What to Watch for: Late Models Return to Racing Friday
Terry Page
DIRTVision broadcasts coverage from Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55

PEVELY, MO — It’s been more than two months since the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series last raced, but that all changes Friday and Saturday with the Series’ “RETURN to RACING” at the Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.

A star-studded cast of drivers from Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist, Chris Madden and Ricky Weiss to Josh Richards, Tim McCreadie, Jonathan Davenport and Bobby Pierce, along with many others, highlight the stacked invitation-only field of late model’s best. A full entry list of competitors for this weekend is expected to be released on Tuesday.

Keeping with the World of Outlaws commitment to follow COVID-19 regulations, this weekend’s event will feature limited seating to practice social distancing. Saturday’s event has already sold out, while tickets to Friday’s show are still available for purchase at WorldofOutlaws.com.

Both nights will be broadcast live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene with hot laps at 6:00 pm (CT) followed by qualifying and racing.

Here are some of the key storylines to follow this weekend:

SHEPPARD CHASING THREE STRAIGHT: When it comes to World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series action at the Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, IL, has been unstoppable of late. The two-time series champion conquered back-to-back “Summer Nationals vs. WoO” events in 2017 and 2018, both in contrasting fashions. The first came in dominating style as B-Shepp commanded all 50 laps in 2017, but the second came in thrilling manner as he survived a last-lap, last-corner slidejob from Devin Moran to snag the win. Sheppard and his Rocket1 Racing #1 enter this weekend’s “RETURN to RACING” as the current series points leader with one win and eight top-five finishes in nine starts this year.

Darrell Lanigan is chasing the all-time World of Outlaws win mark. (Michael Boggs photo)

LANIGAN NEARING WINS RECORD: While Josh Richards currently owns the all-time wins record with 77 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model victories, Darrell Lanigan of Union, KY, is right behind him. At 73 career wins, Lanigan is only one hot streak away from rewriting the record books and stealing the top spot away from Richards. Sitting third in the current series standings, Lanigan has started 2020 hot out of the gate in his Viper Motorsports No. 29v with five top-five results in the opening nine races. His track record at I-55 serves him well entering this weekend’s “RETURN to RACING,” as Lanigan owns a pair of runner-up finishes at Pevely in 2013 and 2011.

MOYER FRESH OFF I-55 VICTORY: At 62 years old, “Mr. Smooth” Billy Moyer Sr. just keeps on winning. On Saturday night, he pre-gamed for this weekend’s event by leading from flag-to-flag in the Karl Chevrolet 50 at I-55, where he had to fend off Sheppard in the closing laps. A three-time World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series champion, Moyer has racked up 44 victories including one triumph at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in the series debut in 2005. The confidence from Saturday’s win aligned with his past success at I-55 will certainly send the #21 into this weekend with some more momentum.

ERB JR. EYES MORE GOLD: Along with Brandon Sheppard and Billy Moyer Sr., another former World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series winner at I-55 will “RETURN to RACING” with us. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill. was the top dog at I-55 in 2012 and enters this weekend fifth in the current series standings. The five-time series winner has a chance to join Sheppard and Josh Richards as the only multi-time World of Outlaws winners at I-55 this weekend.

CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE RESUMES: Although it’s early, the chase for the 2020 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series Championship is still intriguing to watch. After the opening nine races at Vado Speedway Park in New Mexico, Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL; Duck River Raceway Park in Wheel, TN; and Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN, the top five in points still remain close. Entering this weekend’s races, Brandon Sheppard commands the top spot over Ricky Weiss (-58), Darrell Lanigan (-112), Chris Madden (-140), Scott Bloomquist (-152) and Dennis Erb Jr. (-152).

LOCALS DEFENDING HOME TRACK: A handful of local competitors will be on the scene and looking to defend their home track against the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series this weekend. Michael Kloos of Trenton, IL, finished third in last year’s track standings and managed a 14th-place finish against the World of Outlaws in 2017 at I-55. Both Rusty Griffaw (2016, 2019) of Festus, MO, and Jeff Herzog (2017, 2018) of Herculaneum, MO, are former track champions at I-55, and have qualified for the last two World of Outlaws features in Pevely. Look for this trio and a cast of other locals to step up to the challenge of facing the Outlaws in the “RETURN to RACING” this weekend.

BABB BEGINS TEAM ZERO CHASSIS RIDE: Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, IL, will have a new chassis to steer this weekend in the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series “RETURN to RACING” at I-55. The DIRTcar Summer Nationals legend and 12-time World of Outlaws winner made the switch to Scott Bloomquist’s Team Zero Race Cars over the off-season and has already kickstarted the challenge of learning his new ride. He managed a top-10 finish in Saturday’s Karl Chevrolet 50 at I-55, but this weekend he’ll go against an elite field of World of Outlaws stars. “The Moweaqua Missile” won with the Outlaws at I-55 in 2010 and will look to make it a second win this weekend.

TIGHT ROOKIE RACE RAMPS UP: The resuming of the 2020 World of Outlaws Morton Building Late Model season also brings back to light the tight race for Rookie of the Year. At the moment, 20-year old Ashton Winger of Hampton, GA, currently leads 29-year old Matt Cosner of Ridgeley, WV, by 56 points and 21-year old Kody Evans of Camden, OH, by 66 points. Friday and Saturday’s “RETURN to RACING” at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 will mark for the first appearance for all three drivers at the Pevely track in World of Outlaws competition.