Rt 5 Vernon, NY
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VERNON, NY- This past Wednesday August 14, at the Utica-Rome Speedway, Matt Sheppard motored to another win at the Vernon oval in an event that would go green to checkered and keep the chase for the $10,000 to win track championship close.  Pete Stefanski would get a huge payday in the Pro Stock as he was able to win the $1,394 to win Paul Denton Memorial while Jeremy Vunk dominated the Sportsman main to collect the win.  Russ Marsden was the winner in the Pure Stocks.

Dave Moyer and Willy Decker brought the field of the Modified feature to the green flag.  On the opening lap, Decker was able to use the bottom of the speedway to grab the lead.  Mike Mahaney would also find his way past Moyer for second.  As soon as he took the lead, Decker opened up a huge lead on the rest of the field with Mahaney chasing.

Matt Sheppard began his charge to the front early, starting from 12th and finding the top five by the third lap.  Sheppard caught each driver one by one, working his way to the runner up spot on lap 10 after a battle with Mahaney.  Decker still had a sizable lead, but he began to find the back of the field.  It gave Sheppard the perfect opportunity to catch the leader, and by the 13th circuit, he had found Decker.

Decker tried to hold off the challenger, sticking to the bottom groove as Sheppard did the same.  On lap 16, Decker came off of turn four a bit loose, relinquishing some room below him.  Sheppard seized the chance and took the lead as they came to the line.  With Decker behind him, the new leader checked out on the rest of the field.  Sheppard led for the rest of the race, taking home the checkered.  Decker ended up in second, with Ryan Phelps, Larry Wight, and Stewart Friesen, who started in behind Sheppard, following.  Mahaney, Todd Burley, Mike Bowman, Pat Ward, and Bobby Varin rounded out the top 10.

With that victory, Sheppard took the lead in the points going into the final stretch of the season.  The difference is now only four points between him and the defending champion Stewart Friesen.

Pete Stefanski used the outside front row starting spot to his advantage as took the lead at the drop of the green to start the Paul Denton Memorial Pro Stock event, leading the 30 car starting field to the line.  Several early cautions would keep the field bunched up, which was helping eighth place starter Glenn Forward pick his way to the front.  Forward would use a lap eight restart to put himself in position to challenge for the lead, and as the field raced to complete lap nine, he was able to slip underneath Stefanski to become the leader.  Stefanski would not give up however as he kept pace with Forward over the next several laps, challenging him at every corner.  With 15 laps of the 30 lap contest completed, Forward was shown as the leader on the scoreboard over Stefanski, Tom Denton, Chris Carr, and Mark Effner.

With 10 circuits left, Stefanski mounted another charge as he was able to wrestle the lead away from Forward to regain the lead.  Disaster almost struck Stefanski as hit some moisture in turn four which saw him suddenly get loose and slow down, which allowed both Forward and Denton to get by which dropped Stefanski to third.  The final caution of the race came out on lap 23, which allowed Stefanski to regain his composure.  When the green lights come back on, Stefanski got by Denton and went right to work on Forward, and by lap 26 he was alongside the leader.  Stefanski would complete the comeback as he was able to regain the lead and charge of to the big $1,394 payday.  Forward would be forced to settle for the runner-up spot followed by Bret Belden, Carr, and Effner.  PJ Peters, AJ Digsby, Ed Ostrander, Louie Jackson, and Bill Knapp rounded out the top ten.

Stephen Denton led the opening lap of the 20 lap Sportsman main from his pole starting spot, yielding the position on lap two to Steve Way, who had started in sixth.  Way would set a quick pace early on, but it wouldn’t be quick enough however as 11th place starter Jeremy Vunk would catch him on lap nine to take the lead.  A lap 14 caution would only pause the dominating performance by Vunk as he would again open up a large margin after the restart as he ran off to collect the win.  Matt Janczuk would nip Way at the checkered to finish in second ahead of Way, Jack Miller, and Heath Carney.

The Pure Stock 15 lap feature as marred by a huge wreck on the opening lap that had half the field involved and a car on its roof.  After a lengthy red flag, racing resumed which saw Chris Cunningham lead the first seven laps.  Russ Marsden would then take over the lead and stay there until the checkered flag flew, driving to another win with Cunningham, Ricky Breed, Ron Hawker, and Rob Thieme chasing.

The Utica-Rome Speedway staff will have another quick turn around this week as racing will return this Sunday on August 18 when Bill Cole and Dick Waterman present Twin 20’s for the Modifieds plus a regular show of Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks.  Race time is at 6 p.m. with gates opening at 3:30 p.m.
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