Neither the blistering heat nor a hard-charging Bobby Pierce was about to deny Brandon Sheppard a much sought-after win at the Action Track on Friday night.
The New Berlin, Ill., driver displayed the same winning style he has throughout the World of Outlaws Late Model Tour in notching his division ninth feature victory of the year and his first at the Action Track.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals played out in front of one the largest crowds to attend a stock event at the local half-mile dirt oval in recent years.
Starting from the pole, Sheppard wasted little time in controlling the top spot, setting the pace over a stellar 22-car field in the 30-lap main event, making the most of a racing surface that put passing at a premium.
While his margin of victory was an impressive 2.978 seconds, he had little breathing room throughout most of the feature. Early battles with first Ricky Weiss, then Bill Moyer and later Pierce never allowed Sheppard to run away and hide.
It was only Sheppard's third appearance running at the big dirt oval.
“I love this place. I played it on Game Boy long before I had my first race here,” revealed the happy victor. "I can’t say the place owned me one, but I thought I was due.
"We sorta gave one away here a couple years ago. Don Neal won that night we ended up third. It was of those deals that we let it slip away at the end,” Sheppard added.
“Winning here is so special. It has so much history to it. Its something every driver wants. I was so fortunate to have the car like we had tonight. It was right on almost from the time we unloaded it. It always helps when you start up front,” he added.
Fan favorite Pierce, from nearby Oakwood, Ill., made the moves of the night coming from his eighth-place starting spot to challenge the eventual winner over the closing laps and finishing with a well deserved runner-up finish.
The UMP modified part of the twinbill appeared to take on the same scene, with early race leader Will Krup seemingly in control en route to back-to-back feature wins here this summer.
A steady and calculated drive by visiting Nick Hoffman changed all that as the race drew to a close. Making the winning move just short of the checkered flag, his margin of victory was a scant 0.696 seconds. The Mooresville, N.C., driver also became a first-time Action Track feature winner.
WoO Summer National feature finish
Sheppard, Pierce, Darrell Lanigan, Billy Moyer, Shannon Babb, Brian Shirley, Mike Marlar, Ricky Weiss, Frank Heckencast Jr., Shane Clanton, Brent Larson, Cade Dillard, Dennis Erb Jr., Boom Briggs, Rusty Schlenk, Jason Feger, Chase Junghans, Blake Spencer, Steve Godsey, Paul Stubber, Chuck Hummer, Paul Parker.
DIRT car Summer Nationals finish
Hoffman, Krup, Tyler Nicely, Hunt Gossum, David Stremme, Tyler Weiss, Kenny Wallace, Spencer Hughes, Brian Shaw, Levi Kissinger, Marty Linderman, Kenny Carmichael, Justin Jones,Tyler Loughmiller, Wes Leigh, James Shipman, Daren Krockenberger, Roger Jackson, David Shain, Dean Hoffman, Brian Przepiora Jr., Jesse Snyder, Dave Baldwin.