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Owens & Sheppard Split Wins in Hoosier Dirt Shootout Opener

Jimmy Owens

Jimmy Owens

Brandon Sheppard

Brandon Sheppard

Zeke McKenzie

Zeke McKenzie

Nick Hoffman

Nick Hoffman

Derek Losh

Derek Losh

Mike McKinney

Mike McKinney

McKenzie, Hoffman, Losh, and McKinney Earn Friday Prelim Modified Victories

Story by Brian Walker

lm showdown1It’s been Brandon Sheppard this and Jimmy Owens that for as long as fans can remember in the year 2020.

On Friday night at Kokomo Speedway, it was no different; as both drivers scored convincing Showdown Feature wins and punched their tickets into tomorrow’s $25,000-to-win Hoosier Dirt Shootout.

In all, 18 drivers are locked-in to the 75-lap feature with six of those superstars set to participate in the Morton Buildings redraw with a chance at the pole position. Included in tomorrow’s redraw is Sheppard & Owens along with Shane Clanton, Ricky Thornton Jr., Cade Dillard, and Chase Junghans.

Starting the night with group qualifying, Shane Clanton claimed his 39th career Fast Time Award with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series by clocking a lap of 13.413 seconds around the Kokomo 1/4-mile. The Zebulon, Ga. native topped Group A ahead of Jimmy Owens, Jason Feger, Derek Chandler and Scott Bloomquist. In Group B, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. set the pace with a session-best 13.456 over McKay Wenger, Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans & Ricky Thornton Jr.

Come time for the 25-lap Showdown Features, the narrative quickly flipped from pole-sitters Clanton and Lanigan to the dominance of Owens and Sheppard.

Darting straight to the cushion at the drop of the green flag, Owens pointed his Ramirez Motorsports No. 20 Rocket Chassis around the outside of Clanton’s Skyline Motorsports No. 25 and assumed control of a lead he would never relinquish in Showdown #1. Never seriously challenged, even after two stoppages, “The Newport Nightmare” took off for a .856-second victory at the checkered flag.

“The car was just really great again,” Owens noted in victory lane. “I think we had an issue right when we crossed the finish line because I saw something fly out. It’s great if we’re gonna tear something up to do it at the checkered flag. I’m happy to be locked-in to the redraw this mean we can watch the track tomorrow night and make the right changes we need to this Ramirez Motorsports ride. Hopefully we get a good redraw pill, but most importantly we’re in the show.”

Owens assured his spot in the Morton Buildings Redraw alongside fellow podium finishers Clanton and Louisiana’s Cade Dillard in the MB Customs No. 97. Taking transfers and earning a spot in Saturday’s Hoosier Dirt Shootout feature was also “The High Side Hustler” Jason Feger in fourth, “The Killer” Kyle Bronson in fifth, “The Smooth Operator” Bobby Pierce in sixth,”Black Sunshine” Scott Bloomquist in seventh, and the iconic Billy Moyer in eighth.

lm showdown2In the second Showdown, Lanigan paced the opening two circuits aboard his Viper Motorsports No. 29V Barry Wright Icon Race Car before Sheppard sneakily struck and stole the lead on the bottom. Rolling the low line in the Rocket1 Racing No. 1, B-Shepp meticulously worked the inside of the Kokomo 1/4-mile, and like Owens, checked out for a 1.675-second victory.

“I didn’t want to get up there and use my stuff up, I know I can get around a cushion pretty good,” Sheppard said on his decision avoiding the treacherous outside groove. “I got a great feel for this car down low, through the middle, and I had to move up a few times in traffic. There’s so much competition out here on the road with the World of Outlaws, plus the regional guys and Lucas Oil drivers come over to race with us. You don’t wanna start any farther back than you need to. I’m happy to be starting up front tomorrow.”

