MATT SHEPPARD MUSCLES HIS WAY TO ANOTHER WIN AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY
VERNON, NY – On Sunday, April 24th, Wilber-Duck Chevrolet and Marble Hill Inn presented an action-packed show of Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds, SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman, Broedel Energy Open Sportsman, Pro Street Stocks, and the “Prelude to the Gnome Cup” for the GO Nuclear Late Models. Matt Sheppard won his second feature event in a row in the Modifieds, increasing his early point lead. He shared victory lane with Jason Rood in the 602 Sportsman, Claude Hutchings Jr. in the Open Sportsman, and Jim Normoyle in the Pro Street Stocks. The winner of the “Prelude to the Gnome Cup” was John Waters, as they prepare for the Gnome Cup at Utica-Rome on May 22nd.
Alan Johnson and Vinnie Vitale started on the front row as flagger Matt Burdick waved the green flag to start the feature for the Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds. The race was stalled by an early caution as Matt Sheppard and Tim Mayne spin in turn one. The race would see another yellow on lap two when Matt Hulsizer spun in turn two, but when it got back underway, Alan Johnson took advantage of his pole starting position by pulling away from Rob Bellinger and Larry Wight as the two battled for second. Wight won the battle by using the top side of the racing surface, getting by right before a third yellow flag was displayed for Stewart Friesen slowing with a flat tire. The restart put Wight on the outside of Alan Johnson, using it to take the lead by hair on lap 7.
Johnson caught a break, however, when Wight went off the top of turns three and four on lap 9. With Johnson back in the lead, Wight now had to battle with Sheppard, who had clawed his way back to the top five after the mishap in the beginning of the race. With Wight still recovering from going off the speedway, Sheppard took the runner up place away on the 13th circuit. With the final yellow flag of the race coming on lap 15 as Vitale goes over the top of the speedway. The restart saw Johnson try to pull away again, using the bottom of the speedway to put a little distance between himself and the field. Wight gave the top another shot, and found his way back to second with 10 to go.
Sheppard stuck to the leader’s groove, the bottom, and retook second from Wight with 7 laps left. With 5 to go, Sheppard was all over the leading Johnson. On the 26th circuit, Sheppard took advantage when Johnson slipped up into the middle of the racing surface. From there, Sheppard checked out on the rest of the field, taking home a second victory of three events. In victory lane, Sheppard was slow to get out of his car and could barely move his arms. In the post-race interview, he explained that with 25 to go, his car lost power steering. Behind him in the feature, Wight found his way back to second before the checkered flag dropped, and Johnson settled for third. Tim Fuller and Vic Coffey filled out the top five. Following them were Friesen, Marc Johnson, Bellinger, Mike Mahaney, and Pat Ward.
The SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman came to the green with Billy Trexler III and Daryl Nutting at the head of the field. The first six laps were slowed by four cautions, but when the race picked up again, Nutting had the lead, followed by Kyle Kiehn. Behind them, Jason Rood was navigating his way to the front, driving through the five and finding the lead at the halfway point, going above Nutting on the high side. Nutting stuck right with him on the bottom, using cautions on both laps 12 and 13 to stay right behind the leader. Behind them, Matt Janczuk had battled through the pack to the top five after starting in 16th. With 5 to go, Janczuk was looking for any way past the top two, who battled on the top and bottom of the speedway. The final yellow on lap 17 lined up the field, giving Janczuk the chance he needed. The restart allowed Janczuk to pass by on the top, but Nutting got him again on the bottom. Going into the final lap, Janczuk got a run off the top side of turns one and two, propelling himself past Nutting and allowing him to catch up to Rood. In the final two turns, Janczuk used his momentum and dove to bottom, sliding up and pulling alongside Rood as they exiting the turns, making a drag race to the finish. At the line, Rood edged out Janczuk for the win by the margin of .018. Trailing them was Nutting, Glenn Forward, and Rocky Warner.
