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Richards Crowned Champion for the Fourth Time October 30, 2016

Richards Crowned Champion for the Fourth Time

CONCORD, N.C. – Nov. 1, 2016 – After Shane Clanton’s son, Gunnar, helped add the final sparkle to Josh Richards' No. 1 Valvoline/ Seubert Calf Ranches Rocket car, Richards knew it was his time to shine – for the fourth time. Clanton, the defending series champion, passed the torch to Richards Sunday night at the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series Night of Champions Banquet.

“I was the little kid playing in the dirt,” said Richards in front of his peers. “You just dream that someday, at the end of the day, you’re the guy at the top winning the championship. I never thought this season would be possible. It just means so much to me, to be able to do what I love to do. This is our fourth time, and it’s [still] overwhelming. It wouldn’t have been possible without everyone who put their faith and support in me.”

Richards’ dream season was a culmination of his consistent performances and the solid work ethic of his team. The Mark Richards Racing driver went home with some serious hardware: a trophy, ring, a Craftsman® toolbox, and a $100,000 check. He was last crowned champion in 2013.

But Richards wasn’t the only member of his team to earn recognition. Team owner and Rocket Chassis founder Mark Richards was honored with the Chassis Builder of the Year Award, and Crew Chief Danny White received the Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Year Award.

“I don’t know if I really deserve it, but it’s neat,” said White, who joined the tour in 2011. “Rick Eckert took a big leap of faith with me [in 2011]. I sent him a resume, and he called me the next day saying, ‘Yeah, we’d like to try you out.’ He kept the faith in me and got me to where I am today. I think Mark [Richards] has more confidence in me than I have in me. That builds me up and lets me do my job, and I’m doing things I would have never dreamed of.”

Andy Durham, the owner of Durham Engines, took home the Engine Builder of the Year Award. Durham manufactured Richards’ power plants for the year, and as a token of his appreciation, Josh Richards gave the Craftsman toolbox to him so, “he can keep the hard work up.”

“Josh, what can I say,” Durham said. “You went to Florida, started winning and never stopped. I’m just very blessed to be a part of it."

In 39 starts, Richards and company compiled 18 wins, 31 top-five and 36 top-10 performances. The No. 1 team won a heat race in all but 10 shows, and recorded a fast time in nearly 31 percent of the season’s races. Moreover, Richards broke the series’ season wins and career wins records, 18 and 75 respectively.

“My crew back at the shop all dug in when we were a little behind last year,” said Mark Richards, remembering last year’s hiccups. “We were on a swing out West [last year], we came home from Cedar Lake [Speedway] – kind of a long trip because we didn’t run well – and I told the guys at the shop, ‘Hey, we’ve got to go to work.’ I knew we had to develop a new car [for this year]. It took some time to get that done, but we got it done. I can’t thank all the guys enough who made it happen.”

For additional news visit www.woolms.com

Sheppard Breaks Out The Broom October 29, 2016

Sheppard Breaks Out The Broom

By Mandee Pauch

CONCORD, N.C. – October 29, 2016 – Matt Sheppard, the driver of the FX Caprara No. 9s Big Block Modified, made a mark in history this weekend as he broke a record and won his fifth Super DIRTcar Series Championship. Sheppard proved once again that he was the man to beat Saturday night during the Bad Boy Off Road World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

“This place was so racy tonight,” said Sheppard in victory lane. “These big blocks put on a heck of a show tonight. We were racing two, three, four wide there. Last time we started on the pole and led the whole race. I was happy to get that win and tonight was even more satisfying. Starting in the back a little bit further and driving through the field. I just can’t say enough about this racecar. It was just fantastic.”

Pat Ward and Justin Haers led the 29-car field to the initial green flag. On the drop of the green, a four-car battle for the lead emerged as Ward, Hears, Brett Hearn and Billy Decker all ran wire-to-wire – until Haers took the lead and pulled away from the field on lap two.

Decker, who started fifth, slid his way into third as he began to chase down Ward.

It didn’t take long for eighth place starter, Sheppard, to make his way into the picture as he slipped his way under Tim Fuller and advanced into fifth on lap ten.

The first caution of the night was brought out due to a slow moving Mike Mahaney.

Racing once again resumed but not for long as Ryan Watt made hard contact with the turn one wall on lap 12.