Sheppard joins Owens, Clanton & Dillard in the Feature Redraw and brings SSI Motorsports ace Ricky Thornton Jr. and Kansas native Chase Junghans along with him. Claiming transfer positions in the second Showdown was Tyler Erb finishing fourth in the BEST Performance Motorsports No. 1T, 2018 World of Outlaws champion Mike Marlar in fifth, early leader Darrell Lanigan in sixth, Daryn Klein in seventh, and Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill. in the eighth spot.

McKenzie, Hoffman, Losh, and McKinney Earn Friday Prelim Modified Victories

Story by Jordan DeLucia

Friday night’s debut for the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals at Kokomo Speedway had a little bit of everything in it. Some new faces in Victory Lane, some quite familiar ones, and some very satisfied race fans by the end of the four preliminary Showdown Features as part of the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series’ Hoosier Dirt Shootout.

After the giant field of 64 Summit Modifieds completed their Hot Lap/Qualifying sessions, topped by Jeff Leka and Derek Losh, four preliminary Showdown Features were spawned to lock-in the first sixteen cars for Saturday night’s $5,000-to-win main event.

Showdown #1 – Zeke McKenzie
mod showdown1With the way The Zekester was driving the cushion and throwing slide jobs for the lead around Kokomo Speedway, it looked as though he had won every UMP Modified race ever held at Indiana’s Baddest Bullring. But it was the heart of a competitor and some abundant driving talent that got Zeke McKenzie his first Feature win in Summit Modifieds competition on Friday night, and the emotions were already sinking in as he pulled his Vanquish Race Cars #24 into Victory Lane.

“This is the best of the best in this Summit Modifieds deal,” a very happy McKenzie told pit reporter Mike Norris in Victory Lane. “We’ve been traveling through the whole series and haven’t missed a race. It’s great to be here.”

As the only Summit Modified driver on the roster this year attempting to start every show on the schedule, McKenzie’s experience behind the wheel shined bright throughout the entire 20-lap contest. He put the pressure on polesitter Jeff Leka in the early going and made the pass on him for the lead after a big run on the bottom out of Turn 2.

McKenzie held the top spot through a few restarts before having to deal with the wrath of Tyler Nicely, who dealt McKenzie a slider of his own on a Lap 9 restart. McKenzie came right back at him in Turns 3-4 and got underneath Nicely’s #25, clearing him as they came back around and exited Turn 2.

Nicely kept digging down low over the remaining laps and stayed right with McKenzie, but it was not enough to catch the native Indianan as he crossed the stripe first to score one of the proudest moments of his career.

“I’m just… flabbergasted,” he said. “It’s great to be here at home and get one in front of all these great people. We went from almost flipping at LaSalle to winning, I can’t believe it.”

Showdown #2 – Nick Hoffman
mod showdown2If there were a single 20-lap stretch of racing to describe Nick Hoffman’s Summit Modified season to this point, it was his dominating victory in Showdown Feature #2.

The two-time and defending tour champion put a hurting on his competition Friday night, leading flag-to-flag for the fourth time in four races and the $500 preliminary Feature prize.

Truth be told, Hoffman was untouchable, despite runner-up David Stremme and Adam Stricker’s best efforts to catch him. Nobody was able to get close enough to attempt a pass, as Hoffman ran away with it and a spot in the ever-important redraw for Saturday night’s finale.

“I was just kinda hanging on, it felt a little loose there at the end, but this thing’s pretty good. Just to be able to momentum around here right through the middle like that,” Hoffman said in Victory Lane.

“Happy to be here; I’ve never been here before, but I’ve watched a lot of open-wheel races here and it was a hell of a place.”

Showdown #3 – Derek Losh
mod showdown3Much like the winner before him, Derek Losh dominated Showdown #3, running away from Danny Schwartz and Nick Allen in lapped traffic to collect $500 and a spot in Saturday’s redraw.

