LARRY WIGHT AND MATT SHEPPARD SPLIT TWIN 50 LAP FEATURES ON UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY’S NIGHT OF LEGENDS
VERNON, NY(August 16 ,2015)- On a night that honored former owner Gene Cole as a part of the Night of Legends, both Larry Wight and Matt Sheppard took home $5,000 paychecks as they both won one of the two 50 lap main events. It was Wight’s third win of the season and Sheppard’s eighth. Rocky Warner was the other big winner on the night, being victorious in the GRIT Sportsman series feature that paid $1,000. The night’s activities were sponsored by Carbone Auto Group and Gate-Cole Insurance.
The first of two 50 lap Stampede Steakhouse Modified feature events rolled onto the speedway with current point leader Matt Sheppard and defending track champion Stewart Friesen on the front row. Sheppard used his pole position to dive to the bottom of the speedway, allowing him to pull from Friesen at the start. Friesen tried the top side, but the leader was too fast and started to pull away. This allowed Larry Wight, who started a row behind Friesen, to catch the runner in second and begin a battle that would last nearly ten laps, as both drivers tried different grooves to try and get the advantage over the other. Wight finally got the best of the battle with the first ten of the laps complete, then setting his sights on the leading Sheppard. Sheppard had adjusted his line and began sliding up the track to the cushion through the turns, so Wight dropped to the bottom and tried to work his way below the leader. On lap 12, however, Sheppard slowed coming out of turn 2 and limped down the backstretch, causing a yellow. As Sheppard pulled into the pits, he handed the lead to Wight, with Friesen right behind him.
The restart was stalled by another yellow, but when everything went green again, Wight stuck to the bottom line as Friesen looked to the top. Just like with Sheppard, however, Friesen couldn’t catch Wight on the bottom and switched to following the leader’s groove. Behind him, Mike Mahaney was going back and forth with another regular Tim Fuller for the final podium spot, with both Billy Decker and Alan Johnson gaining ground after starting in 15th and 19th, respectively. Brett Hearn wasn’t far behind, driving from 12th. With 20 remaining, the top ten behind Wight and Friesen was in flux, with battles in twos and threes around the speedway.
As 40 laps went in the books, Decker had worked past Mahaney and was catching Fuller, with Hearn and Johnson hot on his heels. The four of them fought for the final podium spot as Friesen was slowly closing in on the leading Wight. Wight was working his way around lap traffic, giving Friesen the opportunity to close the distance and pull within five car lengths with a handful of laps left. Friesen once again tried a lane higher than Wight, but the leader would not give up the top spot, holding on to the faster line. Decker won the battle behind them for third, and was trying to erase the distance when the final caution of the race came out for a slow car in the west end of the speedway. The last drop of the green came with two to go, and Wight got an excellent restart while Friesen lost ground. Wight was able to lead the rest of the way, but Decker fought by Friesen on the final lap for second. With Friesen in the final podium spot, Johnson and Hearn followed in the top five. Fuller, Mahaney, Marc Johnson, Sheppard, and Danny Varin trailed.
With all of the cars on the lead lap inverted for the second 50 lap Modified feature, Danny Johnson started on the pole with Mike Bowman on the outside. Danny Johnson took the lead on the first lap, but Bowman wasn’t letting him run away with the lead as he stuck with him on the outside. Decker came to a stop on the backstretch on the second circuit, slowing the field as he made his way to the pits. The restart saw Bowman take the lead before a second yellow flew for Pat Ward slowing in turn four. This time, Danny Johnson regained his lead on the bottom. He was starting to build himself a lead when Sheppard, who started 16th due to the invert, was finding his way to the front after having issues in the first feature. He used the bottom to get to the front, and then jumped to the top when he caught Johnson and tried to take the lead. Johnson couldn’t hold the lead, and gave it to Sheppard on the 10th circuit.
Johnson fell back to second, but behind him the field was beginning to shuffle as five cars were vying for the same spots in the top five. Chad Brachmann was the fastest car out of a group that included Hearn and Mahaney, taking third and closing in on the pole sitter. Johnson was running the bottom, so Brachmann decided to take his machine through the middle of the speedway. Making it stick, Brachmann took over the second spot, but Sheppard was long gone, having built a lead that stretched a straightaway. Brachmann was able to string together some laps that were faster than the leader’s, but they weren’t enough to eat into the distance that Sheppard had created. With Sheppard running away with the win, Brachmann took second, followed by Danny Johnson, Mahaney, and Hearn. The top ten was rounded out by Decker, Friesen, Ryan Phelps, Marc Johnson, and Chris Hile.
