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June 8, 2014
MATT SHEPPARD DOMINATES TO SCORE WIN AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY

VERNON, NY- Despite leading the points in the NASCAR Modified division, Matt Sheppard’s season hadn’t started off at the Utica-Rome Speedway the way he had hoped as he was unable to find victory at this point of the season.  That all ended this past Sunday, June 8, as he put on a near dominant performance on Williams Tire & Auto night to grab the win and extend his slim point lead in the division.  In the other divisions, Heath Carney came away with the win in the Sportsman while Tom Denton took home another Pro Stock victory.  Chuck Cushman was the winner in the Pure Stocks.

As the field came to the green flag for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified feature, Tim Mayne and Jason Rood were on the front row with Mayne powering to the lead.  Rood surrendered the runner up spot to Mike Mahaney, who used the outside to jump up from his ninth starting spot. Mahaney put pressure on the leading Mayne and took the top position one lap later. Matt Sheppard had also made his moves early, taking second on lap six after starting 11th.

A caution slowed the field at the beginning of lap seven, which brought Mahaney back to the rest of the pack. On the restart, Sheppard used it to his advantage. He used the top to make the pass for first before dropping to his preferred line on the bottom of the racing surface. Meanwhile, defending track champion Stewart Friesen was mounting a charge from his 14th starting spot, finding himself in second and trying to chase down the runaway Sheppard. The leader had almost a full straightaway lead on the field, and had begun to catch the rear of the field.

Another yellow flag would be thrown for the on the final lap for a spun car, which would set up some late race drama.  The caution put Friesen on Sheppard’s rear bumper when they came to the final green flag; Sheppard put an end to any late race heroics by Friesen as he drove off from the previous week’s winner on the start. He built a sizable lead down the backstretch, and took home his first win of the season. Friesen’s three race winning streak came to an end as he settled for second. Larry Wight, Mahaney, and Danny Varin rounded out the top five. Pat Ward, Ryan Phelps, Vic Coffey, Mayne, and Jason Rood completed the top ten.

Pole sitter John DeForest led the opening lap of the 20 lap Sportsman main event until fifth place starter Heath Carney blasted to the lead.  Carney wasn’t the only one making a charge to the front as 14th place starter Jeremy Vunk made his way to top five by lap three.  By lap seven, Vunk was up into the second spot and looking to track down the leader Carney.  The field was slowed by caution on lap nine which put Vunk on Carney’s rear bumper, but Carney was too strong on the restart and was able to power away from the multi time feature winner.  A couple of late race cautions again allowed Vunk to close in on Carney and each time Carney was to the task but as the duo came down to the white flag, Vunk make a charge on outside lane to take the lead.  Vunk’s lead was a short however, as Carney used the bottom lane to go back by Vunk.  Going into the last set of turns for the checkered, Vunk made a last ditch effort and drove into the turns too hard and went off the top of turn four as Carney raced off to score his first win of the season.  Steve Way, Claude Hutchings Jr., Jack Miller, and Andrew Ferguson rounded out the top five positions.

The start of the Pro Stock 20 lap feature saw third place starter Chris Carr grab the initial lead from pole sitter Chris Cunningham as he was looking to score his first win of the season.  Carr was setting a blistering pace as Mark Effner, AJ Digsby, Glenn Forward, and Tom Denton win in pursuit.  Effner’s bid came to end on lap 10 as he dropped out with mechanical issues, but Carr now had to contend with Denton who had made his way into second.  Lap after lap, Denton worked Carr for the lead and finally on lap 17, Denton was able to make the winning pass on the high side of turn four to take the lead and win his fourth consecutive main event of the season.  Rounding out the top five positions was Carr, Forward, Digsby, and Kenny Gates.

In Pure Stock action, Mike Harrison was the initial leader of the 15 lap affair with Rob Thieme showing the way on lap two and three.  With four laps complete, seventh place starter Chuck Cushman was scored the leader with the winner of the previous three events, Russ Marsden, in hot pursuit.  On lap six, Cushman and Marsden went into turn three side by side and contact between the two saw Cushman spin and Marsden joining him at the rear for contact with the leader.  Bill Mason inherited the lead which he would hold on to for the next two laps until eighth place starter Ricky Breed grabbed control of the field on lap eight.  While Breed was leading, Cushman and Marsden were charging back to the front as they both made their way back into the top five by lap 11.  On lap 13, Cushman’s charge was complete as he took the lead over and raced his way to the win.  Mason held on to second while Breed, Marsden, and Thieme filled out the top five spots.

On June 15, the Race of Champions Sportsman Series makes a visit to the “Action Track of the East” on Quality Manufacturing night which will include a full program of NASCAR Modifieds, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks.  Race time will be at 6 p.m. with gates opening at 3:30 p.m.  For more information, log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.

RACE SUMMARY

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES MODIFIED FINISH (30 LAPS)-MATT SHEPPARD, Stewart Friesen, Larry Wight, Mike Mahaney, Danny Varin, Pat Ward, Ryan Phelps, Vic Coffey, Tim Mayne, Jason Rood, Tye-Scott Rood, Dave Moyer, Aaron Jacobs, C.J. Castelletti, Adam Roberts, and Ken McGuire. DNS- Willy Decker.

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES SPORTSMAN FINISH (20 LAPS)-HEATH CARNEY, Steve Way, Claude Hutchings Jr., Jack Miller, Andrew Ferguson, Mike Stiles, John DeForest, Kyle Kiehn, Mike Richmond, Mike Walton, Chad Ray, Stephen Denton, Craig Pope, Lucas Heintz, Jeremy Vunk, Randy Shantel, Mark Weaver, and Daryl Barrett.

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES PRO STOCK FINISH (20 LAPS)-TOM DENTON, Chris Carr, Glenn Forward, A.J. Digsby, Kenny Gates, Ed Ostrander, Dana Camenga, Chris Cunningham, Mark Effner, Alan Barker, and Jim Grippin. DNS- Ryan Lund.

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES PURE STOCK FINISH (15 LAPS)-CHUCK CUSHMAN JR., Bill Mason, Ricky Breed, Rusty Marsden, Rob Thieme, Frank Hyatt, Ernie Staelens, Ron Hawker, Jim Thomas, Jerry Streeter, Bryan Owens, Chris Watkins, Dan Hofmann, and Mike Harrison.