Simply put, there was no catching Losh’s #21. He rode the cushion with skill and maintained the gap he opened up earlier in the race through lapped traffic, pulling away as the laps clicked off. Come the checkered flag, Losh had roughly a 10-car-length advantage over runner-up Schwartz in a Feature that went caution-free.

Losh has been terrific on the Indiana bullrings this season, with several wins already at Gas City I-69 Speedway, Lincoln Park Speedway, and even one at Kokomo on July 3.

“Every chance we get to come to Kokomo, we eat it up. This place is so badass,” Losh said in Victory Lane.

Showdown #4 – Mike McKinney
mod showdown4With three Summit Modified Showdowns already in the books, the Kokomo Speedway surface had developed quite a sizable cushion – the perfect setting for a battle between two of Illinois’ best UMP Modified racers named Mike.

Mike McKinney and Mike Harrison took to the topside of the fast quarter-mile and engaged in an exciting chase through lapped traffic throughout most of the race, ending with McKinney in Victory Lane and a spot for both of them in Saturday’s redraw.

“I knew when I saw me and [Harrison] in the same lineup, it was gonna be a hell of a show,” McKinney said in Victory Lane. “There’s only one place to be when he’s behind you, and that’s up on the fence, putting on a show.”

McKinney took the early lead from Curt Spalding and opened up a gap that Harrison was able to limit through the later stages of the race, chasing him down for several laps under green with plenty of slower cars to maneuver through.

A caution flag with two laps remaining stacked up the field and gave Harrison one final shot at McKinney, but Harrison bounced his #24 hard off the cushion/wall once more, scrubbing off enough momentum to allow The Magic Man the room he needed to bring home the win.

Late Model Results

Showdown Feature #1 (25 Laps) – Top 8 Transfer – 1. 20-Jimmy Owens [2]; 2. 25-Shane Clanton [1]; 3. 97-Cade Dillard [6]; 4. 25f-Jason Feger [3]; 5. 40b-Kyle Bronson [9]; 6. 32-Bobby Pierce [8]; 7. 0-Scott Bloomquist [5]; 8. 21-Billy Moyer [7]; 9. 0e-Rick Eckert [10]; 10. B1-Brent Larson [13]; 11. 12-Ashton Winger [15]; 12. 35-Derek Chandler [4]; 13. 99b-Boom Briggs [11]; 14. 2-Bry Johnson [14]; 15. 7r-Kent Robinson [12]; 16. 2m-Allen Murray [16]

Showdown Feature #2 (25 Laps) – Top 8 Transfer – 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [3]; 2. 20rt-Ricky Thornton [5]; 3. 18-Chase Junghans [4]; 4. 1t-Tyler Erb [7]; 5. 157-Mike Marlar [6]; 6. 29v-Darrell Lanigan [1]; 7. 10-Daryn Klein [9]; 8. 28-Dennis Erb [15]; 9. 11-Gordy Gundaker [10]; 10. 89-Mike Spatola [14]; 11. 15-Kolby Vanderbergh [13]; 12. C9-Steve Casebolt [11]; 13. 7-Ricky Weiss [8]; 14. 11g-Trevor Gundaker [12]; 15. 354-Chris Nash [16]; 16. 42-Mckay Wenger [2]

Qualifying Flight-A – 1. 25-Shane Clanton, 13.413; 2. 20-Jimmy Owens, 13.604; 3. 25f-Jason Feger, 13.723; 4. 35-Derek Chandler, 13.756; 5. 0-Scott Bloomquist, 13.766; 6. 97-Cade Dillard, 13.788; 7. 21-Billy Moyer, 13.826; 8. 32-Bobby Pierce, 13.838; 9. 40b-Kyle Bronson, 13.919; 10. 0e-Rick Eckert, 13.938; 11. 99b-Boom Briggs, 14.067; 12. 7r-Kent Robinson, 14.123; 13. B1-Brent Larson, 14.125; 14. 2-Bry Johnson, 14.701; 15. 12-Ashton Winger, NT; DNS. 2m-Allen Murray, NT

