Business as Usual: Sheppard Pockets $12,000 Elite Series Victory at Utica-Rome

Written by Chris Moore

VERNON, NY – Business as usual.

With the biggest stars in Modified racing invading Utica-Rome Speedway, Matt Sheppard shined brightest of them all, claiming his 11th Utica-Rome Speedway victory of the season.

The $12,000 ‘New Yorker’ victory came with the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco in town for Round No. 2 of the Ollie’s ‘Elite’ Series and Round No. 9 of the River Valley Builders North Region.

The win extended Sheppard’s advantage in the North Region to a 121-point advantage over Mat Williamson and now makes him two-for-two in ‘Elite’ Series races after his triumph at Middletown, N.Y.’s Orange County Fair Speedway back in April.

“We really had a phenomenal year at Utica-Rome,” Sheppard spoke in Bicknell Racing Products Victory Lane. “We really wanted to cap it off in style tonight.”

Sheppard came from the fourth starting position following the Beyea Custom Headers Redraw, with Baldwinsville, N.Y.’s Jimmy Phelps and Roscoe, N.Y.’s Michael Trautschold on the front row.

At the drop of the green flag, it was Trautschold off the outside of the front row quickly gaining the lead and Sheppard moving into the runner-up spot.

The race’s first yellow flag came with four laps complete, giving Sheppard a restart alongside the leader. When the field went back to racing, Sheppard hung with Trautschold, throwing a slide job entering the third turn and taking the spot away.

One lap later, Unadilla, N.Y.’s Billy Decker made his presence known, racing into the runner-up position after starting in third.

With Decker chasing Sheppard up front, Canandaigua, N.Y.’s Alex Payne became the driver to watch. The youngster fell to seventh on the initial green flag, before charging toward the front using the outside groove.

Payne sailed around the likes of Rocky Warner, Andy Bachetti, and Phelps to get to the fourth spot and setting his sights on Trautschold for the final podium spot.

At the completion of lap 12, Payne found himself in third and trying to pace with the leaders as they began to enter some lap traffic.

Payne wasn’t the only driver on the move however, as Johnstown, N.Y.’s Warner began to follow Payne around the topside and followed him to the fourth position.

As laps continued to click away, Billy Decker was beginning to challenge for the lead at the front of the field.

“I definitely felt more comfortable around the middle to top lanes,” Sheppard explained of the lap traffic. “Every time there was car on the top, it definitely hindered me.”

Decker was looking to take advantage of the hindrance, moving closer to Sheppard every time the No. 9S lost pace in traffic.

As the leaders completed lap 24, they were three-wide, sandwiched around a slower car while battling for the lead.

Ultimately, Sheppard prevailed and began to stretch out his advantage over Decker again, seemingly finding another gear when Decker showed his nose.

Despite a late-race restart, Sheppard was unchallenged in the end, continuing his dominant form in the Northeast.

Decker would settle for the runner-up spot.

“Matt’s been supersonic here all year,” Decker proclaimed. “But I’m very happy with our racecar and race team, we were really good tonight.”

Warner rounded out the podium finishers in the Jason Simmons Racing No. 98.

“It was the best the car has been all year,” Warner smiled. “We made a bunch of changes tonight and they worked for us.”

Sheffield, Mass., driver Andy Bachetti rebounded from near disaster after contact with Payne around the midway point to claim fourth and Phelps raced his way back into the top five.

Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Guilderland, N.Y.’s Marc Johnson who came from the 11th starting position in the S&S Asphalt Paving No. 9; Trautschold in his QFM LLC No. 28; Covington Township, Pa.’s Alex Yankowski who charged from the 17th starting position; Alex Payne, who faded late in the race for ninth; and St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada’s Mat Williamson, who rounded out the top-10 after collecting the Beyea Custom Headers Redraw bonus for picking 12 in the redraw.

15-lap Qualifier winners, receiving $50 each from FloRacing, were Sheppard, Alan Johnson, Decker, and Bachetti.

Forty-seven STSS big-block/small-block Modifieds signed in to compete in the ‘New Yorker.’

In support division action, Jim Normoyle won his second consecutive Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks feature, leading all 20-laps for the $1,250 victory thanks to a purse boost courtesy of Travis and Ashley Welch.

After snapping a seven-plus year winless drought, Normoyle capped off the Utica-Rome Speedway season with two straight wins.

2023 Pro Stock champion Bret Belden came home second and West Winfield, N.Y.’s Kenny Gates rounded out the podium.

Johnny Feagles won the extra distance Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman race, taking home the $750 payday, which was also increased courtesy of Travis and Ashley Welch.

