Shepard Steals Volusia Speed Weeks Win From Outlaws Barberville, FL -- February 11, 2005 -- Jeff Shepard smoothly worked his way through lapped cars to hold off hard-charging Steve Kinser and capture a World of Outlaws Sprint Series victory at...
Shepard Steals Volusia Speed Weeks Win From Outlaws
Barberville, FL -- February 11, 2005 -- Jeff Shepard smoothly worked his way through lapped cars to hold off hard-charging Steve Kinser and capture a World of Outlaws Sprint Series victory at Volusia Speedway Park.
Shepard had already finished second twice during the 34th Annual Winter Nationals, but Friday night he grabbed the checkered flag. After fighting his way to second, Shepard took the lead when Donny Schatz's machine had mechanical trouble. Shepard then extended his advantage to win by 10 car lengths and collect $10,000.
Following Kinser to the finish were Craig Dollansky, Mark Kinser and Danny Lasoski, who used a provisional to start the main event.
While Schatz once again had the dominant car in a World of Outlaws Sprint Series event, his luck ran out on Lap 18 of the 30-lap race when he slowed in Turn 4. By that point, Shepard had positioned his car behind Schatz despite working through car problems of his own.
"We worked on our car all night," said Shepard, of Upperco, Md. "When they dropped the green in the feature, the motor never really started to run. On about the third lap, we dropped a cylinder because we broke a valve. The throttle stuck open because of the valve and I started catching the leaders. I looked over at my crew chief and he said just keep running it. So we did, and passed all those guys and won the race. I can't believe it.
"All I know is beating the Outlaws is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my career. It's a great victory."
With Steve Kinser giving chase and heavy traffic in front of him, Shepard's victory was never guaranteed. But when two early crashes gave teams a chance to make adjustments, Kinser tightened his car too much and wasn't able to pressure Shepard for the lead.
"I got it a little bit tight and then I was killing the tires," said Kinser, a 19-time Outlaws champion. "It would have been all right if I would have left it alone. I over-engineered myself.
"It was standing up, pushing coming out of the corner. I had it about right. I should have left it alone, but I didn't. I ran as hard as I could the whole race, but I was just chasing the car too much in Turns 3 and 4."
Dollansky, of Elk River, Minn., continued to build on his strong showing during Speed Weeks. Friday night he started sixth and finished third in a new J&J chassis the team is testing. He also won a heat race.
"You've got the best teams in the country here right now," he said. "I don't think it gets any better so to be able to start sixth and finish third, we're happy with that.
"We definitely tightened up. We're working with a new chassis so when you start tightening it reacts differently. We're trying to chase down what it likes and what we need to do with it when comes time for the feature. There's a lot of things we're learning with it right now."
Shepard's victory ended a streak of sorts for Schatz. The Fargo, N.D., driver had won 2004 the season-ending event at Las Vegas and last month's 2005 opener in Australia.
"It was just a mechanical deal, it just shut off," said Schatz, who finished second in a heat and dominated a Dash. "That's one of those things that happens. We can't sit here and dwell on it. We know that our racecar is good. We got it to the front row. I think we had the most dominant car so we can be happy about that and come back Sunday."
There were two four-car crashes early in the A-Main, each bringing out a red flag. Before the first lap could be completed, Jeremy Campbell flipped in Turn 4 and collected Tim Shaffer, Kevin Swindell and Jason Solwold. No one was injured, but only Solwold was able to rejoin the event.
Then on Lap 2, Shane Stewart slid sideways in Turn 3. Tight racing left Chad Kemenah with nowhere to go and he hit Stewart, collecting Paul McMahan, Randy Hannagan and Mike Erdley.
For McMahan and Swindell might have made the best recoveries of the night just to be taken out again later. In a heat race, the two got together as they exited Turn 4, sending the cars flipping into the frontstretch. The two teams quickly made repairs, and McMahan dominated the B-Main with Swindell holding on for the final transfer position to the A-Main.
Terry McCarl, a winner earlier during Speed Weeks, recovered from a hard crash in the second heat race to capture the checkered flag in the C-Main.
Heat race winners included Mark Smith, of Newville, Pa.; Lucas Wolfe, of Mechanicsburg, Pa.; Mike Erdley, of Herndon, Pa.; and Dollansky.
Schatz dominated the first dash, and Smith held off Steve Kinser to win the second dash.
Chad Kemenah set the fast time of the night by circling the half-mile dirt track in 13.465 seconds.