Keith Flach, Erick Rudolph and Mike Maresca made contact going into turn three, sending Flach flipping on lap 14.

The third restart of the night saw Hearn running the outside line as Sheppard tried to sneak up underneath him. Hearn didn’t give up that easily as he managed to close the door on Sheppard.

Justin Haers held a steady lead at the halfway mark over Ward, Decker, Hearn and Sheppard.

The battle for third began to heat up as Hearn and Sheppard started closing in on Decker on lap 24.

Wight soon made his way into the picture as four cars began to battle side-by-side for the third position.

As the battle for third continued, Haers caught the back end of the pack with just eight laps remaining.

Sheppard was a man on the move as he moved his way into third on lap 32 then soon began to close in on Ward.

Sheppard charged hard into one and slid up out of two to pass Ward for second on lap 35.

Haers got out of shape coming out of turn four and Sheppard was there to take advantage. Sheppard blew by Hears on the front stretch and went on to take the lead on lap 36.

Another yellow was thrown with two laps to go due to a slowing Tyler Dippel.

Ward took advantage of the lap 38 restart as he drove by Haers for second, setting his sights on Sheppard.

Ward ran out of time and fell one spot short as Sheppard crossed the line first over Ward, Haers, Hearn and Wight to sweep the weekend at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and to capture his fifth Super DIRTcar Series Championship.

“It’s like we flipped a light switch there about halfway and that thing just took off like a missile,” Sheppard said. “When I could see Justin and Pat there I wanted to win this race again. I didn’t want to settle for third. Thankfully this car was good enough that we could do it.”

Ward had a competitive car as it showed this weekend during World Finals by placing his No. 42p Big Block Modified in the top five in both features.

“Sheppard has had a very dominant car. You can’t say enough about the way he’s been running,” Ward said. “Justin bobbled one time and it just happened to be when Matt was up under me and I was just kind of hoping Justin did that sooner so I could get by. It was a heck of a race between the three of us.”

Friday nights second place finisher was looking to get the job done and move one spot forward but ended up closing out the season with a third place finish.

“We’ll take it. We were on a little bit different tire than Pat and Matt,” Haers said.  “I wanted to move down because the top was getting so far out there, my right front was harder than both of these guys. I just couldn’t turn anymore, then I’d get lose up off.

A true podium finish in Charlotte, we can’t complain.”

“I honestly didn’t know how many laps were left,” laughed Sheppard. “I knew there couldn’t be a ton. I was running just as hard as I could and luckily we were able to get to the lead. When we got the lead it was kind of a sigh of relief. Again, I didn’t want to see that yellow at the end but just like last night this car is so good. It felt good to win the race last night but to do it the way we did it tonight felt even better.”

Sheppard proved early on in the season that his new team combination was a force to reckoned with. “It’s kind of funny, we started off good in Florida and came out strong. Then the first series race at Fulton I think I finished seventeenth or something, it was awful. Then after that it was like we just really got rolling. I mean twelve series wins in one year, wow, that’s unbelievable. I think we even had four or five seconds too. When you can finish first or second in 17 of the races that’s pretty impressive. It just goes to show we built a potent team this winter. We had all the right parts, crew, car, engines, the whole deal. Everybody and everything did its job. It’s just a dream season.”

Matt Sheppard was no stranger to doing the confetti dance in victory lane this year as he broke the record for the most wins in a season and clinched the Super DIRTcar Series championship, for the fifth time.

Follow the series on Twitter @SuperDIRTcar, or click www.SuperDIRTcarSeries.com.

Weekly Winners 10/11/16 - 10/17/16 October 17, 2016

Weekly Winners 10/11/16 - 10/17/16

Congratulations to:

 
Brandon Sheppard - Portsmouth Raceway Park 
Louie Jackson Jr. - Brockville Ontario Speedway 
Mike Norris - Lernerville Speedway
John Carney - Devil's Bowl Speedway
Tyler Erb - Whynot Motorsports Park 
Dave Brigati - Evergreen Raceway Park (pictured)
Clint Smith - West Georgia Speedway
HJ Bunting - Georgetown Speedway
Sheppard Wins Dirt Track World Championship October 15, 2016

Sheppard Wins Dirt Track World Championship

PORTSMOUTH, OH (October 15, 2016) - Brandon Sheppard charged from the 21st starting position to win his second career Dirt Track World Championship Race at Portsmouth Raceway Park on Saturday night. Sheppard earned a career-best $100,000 as he drove the Eric Brock-owned Best Performance Motorsports Team/Rocket Chassis to the victory.
 
