Erickson and Steenbergen earn second PDTR A-main triumphs of 2018
By Jeff Pederson-Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS, Plymouth, Wis.) July 30, 2018 – With a large crowd of eager spectators on hand and a pit area filled to the brim with 36 of the best Dirt Late Model drivers in the nation, defending World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. stole the show in the series first-ever visit to The Plymouth Dirt Track at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth on Monday, July 30.
In support division action, Plymouth’s Justin Erickson notched his second PDTR Grand National A-main victory of the season, while Jeff Steenbergen of Watertown rolled to his second PDTR B Mod A-main triumph of 2018.
Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn. led the 26-car field to the green flag in the 50-lap World of Outlaws Craftsman Series A-main presented by Wisconsin Refrigerated Express of Sheboygan.
Erb rode the high groove into the lead as he slid past Owens in turn four to pace the opening lap. Brandon Sheppard, who started third followed Erb to the outside line to steal second place away from Owens in turn four on lap 4 before first of seven caution flags flew on lap 4 when 2015 World of Outlaws Series champion Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga. stalled in turn four with a broken driveshaft.
When the race resumed, Sheppard dove low to pressure the high-riding Erb for the top spot. After running side by side with Erb for nearly two laps, Sheppard surged ahead in turn four on lap 5 to seize the top spot.
Two laps later, seventh starter Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill. used the high groove to assume fourth on lap 7. After a pair of cautions for the stalled car of Brent Larson of Lake Elmo, Minn., fifth starter Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio ducked under Erb to challenge for second place beginning on lap 9. Three laps later, Sheppard had built up a full straightaway cushion over Moran.
Sheppard encountered his first dose of lapped traffic on lap 15, which allowed Moran to cut the gap by lap 17. Four laps later, the pace slowed for the fifth time when debris was detected in turn two.
Following the restart, sixth starter Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C. slipped past Shirley to gain third place on lap 22. The sixth caution of the event was displayed on lap 23 when former PDTR Late Model champion Mitch McGrath of Waukesha spun in turn two.
Running the low groove, Sheppard controlled the ensuing restart and another restart following the seventh caution flag of the race for debris on lap 33 before action really began to heat up for second as Moran, Madden and Erb dueled high and low on the extremely wide and smooth racing surface.
By lap 41, Sheppard found himself mired in slower traffic, which allowed Moran to cut the gap significantly in the closing laps. As Sheppard got hung up attempting to pass a slower car, Moran pulled in to nearly touch the leader’s rear bumper.
After Sheppard finally cleared the lapped car on lap 48, Moran ventured up to the high groove over the final circuit in an attempt to pry the lead away at the finish line. However, Moran’s late rally fell a car length car as Sheppard posted his ninth World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series victory of the 2018 campaign and 33rd overall A-main victory of his World of Outlaws career.
Moran had to settle for second, Erb, who was one of the few drivers to stay glued to the high groove just inches from the wall throughout the entire race, came home third, Madden placed fourth and Shirley rounded out the top five.
Taylor Scheffler of Waukesha was the top local finisher with a 13th-place showing. Four-time PDTR Late Model champion Brad Mueller posted a 19th-place finish after taking a provisional to start the main event.
Five other local drivers competed in the main event, including Shawano’s Brett Swedberg (16th), Nick Anvelink of Navarino (17th), Paul Parker of Kaukauna (18th), Mitch McGrath (22nd) and Justin Reed of Camp Point, Ill. (24th).
Polesitter Steven Weber of Plymouth led the 23-car field to the green flag in the 25-lap PDTR Grand National main event before outside front row starter Donny Kulow of Elkhart Lake and inside second row starter Justin Erickson of Plymouth pulled up to make it three wide for the lead heading into turn three on the opening circuit.
Erickson finally surged ahead to claim the top spot in turn one on lap 2 before the first of five caution flags slowed the pace. Following the restart, Erickson bolted away from Kulow and eighth starter Kurt Davis of South Milwaukee, who had worked his way up to challenge for second along the outside groove.
