Shepard Takes Home Sunnyview Speed Zone Victory By Kendra Jacobs Oshkosh, WI (July 11)- Just as the Gumout Racing Series points battle seemed to calm down during the past week of racing, Jeff Shepard spiced things up again with a big win at the...
Shepard Takes Home Sunnyview Speed Zone Victory
By Kendra Jacobs
Oshkosh, WI (July 11)- Just as the Gumout Racing Series points battle seemed to calm down during the past week of racing, Jeff Shepard spiced things up again with a big win at the Sunnyview Speed Zone. Craig Dollansky, coming into the night's event on a three-race winning streak, led the point standings with 2556 points-48 points ahead of second running Shepard. When the checkered fell, Shepard had closed the gap to a mere six-point deficit.
The point battle has been a tight one, with three different leaders, Shepard, Dollansky, and Paul McMahan, all currently within 52 points of each other.
"This is going to be a good [point] battle all year long. I'm looking forward to it. It will be an honor to win the championship if we get the opportunity," Shepard stated in victory lane.
Dollansky, while missing the qualifying time he desired, appeared to be the man to beat as he won both the First Manufacturer's Heat Race of the night and the Weld Racing Dash. The Weld Wheels dash victory earned Dollansky the pole starting position for the 30-lap feature event. Shane Stewart, in the Holbrook Motorsports/Gotta Race #9H, started alongside Dollansky.
As the green dropped, Dollansky took the lead with third starting Shepard immediately taking second away from Stewart. Stewart ducked low in turn four, but could not get the position back from Shepard.
Dollansky held a commendable ten-car-lengths lead over the battling duo of Shepard and Stewart by lap three. Three laps later, the leaders were entering lapped traffic. Dollansky's lead had now been cut down to two-car-lengths. Shepard charged high in turns one and two with nothing for the leader. Shepard chose the low groove in turns three and four, but still could not take over the lead.
Action was slowed on lap eight, when the 14M of Jason Meyers slowed to stop in the bottom of turn one. Meyers was taken to the work area for repairs. Meyers was able to re-start on the tail of the field.
Two lapped cars between Dollansky and Shepard allowed the driver of the Karavan/Polydome #7 slight breathing room on the restart. Shepard chose the high side once again as the charged past the lapped traffic. Paul McMahan went to the inside of Stewart in all efforts to take over the third position. McMahan could not do so as he settled back into the fourth position. Fifth running Randy Kinser appeared to have problems as he abruptly fell off of the pace on lap ten. While he appeared to be struggling to gain momentum, the Franklin Power Products Driver could not do so. While Kinser prepared to retire for the night, the second yellow was dropped for Kim Mock who stopped sideways in the bottom of turn three. Kinser did make it into the pit area under the yellow, however he did not return to the track. Mock was pushed off once again to rejoin the field on the tail.
This restart saw no lapped cars separating first through third positions. Dollansky held onto his lead as the green dropped, but Shepard and Stewart remained on the leader's tail. McMahan joined the fight on the next lap, creating a four-way battle for the lead. By lap 14, Dollansky was back into heavy traffic. Shepard took advantage of the opportunity, and passed Dollansky in turn four to take over the lead position. Dollansky retaliated on the following lap to reclaim his lead in turn one. Stewart followed suit as he too passed Shepard on the low side. For four laps the three cars battled for the lead position. As Dollansky got trapped in lapped traffic, Shepard dove low only to get stuck in his own group of lapped cars. The duo continued to compete for the smoothest line with Stewart directly following.
By lap 18, Dollansky had found a clear spot in the traffic allowing him to create a comfortable lead once again. Shepard was still in second, followed by Stewart, McMahan, and the #2F of Brad Furr. Kim Mock spun again in turn four, but was able to keep his machine running. His spin, however caused cars to bunch up and McMahan to fall over a straightaway behind third-running Stewart.
On lap 22, Dollansky was preparing to lap Jason Meyers when Meyers fuel line broke. As Meyer's car began to slow, Dollansky tangled with the #14M and stopped high against the turn one wall. Meyers returned to the work area as Dollansky inspected his car for damage. As Meyers repaired his broken fuel line, Dollansky was forced to retire to the pit area as his car was too damaged to restart.
The misfortune that seemingly haunts Dollansky, now gave Shepard the break he needed in the points battle. With eight laps remaining, Shepard was now the race leader with Stewart, McMahan, Furr, and Raymond Hensley following. Shepard instantly commanded a straightaway lead on Stewart. Hensley, appearing to have a sudden burst of speed, charged past both Furr and McMahan on lap 24 to take over the third position.
Shepard entered lapped traffic on lap 25. Shepard eased the York Excavating/CAT Construction #4J in and out of lapped cars allowing him a take the checkered almost half of a lap over second finishing Stewart. An ecstatic Raymond Hensley finished in third over McMahan, Furr, and 18th starting Ronald Laney.
Bob Bennett earned his first Huggins Quick Time Award with a qualifying time of 12.561. Craig Dollansky earned the Frankland Hard Luck Award for his night-ending spin on lap 22. Ronald Laney was named KSE Hard Charger for passing 12 cars on his way to a sixth place finish.
Brian Carlson took a provisional to start in 25th position in the "A" Feature.