The Broedel Energy came to the green with Jack Miller and Claude Hutchings Jr. as the duo on the front row. Miller’s pole position allowed him to take the lead, with Hutchings trailing behind, using the top side to keep with the leader. Miller retained the lead at the halfway point, but a pair of cautions on lap 11 and 12 forced the field to gather, putting Hutchings on the rear bumper of Miller. Miller held off Hutchings for the first lap after the restart, but Hutchings used the top side to take the lead. From there, he never looked back. Heath Carney followed Hutchings past Miller, but settled for second. Miller, Steve Way, and Jeremy Vunk filled out the top five.
Jim Normoyle started on the outside of the front row and when the green flag waved, he beat pole sitter Frank Hyatt into turn one for the lead. Fourth place starting Travis Welch gave chase early as he grabbed the second spot but the was short lived as Mike Welch powered by for the spot on lap four. Using the extreme high side of the speedway, Normoyle walked away from the field while the runner-up spot was hotly contested. It was Mike Welch, Travis Welch, Russ Marsden, Luke Horning, Bill Knapp, and Pete Stefanski all running in a tight group with positions swapping lap after lap. A caution with one lap to go brought the field back together for a one lap dash to the finish and when racing resumed, a late charging Stefanski pulled alongside Normoyle in the final set of turns. Normoyle was able to hang on for the win followed by Stefanski, Marsden, Mike Welch, and Nick Stone.
Next week, Wilber-Duck Chevrolet and Rasmussen Rents/Broedel Energy will present a normal show of Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds, SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman, Broedel Energy Open Sportsman, Pro Stocks, plus Mod Lites. For more information, call (315) 829-4557 or visit www.uticaromespeedway.com.
WILBER-DUCK CHEVROLET/MARBLE HILL INN RACE SUMMARY
GATES-COLE INSURANCE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- MATT SHEPPARD, Larry Wight, Alan Johnson, Tim Fuller, Vic Coffey, Stewart Friesen, Marc Johnson, Rob Bellinger, Mike Mahaney, Pat Ward, Danny Varin, Matt Hulsizer, Max McLaughlin, Tim Mayne, Ryan Phelps, and Vinnie Vitale.
SUNY CANTON 602 SPORSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- JASON ROOD, Matt Janczuk, Daryl Nutting, Glenn Forward, Rocky Warner, JaMike Sowle, David Schilling, Kyle Kiehn, Chris Mackey, Brad Alger, Beth Bellinger, Corey Barker, A.J. Digsby, John Christian, Casey Williams, Rocco Leone, Geoff VanRiper, Billy Trexler III, Bobby Gage, Stephen Denton, Aaron Jacobs, Tye-Scott Rood, Alan Fink, and Chris Cunningham.
BROEDEL ENERGY OPEN SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- CLAUDE HUTCHINGS JR., Heath Carney, Jack Miller, Steve Way, Jeremy Vunk, Jim Rothwell, Mark Effner, Tom Tophoven, Craig Pope, Lucas Heintz, Todd Fey, Raymond Carey, and Randy Shantel.
PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-JIM NORMOYLE, Pete Stefanski, Russ Marsden, Mike Welch, Nick Stone, Luke Horning, Chris Carr, Bill Knapp, Travis Welch, Gus Hollner, Frank Hyatt, Jerry Streeter, Ernie Staelens, Andy Lashure, Aaron Page, and Chris Welch.
GO NUCLEAR LATE MODEL SERIES FINISH (30 LAPS)-JOHN WATERS, Bryce Davis, Sam Pennacchio, Lee Gill, Charlie Sandercock, Phil Potts, Brandon Mowat, Greg Belyea, Chris Fleming, Laslow Holleyfeld, Brian Knowles, Jason Knowles, Chad Homan, Brandon Ford, Aaron Jacobs, Norman Mahew, Bill Eisele, Brian Down, Bret Belden, Johnny Hill, Alan Fink, and Kyle Sopaz.