STEALING THUNDER: Sheppard Stuns Miley in Thrilling Thunder Mountain Finish
First Career Victory Slips Through Grasp of Pittsburgh's Miley; Sheppard Strikes for 69th World of Outlaws Win
KNOX DALE, PA. - Jared Miley had it won. The white flag was waving. He was gone; no challenge in sight.
The Pittsburg, Pa. native was less than 3/8ths of a mile away from his first career World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series victory. It was so close, he could almost taste the delicious glory he'd been longing to earn. In one swift moment, however, everything changed.
His worst nightmare came true; the caution came out. Erasing Miley's comfortable advantage and restarting Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. hot on his tail with a green-white-checkered finish on tap. What followed? An incredible two-lap bout for $10,000 with B-Shepp and The Jet squaring off in front of a standing-room only crowd at Thunder Mountain Speedway.
Miley aced the restart until the edge of turn two reached out and bit him, allowing Sheppard to drive by down the backstretch. It wasn't over though; Miley then launched a turn three slider at Sheppard and the pair ran side-by-side to the white flag with the crowd on their feet. Sheppard tossed his own turn one slide job at Miley, then it was a frantic dash to the checkered flag.
Coming to the stripe, it was ultimately Sheppard's Rocket1 Racing No. 1 beating Miley's Blue Mountain Energy No. 10 by a mere .302 seconds. While Miley's first career win slipped through his grasp, Sheppard rose from the car to a chorus of mixed reactions from the Knox Dale, Pennsylvania fans after stealing a win from one of their beloved home state drivers.
Leading 25 of the 50 laps, Miley controlled the top spot from his remarkable lap 23 restart until the daunting green-white-checkered at the end. Starting fourth after winning his Drydene heat race, the 34-year old racer quickly displayed his Rocket No. 10 as arguably the fastest car in the feature. While Darrell Lanigan - chasing his 75th career World of Outlaws win - paced the opening 22 circuits with relentless pressure from polesitter Boom Briggs, Miley was finding his rhythm and mounting a run.
His opportunity came on the lap 22 restart and he seized it tenfold. Wheeling from third-to-first in one lap, Miley immediately made his case known on Saturday night. He disposed of Bear Lake, PA's sensation simply known as Boom and then attacked The Bluegrass Bandit on the low line through turns three and four, beating him to the stripe by .006 seconds to lead lap 23.
Miley survived four, count 'em four, restarts without any trouble as he mastered the Sea Foam Restart Zone. He pulled away and squabbled any bid that Lanigan, Briggs, or Sheppard could throw his way time and time again. That is until the last and most important restart came his way with the win on the line.
Leading Sheppard to the green-white-checkered, Miley actually rocked the restart and built some distance between he and Sheppard as they ran off into turn one. Then the No. 10 got tight, pushed in turn two, and it all changed. Then Sheppard drove by, Miley went hard at him with a slider, they raced side-by-side, Sheppard countered into turn one, and survived a last-ditch effort to stun Miley in the closing moments.
"There's no doubt that Jared definitely had that race won," Sheppard was quick to admit in victory lane. "That was tough race, but man that was a lot of fun. I got by him down the backstretch then he slid across my nose over there in turn three and I got him back down here in turn one; what a great finish. You had to drive the heck out of it here tonight. This Rocket Chassis is a dream to drive right now, especially in front of a packed crowd like this."
For Sheppard, after leading only two laps of Saturday's 50-lap feature, he rose from the Rocket1 Racing No. 1 as a World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series winner for the 69th time in his career, the 14th time in the 2020 season. A testament to their dominance, Sheppard and the Valvoline No. 1 crew snapped a four-race winless streak, which ranks as their third-longest drought across the last 76 races dating back to the start of 2019.
While Sheppard basked in the joy of victory lane, Miley was forced to sit stage right and collect his thoughts after a dejecting loss. Acknowledging his tough moment, the Pittsburgh fan favorite remained humble in defeat, kept his head up, and promised to work that much harder to get his first career World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series win.
"I saw Sheppard was in second on that last restart and I knew it would be the toughest one on me," Miley noted on the lap 48 restart. "We had a great car, but I just got in too high and caught a push there at the exit of turn two. I tried to get back by him, but I wasn't gonna take him out or anything. It was great racing and he did what he needed to. This sucks, but whenever we get that first one, I know it'll be awesome. At least the fans got to see such an awesome race."
Following Sheppard and Miley to the finish line was leading Rookie of the Year contender Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga. with a hard-charging effort from 19th-to-third.
"I know what it's like when the blue No. 1 car slides you for your first Outlaw win; your heart skips a couple beats," Winger, who beat Sheppard straight up for his first win in July, joked afterwards. "For us, it was a tough weekend, but we're getting there. I'm exciting about this rookie year we've put together. I'm learning a ton and having a lot fun out here."
