Riding the Wave: Matt Sheppard Rolls to $3,000 Utica-Rome Victory

Written by Chris Moore

VERNON, NY – Ride the wave.

That’s exactly what Matt Sheppard continues to do, as he clicked off another 3 Bastards Brewing Modified victory at Utica-Rome Speedway on Algonkin Motel/Slade Automotive and Friendly Family of Dealerships night.

Sheppard came from the 11th starting position and got by Alan Johnson at the completion of the 11th lap to take the lead for good and cruise to the ‘Dog Days of Summer Special’ $3,000 victory.

“The track tonight reminded me a lot of how it was last year,” Sheppard explained. “Sure, as heck it was, and this racecar came to life on it.”

The win was the ninth of the 2023 campaign for Sheppard at Utica-Rome Speedway, moving his career total to 69 at the ‘Home of Heroes.’

When the green flag dropped, Mexico, N.Y.’s Addison Bowman and Middlesex, N.Y.’s Alan Johnson occupied the front row.

Johnson raced off the outside of the front row to take the lead, before the race’s first caution flew quickly for Ron Holmes, whose seatbelts popped loose, causing to stop to bring out a yellow.

On the next green flag run, Sheppard began to make his presence known, as he was moving through the top 10, while Canandaigua, N.Y.’s Alex Payne was trying to close in on Alan Johnson for the lead.

Sheppard slipped Addison Bowman for sixth on lap six, then by Willy Decker on lap seven for fifth, and then slid up in front of Rocky Warner for fourth on lap eight.

The race’s final yellow fell on lap nine as Bobby Hackel IV had spun before getting clipped by a passing Tanner Van Doren and giving him damage to end his night.

Sheppard wasted no time on the restart, following the leader Alan Johnson around the outside of second and third place Alex Payne and Pat Ward and moving into the runner-up spot.

Sheppard got by Johnson on the following lap and took the lead with 19 laps remaining.

With Sheppard out in front, Vernon, N.Y.’s Willy Decker found the fast way around the bottom of the speedway and began marching his way forward.

Along with Decker, Alex Yankowski – who started 19th – was racing his way through the field in impressive fashion.

Decker got by Payne, Pat Ward, and Alan Johnson, all on the bottom groove, and began to run away with the runner-up spot.

Yankowski on the other hand, was going high and low to maneuver through traffic, making his way into third in the final stages of the race.

With the final 21 laps clicking off without a hitch Sheppard cruised to a dominant victory in his Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply No. 9s.

Willy Decker came home second in the JSD Express No. 1x and Covington Township, Pa.’s Alex Yankowski rounded out the podium from 19th in his family-owned No. 84y.

Unadilla, N.Y.’s Billy Decker quietly raced to fourth in the late stages in his Jeremy Smith Racing No. 91 and Johnstown, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner came home fifth aboard the Jason Simmons Racing No. 98.

Finishing sixth through tenth, respectively, were Alan Johnson in the Mark Spoor Racing No. 14j; Pat Ward in his Beyea Custom Headers No. 42p; Sheffield, Mass. native Andy Bachetti grabbed eighth after starting 14th; Roscoe, N.Y.’s Michael Trautschold took home ninth in the QFM LLC No. 28; and York, N.Y.’s Justin Wright rounded out the top-10 in his family-owned No. 19w.

Durhamville, N.Y.’s Matt Janczuk, not to be outdone, came from the 12th starting position to grab his fifth consecutive Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman victory.

With the win, Janczuk also takes the lead in the Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman division over Payton Talbot, who had mechanical issues with three laps remaining.

Lysander, N.Y.’s David Hackett came home second and Walton, N.Y.’s Blaine Klinger rounded out the top three.

Mike Richmond and Blake Sarpriacone rounded out the top five.

In the first of two Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks features, Rotterdam, N.Y.’s Nick Stone used a last lap, last turn pass to beat Tom Denton to the line for the victory.

The win was the makeup feature from last week’s rain shortened program. Stone came from last in a wild feature to take the win on the final lap.

Denton, Josh Coonradt, Bret Belden, and A.J. Walters were the top five.

In the second feature, Gloversville, N.Y.’s Luke Horning dominated the 20-lap affair for his first Utica-Rome Speedway in over three years.

Stone completed a solid night with a runner-up finish, while A.J. Walters, Bret Belden, and Ken Griffin rounded out the top five.

Middleburgh, N.Y.’s Connor Prokop returned to Victory Lane with the Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman after starting in ninth.