Brad Alger and Robert Bublak led the 602 Sportsman to the green flag for their $1,000 to win feature event. Alger led the first lap using his starting position on the pole, but A.J. Filbeck passed for the lead after starting a row back from the front. He was followed by Matt Janczuk, who started to his outside. Further back in the pack, Rocky Warner, who started in 11th, was navigating his way through the field as he began a charge to the front. With the first third of the race complete, Warner had passed half of the that started in front of him and didn’t show any signs of slowing down. Filbeck, at the front, was still the fastest car on the track, driving clear of the pack with Janczuk behind.
A caution halfway to the checkered deleted the lead that Filbeck had created, instead giving cars behind him a chance to make something happen. Warner was the one to make the most of restart, charging from sixth to fourth in the matter of a lap, taking third another lap later. He then began to work over Janczuk, who clung to the bottom of the racing surface, forcing Warner to move higher on the speedway. He was able to make it work, however, and was in possession of the runner up spot with 17 laps complete. Filbeck had once again made distance between himself and the rest of the top five, but Warner was eating away at the lead as the feature entered the final ten laps. Warner was able to catch the leading Filbeck, but couldn’t get a strong enough run on the bottom to completely take over the spot, with Filbeck edging him out lap after lap. Getting a run off the backstretch, Warner tried once more to carry his momentum along the bottom and take the lead with three to go, getting just enough to sneak by and grab the top spot. From there, Warner took the win. Filbeck and Janczuk filled out the podium, with Eric Giguere, Rocco Leone, and Jason Rood trailing.
Next Sunday Excell Motorsports and Mirabito Fuel Group presents Autograph Night, along with a regular show of Stampede Steakhouse Modifieds, 602 Sportsman, Open Sportsman, and Pro Street Stocks. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. and racing starts at 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.uticaromespeedway.com or call (315) 829-4557.
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES RACE SUMMARY
STAMPEDE STEAKHOUSE MODIFIEDS FEATURE FINISH #1 (50 LAPS)-LARRY WIGHT, Billy Decker, Stewart Friesen, Alan Johnson, Brett Hearn, Tim Fuller, Mike Mahaney, Marc Johnson, Matt Sheppard, Danny Varin, Ryan Phelps, Chris Hile, Matt Hulsizer, Ronnie Johnson, Chad Brachmann, Chris Mackey, Rob Bellinger, Mike Bowman, Danny Johnson, Ryan Bartlett, Ryan Arbuthnot, Tim Mayne, Vic Coffey, Pat Ward, and Jack Miller.
STAMPEDE STEAKHOUSE MODIFIEDS FEATURE FINISH #2 (50 LAPS)-MATT SHEPPARD, Chad Brachmann, Danny Johnson, Mike Mahaney, Brett Hearn, Billy Decker, Stewart Friesen, Ryan Phelps, Marc Johnson, Alan Johnson, Chris Hile, Danny Varin, Larry Wight, Tim Fuller, Mike Bowman, Rob Bellinger, Ryan Arbuthnot, Matt Hulsizer, Steve Way, Tim Mayne, Jack Miller, Ronnie Johnson, Chris Mackey, Ryan Bartlett, and Pat Ward. DNS- Vic Coffey.
Did Not Qualify: Steve Way, Rob Pitcher, Jimmy Davis, Bodie Bellinger, John Lutes Jr., Joel Thomas, Don Slover, Jeff Rockefeller, Andrew Ferguson, Claude Hutchings Jr., Pete Taylor, Jim Walsh, and C.J. Castelleti.
602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-ROCKY WARNER, A.J. Filbeck, Matt Janczuk, Eric Giguere, Rocco Leone, Jason Rood, Corey Barker, Cody Clark, Brent Joy, Robert Bublak, Glenn Forward, Casey Williams, Casey Pavlick, Daryl Nutting, Kyle Kiehn, Alan Fink, Nick Guererri Andrew Buff, Scott Duell, Stephen Denton, Bobby Hackel IV, Jack Gentile, Chris Cunningham, Nick Webb, Brad Alger, John Christian, and Chris Johnson.