Sheppard Wins The Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway

They say home-field advantage really does make a difference. Rocket1 Racing pilot Brandon Sheppard made quite a backing to that statement on Saturday night, as he played his cards perfectly through the 75-lap Morton Buildings Feature to win the 12th annual Illini 100 presented by Douglas Dodge.

Menomonie, WI-native Jimmy Mars had a very strong run inside the top-10 all night, fending off Scott James and Bobby Pierce in the closing stages to grab the runner-up spot. Meanwhile, Pierce had a stellar run on the topside, right where he’s so frequently found, coming all the way from his 16th starting spot to complete the podium.

As for Sheppard, he has now collected the $15,000 top prize in three out of the last five years. His predecessor in the Rocket Chassis house car, Josh Richards, swept the weekend in 2016, adding to the Rocket1 Racing team’s dominance at Farmer City in World of Outlaws competition. The Mark Richards-owned No. 1 has now won the last four completed editions of the Illini 100.

This weekend, Sheppard’s presence at the 1/4-mile was nothing short of impressive. A new track record established, breaking one set by Billy Moyer that stood for over nine years, two heat race wins and two top-two finishes in Morton Buildings Feature action. All with his big family on hand, cheering him on and very proud to see him in Victory Lane by the end of 75 laps.

“We’re only an hour and a half from my house,” Sheppard, of New Berlin, IL said. “All of my family, friends and fans come out to see this one.”

The “Rocket Shepp” redrew the fourth spot and took his time getting to the head of the field, taking the lead on lap 32. Lane choice at any point in the race was crucial, Sheppard pointed out.

“It was just kind of hard to tell where you needed to be on the racetrack at the beginning of the race,” Sheppard said. “The bottom was really rough and treacherous, and I was just kind of moving around, trying to figure out what line I needed to be in.”

But once he made the passes around Rookie contender Ricky Weiss and Tanner English for the lead, it was game over for the rest of the field.

“Tanner was doing a good job there and then Weiss got rolling on the top and I got rolling on the top,” Sheppard said. “For about ten laps there, we were all dicing it up pretty good, and it was a really fun race.”

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