SYLVANIA, GA. (February 7, 2019) – First and foremost, I have always been and will always be a through and through open-wheel racing snob. With that being said, I think giving late model racing a shot was the best thing I have done. Last night was ONLY practice and I am already hooked.
A group of 29 drivers gathered together at Sylvania, Georgia’s Screven Motor Speedway to unofficially kick off the 2019 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model season with a practice opportunity on Thursday. Four separate sessions hit the red dirt clay totaling roughly 15-20 sets of practice.
Clocking the fastest lap of the night with a time of 14.260 seconds was Brandon Sheppard aboard the No. 1 Rocket Chassis house car for Mark Richards Racing. The 2017 World of Outlaws Late Model champion, Sheppard of New Berlin, Illinois, recorded 43 laps while testing-and-tuning. Running on a hot streak to open 2019, Sheppard has racked up 11 top five finishes in 11 starts between action in the Wild West Shootout in Arizona and Georgia/Florida Speedweeks with the Lucas Oil Late Model Series.
While it was Sheppard topping the overall charts, it was the reigning WoO LMS champion and his new crew chief who arguably stole the show. Stepping away from the No. 157 after scoring the 2018 WoO title, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tennessee joined forces with iconic engineer and car owner, Kevin Rumley.
Marlar and Rumley came storming out of the gate on Thursday, busting out the quickest four-lap average of practice in their opening set. In the first five-lap session, Marlar timed in consecutive laps of 14.646, 14.463, 14.365 and ultimately a 14.293, which was his fastest lap of the night. At the conclusion of the night, Marlar and Rumley turned the LEAST amount of total practice laps (17 laps) in the entire field, but still showed their undeniable speed.
Chris Madden, who has earned back-to-back second (2017) and third (2018) place point finishes with the World of Outlaws Late Models, had an impressive late-practice run with a four-lap stretch of times including a 14.563, 14.578, 14.349, and 14.416. The 2015 WoO LMS champion, Shane Clanton, who also holds the record for most WoO victories at Screven with three wins, recorded another strong late-practice session with times of 14.478, 14.341, 14.607 and 14.694.
Although no official lap times were recorded due to an assumed transponder issue or lack thereof, there was no doubt that Darrell Lanigan was one of the fastest cars in attendance. Returning to his Club 29 entry after a three-year tenure with Clint Bowyer Racing, Lanigan is back full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2019, and is on the cusp of history. Entering the year, Lanigan holds 72 victories and three championships, while Josh Richards currently owns the WoO LMS all-time records for wins at 76 wins and four titles.
All in all, late models are really badass, and I am ashamed that I never gave them a shot until now. The general divide between sprint cars and late models is a head-scratcher honestly. These are two incredibly similar communities; we are all racers at our core who put our blood, sweat and tears into this sport, have a burning passion for victory, but we just race different cars and compete with different methods. I am certainly here for both of them from here on out.
We’ll be providing live coverage on @Walkapedia_ on Twitter for the next week. Tonight and tomorrow, we cover the World of Outlaws Late Model Series at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Georgia before heading to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida for a night with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. The coverage then resumes next Wednesday and runs through Saturday night with the WoO LMS at Volusia.
|Pos.||Car – Driver||Average||Best Four (Total Laps)||Laps of Best Four-Lap Runs|
|1.||6M – Mike Marlar||14.442||Laps 2-5 (17)||14.646||14.463||14.365||14.293|
|2.||1 – Brandon Sheppard||14.476||Laps 27-30 (43)||14.651||14.509||14.260||14.483|
|3.||44 – Chris Madden||14.482||Laps 24-27 (39)||14.583||14.578||14.349||14.416|
|4.||25 – Shane Clanton||14.530||Laps 25-28 (28)||14.478||14.341||14.607||14.694|
|5.||1D – Brent Dixon||14.614||Laps 8-11 (17)||14.682||14.611||14.697||14.466|
|6.||36V – Kyle Hardy||14.656||Laps 14-17 (28)||14.628||14.565||14.664||14.766|
|7.||72 – Jason Covert||14.782||Laps 4-7 (31)||14.783||14.526||14.919||14.898|
|8.||53 – Ray Cook||14.798||Laps 15-18 (25)||14.811||14.883||14.718||14.779|
|9.||99B – Boom Briggs||14.800||Laps 8-11 (25)||14.919||14.850||14.774||14.655|
|10.||B1 – Brent Larson||14.824||Laps 20-23 (36)||14.709||14.808||14.822||14.957|
|11.||7 – Ricky Weiss||14.857||Laps 34-37 (43)||14.987||14.948||14.812||14.681|
|12.||18 – Chase Junghans||14.862||Laps 18-21 (26)||14.505||14.411||14.771||15.759|
|13.||2X – John Henderson||14.907||Laps 20-23 (24)||15.091||14.841||14.829||14.867|
|14.||C9 – Steve Casebolt||14.931||Laps 13-16 (39)||14.871||14.884||14.939||15.030|
|15.||97 – Cade Dillard||14.931||Laps 33-36 (37)||15.089||14.950||14.769||14.916|
|16.||16 – Tyler Bruening||14.939||Laps 12-15 (28)||15.116||14.874||14.801||14.964|
|17.||77 – Brian Connor||14.942||Laps 1-4 (18)||15.159||14.894||14.851||14.862|
|18.||99JR – Frank Heckenast Jr.||14.957||Laps 14-17 (31)||15.070||14.903||14.882||14.973|
|19.||22X – G.R. Smith||15.016||Laps 14-17 (33)||15.071||14.893||15.021||15.077|
|20.||8 – Matt Sponaugle||15.034||Laps 32-35 (35)||15.190||15.201||14.808||14.935|
|21.||42 – Cla Knight||15.036||Laps 26-29 (29)||15.222||15.152||14.894||14.876|
|22.||1X – Chub Frank||15.053||Laps 16-19 (25)||15.267||15.084||14.962||14.900|
|23.||28 – Dennis Erb Jr.||15.109||Laps 21-24 (29)||15.120||15.235||15.113||14.966|
|24.||7R – Ross Robinson||15.114||Laps 27-30 (30)||15.076||15.051||15.142||15.188|
|25.||11B – Stacy Boles||15.245||Laps 13-16 (21)||15.177||15.218||15.193||15.390|
|26.||J8 – Jadon Frame||15.378||Laps 12-15 (19)||15.322||15.510||15.258||15.423|
|27.||6 – Blake Spencer||15.426||Laps 8-11 (20)||15.496||15.535||15.434||15.240|
|28.||27 – Joe Denby||15.704||Laps 19-22 (29)||15.850||15.561||15.709||15.694|
|29.||0 – Ryan Scott||15.709||Laps 13-16 (17)||15.794||15.690||15.633||15.719|