Following another caution flag on lap 12, Davis wrestled second place away from Kulow and point leader Matt Loehr of Dotyville worked his way into third from the 12th starting spot.
Just as Davis began to close the gap on Erickson a trio of consecutive caution flags for spins appeared on lap 16, 17 and 19. When green flag action finally got under way again Erickson again pulled out to a solid lead while Davis and Loehr dueled hard for second.
On lap 23, Loehr surged past Davis along the high line to secure the runner-up spot behind Erickson, who posted his second PDTR Grand National triumph of the 2018 season and his third career Grand National A-main victory at Plymouth.
Loehr placed second, Davis was third, Derek Schrauth of Omro took fourth after starting fourth and Kulow wound up fifth.
Polesitter Mark Hoeppner led the opening six laps of the 25-lap PDTR B Mod A main before sixth starter Jeff Steenbergen of Watertown moved in to take over the top spot with a low move in turn three on lap 9.
One later, Malone’s Tim Warner raced in to snag the runner-up position. Warner slowly reeled in Steenbergen by staying in his tire tracks around the third-mile clay oval for the better part of 10 laps.
On lap 20, Warner executed a low move on Steenbergen in turn one to assume the top spot. However, Steenbergen battled back to nearly regain the lead on lap 23 in turn one, but Warner successfully fended off the move.
As Warner attempted to negotiate a lapped car on the final circuit, Steenbergen made another bid for the lead in turn three, which worked to vault the veteran driver into the top spot, while Warner lost control and spun in turn three.
Steenbergen went on to rack up his second career PDTR B Mod A-main victory. RW Aschenbrenner of Oneida was second, Mark Hoeppner held on to place third, Warner recovered from his spin to finish fourth and Rick Kretschmann of Sheboygan Falls, who started eighth, placed fifth.
Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill. and Jared Siefert of Luxemburg each captured World of Outlaws Late Models Last Chance Showdown victories, while Devin Moran claimed the World of Outlaws Late Models Series fast qualifier award with a new Late Model record lap of 13.783 seconds.
The special Monday evening program PDTR featured 78 cars, including 36 World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models, 24 Grand Nationals and 18 B Mods.
The next PDTR program will take place on Saturday, Aug. 4, featuring Past Championships Night, during which all former champions at the Plymouth track will be honored at intermission. Hot laps begin at 5:30 p.m. with racing to follow at 6 p.m.
The Plymouth Dirt Track at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth is located at 229 Fairview Drive in Plymouth. For more information, visit www.plymouthdtr.com or check out Plymouth Dirt Track Racing on Facebook.
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For more information on Pedal Down Promotions, email email@example.com, visit www.pedaldownpromotions.com or call 920-323-7970.
World of Outlaws Sears Craftsman Feature (50 Laps): 1. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$10,000]; 2. 9-Devin Moran [$5,000]; 3. 91-Tyler Erb [$3,000]; 4. 44-Chris Madden [$2,500]; 5. 3s-Brian Shirley [$2,000]; 6. 5-Don O’Neal [$1,700]; 7. 7-Rick Eckert [$1,400]; 8. 157-Mike Marlar [$1,300]; 9. 99jr-Frank Heckenast [$1,200]; 10. 16-Tyler Bruening [$1,100]; 11. 25F-Jason Feger [$1,050]; 12. 18c-Chase Junghans [$1,000]; 13. 15s-Taylor Scheffler [$950]; 14. 54-David Breazeale [$900]; 15. 28e-Dennis Erb [$850]; 16. 3-Brett Swedberg [$800]; 17. 15-Nick Anvelink [$770]; 18. 10-Paul Parker [$750]; 19. 89-Brad Mueller [$730]; 20. 51-Joey Moriarty [$700]; 21. 20-Jimmy Owens [$700]; 22. 74-Mitch McGrath [$700]; 23. 25j-Jared Siefert [$700]; 24. 11-Justin Reed [$700]; 25. B1-Brent Larson [$700]; 26. 25-Shane Clanton [$700]