The Crusher Kid Mike Norris capped his night with an impressive 18th-to-fourth bid. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill. continued to gain ground in the chase for a top five in the championship standings with his fifth-place finish in the Rocket No. 28.
Rounding out the top ten on Saturday night at Thunder Mountain was Max Blair of Titusville, Pa. in the sixth-spot after running as high as third at one point; Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. with a seventh-place result after leading 22 laps in the Barry Wright ICON No. 29V; Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Man. finished eighth aboard his Drydene Performance Products No. 7; Matt Lux of Franklin, Pa. took his No. 111L to a ninth-place run; and Doug Drown of Wooster, Ohio came home in tenth.
The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series will resume the 2020 season next weekend with a Friday, October 2 stop at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C. followed by a Saturday, October 3 date at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tenn.. As always, if you can't join us as the track, you can watch Every Lap LIVE at DIRTVision.com.
Morton Buildings Feature (50 Laps) [FULL RESULTS HERE]:
1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 10-Jared Miley [$5,000]; 3. 12-Ashton Winger [$3,000]; 4. 72N-Mike Norris [$2,500]; 5. 28-Dennis Erb [$2,000]; 6. 111-Max Blair [$1,700]; 7. 29V-Darrell Lanigan [$1,400]; 8. 7-Ricky Weiss [$1,300]; 9. 111L-Matt Lux [$1,200]; 10. 12D-Doug Drown [$1,100]; 11. 18-Chase Junghans [$1,050]; 12. 97-Cade Dillard [$1,000]; 13. B1-Brent Larson [$950]; 14. 11H-Gale Huey [$900]; 15. 55-Denny Fenton [$850]; 16. 22-Gregg Satterlee [$800]; 17. 99B-Boom Briggs [$770]; 18. X3-Wyatt Scott [$750]; 19. 94-Charles Powell [$730]; 20. 4S-David Scott [$700]; 21. 72-Jason Covert [$700]; 22. 25Z-Mason Zeigler [$700]; 23. 84-Andrew Wylie [$700]; 24. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$700]; 25. 119-Chub Frank [$700]. Lap Leader(s): Lanigan 1-22; Miley 23-48; Sheppard 49-50. Hard Charger Award: 12-Ashton Winger[+16]
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HE'S BACK: Scott Bloomquist is World of Outlaws Late Model Winner Again at Pennsylvania's Thunder Mountain
"Black Sunshine" Ends 44-Race Winless Drought, Leads All 50 Laps over Sheppard & Lanigan for First Win Since 2018
KNOX DALE, PA. - At 56 years old, Scott Bloomquist is still defying the odds.
In January, the 2002 National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee underwent a thorough hip replacement. Just eight months later, he parked the Drydene Performance Products, Petroff Towing, Team Zero Race Car No. 0 in victory lane.
Leading all 50 laps at Thunder Mountain Speedway, the Mooresburg, Tenn. native was undeniable on Friday night. The legend that they call Black Sunshine, Voodoo Child, Dirt Trax Dominator, or simply Bloomer, survived a series of cautions, trips through traffic, and one remarkable rally in the late running to earn the $10,000 victory at the Knox Dale, Pa. 3/8th-mile.
Not only was Friday his first win of the year, but the Thunder Mountain triumph marked Bloomquist's first victory of any kind since November 30, 2019 at Cochran (Ga.) Motor Speedway; which came 302 days ago. A 44-race drought was broken as well, bringing an end to the longest winless streak of his World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series career.
"It's been too long," a relieved Bloomquist told a raucous crowd that greeted him in victory lane. "This hip replacement ended up being far more difficult than I imagined. I honestly figured we could hop right back into the swing of things, but not being able to feel your foot or leg makes it pretty hard inside the cockpit. I can't thank Drydene enough for sticking with us through this year."
Drawing the outside pole of the Morton Buildings feature, Bloomquist quickly outgunned polesitter Mason Zeigler into turn one and commanded the opening circuit to lead his first lap of the year in the 35th race on tour. Grasping control of the race lead, Bloomquist would never seriously be challenged until the closing laps, after myriad of mid-race cautions drained his pace, but at the same time kept him out of lap traffic.
The most notable stoppage of the night came in the form of a lap 16 red flag which sent tempers through the roof and cars off on the hook. In the midst of a heated battle for the second spot behind Bloomquist, Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa. and Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kans. made contact in turn three and carnage ensued. While Zeigler drove away, Junghans' No. 18 was sent spinning in front of the field. Innocently collected in the melee was 6th-running Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa. and 14th-running Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., who had nowhere to go and piled into the mess.
