Shepard Wins Route 66 Preliminary By Richard Day JOLIET, IL (July 12) -- Jeff Shepard knew it was just a matter of time before he won a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series feature race this season. The driver of Guy Forbrook's ...
Shepard Wins Route 66 Preliminary
By Richard Day
JOLIET, IL (July 12) -- Jeff Shepard knew it was just a matter of time before he won a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series feature race this season.
The driver of Guy Forbrook's #5 Wirtgen America Maxim returned to victory lane for the second time in his career Thursday when the series opened a double-feature event at Route 66 Raceway.
"I just went out there and did the best I could," said Shepard, who won the First Preliminary Feature in the Circuit City Shootout at Nebraska Raceway Park last September 21st. "This Wirtgen America Maxim and Goodyear tires were great tonight. I guess we finally got that monkey off our back."
Shepard, the 14th-fastest qualifier in the 33-car field, won the Second O'Reilly Heat Race and earned the privilege of starting the feature on the pole by winning his fourth CHANNELLOCK Dash of the year. He led all 25 laps, beating Mark Kinser under the checkered flag by half a car-length. Ten drivers have combined to win the first 19 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Preliminary Features this season.
"I was working the bottom at the beginning of the race, but then I started moving up the track when I got into traffic," Shepard said. "I seemed to catch all the bad breaks in traffic tonight. I got boxed in and when you start getting off the throttle and making mistakes like I was, I knew someone would be coming. I didn't know it was Mark, but anytime you have to start checking up here somebody's going to be right behind you."
Shepard burst into the lead as the green flag fell in the feature. Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Danny Lasoski took the low line through turns one and two to pass Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race winner Craig Dollansky for second place early in the opening lap.
Dale Blaney, who started inside the fifth row, steered his brother Dave's #10 U.S. Print/MBNA/Mopar Maxim around Stevie Smith high in the second corner to take over seventh place two laps later.
Shepard was 20 car-lengths ahead of his closest pursuers when he entered lapped traffic five laps into the race.
Tim Shaffer and Dollansky exchanged third place during the sixth and seventh laps. Shaffer, who won the Third O'Reilly Heat Race, passed the defending World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion high in the fourth corner, only to have Dollansky come back with an inside move between the turns one and two several seconds later.
Kinser started making his way toward the front midway through the race. The series' two-time champion passed Dollansky for fourth place early in lap 16, only to have Kraig Kinser stop in turn four with a broken throttle linkage before they completed the lap.
Dollansky tried to pass Shaffer for third place as the green flag replaced the yellow, but Karavan Racing's #7 Polydome Maxim jumped the cushion between the first and second corners, allowing Kinser and Andy Hillenburg to catch him. They relegated Dollansky to sixth place a few seconds later, passing him deep in turn four.
Shepard was a straightaway ahead of "The Dude" when he caught the back-markers again during the 21st lap. Kinser drove the #5M Mopar Maxim past Lasoski in the low groove between the third and fourth corners the next time around.
Hillenburg claimed the final automatic starting position in Friday's CHANNELLOCK Dash by passing Shaffer with an inside move in turn one early in the 24th lap.
Kinser gained on Shepard quickly during the final two laps, and was less than a car-length behind at the finish line.
The $5,000 victory pushed Shepard past Joey Saldana into seventh place in the point standings. Kinser's runner-up run put him just two points behind Lasoski in their battle for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points lead.
"The Dude" held off Hillenburg for third place. Shaffer finished fifth, ahead of Paul McMahan, 13th-starting Donny Schatz, Steve Kinser, Smith and Craig Dollansky.
Lasoski set quick-time for the fifth time this year, driving NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle around the semi-banked, 1/2-mile oval in 14.151 seconds, an average speed of 127.199 m.p.h.