Feagles took the lead on an early race restart and sailed away with the top spot. Zack Welch and Connor Prokop, who started last, rounded out the top three.

Dan Slosek topped the Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshot feature and Chase Spoor got his second Junior Slingshot win of the season.

Racing continues in just under two weeks (Thurs.-Sat., Sept. 14-16) for the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series. Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway hosts the ‘Fonda 200’ in the biggest modified race of the year. The three-day weekend culminates in the 200-lap, $53,000-to-win main event for the STSS Modifieds.

The event serves as the 10th Round of the River Valley Builders North Region and the 3rd Round of the Ollie’s ‘Elite’ Series.

The STSS Crate 602 Sportsman join the Saturday portion for Round No. 6 of the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region.

Utica-Rome Speedway concludes its season this Friday, Sept. 8 with the continuation of the August 4 program. Features will be run for the 3 Bastards Brewing Modifieds, Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman, Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman, and the Empire 360 Super Sprints.

The Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshots, Junior Slingshots, and the Winged Champ Racing Series will all join the program on the inner oval.

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.

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.


‘New Yorker 50’ Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Ollie’s Elite Series Round No. 2 Feature Finish (50 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Billy Decker, Rocky Warner, Andy Bachetti, Jimmy Phelps, Marc Johnson, Michael Trautschold, Alex Yankowski, Alex Payne, Mat Williamson, Alan Johnson, Bobby Hackel, Danny Johnson, Dave Marcuccilli, Willy Decker, Larry Wight, Michael Maresca, Ronnie Johnson, Erick Rudolph, Mike Mahaney, Max McLaughlin, Danny Bouc, Danny Varin, Dillon Steuer, JaMike Sowle, J.R. Hurlburt, Chris Curtis, Francois Bernier, Dave Constantino, Steve Bernier, Pat Ward

Did Not Qualify: Tim Fuller, Dylan Scribner, Will Shields, Ajay Potrzebowski, II., Ryan Odasz, Tim Mayne, Matt Janiak, Ron Holmes, Darren Smith, Tanner Van Doren, Tyler Jashembowski, Derek Bornt, Randy Shantel, Nick Mady, Shawn McPhee, Daniel Morgiewicz, Jr.

American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificate): Marc Johnson (sixth) & Dave Marcuccillli (14th)
BDR Speed Hard Charger Bonus ($250): Bobby Hackel (23rd to 12th)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Andy Bachetti (fourth) & Alex Payne (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Mat Williamson (Redrew 12th)
EIBACH Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Marc Johnson (sixth)
FloRacing Qualifying Race Winner ($50): Matt Sheppard, Alan Johnson, Billy Decker, Andy Bachetti
Henry’s Exhaust Power Position ($50 Certificate): Alan Johnson (11th)
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Matt Sheppard (first – $150 certificate); Billy Decker (second – $75 certificate); Rocky Warner (third – $50 certificate); Mat Williamson (10th – $25 certificate)
Schultz Fuel Cells Bonus ($100 Certificate): Mat Williamson (10th)
Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader Bonus ($200): Matt Sheppard
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($100 Certificate): Michael Trautschold (seventh)

Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): JIM NORMOYLE, Bret Belden, Ken Gates, Jason Morrison, Ivan Joslin, Hunter Keith, George Cushman, Randy Cosselman, Gus Gould, Johnny Holmes, Mike Kazlauskas, Matt Rose, Mike Keith, Ed Kotary, AJ Walters

Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman Feature Finish (30 laps): JONNY FEAGLES, Zack Welch, Connor Prokop, Nick Ventura, Josh Coonradt, Nick Zielinski, Bobby Newman, Tyler Bobar, Eymarah Bowman, Dennis Wischman, Andrew MacFadden, Jeff Bobilin, Hunter Tarbania, Maddy Broedel, Kolton Wiler, Dalton Doyle, Lance Hill

Disqualified: Kennedy Payne

Fastline Performance Bonuses ($100 Certificates): Jonny Feagles (first), Zack Welch (second), Connor Prokop (third), Nick Ventura (fourth) & Josh Coonradt (fifth)

Senior Services Inc. Allstar Slingshot Feature Finish (20 laps): DAN SLOSEK, Paul Holic, Ayden Goodier, Nicholas Jenkins, Kevin Loveless

Junior Slingshot Feature Finish (15 laps): CHASE SPOOR, Trevor Houghton, Jayden Wust, Preston Trautschold, Jakoby Thompson, Blake Banek, Brody Janczuk, Addisyn Roger