Prokop took advantage of a mistake by Carson Rothwell to take the lead and the victory.

Tyler Bobar and Zack Welch rounded out the podium finishers.

Rudy King Jr. got his fourth Fonda Fair Four Cylinders win in the Dual Cam portion of the event while Len St. Andrews was first time winner in the Single Cam portion.

On the inner oval, Brett Putnam put on another impressive performance for the Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshots victory and Trevor Houghton took home the Junior Slingshot triumph.

Racing continues next Saturday, August 19 with the Tezos All-Star Circuit of Champions 410 Sprint Cars in town on Scenic View Campground/Christian Fabrications and Broedel Energy night at the ‘Home of Heroes.’ Along with the All-Stars, the F.X. Caprara Car Companies Thunder on the Thruway Series concludes as the 3 Bastards Brewing Modifieds, Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman, and Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks are all in action to round out the six-race miniseries.

Utica-Rome Speedway is located at 5591 NY-5 (Seneca Turnpike) Vernon, NY 13476. The official website is www.uticaromespeedway.com 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.


‘Dog Days of Summer Special’ 3 Bastards Brewing Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Willy Decker, Alex Yankowski, Billy Decker, Rocky Warner, Alan Johnson, Pat Ward, Andy Bachetti, Michael Trautschold, Justin Wright, Addison Bowman, JaMike Sowle, Tanner Van Doren, Ron Holmes, Randy Shantel, Jim Becker, Aaron Jacobs, Alex Payne, Bobby Hackel IV, Tim Mayne, Alan Barker, Joel Thomas.

Did Not Start: Jeremy Slosek, Jim Walsh

Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): MATT JANCZUK, David Hackett, Blaine Klinger, Mike Richmond, Blake Sarpriacone, Jeremy Slosek, Jim Nagle, Willy Decker Jr., Chip Constantino, Stephen Denton, Matthew Richardson, Ed Lukas, David Dickey, Shawn Frost, E.J. Gallup, Mike Loney, Allan Hodge, Jim Rothwell, Josh Amodio, Seth Martin, Bobby Heintz, Payton Talbot, Ed Downing, Stephen Gray.

Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): LUKE HORNING, Nick Stone, A.J. Walters, Bret Belden, Ken Griffin, Johnny Holmes, George Cushman, Hunter Keith, Tim Wood, Ed Kotary, Matt Rose, Andy Graves, Tom Denton, Gus Gould, Dalton Szewczyk, Josh Coonradt, Kyle Money.

Did Not Start: Jason Morrison, Jim Normoyle, Jerry Streeter

Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Make-Up Feature Finish (20 laps): NICK STONE, Tom Denton, Josh Coonradt, Bret Belden, A.J. Walters, George Cushman, Tim Wood, Johnny Holmes, Gus Gould, Andy Graves, Matt Rose, Kyle Money, Ed Kotary, Jason Morrison, Hunter Keith, Luke Horning, Jerry Streeter, Dalton Szewczyk, Ken Griffin, Jim Normoyle.

Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman (20 laps): CONNOR PROKOP, Tyler Bobar, Zack Welch, Andrew MacFadden, Nick Zielinski, Eric Jensen, Johnny Feagles, Kennedy Payne, Kolton Weiler, Carson Rothwell, Eymarah Bowman, Hunter Tarbania, Ernie Staelens, Matt Bukovan, Mike Haman, Brad Poppleton, Maddy Broedel, Dalton Doyle, Bobby Newman, Aaron Page.

Did Not Start: Corky Warner

Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Feature Finish (12 laps): RUDY KING JR. (DOHC), David Denova, Sophia Denova, Len St. Andrews (SOHC), Hayleigh Gates, Hank Wedgren, T.J. Marlitt, Hank Wedgren Jr., Wayne Russell Jr., Kyle Coley, Jacob Jipson, Jean Foster.

Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshot Feature Finish (20 laps): BRETT PUTNAM, Chris Darrow, Corky Warner, Nicholas Jenkins, Tadd Granger, Scott Sprague, Paul Holic, Jason Dufel, Kevin Loveless, Corbyn White.

Junior Slingshot Feature Finish (15 laps): TREVOR HOUGHTON, Bodie Marks, Blake Banek, Sullivan Dickey, Jakoby Thompson, Jayden Wust, Preston Trautschold, Brody Janczuk, Ayna Sarpriacone, Ayden Goodier, Chase Spoor.  

Algonkin Motel Hard Luck Award: Jim Normoyle