STSS Race Day at Utica-Rome: Richie Evans 61 Storylines, Stars & Sleepers

Written by Chris Moore

VERNON, NY – Richie Evans Race Day!

Tonight, Utica-Rome Speedway takes center stage with the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco in town to help honor the late, great Richie Evans.

The ‘Home of Heroes’ hosts the third annual ‘Richie Evans Remembered 61’ under STSS sanctioning. Tonight’s 61-lap feature event rewards the winner a cool $6,100 payday.

The 61-lap shootout represents Round No. 6 of the River Valley Builders North Region $15,000 championship chase.


There is no bigger storyline than the appearance of NASCAR Cup Star Ross Chastain behind the wheel of a Matt Sheppard-owned racecar, making his Northeast Modified debut.

The stars of the STSS North Region take on Chastain in their second event of the week, fresh off a 50-lap affair at Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway on Monday, July 17.

Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard won the ‘Firecracker 50’ on Monday at Fonda, extending his lead in the title chase to 51 markers over the rest of the field.


Sheppard will look to pick up where he left off, heading into the speedway he calls home on Friday nights. Sheppard has six wins to his credit this season at Utica-Rome, including a win last Friday night.

Sprakers, N.Y.’s Stewart Friesen entered the 2023 season as the all-time winningest driver in the Modified division at Utica-Rome before Sheppard’s hot start to the year unseated him. Friesen’s last appearance at the Route 5 oval saw him conquer Sheppard and the field in the ‘Bill Shea Memorial’ at the end of June.

Unadilla, N.Y.’s Billy Decker has seen an uptick over the last month at Utica-Rome Speedway. Decker nearly outdueled Sheppard just two weeks ago, but ultimately came up short. He’s finished in the top three in each of the last three races at the ‘Home of Heroes.’


Canandaigua, N.Y.’s Alex Payne has joined the Utica-Rome Speedway Friday night faithful in 2023. Payne already has a win to his credit this season and sits fifth in Friday night points.

Willy Decker has consistently run in the top five over the last month of racing action at Utica-Rome Speedway. The Vernon, N.Y., resident is on the brink of a breakthrough victory and hitting his stride just in time for the ‘Richie Evans Remembered.’

Justin Wright, like Decker, has seen his speed increase over the last couple of weeks. Wright has finished fourth and third in each of the last two Friday night features. The York, N.Y., driver is looking to parlay that speed into an upset Thursday night victory.


The STSS Crate 602 Sportsman will also be in action on Thursday night, racing around the half-mile oval for a $2,061 payday. The 30-lap affair serves as Round No. 5 of the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region.

Upper Makefield, Pa.’s Joe Toth heads the North Region class by 21 points over Spencertown, N.Y.’s Dylan Madsen. Ballston Spa, N.Y.’s Derrick McGrew Jr. rounds out the top three, 43 points out of first.

The Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshots and Junior Slingshots round out the Thursday night affair on the inner oval.


Next Tuesday and Wednesday (July 25 & 26), the STSS visits Canada for the first time ever at Autodrome Granby and Le RPM Speedway for a pair of $10,000to-win main events.


Don’t forget to set your Dirt Draft lineups before the night’s first heat race begins.

Visit or download the app to join Dirt Draft and compete against thousands of others for the entire 2023 STSS season. A subscription is just $5.99 a month with plenty of prizes up for grabs in the Dirt Draft Speed Shop.

Following along with the STSS on Dirt Draft throughout the ‘23 season will pay one lucky fan dividends at year-end.

The STSS Dirt Draft Champion receives two tickets to the STSS year-end banquet and will be honored with a custom trophy presented by Dirt Draft.


Grandstand admission is $28. Seniors (ages 65 and up) pay $26. Kids 11 and under are FREE.

Pit admission is $45 (ages 13 and up), $40 (NASCAR or Utica-Rome Member), $10 for Kids (ages 6-12) and $2 for Children (ages 5 and under).

Gates open at 4 p.m., with hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and racing at 7:15 p.m.

Utica-Rome Speedway is located at 5591 NY-5 (Seneca Turnpike) Vernon, NY 13476. The official website is and the speedway can be reached by phone at 315.953.4097.  Like Utica-Rome Speedway on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @UR_Speedway.

Utica-Rome Speedway is a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series facility.

To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit, e-mail, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.

The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, FloSports, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Rent Equip/Party Central, BDR Speed, Bicknell Racing Products, Ollie’s, Penske Racing Shocks, Wegner Automotive, River Valley Builders, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, DIG Race Products, Velocita-USA, Franklin Products, Design for Vision & Sunglass Central, Belmont’s Garage, Quality Drywall, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, Prime MAC Tools, F.X. Caprara Car Companies, Algonkin Motel, Beyea Custom Headers, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH, Electric Neon Custom Signs, Fastline Performance, Flach Performance Products, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, Schultz Racing Fuel Cells, Spyder Filters, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO & Wilwood.


July 21, 2022 – MATT SHEPPARD – Stewart Friesen – Rocky Warner – Mat Williamson – Jimmy Phelps

July 22, 2021 – STEWART FRIESEN – Matt Sheppard – Rocky Warner – Mat Williamson – Alan Johnson