Sheppard was third different leader of the event - taking over the top spot from Josh Richards on lap 72. Richards forged ahead again on lap 73 before Sheppard cleared Richards for good on lap 77, and never looked back in the final Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event of the season. Earl Pearson Jr. in the Dunn-Benson Ford/Lucas Oil Racing TV/Longhorn charged to second at the finish ahead of Richards, Gregg Satterlee, and Darrell Lanigan.
 
The 2016 LOLMDS National Champion, Scott Bloomquist, led the first 45 laps of the race until Richards passed him for the lead.   Bloomquist, who came into the event seeking his third straight DTWC win at Portsmouth, fell to second and then six laps later yielded the spot to Sheppard.
 
Richards appeared to be pulling away from the field as he opened up his lead, but Sheppard slowly started to track down Richards and with 23 laps to go he had taken the lead away from him for the final time.
 
"I never ran the cushion to get to the front," said the 23-year-old in Lucas Oil Victory Lane, "We had a very good car. This Rocket XR1 Chassis with Integra Shocks and Dargie Racing Engine was just on point tonight. We haven't finished a race in four weeks. To come out and get progressively better all weekend and then to get the win in the last Lucas Oil race of the year means the world to me."
 
Sheppard had to pass the current DirtOnDirt.com Top-Two drivers in the country to get the win. "That shows you if I have a good enough race car, then I can make something happen. I have all the respect in the world for Josh and Scott and all of the guys on this tour. We made the right tire call and had our car right all night."
 
"I had a pretty soft left rear tire on. I didn't know if it was going to last the whole time. I was kind of biding my time out there. I was passing guys and I wasn't abusing the tires. I got to second and I was just looking for some brown on the track where I could get some grip. I finally got around Josh, and he folded the nose under. It would have been harder to pass him, if it wasn't for him folding his nose under."
 
Pearson tried valiantly to catch Sheppard in the closing laps, and settled for second. "For a while, I thought this might be the race of the year. There were four of us battling for the lead. On the restarts, I couldn't do anything with him [Sheppard]. We needed for the race to stay green. Congratulations to Brandon, he did a heck of a good job. What's interesting about the race was that he was on the bottom and I was racing up on the top. Usually it's the other way around."
 
Richards was looking for his first career DTWC win, but came home in third. "It was definitely the nosepiece that cost us this race. Once it folded back I knew we were in trouble. Brandon did a great job tonight. It was a lot of fun racing with those guys. At the end, I was just holding on for a podium finish. He [Sheppard] is a fellow Rocket driver. He is an awesome kid and driver. He doesn't get enough credit, so it's awesome to see him win."
 
Completing the top ten were Don O'Neal, Devin Moran, Doug Drown, Tim McCreadie, and Rod Conley.
 
For additional news visit www.lucasdirt.com
Louis Jackson Jr. Wins First Career Sportsman Series Race at Brockville October 15, 2016

Louis Jackson Jr. Wins First Career Sportsman Series Race at Brockville

BROCKVILLE, Ont. – Oct. 15, 2016 – Louis Jackson Jr. started on the pole and led all 50 laps to earn his first DIRTcar Sportsman Series win in the final tour race of the season at Brockville Ontario Speedway’s 1000 Islands RV Centre Northeast Fall Nationals on Saturday night.

“It feels pretty damn good,” Jackson said of his first career win in victory lane. “It was fun. I always enjoy coming to Brockville. It may only be once a year, but it’s always fun when I come here.”

Jackson set a fast pace early on as he quickly opened a lead at the drop of the green flag while Martin Pelletier and Ryan Scott battled for third. Pelletier won the battle and broke away from the field with Jackson to the tune of half a straightaway.

Just as Jackson and Pelletier made their way into lapped traffic on lap 10, the first caution of the race waved on lap 11 when Thomas Cook spun off the top of turn four.

On the ensuing restart, Felix Murray got the worst of a number of cars making contact near the rear of the field and spun to the infield for the second yellow of the race on lap 12.

