Shepard Claims First Outlaws Main Event Victory YAKIMA, WA (August 23) -- Jeff Shepard put all the haunting close calls behind him Thursday, winning the first Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature of his career in the Wild, Wild Northwest...
Shepard Claims First Outlaws Main Event Victory
YAKIMA, WA (August 23) -- Jeff Shepard put all the haunting close calls behind him Thursday, winning the first Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature of his career in the Wild, Wild Northwest Tour finale at Central State Fair Speedway.
"This is unbelievable -- I just don't know what to say," said Shepard, a four-time runner-up this year. "We had a perfect night tonight. If anyone ever wanted to see how to have a perfect night, we did it tonight.
"There's been more pressure than you can imagine (driving for Guy Forbrook in his first full season with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series). Some people don't respond well to pressure, but I think I work better with a little pressure. This one's for Guy and all the guys. We just got a bunch of new people who started helping on the car last week - and Wirtgen, and Goodyear tires, just everybody's been so great. This is awesome!"
The $10,000 victory pushed Shepard past Paul McMahan and Tim Shaffer into ninth place in the point standings. A record 15 different drivers have won Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series main events this season.
The $51,600 event was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was postponed 24 hours when rain made the track unsafe for racing.
Shepard, the 12th-fastest of 19 drivers breaking the single-lap record Mark Kinser set last August 22nd, won the Third O'Reilly Heat Race. Randy Hannagan was the quickest qualifier, circling the semi-banked, 3/8-mile oval in 13.397 seconds -- an average speed of 100.768 m.p.h.
Shepard, a Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidate, won his sixth Channellock Dash of the season for the right to start the main event on the pole. He drove Forbrook's #5 Wirtgen Maxim into the lead as the green flag fell in the 30-lap race, only to have an 11-car crash bring back the original start. Other Rookie of the Year candidates Brad Furr and Jason Meyers, along with Jay Cole, flipped on the front straightaway, while Kinser, Stevie Smith, Barry Martinez, Peter Murphy, Shawna Wilskey, Dan Dunlap and Doug Lippincott also crashed. Furr, Smith and Cole were unable to restart.
Shepard burst into the lead again when the green flag replaced the red, and was 15 car-lengths ahead of outside pole-sitter Danny Wood when he entered lapped traffic 4½ laps later. Shepard was a straightaway ahead of the 2000 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner 19 laps into the race.
Joey Saldana, who won the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' first event at Central State Fair Speedway, steered the #83 Beef Packers Eagle into the inside groove between the first and second corners to pass Wood for the runner-up spot early in lap 25.
Andy Hillenburg, whose crew replaced the engine in his #2 Luxaire J&J after the Channellock Dash, surrendered 10th place when he spun in turn four late in the 26th lap.
Hannagan and Steve Kinser raced past Wood two laps after the race resumed, and First O'Reilly Heat Race winner Donny Schatz took the low line through turns three and four to pass Wood for fifth place with 1 1/3 laps remaining.
Shepard raced away from the field on the final restart, and took the checkered flag as Saldana raced through the fourth corner.
"I didn't know how many laps were left after that last caution," Shepard said. "I just knew we were starting to lap some pretty good cars, cars that were just about as fast as we were."
Hannagan held off "King of the Outlaws" Steve Kinser for third place. Schatz finished fifth, ahead of Wood, Danny Lasoski, Craig Dollansky, Dale Blaney and Tim Shaffer.
Lasoski's seventh-place finish put him 16 points behind Mark Kinser in their battle for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series championship.
Johnny Herrera returned to the series after suffering a broken left shoulder during the Amoco Ultimate Knoxville Nationals and drove the #6 Casey's General Stores Maxim into 11th place from outside the eighth row.