Rt 5 Vernon, NY
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MATT SHEPPARD MAKES LAST LAP PASS TO BECOME FIFTH DIFFERENT WINNER AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY
VERNON, NY- Once again, the fans were treated to another exciting night of short track racing this past Sunday evening that saw the Modified finish again decided in the last handful of laps with some late race drama and the support divisions of Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks again providing some exciting action of their own. The May 19 program, sponsored by the Mirabito Fuel Group and HR Refuse, was again run off in quick order due to weather concerns which saw Matt Sheppard take the Modified win, Jeremy Vunk the Sportsman winner, the Pro Stock win going to Pete Stefanski, and Frank Hyatt taking the top honors in the Pure Stocks.
When the green flag dropped to begin the 30 lap Modified feature, Darwin Greene and Adam Roberts brought the 27 car starting field down the front stretch with Greene grabbing the early lead. On lap two, Roberts powered to take over the lead on the second circuit and would hold on to that spot for one more circuit. Third place starter Casey Williams was the next driver to take his turn as the leader as he went around Roberts to assume the lead on lap three and begin to pull away. Williams set a quick pace out front as he began to pull away from field as Matt Sheppard was making his presence felt as he was moving through the field, slipping into the top five on lap nine.
A caution on lap 10 slowed the pace and brought Williams back to the rest of the field, with Roberts, Rob Bellinger, Greene, and Sheppard lining up on his bumper. On the restart, Sheppard launched from the fifth spot to the second in one circuit and was now lurking after Williams, who was still showing the way around the big half mile. On lap 17, Sheppard made his move as he slid up into the lead in front on Williams to become the new leader. Last week’s winner, Stewart Friesen had made his way second by lap 20, after starting 16th on the grid, and was starting his pursuit of Sheppard.
The final caution of the event came out on lap 24 which set up a six lap dash to the finish, with Sheppard looking for his first win on the season at the Vernon oval while Friesen was become the first repeat winner of the year. The restart saw Sheppard gain the advantage with Friesen charging off after him. Going to the turns, Friesen would charge hard into the turn and try to slip up in front of Sheppard, but Sheppard was able to hold him off lap after lap. As the leaders came to the white flag, Friesen was able to complete the slide job coming off turn four to gain the lead the line. As they charged into turn one, Sheppard returned the favor as he dove low into the turn and attempted to slide up in front of Friesen on the exit of turn two. Contact between the duo would see Friesen lose his momentum off and allow Sheppard to run off with the win. Friesen would unhappily have to settle for second while Willy Decker came home in a hard fought third place. Dale Planck and Mike Mahaney filled out top five spots with Roberts, Todd Burley, Ryan Phelps, Jimmy Davis, and Ronnie Johnson rounding out the top ten.
The Sportsman 20 lap feature saw Stephen Denton lead lap one with eighth place starter Jack Miller blasting by to become the new leader on lap two. Miller pulled away with the rest of field jockeying for position, with Jeremy Vunk being the first one to separate himself from the pack and set off to challenge Miller. By lap 13, Vunk had caught Miller and began to challenge him for the lead and by lap 16, his efforts paid off as he took the lead. Vunk would run off to get the win with AJ Filbeck slipping by Miller to grab second at the checkered. Miller settled for third with Tye-Scott Rood and Chris Mackey finishing in fourth and fifth.
Corie Locke was the opening lap leader in the 20 lap Pro Stock main with Bill Knapp charging by to take the point on the following circuit. While Knapp was leading, 18th place starter Tom Denton wasn’t wasting any time getting to the front as he was into the top five by lap four. On lap six, Denton was into the runner-up spot and tracking down the leader Knapp and on lap eight, his charge was complete as he grabbed the lead. As Denton set the pace out front, Pete Stefanski methodically was working his way to the front from the 11th spot. On lap 14, Stefanski began to challenge Denton for the point and as the duo ran side by side down the backstretch and into turn three, they both slid up to the top of the track with Denton going over the edge. Denton came to a stop and drew the yellow and was relegated to the back of the pack, ending his shot at the win. Stefanski would hang on for the win with Bret Belden, Knapp, Mark Effner, and Ed Ostrander filling out the top five spots.
The Pure Stock nightcap saw Chris Watkins lead the opening lap with Frank Hyatt, coming from the sixth spot, taking the lead on the second lap. Ron Hawker would apply pressure throughout the second half of the 15 lap feature but was unable to get by as Hyatt raced off to collect the win. Hawker had to settle for second with Ricky Breed, Nathan Peckham, and Bill Mason trailing.
A huge weekend of racing is schedule this coming weekend in celebration of the Memorial Day holiday and it will start on Sunday May 26 when Gates-Cole Associates presents the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints plus a full show of Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks plus a huge fireworks show. Racing action will be early this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with gates opening 3 p.m. Then on Monday, May 27, the Modifieds will return with a big $10,000 to win, 100 lap event along with a $1,000 to win 602 Crate Sportsman main event. Gates will open at 2:30 p.m. with racing set to go at 6 p.m. Victoria 200 rules will apply all weekend for the Modifieds which allows the use of sail panels. For more information, please log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the office at (315)829-4557. Click Here for results....