Qualifying Flight-B – 1. 29v-Darrell Lanigan, 13.456; 2. 42-Mckay Wenger, 13.477; 3. 1-Brandon Sheppard, 13.604; 4. 18-Chase Junghans, 13.633; 5. 20rt-Ricky Thornton, 13.685; 6. 157-Mike Marlar, 13.727; 7. 1t-Tyler Erb, 13.816; 8. 7-Ricky Weiss, 13.836; 9. 10-Daryn Klein, 13.923; 10. 11-Gordy Gundaker, 14.07; 11. C9-Steve Casebolt, 14.074; 12. 11g-Trevor Gundaker, 14.107; 13. 15-Kolby Vanderbergh, 14.222; 14. 89-Mike Spatola, 14.23; 15. 28-Dennis Erb, 14.263; 16. 354-Chris Nash, 15.804

Modified Results

Showdown #1 – Flight (A) (20 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 24-Zeke McKenzie [4]; 2. 25-Tyler Nicely [6]; 3. 3L-Jeff Leka [1]; 4. 10-Bradley Jameson [3]; 5. 34J-Jordan Wever [5]; 6. 93W-Brayden Watson [9]; 7. 3W-Dylan Woodling [7]; 8. 80-Cole Sink [2]; 9. B75-Brayden Berry [10]; 10. 83-Kasey Schrock [11]; 11. 49-Darek Snyder [12]; 12. 21B-Braxton Strait [13]; 13. 15W-Owen Wells [15]; 14. 53-Bobby Stremme [8]; 15. 9N-Todd Nelson [16]; 16. 21C-Kenny Carlson [14]

Showdown #2 – Flight (A) (20 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 7-Nick Hoffman [1]; 2. 35-David Stremme [4]; 3. 68-Adam Stricker [3]; 4. T9-Ryan Thomas [2]; 5. 34W-James Walters [7]; 6. 114-Clayton Bryant [5]; 7. O-Garrett Jameson [10]; 8. 463-Daniel Sanchez [9]; 9. 1S-Brian Shaw [8]; 10. 9-Ken Schrader [12]; 11. 77-Andy Bishop [11]; 12. 27C-Justin Cundiff [13]; 13. 21R-Richie Shirey [15]; 14. 83J-James Weintraut [14]; 15. 45-Kyle Hammer [6]; 16. 2X-Deaven Bolton [16]

Showdown #3 – Flight (B) (20 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 21-Derek Losh [1]; 2. 21D-Danny Schwartz [2]; 3. 21A-Nick Allen [3]; 4. K19-Will Krup [7]; 5. 22-Josh Harris [4]; 6. 8K-Levi Kissinger [5]; 7. 17N-Dillon Nusbaum [6]; 8. 65-Todd Sherman [10]; 9. 7D-Brad DeYoung [8]; 10. 24D-Travis Dickson [9]; 11. 4G-Bill Griffith [14]; 12. 24SH-Steven Hogue [11]; 13. 1W-Larry Witt [16]; 14. 11-Roger Cavness [15]; 15. E85-Jesse Strange [12]; 16. 44-Andy Sherley [13]

Showdown #4 – Flight (B) (20 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 96M-Mike McKinney [2]; 2. 24H-Mike Harrison [3]; 3. 5-Curt Spalding [1]; 4. 47-Collin Thirlby [6]; 5. 10L-Nathon Loney [5]; 6. 63-Dustin King [10]; 7. 7L-Mark Lamont [7]; 8. 22T-Tony Anderson [4]; 9. 327-Dustin Bruce [12]; 10. T5X-Bub Roberts [8]; 11. 35C-Craig Christian [11]; 12. 23-Luke Hubbell [15]; 13. 9PG-Percy Gendreau [13]; 14. 144-Austin Selig [16]; 15. 15-Chris Smith [9]; 16. P1-Tim Prince [14]

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