By Scott Unash
DUBUQUE – Brandon Sheppard took what was a bad night, made it a good one – and eventually a great one.
Sheppard took the lead with a late race pass and went on to win the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series win Friday night in front of a good crowd at Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway.
The victory was Sheppard’s seventh of the season and highlighted a pretty amazing drive by the New Berlin, Ill. driver.
Sheppard started outside of the second row and watched, along with the rest of the field, as pole-sitter Mike Marlar drove off from the drop of the green flag. It appeared that Sheppard’s night was going to be a forgettable one as he had to give up third place on lap 9 due to a flat right rear tire. He did get the benefit of a caution flag however and did not lose any laps to the leaders as he joined the back of the twenty-six car starting field.
Sheppard used the top side, on a rough track, with his Rocket Chassis No. 1 and made his way quickly back to the front aided by several key cautions. On Lap 30 of the 40-lap feature, Sheppard had worked his way into the top 5 and went to third place on a restart.
The complexion of the race turned on lap 35 when race leader Mike Marlar also suffered a right rear tire which put him to the back. With Marlar’s misfortune, Oxford’s Chris Simpson, who had been sitting in second for most of the race, took the lead and was in position to get the $10,000 payout for the win. But on lap 37 Simpson got high off of turn four trying to hold off Sheppard and he had to settle for second.
It was a big comeback victory for Sheppard, made even sweeter with the fact that his crew chief Danny White is a native of Dubuque, where the series was racing for the first time since 2005.
Series points leader Chris Madden had a night filled with adventure. Madden was involved in a three-car accident in his heat race which put him to his back-up car and forced him to start twenty-third in the field. It looked as though his points lead would go away, but Madden worked his way back up to 7th and still holds the points lead over Mike Marlar.
The World of Outlaws Series heads north on Saturday night to Deer Creek Speedway in southern Minnesota for the Gopher 50.