MATT SHEPPARD TAKES ANOTHER BIG MONEY WIN AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY WITH SUPER DIRTCAR SERIES VICTORY THIS PAST SUNDAY
VERNON, NY- Whenever there is big money on the line at the Utica-Rome Speedway, reigning track champion and Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard seems to find himself in Victory Lane. This past Sunday, July 3, with a $6.000 payday on the line and in front of a standing room only crowd, Sheppard again found himself on the front stretch holding the checkered flag as he out dueled Danny Johnson in the early stages of the 60 lap main event to collect the Super DIRTcar Modified Series win. In the companion Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints main event, Jason Barney collected his second win at the Vernon oval while Brad Rouse collected the Race of Champions 602 Sportsman Series win in his first ever visit to Utica-Rome Speedway on Lights Auto/NAPA and Clinton Tractor night.
The Super DIRTcar Series came to the green flag with Danny Johnson and Rob Bellinger at the head of the field. On the first lap, Pat Ward dove beneath the top two and took the lead. He led the first three laps before Johnson was able to get back by for the lead. A caution on the sixth lap slowed the race, and on the restart, Johnson took off again. Ward, however, stuck with him, inching closer with each passing lap. Ten laps later, Ward completed the pass by Johnson again, but the two stayed glued to each other. As the leaders closed in on lap traffic, Johnson stayed with the leader and passed back for the lead to take it for the third time on lap 23.
As the race reached its halfway mark, defending track champion Matt Sheppard was on the move. By lap 30, Sheppard drove his way into second and began working over the leader. Using the very bottom of the racing surface, Sheppard closed in on Johnson, finally getting by on lap 34. From there, Sheppard rocketed away from the rest of the top five. The second and last caution of the race came out on the 48th circuit, bringing the leader back in line with the rest of the field. The restart saw Johnson try to use the top side to pass by Sheppard, but the leader was too strong on the bottom. Sheppard picked up the victory 12 laps later, followed by Johnson, Danny Varin, Larry Wight, and Bellinger. The top ten was filled out by Ward, Erick Rudolph, Billy Decker, Stewart Friesen, and Alan Johnson.
Jason Barney and Bryan Howland led the 24 car starting field for the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints to the green with Barney using the bottom line to take the lead. While Barney showed the field the quick line around the half mile, it was ninth place starter Danny Varin that was making his charge to the front. By the completion of lap two, he was into the third spot and a circuit later he moved around Howland to take the runner up spot.
The leaders began lapping the field by lap seven which saw Barney’s advantage evaporate as Varin closed in, and on lap 11 Varin was at Barney’s heels as the duo continue to negotiate heavy lapped traffic. Barney was able to use traffic to use the lapped cars to his advantage as he had little trouble while Varin struggled in traffic. At halfway of the 25 lap event, it was Barney stretching his lead out with Varin, Howland, Larry Wight, and Chuck Hebing chasing.
While Barney was running away out front, the battle for the third spot was going on between Howland and 11th place starter Wight swapping the position several times. As the laps continue to click off, Howland was finally able to free himself from the battle with Wight and began to chase down Varin for the second spot but he ran out of laps. Barney would close the 2016 edition of the Donath Motor Worx Central New York Speedweek with a dominating victory over Varin, Howland, Wight, Hebing, Matt Tanner, Steve Poirier, Mike Mahaney, Cory Sparks, and Jonathan Preston. Poirier’s seventh place finish was enough for his to claim his second ESS CNY Speedweek title.
The Race of Champions 602 Sportsman feature took the green with Brad Rouse and Glenn Forward at the head of the field. The first lap, however, was led by Chris Johnson, who came from one row back from the leader. He was able to hold onto the lead two laps, but Matt Janczuk, who started fourth, dove below Johnson for the lead. He began to pull away, but a caution on lap nine reeled him back in. The restart saw Rocky Warner, who was now running second, begin to work over Janczuk. The two stayed together, battling back and forth, until Warner made it to the lead on lap 13.
Warner began to build a lead as the race passed lap 15. Behind him, Brad Rouse, in his first visit to the speedway, began to navigate his way to the front. With 10 to go, Rouse found himself in the runner up position. A caution on lap 21 erased the lead that Warner built, giving Rouse to opportunity he needed. When the green returned, Rouse began to battle with Warner for the lead, taking the top spot one lap later on the 23rd circuit. From there, Rouse drove away to win his first feature at Utica-Rome on his first visit. He was trailed by Warner, Johnson, Forward, and Chris Mackey.
For full details on the Super DIRTcar Series Modified main event, the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints A-Main, or Race of Champions Sportsman Series, please reference the official releases from the series.
Next Sunday, July 10, Pathfinder Village presents New York State Stock Car Association Night featuring another night of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing with the Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds, SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman, Broedel Energy Open Sportsman, and G&I Homes of Vernon Pro Stocks. Racing start at 6 p.m. with the gates opening at 3:30 p.m.
LIGHTS AUTO/NAPA AND CLINTON TRACTOR RACE SUMMARY
SUPER DIRTCAR MODIFIED SERIES FEATURE FINISH (60 LAPS)- MATT SHEPPARD, Danny Johnson, Danny Varin, Larry Wight, Rob Bellinger, Pat Ward, Erick Rudolph, Billy Decker, Stewart Friesen, Alan Johnson, Ryan Phelps, Peter Britten, Chris Hile, Mat Williamson, Mike Mahaney, Vic Coffey, Max McLaughlin, Jimmy Phelps, Brett Hearn, Marc Johnson, Ryan Arbuthnot, Bobby Varin, Matt Janiak, Keith Flack, Eldon Payne Jr., Rich Scagliotta, Jim Nagle, Matt Hulsizer, Tim Fuller, and Frank Cozze.
RACE OF CHAMPIONS 602 SPORSMAN SERIES FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)-BRAD ROUSE, Rocky Warner, Chris Johnson, Glenn Forward, Chris Mackey, Matt Janczuk, Kyle Inman, Brad Alger, Stephen Denton, Beth Bellinger, Brent Joy, Kyle Kiehn, Jason Rood, Dave Moyer, JaMike Sowle, Matt Steffenhagen, Brian Calabrese, AJ Miller, Troy Fleming, AJ Digsby, Ray Bliss, Billy Trexler III, Daryl Nutting, David Schilling, Kevin Ward, and Todd Root.
LUCAS OIL EMPIRE SUPER SPRINT A-MAIN FINISH (25 LAPS)-JASON BARNEY, Danny Varin, Bryan Howland, Larry Wight, Chuck Hebing, Matt Tanner, Steve Poirier, Mike Mahaney, Cory Sparks, Jonathan Preston, Shawn Donath, Mike Stelter, Paul Kinney, Mike Kiser, Jessica Zemken, Jordan Thomas, Jeff Cook, Parker Evans, Dylan Swiernik, Tim Axton, Brandon Kidd, Dave Axton, James Hanson, and Chad Miller.