Shepard Wins First Outlaws Feature at I-80 By Richard Day GREENWOOD, NE (September 21) -- Jeff Shepard has raced in many Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series events since the early 1990s. He even finished in the top 20 in the point standings in...
Shepard Wins First Outlaws Feature at I-80
By Richard Day
GREENWOOD, NE (September 21) -- Jeff Shepard has raced in many Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series events since the early 1990s. He even finished in the top 20 in the point standings in 1994 and 1995. He never visited victory lane though ... until Thursday. The 29-year-old driver from Upperco, MD, led all 20 laps in the Preliminary Feature when the series opened the Circuit City Shootout at I-80 Speedway. He became the 14th different racer to win a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Preliminary Feature this season, and the second first-time winner in as many events. "Finally!" Shepard yelled to the capacity crowd. "I've been close my whole career, but we finally put it all together tonight." Shepard has been outstanding in the World of Outlaws Gumout Series' inaugural season. He has won six feature races and is only 24 points behind leader Craig Dollansky in the point standings. Shepard was the sixth-fastest qualifier in the 49-car field Thursday, and won the Second NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race. He passed Dollansky, Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year points leader Danny Wood and USAC front-runner Kasey Kahne in the CHANNELLOCK Dash for the right to start the feature on the pole. Shepard and outside pole-sitter Jac Haudenschild raced wheel-to- wheel down the front straightaway before Jeff surged ahead high in the second corner. "I was worried about that start -- about spinning my wheels -- but there was some moisture left down there, and I got a good drive off the corner," Shepard said. "When I beat him (Haudenschild) into turn one, I thought I might be okay." Vivarin Fast-Time Award winner Mark Kinser, who won the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' first three "A" Features at I-80, passed Kahne late in the opening lap. He exchanged second place with Haudenschild during the second and third laps. Ronald Laney flipped on the front stretch early in lap five. Greg Hodnett surrendered 11th place to change a flat left rear tire, while Daryn Pittman dropped out of the race during the red period. Wood, who won the First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race, steered the #21W Pepsi Avenger into the low groove between the first and second corners to pass Kinser and Kahne as the race resumed. Kinser and Kahne, the Fourth NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner, gained momentum on the back straightaway, however, and passed Wood high in turn four. Dollansky, who won the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race, took the high line into the second corner to pass Kahne, and Danny Lasoski passed the USAC midget standings leader deep in turn three during the eighth lap. "The Wild Child" lost the runner-up spot early in the 12th lap when he stopped the #22 fetchOmatic Maxim on the back stretch with a shredded left rear tire. Dollansky steered his #7 Polydome Maxim around Wood in turn three to take over third place on the ensuing restart. Lasoski, fresh from his Gold Cup Race of Champions victory, passed Wood deep in turn two the next time around. Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Steve Kinser passed nine cars during the first 14 laps. He steered his #11 Quaker State Maxim into the low groove between the third and fourth corners to pass Kahne for sixth place late in lap 16. Shepard entered lapped traffic with less than half a lap remaining, and was 1.1 seconds ahead of Mark Kinser when he took the checkered flag. "I was praying to God that we'd go seven or eight laps and have a caution or red," Shepard admitted. "I've been having trouble lately in traffic. I couldn't have asked for it to be any better." Dollansky finished in third place, ahead of Lasoski, Wood, Steve Kinser, "B" Feature winner Joey Saldana, Kahne, Donny Schatz and Stevie Smith. Andy Hillenburg, only the 27th-fastest qualifier, drove his #2 Luxaire J&J past 11 cars to finish 12th. Mark Kinser received his 21st Vivarin Fast-Time Award of the season for pacing the qualifying session with 106.109-m.p.h. lap. His 13.571-second trip around the semi-banked, 4/10-mile oval lowered the previous track record by .175 seconds. Engine problems in the #1 CHANNELLOCK Stealth cost Sammy Swindell the lead in the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race and second place in the "B" Feature. The series' three-time champion took his second provisional of the year and finished 25th in the Preliminary Feature.