Winger Gets First Career Outlaws Win at Cedar Lake

On Friday afternoon, Ashton Winger candidly admitted in conversation “I honestly might never win a World of Outlaws race. I know that.” Just five hours later, he proved himself wrong.

The 20-year old Rookie of the Year leader out-dueled the best in the business to earn one of the most hard-fought first career victories you’d ever see. Navigating lap traffic, trading sliders, and going wheel-to-wheel with $20,000 on the line, the young Hampton, Ga. native never cracked once with Brandon Sheppard’s Rocket1 Racing No. 1 breathing down his neck; if anything, Winger cranked it up in pressure time.

A misleading box score has Winger’s Franklin Enterprises No. 12 Rocket XR-1 leading every one of the 40 laps around the Cedar Lake 3/8th-mile, but it was anything but a wire-to-wire score on Friday night. Dealing with Sheppard’s immense presence over the final half of the race, Winger was up to the challenge time-and-time again. Withstanding a lap 37 slider, Winger went right back at B-Shep into turn three with his own massive slide job to retain the top spot. A position would furiously hang on to score an emotional first career World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature win.
“This is so awesome man,” Winger shouted in victory lane. “This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I never wanted to NASCAR or anything like that. I always wanted to be at the top level of the Dirt Late Model Racing and here we are. I’m so glad we got to do this in front of a full crowd. This is so badass! I’m speechless.”

Before Friday’s show thrilled a standing-room only crowd at Cedar Lake Speedway, fans entered the facility through state-of-the-art COVID-19 screening procedures. Once the action began though, a trio of heat races, a last chance showdown, and the 40-lap Morton Buildings feature accompanied an entire program for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.

Creating a pair of polar opposites on the front row of the 40-lapper, the Morton Buildings Feature Redraw gave fans 20-year old Ashton Winger vs. 50-year old Darrell Lanigan starting pole and outside pole. Running off to a steady advantage through lap 15, Winger’s challenge began on lap 16 when sixth-starter Brandon Sheppard overtook Lanigan for the runner-up spot. Reaching the cross flags on lap 20, the battle for the lead heated up as Sheppard applied pressure on Winger.

Stalking him over the final ten laps, a side-by-side affair with seven laps left brought the fans to life as Winger had Sheppard hounding him for a win that was worth $20,000. On the 37th circuit, with just three to go, Sheppard launched a turn one slider and cleared Winger for the top spot, but the 20-year old kid wasn’t done, nowhere close.

Winger came firing back down the backstretch and tossed his own turn three slider at Sheppard, retaking command of the lead as they saw the two-to-go signal. Over the final two laps, Winger ran the race of his life and held off Sheppard for a huge first career World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature win. What followed was an emotional victory lane which sent the Cedar Lake Speedway crowd crazy.

“Sheppy was showing me a nose that whole time and this race track moved around so much that I just didn’t know where to be,” noted Winger. “This is a dream come true. I have to thank so many people: my mom, my dad, Billy Franklin, Colby, Todd Pruett, everybody who has ever turned a wrench on any of my race cars since I was nine years old. This is all for them. I’m so thankful.”

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