The race got back up to speed for a single-lap before Jared Herbsion and Brad Rouse tangled while battling for position on the backstretch. Jackson, Pelletier and Brianna Ladouceur quickly led the top-six to single-file formation on the restart, but were reeled in on lap 15 when Murray spun off the track in turn one.

The next restart was significantly cleaner and allowed Jackson and Pelletier to reestablish their advantage briefly before Tristan Draper fell off the pace on lap 18 to bring out the yellow flag.

“It felt like the car was better on the long runs, but we kept getting those cautions. I could hear somebody humming right on my back door. I was just trying to hold my line and stay as calm as possible,” Jackson said of the restarts through the middle portion of the race.

The championship battle heated up as well during a seven-lap green flag run as point leader Shane Pecore raced to eighth ahead of Ron Davis III in 10th. Davis entered the race 18 points behind Pecore for the title. .

As the leaders crossed the line to record the halfway point at lap 25, Pelletier pressured Jackson for the lead with less than a car length separating the two drivers while Ladouceur joined the two-car breakaway.

The action wasn’t so smooth at the rear of the field as a half-dozen cars spun together in turn one to block the track and bring out the red flag before lap 26 was completed. No drivers were injured in the incident and the contact appeared relatively minor.

The top-three were able to separate from the field on the restart. They were separated by a half-second each before Ladouceur took second from Pelletier off turn two on lap 33.

“Each time I had the chance to pass him a yellow would come out so I’d have to start all over again. When I finally got him I said ‘this is my chance to keep my line and catch up to Louis’,” Ladouceur said of her pass for the runner-up spot.

Davis III continued to pressure Lajoie with hopes of getting past Pecore in a bid for the championship title. A very slick racetrack and single-file formation did not allow him to build enough momentum to challenge for the ninth position.

Back up front, Jackson worked his way into traffic on lap 37 and put a lapped car between himself and Ladouceur which amounted to a one-second advantage. Jacksn continued to adapt to the track surface which transitioned from slick to taking rubber.

“The track actually took rubber through the middle of three and four and on the bottom of one and two. My car was a little better in three and four than it was in one and two, but I managed,” Jackson said.

His advantage was erased on lap 41 by a caution for a slowed Tristan Draper. Jackson and Ladouceur pulled away on the single-file restart and began to settle in before a caution with four laps to go after Dan Ferguson hit the tires protecting the retaining wall at the bottom of turn one after contact with another car near the rear of the field.

Pelletier drew the short straw following the restart as he spun on lap 47 while running third with what appeared to be mechanical problems. He did not finish.

The final restart of the race pitted teammates Jackson and Ladouceur against one another for the last time. Jackson was dominant over the final three laps as he was all race long to score the victory. He looked smooth and calm, but suggested after the race there were some nerves along the way.

“It was fun. I wouldn’t have minded passing a few cars. It’s always worrisome starting on the front row because you don’t know whether to set the pace or if you’re doing something right or wrong,” Jackson said.

Pecore was credited with a fifth-place finish, two spots ahead of his championship foil Davis III. Earning the championship was a complete team effort, Pecore said.

“This team makes it easy on me because they put such a good hot rod under me week in and week out. All I have to do is drive, so I have more of the fun. Winning races is awesome, but a championship is about the team,” said Pecore, who also won the track championship at Brockville. .

“This means more than anything right now. It’s a heartfelt feeling because we worked so hard for this.”

For more news visit www.dirtcarump.com

Tim Fuller Completes 358 Modified Super DIRT Week Sweep October 9, 2016

Tim Fuller Completes 358 Modified Super DIRT Week Sweep

OSWEGO, NY – Oct. 9, 2016 — Tim Fuller dominated the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series all week and continued his reign Sunday night at Oswego Speedway to win the Riccelli-Northern Salute the Troops 100 at the 45th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week.

Fuller started on the pole after setting fast time in Thursday’s time trial session and won the first twin 25-lap heat on Friday night before leading every lap of Sunday’s main event to complete the weekend sweep.

“Randy and Bob Slack, they brought a great car. We unloaded fast and finished up fast. It was a pleasure to drive. We’re two-for-two in that car,” said Fuller, who also won in the Slack-owned No.3rs 358 Modified earlier this season at Mohawk International Raceway.

