PADUCAH, Ky. – Brandon Sheppard found his way to victory lane, making a statement about his intentions during the rest of The Hell Tour. The reigning DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion, Sheppard took the checkered flag at Peoria (Ill.) Speedway Monday for his first Summer Nationals win this season. He earned $5,000 and put himself in serious contention for another championship.
“We’ve been waiting for things to fall into place,” said Sheppard, of New Berlin, Ill. “Finally, they did. I’m pretty confident going into the rest of (Summer Nationals) now.”
Sheppard stood third in the Summer Nationals standings with a day off Tuesday before the tour headed south for stops at Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway Wednesday, Clayhill Motorsports in Atwood, Tenn., on Thursday and Paducah International Raceway Friday. The five-day swing concludes with races at Federated Auto Parts Raceway Saturday and Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway Sunday.
The tour later includes events at Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track and Macon (Ill.) Speedway.
Ryan Unzicker, of El Paso, Ill., headed into the five-race swing leading the points with 514. Shannon Babb, of Moweaqua, Ill., was second at 500 with Sheppard third at 485. Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., was fourth with 478.
On Friday, the dirt warriors make a stop at the lightning fast three-eighths mile dirt oval at Paducah International Raceway for the third annual Chris Smith Memorial. Racing legend Billy Moyer won the Smith Memorial last season, and he already had two wins on the tour this season prior to the five-race run starting Wednesday.
The Chris Smith Memorial pays $10,000 to win. Also, see the UMP Modified division compete for $1,000 first-place prize along with UMP Pro Crate Late Models.
Pit gates open at 2 p.m. with grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps begin at 6:30 with the dirt-slinging, door-to-door action starting at 7:30. General admission is only $25 for adults. Kids 12 and under are $5. Pit admission is $35.
Don’t miss this exciting event at Paducah International Raceway. For more information, visit www.paducaracing.com or call the PIR hotline at 270-898-7490.
In Peoria, Sheppard started the 40-lap feature up front next to Sunday winner Brian Shirley, who was looking to join Rick Eckert and Moyer as the only multiple race winners so far this season. Unfortunately for Shirley, Sheppard rocketed past the pole-sitter at the drop of the green flag, using the outside line to grab the lead and never let Shirley lead a lap. After securing the top spot, Sheppard pulled away from Shirley, who found himself battling Bobby Pierce for much of the race.
Pierce, last year’s runner-up to Sheppard in the championship, managed to get around Shirley for second on lap 32, but Sheppard had already built an insurmountable margin. Sheppard went on to dominate, leading all 40 laps.
Pierce, Shirley, Unzicker and Babb rounded out the top five. Heat race winners included Sheppard, Ray Guss Jr., Pierce and Shirley.