; 17. 1P-Earl Pearson, 16.702; 18. 14m-Morgan Bagley, 16.774; 19. 51-Dean Carpenter, 17.007; 20. 6-Blake Spencer, 17.139; 21. 71-Hudson O’Neal, 17.166; 22. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk, 17.306; 23. 9-Devin Moran, 17.396; 24. 75-Colton Flinner, 17.833
Qualifying Flight-B: 1. 44-Chris Madden, 15.983; 2. 1r-Josh Richards, 15.992; 3. C8-Timothy Culp, 16.104; 4. 28-Dennis Erb, 16.115; 5. 72-Mike Norris, 16.223; 6. 116-Brandon Overton, 16.265; 7. 7-Rick Eckert, 16.266; 8. 39-Tim McCreadie, 16.274; 9. 17M-Dale McDowell, 16.293; 10. 20-Jimmy Owens, 16.297; 11. 40B-Kyle Bronson, 16.308; 12. 31-Tyler Millwood, 16.31; 13. 2c-Joey Coulter, 16.316; 14. 22-Chris Ferguson, 16.342; 15. 2-Nick Hoffman, 16.345; 16. 21jr-Billy Moyer, 16.464; 17. 157-Mike Marlar, 16.504; 18. 1x-Chub Frank, 16.68; 19. 16-Tyler Bruening, 16.754; 20. 14-Darrell Lanigan, 16.882; 21. 54-David Breazeale, 17.078; 22. 14r-Reid Millard, 18.101; 23. 25z-Mason Zeigler, 18.115