Column By: ROBERT SYMONDS / RPW – FARMER CITY, IL – Thirty Five Late Models packed the pit area for the final night of the Illini 100 for the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models with the winner getting a $15,000 payday.
A problem during pace laps of the Morton Buildings Feature for Frank Heckenast Jr as he loses low gear but that won’t stop the 99jr. Tanner English and Ricky Weiss lead the field to the green flag. Those two would battle it out for the race lead as Brandon Sheppard and Frank Heckenast Jr would battle for 3rd. The field would slow for the first time as Blake Spencer is spun after colliding with the yuke tire in turn 2.
On the restart, English would pull ahead of Weiss. Moyer would go from 6th to 4th getting by Jimmy Mars and Frank Heckenast on the top side. One of the early movers was Shannon Babb as he started 19th and was up to 12th on lap 6. As the field kept the race green, the top 6 became equa distant from each other with no one gaining on inch. Soon the leader, Tanner English, would catch lap traffic on lap 16.
Shannon Babb once again on the move as he would move up to 9th on lap 17. Babb wasn’t the only driver on the move. Brandon Sheppard would get underneath Weiss for 2nd on lap 19 and contend shortly for the runner up position. BShepp would then move on to English for the race lead. Side by side for the lead, BShepp and English would duke it out then the caution flag slows them and the rest of the field down.
Weiss regained 2nd on the restart after moving past Sheppard on the top side. The caution flag would wave on lap 21 for rookie competitor Kyle Hardy with a right rear flat. During this yellow, Babb would surrender a 10th place run to head to the pit area, his night was done early. Back to green with more swapping as Sheppard goes back to 2nd. Jimmy Mars takes away 4th on lap 23 and closes in on the top 3.
Boom Briggs would bring out 2 significant cautions in a row on lap 27 and lap 29 as his bad luck on the weekend continues. During this short 2 lap green flag action, Scott James would go from 6th up to 4th around Jimmy Mars and Chris Madden. Scott Schmitt would bring out caution on lap 30 after a few other cars including Dillard and Briggs became involved. This caution would end Cade Dillards night.
The lap 30 restart became crucial as English, Weiss, and Sheppard were 3 wide before the caution flag flew. On the restart Weiss and Sheppard stalked English for the lead. One lap later in turn 1, Sheppard blocked Weiss’s momentum on the top side, setting up a familiar scene for the Rocket house car. It would only take two laps and the cushion then Sheppard would take the lead from Tanner English. So Sheppard would now pull away from the rest of the field and would remain untouched for the rest of the race.
Scott James, Jimmy Mars, and even Bobby Pierce all dueled for the runner up position. On a late restart, James would gas it and spin in turn 4 ending the nights of English, Clanton, and even James himself. On the late restart, Mars would take the runner up position and hold off a fast Bobby Pierce. Though these two would not be able to even come close to Brandon Sheppard as he takes his third Illini 100 victory.
“My car was really balanced like it had been all year,” Brandon Sheppard commented in Victory Lane Saturday night. “I was able to put the car wherever on the track and it would stick.”
With this victory, Sheppard would tie Billy Moyer on Illini 100 victories at 3 and become the 4th winningest driver ever with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models. This after Brandon Sheppard snapping the 11 year track record yesterday, taking over the previous record held by, you guessed it, Billy Moyer.
World of Outlaws Late Model Series – Farmer City Raceway – April 6, 2019
Illini 100 (75 laps): Brandon Sheppard, Jimmy Mars, Bobby Pierce, Dennis Erb Jr, Darrell Lanigan, Frank Heckenast Jr, Chris Madden, Kent Robinson, Chase Junghans, Kevin Weaver, Allen Weisser, Bob Gardner, Kyle Hardy, Ricky Weiss, Shane Clanton, Tanner English, Scott James, Boom Briggs, Brian Shirley, Billy Moyer, Brent Larson, Ryan Unzicker, Scott Schmitt, Cade Dillard, Shannon Babb, Blake Spencer