Defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Brandon Sheppard lead the first 66 laps of the 75-lap Battle of the Border Main Event at Vado Speedway Park on Friday.
Cade Dillard had been moving his way up in the grid gradually, thinking it was a 70-lap race before challenging for the race lead off of the final restart on lap 67.
Nonetheless, Dillard made his move to the inside, got a great jump to get in front, and held his lead for the final nine laps to capture his first career World of Outlaws win.
WoO LM: Cade Dillard steals Battle At The Border Win for first Career Victory
It was the second straight night that a driver came home with his first Outlaw feature win trophy, and this one came with a bigger check.
Dillard earned a $15,000 prize for his P1 finish, and while it was less than his $20,000 check he won in a fall-race at Vado last year, it still got a monkey off of his back.
“I’m speechless,” Dillard said in victory lane on the DirtVision.com broadcast, before taking time to soak in the win. “I’ve lost a lot of these by not being patient enough at the beginning of the race,” Dillard said. “I tried not to hit the cushion unless I had too, and we just slowly picked a couple off.
Dillard was certainly patient enough.
After drawing the fourth-place starting spot in the re-draw, he would battle it out with the rest of the top five drivers, sans-Sheppard, no matter who they might be.
Eventually he caught one and then another, and set himself up to be in second, gaining on Sheppard with every lap with 20 to go.
That’s when the caution flag flew for a car off the pace on lap 66.
“I think It after that restart it just got to the point where there was just no cushion,” Dillard said. “It was just wall up there. I was fortunate enough to get a good restart.”
Sheppard jumped to the outside as the green flag flew, while Dillard road out the inside line, almost taking the lead at the start-finish line.
He would complete the pass on the backstretch and hold off Sheppard to complete the win.
“Ain’t nobody better at running the cushion than [Sheppard] he is,” Dillard said. “Just to be out here with these guys and general is a blessing to me. Everything fell our way.”
Sheppard at held off multiple charges to the front throughout the race.
Chris Madden – who beat Sheppard to the checkered flag on Friday night – was up front with the No. 1 early on before an ignition issue forced him to the back.
He would recover, but not well enough to earn a top five. Madden finished eighth and lost the points lead to Sheppard.
It’s not saying much to the No. 1 team, but with three runner-up finishes, Sheppard is out front in the standings through the opening weekend.
“We’ve got really good race cars,” Sheppard said on the DirtVision.com broadcast. “If the driver would make the right decisions, we might have been in victory lane right now. I made a bonehead move and that was pretty much all there is to it. I feel bad for my guys, we pretty much gave one away tonight.”
One of the biggest stories of the night might have been the wild rides of Mike Marlar and Ricky Weiss.
Both drivers were not able to transfer into the feature race from their heats – Marlar caught a flat tire in qualifying and ran out of time getting to a transfer spot while Weiss just couldn’t make it happen a night after his first win.
They both went to the Last Chance Showdown and transferred into the 75-lap feature event.
On lap 16, while both were deking and dodging through the pack, Marlar found his car upended, sitting sideways while leaning on the wall.
It brought out the red flag and once safety crews were able to get the car on four tires again, Marlar was adamant to continue. His crew fixed his car and he headed back out.
— World of Outlaws Late Models (@WoOLateModels) January 6, 2020
Marlar had fought his way up to the top five at the time of his accident, but would settle for a ninth-place result at the end of the night. Weiss earned the KSE Hard Charger award in P5.
Darrel Lanigan was another to come up to challenge Sheppard, but couldn’t make a pass happen. He finished third ahead of Scott Bloomquist and Marlar.
The World of Outlaws Late Models will be back on track in a month as they head to Volusia for the DIRTCar Nationals. They’ll have four nights of racing in Florida, starting with Wednesday and finishing up on Saturday.
|2020 World of Outlaws Late Model Standings|
|8||Dennis Erb Jr.||394||-44|