Fuller quickly jumped to the lead in the outside lane, while Brett Hearn and Matt Sheppard battled for third behind Billy Dunn. Hearn took the spot from Sheppard and then moved past Dunn for second on lap five.

The first caution of the race came on lap seven for debris in turn one. Fuller maintained the lead while Hearn kept pace and then caught the leader on lap 14. The second caution of the race came on the same lap to bring the battle to a halt when Billy Decker, who won Thursday’s Hurricane 100 at Brewerton Speedway, slowed with a flat left-rear tire.

Shortly after lap 20, Hearn pulled his No.20 to the pit area while running second with what was later described as an engine issue. Stewart Friesen assumed the second spot during the 23-lap green flag that lasted until Ryan Darcy met the outside wall in turn four on lap 37.

Dunn surrendered a top-five spot under the yellow as he pulled his car behind the wall after he said he felt an oncoming rear-end failure.

The lap-43 restart set up a battle for second between Friesen and Erick Rudolph while Mike Maresca broke into the top-five for the first time behind Matt Sheppard. At the halfway point, Fuller caught lapped traffic but maintained pace ahead of Friesen. The restarts were the most challenging part of the race for Fuller.

“It all came down to restarts, and I hated every restart because somebody could have got up inside me and slid me a little bit,” Fuller explained. “That was my only concern. I knew once I got out front I could stretch it out. I just had to survive the restarts.”

The fourth yellow flag of the race came on lap 57 when David Allen spun and made contact with the turn one wall. Fuller brought the field back to green on lap 62, and the top-five held their positions before another debris caution on lap 65.

Fuller raced away from Friesen again on the restart until the only red flag of the race occurred on lap 71, when Mike Butler flipped upside down in turn three. He was uninjured. The lap-75 restart didn’t appear to bother Fuller as he continued to pull away from Friesen and Rudolph.

Fuller continued in the outside lane while Rudolph and Friesen wrestled for second. Rudolph drove to second on lap 90, but hit the outside wall in turn four one lap later to bring out another yellow and end his bid for a win.

Friesen dove to the inside of Fuller on the restart, but the momentum up top allowed Fuller to hold the lead and open a 1.3-second advantage with five laps to go. It was erased, however, when Michael Parent fell off the pace in his No.25 to cause the final yellow on the same lap.

The final green flag run saw both Friesen and Matt Sheppard dive to the inside of Fuller in turns one and two, but neither could take the lead away. On the final lap, Fuller had the victory sewn up while Friesen claimed second just hours after winning the Big-Block Modified Bud Light 200.

“It was an exciting race. Keeping these Small Blocks wound up is tough. [Fuller] and Slack, they have a good combination with that No.3 car. I was happy to run second to them. They’re a top notch team,” Friesen said.

Marc Johnson raced into third after Sheppard fell off the pace on the final lap.

“That was a tough race. It was a crazy track. I’m just happy to get a top-three out of it,” Johnson said. “It’s been a long week. The guys deserve this finish. I’m just glad I could get it for them.”

A pair of rookie drivers complete the top-five as Gary Lindberg and Mike Maresca finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Lindberg, who crashed out of Friday’s Futures Race, was happy with Sunday’s rebound effort.

“We’re happy with that. The crew worked hard on the car all week – it was just me, my dad and my brother. They did all the work and got us here,” Lindberg said. “We can’t complain. I would have been happy with a top-10 tonight. A top-four, we can’t beat that.”

Maresca only raced a part-time schedule in 2016, but pulled double duty in a Big-Block and Small-Block Modified during NAPA Super DIRT Week. He was ecstatic to earn a top-five finish at Oswego, where he earned his first career win in a Legends car on the asphalt.

“I’ve been itching to come back. I had a really good time on the track. I thought it raced really well, and I thought it was really fun,” Maresca said. “There was passing, and it was an action filled race. I don’t think anyone expected a perfect track.”

Fuller was also content with the racetrack.

“If your car was good you could still pass. It was rough, but we’ve all been on rough race tracks before. You’ve got what you’ve got and everybody’s racing on it, so make the best out of it,” Fuller said.

Fuller’s victory was historic not only as the first 358 Modified winner on dirt at Oswego, but because of its dominant fashion.

For more news visit www.superdirtweekonline.com