Fast forwarding to the final restart on lap 36, Bloomquist stretched his advantage out while the trio of Darrell Lanigan, Brandon Sheppard and David Scott waged war for the runner-up position. However, with ten to go, the tide shifted. As Bloomer appeared to be faltering, Lanigan and Sheppard started thriving and chopped into the lead. Eating it down to several car lengths and then down to his back bumper, fans nearly witnessed a three-wide shot for the win.
Stealing second from Lanigan with four to go, Sheppard rose to the occasion as the biggest threat to Bloomquist's lead in the waning laps. B-Shepp brought his Rocket Chassis No. 1 closer to the Team Zero No. 0 at the finish, but ultimately fell .517 seconds short at the checkered flag as Bloomquist and crew celebrated a much-needed and long-awaited victory with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series.
"I'll tell you what, I've got all the feeling back in my leg and we're about 60% feeling back in the foot," Bloomquist noted on his condition. "I can feel the throttle again and I can really work it. It'll get nothing but better from here."
Bringing it home with a second-place finish, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. missed the 14th win of the year he wanted, but he did extend his points lead as he and Rocket1 Racing pursue their third World of Outlaws Morton BuildingsLate Model Series championship together.
"This track was pretty tricky," Sheppard thought on the 3/8th-mile. "I was married to the top for that last half and I really just needed to get to second, so I could choose my restart position and go up top, I was getting killed stuck on the bottom. I eventually just got mad and got up on the wheel there at the end. I started going way higher in turns three and four and we got up to Scott, but just ran out of time. Congratulations to him and that team, they've been working hard all year. We'll go to work and come back better tomorrow.
Extending his series record to 194 podium finishes with the World of Outlaws, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. continued his resurgent 2020 campaign with a third-place effort aboard the Viper Motorsports, Barry Wright ICON Race Cars No. 29V.
"I think Scott went a little harder on tires than us and we just gave up too much there at the end," Lanigan stated on what he was missing. "This place is pretty different than anywhere we've been lately, but all in all tonight was good for us. We've been working hard in the shop and its paying off."
Arguably the story of the night behind Bloomquist's return to victory lane came in the form of Friday's fourth-place finisher, David Scott of Garland, Pa.. Slowride ran a 2012 Rayburn Race Car with an estimated 15-year old engine all the way from 15th-to-fourth, giving him his second ever top five finish with the World of Outlaws. Rounding out the top five at Thunder Mountain was hard charger Max Blair of Titusville, Pa., who delivered a stunning 22nd-to-fifth run aboard his Rocket No. 111.
Closing out the top ten on Friday night was Dennis Erb Jr. in sixth-from-17th after qualifying issues set his night back; Jared Miley of Pittsburgh, Pa. in seventh-place after challenging for second around midway; Rookie of the Year Ashton Winger in eighth-place after also running top five earlier on; and a pair of Bear Lake, Pa. natives, Chub Frank and Boom Briggs, finishing ninth and tenth.
At the end of the night, Bloomquist put the sport on notice, saying this:
"No Weak Links. We're gonna be back."
The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series concludes a doubleheader weekend at Thunder Mountain Speedway with another showdown at the Knox Dale, Pa. track on Saturday night. Hot laps are scheduled to go green at 7:00pm ET with another full program of qualifying, heat races, last chance showdowns, and a 50-lap feature on the docket. For those unable to join the crowd, you can watch Every Lap LIVE on DIRTVision.
Morton Buildings Feature (50 Laps) [FULL RESULTS HERE]
1. 0-Scott Bloomquist [$10,000]; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$5,000]; 3. 29V-Darrell Lanigan [$3,000]; 4. 4S-David Scott [$2,500]; 5. 111-Max Blair [$2,000]; 6. 28-Dennis Erb [$1,700]; 7. 10-Jared Miley [$1,400]; 8. 12-Ashton Winger [$1,300]; 9. 119-Chub Frank [$1,200]; 10. 99B-Boom Briggs [$1,100]; 11. 33-Chris Hackett [$1,050]; 12. 7-Ricky Weiss [$1,000]; 13. 97-Cade Dillard [$950]; 14. 55-Denny Fenton [$900]; 15. 11H-Gale Huey [$850]; 16. 111L-Matt Lux [$800]; 17. 1/2′-Damian Bidwell [$770]; 18. 22G-Greg Oakes [$750]; 19. 25Z-Mason Zeigler [$730]; 20. 72-Jason Covert [$700]; 21. B1-Brent Larson [$700]; 22. 94-Charles Powell [$700]; 23. 18-Chase Junghans [$700]; 24. 22-Gregg Satterlee [$700]; 25. 4-Alex Ferree [$700]. Lap Leader(s): Bloomquist 1-50. Hard Charger Award: 111-Max Blair[+17]