MATT SHEPPARD FENDS OFF LATE RACE CHARGE BY LARRY WIGHT TO SCORE ANOTHER UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY MAIN EVENT
VERNON, NY- Last Sunday, August 9th, Dick Waterman and Gates-Cole Insurance sponsored a night that saw Matt Sheppard charge to the front of the Stampede Steakhouse Modifieds for his seventh win of the season and his 22nd at the speedway, which pushed him up to 12th on the all-time wins list. Matt Janczuk won his second of the season in the 602 Sportsman, cutting the points differential between him and the leading Rocky Warner in half. Other visitors to victory lane included Claude Hutchings Jr. in the Open Sportsman and Glenn Forward in the Pro Street Stocks.
Tim Mayne used his pole starting spot to gain a substantial lead on the first lap, pulling away from Mike Bowman, who started beside him. As he was pulling away, the point leader, Matt Sheppard, was on the move. Starting on the inside of row five, Sheppard dove to the bottom of the racing surface to race his way into the top five on the first lap. Then, after powering by Mike Mahaney, Sheppard found his way to second by lap three. He reeled in Mayne, who was using the middle, and completed the pass after a two lap battle by the sixth circuit. From there, Sheppard had an open track to help build a sizable lead.
Sheppard was not the only one charging through the field, however. Larry Wight, the winner of the week before, had started in 10th and was slowly making his way to the front on the very top groove of the speedway, followed by Stewart Friesen on the bottom. The two of them worked their way into the top five before they began to battle back and forth. Wight was finally to pull ahead by the 15th lap and he began to work on Mahaney by diving to the bottom. He made it stick and won the battle for the runner up spot as the raced entered the final third.
A pair of back to back cautions slowed the race on the 21st and 22nd laps, which erased the nearly full straightaway lead Sheppard had built. On the restart, Wight once again drove up the track and found the cushion while Sheppard continued his use of the bottom. While Sheppard had pulled away on the restart, Wight was inching closer and closer as the laps wore on, and was within striking distance with four remaining. As they entered the first turn, Wight tried to dive below Sheppard and take away his line, pushing Sheppard up the track. Sheppard, however, was able to pull away again. Wight tried the top side once more, but it was to no avail as Sheppard took his seventh win of the season, With Wight in second, Friesen, Pat Ward, and Vic Coffey rounded out the top five. Matt Hulsizer, Rob Bellinger, Danny Varin, Mayne, and Chris Mackey followed.
The 602 Sportsman came to the green with John Christian at the head of the field, but Nick Krause led the first lap as he took the lead from the outside of the front row. He held it for the first two laps, but a yellow flag was displayed on the third. The restart saw A.J. Filbeck take the lead away before another couple of cautions slowed things down. Both times, Filbeck was able to hold onto his lead after advances from Daryl Nutting. Two more yellows waved in the second half of the race, and this time, Filbeck could not hold on to the top spot as Matt Janczuk had navigated the field and started on the back bumper of the leader. He was able to take the lead and hold it for the rest of the race. Second belonged to Jason Rood, who was followed by Filbeck, Rocco Leone, and Rocky Warner.
Heath Carney and Tom Tophoven were the duo in front of the Open Sportsman field at the drop of the green flag, with both surrendering the lead to Claude Hutchings Jr. on the first lap, who came from sixth. The yellow came out on the third lap for a spinning machine on lap two, but Hutchings was still able to hold onto the lead on the restart. Another caution on lap seven slowed the field again, but Hutchings still hung on, even after Jack Miller tried to take the lead. Hutchings was able to drive away for the win, followed by Miller, Jeremy Vunk, Randy Shantel, and Steve Way.
The Pro Street Stocks feature was stalled by a caution on the first lap, but the restart saw Frank Hyatt take the lead after starting on the outside of the first row. He wasn’t able to keep it for long, however, as Mark Effner was charging to the front and took the lead on the third circuit. Behind him, Chris Carr was right there, trying to track down the leader using whatever line he could. With ten laps remaining, Car finally found the fastest way around and completed the pass for the top spot on the outside. Effner kept with him, however, followed closely by Mike Welch and Glenn Forward, who was reeling in the top three. A caution with three remaining grouped everybody together, putting Forward on the rear of the leader after he passed both Welch and Effner. Forward used the restart to his advantage, taking the lead on the outside. Another caution would slow the race once more, but Forward was able to hold and take the win, trailed by Car, Welch, Effner, and Travis Welch.
Next Sunday, August 16th, Carbone Auto Group and Gates-Cole Insurance present the Night of Legends, honoring former owner Gene Cole. The night features Twin 50s for the Stampede Steakhouse Modifieds, both paying $5,000. The GRIT Sportsman Series also join the card, racing for $1,000. Gates for the pits open at 3 p.m., and for the grandstands at 3:30 p.m. Racing starts at 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.uticaromespeedway.com or call (315) 829-4557.
DICK WATERMAN AND GATES-COLE INSURANCE NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES RACE SUMMARY
STAMPEDE STEAKHOUSE MODIFIEDS FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)-MATT SHEPPARD, Larry Wight, Stewart Friesen, Pat Ward, Vic Coffey, Matt Hulsizer, Rob Bellinger, Danny Varin, Tim Mayne, Chris Mackey, Mike Mahaney, Scott Huber, Joel Thomas, Bob Henry Jr., Mike Bowman, and Alan Johnson.
602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-MATT JANCZUK, Jason Rood, A.J. Filbeck, Rocco Leone, Rocky Warner, Kyle Kiehn, Brad Alger, Glenn Forward, Brent Joy, Casey Williams, Chris Cunningham, Alan Fink, John Baker, Stephen Denton, Cody Clark, Daryl Nutting, Nick Krause, John Christian, Corey Barker, and Aaron Jacobs. DNS- Beth Bellinger.
OPEN SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-CLAUDE HUTCHINGS JR., Jack Miller, Jeremy Vunk, Randy Shantel, Steve Way, Heath Carney, Craig Pope, Aaron Jacobs, Tom Tophoven, and Lucas Heintz.
PRO STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-GLENN FORWARD, Chris Carr, Mike Welch, Mark Effner, Travis Welch, Nick Stone, Ed Ostrander, A.J. Digsby, Gus Hollner, Bill Mason, Jim Thomas, Ernie Staelens, Mike Kazlauskas, Bill Trexler III, Frank Hyatt, Chuck Cushman, and Jerry Streeter.