MATT SHEPPARD SUPER IN UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY SEASON FINALE, TAKES $5,500 WIN WHILE LUCAS WOLFE SCORES $3,000 360 SPRINT CHECKERED FLAG
VERNON, NY- The Utica-Rome Speedway concluded it 2016 season this past Tuesday, October 4, with a special event presented by Broedel Energy to coincide with the beginning of Super DIRT Week in Oswego NY. The event saw Matt Sheppard take the twice delayed Race of Champions Dirt Modified Series (originally scheduled for May 22) Victoria 200 55 lap victory, worth $5,500, while Pennsylvanian Sprint star Lucas Wolfe take the $3,000 360 Sprint checkered flag. Paul Klager won the TUSA/Pro Race Car Mod Lite main event.
Mike Mahaney and Vic Coffey brought the 26 car Race of Champions Dirt Modified Series to the green flag to start the 55 lap main event with Coffey immediately launching to the lead. 2016 Utica-Rome Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion Matt Sheppard quickly settled into the second spot in pursuit of Coffey. A lap one incident caused by several car getting together and stopping in turn one slowed the pace and when all cars got moving, Coffey held on to the lead on the restart. With Coffey running the top side of the track and Sheppard on the bottom, the duo put on a spirited battle for the lead throughout the first handful of circuits.
On lap eight, the leaders started to encounter lapped traffic, with Coffey getting bottled up behind a slower car which allowed Sheppard to slip by to lead lap nine. With Sheppard now the leader, Coffey kept pace with the him and was not allowing him to get away. As the top two battled for position, there was an early crowd pleasing battle throughout the rest of the top as Alan Barker, Mahaney, Danny Varin, Pat Ward, and Bobby Varin all diced for position with Barker holding the edge for third early over Mahaney and Danny Varin.
Lap 18 saw something that has been a rare occasion the past two years at the Utica-Rome Speedway when Coffey passed Sheppard on the outside to regain the lead. As the event approached the halfway point, slower traffic again came into play, again slowing Coffey’s pace enough to allow Sheppard to get by to retake the point. With 30 laps complete, it was Sheppard starting to pull away with Coffey, Mahaney, Bobby Varin, and Danny Varin rounding out the top five.
With Sheppard opening up a comfortable margin out front, there was a dogfight for the final podium spot as Mahaney and Bobby Varin battled side by side lap after lap for the third spot. On lap 32, Varin was finally able to nose ahead for the spot as he looked to track down the top two.
The final caution of the event came on lap 40, allowing the field to see Sheppard’s rear deck lid again and when the green lights flickered back on, it again Sheppard distancing himself from the field. The restart allowed Mahaney and Varin to again continue their battle for the third spot with Mahaney regaining the spot on lap 41 on to see Varin get back by to have third on lap 43. The rest of event went on without incident with Sheppard taking his seventh win of the season over Coffey, Bobby Varin, Danny Varin, Mahaney, Ward, Alan Johnson, Barker, and Jeff Corriveau. The win was Sheppard 32nd Utica-Rome Speedway victory, placing him fourth on the all-time win list and tying him with Lou Lazzaro and Todd Burley in the record books.
The 25 lap, $3,000 to win 360 Sprint A Main saw Lucas Wolfe immediately take the lead from his outside front row starting spot with Danny Varin jumping from his third starting spot to the runner-up spot and beginning his pursuit of Wolfe. The only caution of the event came out on lap five when pole sitter Mike Stelter made heavy contact with the wall exiting turn two with the rest of the field bearing down on him.
On the restart, Varin got around the outside of Wolfe to take over the lead with Wolfe applying heavy pressure. The duo crossed the line on lap five with Varin barely ahead and as the pair rounded turns three and four coming to complete lap six, Wolfe made his move. Burying the throttle going into the turn, Wolfe executed a classic slide job to wrestle the lead away from Varin. Wolfe would begin to steadily pull away.
While Wolfe had the lead secured, it was 12th place starter Jason Barney putting on a passing clinic in the first 10 laps of the 25 lap affair. Barney blasted to the front early, getting as high as second on eight, only to slip back to third a lap later. At the halfway point, it was Wolfe leading the way followed by Varin, Barney, Dylan Westbrook, and Cory Sparks.
Wolfe was setting a blistering pace but it was becoming a battle for the third spot as Barney held it while Westbrook was all over him for the spot. Wolfe dominated the remainder of the event to score his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway win with Danny Varin, Barney, Westbrook, and late race charger Paul Kinney rounding out the top five. Sparks, Shawn Donath, Bobby Varin, Billy VanInwegen, and Mahaney completed the top 10.
Ryan Harrison led the first nine circuits of the TUSA/Pro Race Cars 20 lap shootout from his pole starting spot with ninth place starter Doug Williams getting by for the lead on lap 10 as he swept by then second place Josh Kinney and Harrison. Williams looked to have the event in hand until seventh place starter Paul Klager passed Kinney for second on lap 13 and went after Williams. Lap 18 saw Klager make his bid for the top spot work as he got by front running Williams. Williams’ night would end a lap later when his wheel would come off the car, ending his night. Klager would go on to take the win over Harrison, Kinney, Casey Sykes, and Brian Meyers.
With on track action now complete for 2016, please keep up to on any off season happenings including potential banquet information by logging on to www.uticaromespeedway. The speedway office can be contacted by calling (315) 829-4557. Utica-Rome Speedway can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
BROEDEL ENERGY RACE SUMMARY
RACE OF CHAMPIONS MODIFIED VICTORIA 200 FEATURE FINISH (55 LAPS)-MATT SHEPPARD, Vic Coffey, Bobby Varin, Danny Varin, Mike Mahaney, Pat Ward, Alan Barker, Marc Johnson, Jeff Corriveau, Shaun Pangman, Claude Hutchings Jr., Tim Schneider, Jack Miller, Dave Allen, Tim Mayne, Dave Moyer, Brandon Walters, Ryan Arbuthnot, Billy Decker, Steve Way, Rob Bellinger, Adam Roberts, Aaron Jacobs, Mario Clair, Jim Nagle.
360 SPRINT A MAIN FINISH (25 LAPS)- LUCAS WOLFE, Danny Varin, Jason Barney, Dylan Westbrook, Paul Kinney, Cory Sparks, Shawn Donath, Bobby Varin, Billy VanInwegen, Mike Mahaney, Matt Tanner, Jeff Cook, Dave Axton, Pete Richardson, Scott Holcomb, Mike Stelter, Bob Gray, Denny Peebles, Kelly Hebing, Derrick Juliano, Chuck Hebing.
TUSA PRO RACE CAR MOD LITE FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- PAUL KLAGER, Ryan Harrison, Josh Kinney, Casey Sykes, Brian Meyers, Mike Mullen, Nick Graziano, Sam Usborne, Jeff Sykes, Scott Meier, Doug Williams, Dan Rief, Joe Isabella, Harley Brown, Justin Williams, Tucker Halliday, Lowell Zehr, Rick Demo.