Championship Clinched: Matt Sheppard Picks Up 10th Utica-Rome Victory of 2023

Written by Chris Moore

VERNON, NY – Championship clinched.

For the third consecutive season, Matt Sheppard clinched the 3 Bastards Brewing Modified Championship at Utica-Rome Speedway with his 10th win of the season on A-Verdi Storage Containers Night.

The Savannah, N.Y., resident raced from his 12th starting position to the lead just past the halfway mark and led the rest of the way in the nonstop 30-lap feature.

“Tonight, we had a really similar package to what we finished last year with,” Sheppard proclaimed of his racecar. “We’ve been working to get back to it after the past couple weeks of bad luck.”

With championship night coming next week, Sheppard’s holds a 102-point lead over Billy Decker in the standings, clinching the championship.

In the early going of the main event, Sheppard appeared bogged down at the back half of the top ten, while Fultonville, N.Y.’s JaMike Sowle stretched out his early advantage.

Sowle led with Canandaigua, N.Y.’s Alex Payne occupying the runner-up spot.

Behind the lead duo, Alan Barker, Bobby Hackel IV, and Alex Yankowski had a three-way battle going for the final podium spot.

10 laps into the race, the trio of cars had a new challenger for the third spot. Sheppard reeled in the three-car battle and quickly went to work.

On lap 13, Sheppard picked off all three cars to grab third. Barker, Yankowski, and Hackel all fought and scrambled for the outside groove, leaving the bottom open for Sheppard.

Sheppard rolled the bottom groove in turns one and two, driving off the corner and driving away with the third spot.

Attention quickly turned to the lead however, as Sowle had fallen into the clutches of Alex Payne while the pair battled through lap traffic.

Payne took the lead at the halfway mark, but his lead was short lived. Sheppard worked by JaMike Sowle for second, and two laps later he worked the inside groove to clear Payne for the lead.

Sheppard would cruise for the remaining 13 laps to a dominant victory.

Payne settled for second and Vernon, N.Y.’s Willy Decker charged late to round out the top three.

JaMike Sowle faded to fourth and Roscoe, N.Y.’s Michael Trautschold rounded out the top five.

Finishing sixth through tenth, respectively, were Unadilla, N.Y.’s Billy Decker; Covington Township, Pa.’s Alex Yankowski; East Greenbush, N.Y.’s Bobby Hackel IV; Norwich, N.Y.’s Alan Barker; and Johnstown, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner rounded out the top ten.

Durhamville, N.Y.’s Matt Janczuk topped his seventh consecutive Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman feature from the 12th starting position.

Janczuk drove around Allan Hodge just prior to the halfway point and drove away with the victory.

Sherburne, N.Y.’s Allan Hodge settled for second and Walton, N.Y.’s Blaine Klinger rounded out the podium from 10th.

South New Berlin, N.Y.’s Payton Talbot came home fourth and Vernon, N.Y.’s Willy Decker Jr. rounded out the top five.

For the first time since April of 2016, Little Falls, N.Y.’s Jim Normoyle was victorious with the Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks.

Despite numerous challenges from Luke Horning and A.J. Walters, Normoyle held firm to take the win.

Walters came home second and Jason Morrison rounded out the top three from 17th. Bret Belden and Andy Graves rounded out the top five.

Belden’s fourth-place finish secured the 2023 Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Championship, his first since 2001.

With one race left in the Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman division, New Berlin, N.Y.’s Zack Welch secured the 2023 Championship with his win on Friday night.

Welch chased down Carson Rothwell and got by him in the late stages to take the win.

Rothwell took home the runner-up spot and Johnny Feagles rounded out the podium finishers.

David Denova grabbed his first Fonda Fair Four Cylinders win of the season in Dual Cam action and Rudy King Jr., driving Hank Wedgren’s Single Cam car, won the Single Cam portion of the event.

King Jr. was crowned the Dual Cam champion and Wayne Russell Jr. took home the Single Cam Championship.

Brett Putnam won the Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshot Feature and the championship while Bodie Marks topped the Junior Slingshot feature.

Trevor Houghton, who finished fifth, was crowned the Junior Slingshot Champion.

Racing continues tomorrow, Sept. 3, as the Moteloc LLC. presents the ‘New Yorker.’ The Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco is in town for Round No. 2 of the Ollie’s Elite Series and Round No. 9 of the River Valley Builders North Region.

The STSS Modifieds go for 50-laps and a $12,000 top prize.

Also on the card are the Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman, Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks, Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshots and Junior Slingshots (non-points).

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.


3 Bastards Brewing Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Alex Payne, Willy Decker, JaMike Sowle, Michael Trautschold, Billy Decker, Alex Yankowski, Bobby Hackel IV, Alan Barker, Rocky Warner, Andy Bachetti, Alan Johnson, Pat Ward, Randy Shantel, Ron Holmes, Tim Mayne, J.R. Hurlburt, Aaron Jacobs, Jim Becker, Tanner Van Doren, Jason Reome, Jeremy Slosek, Jim Walsh, Justin Wright.

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

Did Not Start: Dale Corbett, Kyle Dingman

Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): JIM NORMOYLE, A.J. Walters, Jason Morrison, Bret Belden, Andy Graves, Luke Horning, Randy Cosselman, Hunter Keith, George Cushman, Ken Griffin, Mike Kazlauskas, Jerry Streeter, Mike Keith, Gus Gould, Ed Kotary, Michael Achzet, Matt Rose, Johnny Holmes, Ivan Joslin.

Did Not Start: Dalton Szewczyk

2023 Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Champion: BRET BELDEN

Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman (20 laps): ZACK WELCH, Carson Rothwell, Johnny Feagles, Bobby Newman, Tyler Bobar, Nick Zielinski, Kolton Weiler, Hunter Tarbania, Dylan Piersall, Eric Jensen, Matt Bukovan, Kennedy Payne, Zach Falciani, Lance Hill, Maddy Broedel, Aaron Page, Mike Hill, Ernie Staelens, Chris Kugler, Brad Poppleton.

Did Not Start: Jeff Bobilin, Spencer Noyes

Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Feature Finish (12 laps): DAVID DENOVA (DOHC), Jeff Weeks, Jacob Kimball, Kamrin Krause, Kerrie Hollenbeck, Rudy King Jr. (SOHC), Ken Hollenbeck, Austin Weeks, Robert Burch, Sophia Denova, Kyle Coley, Hank Wedgren Jr., Dan Valade, Jacob Jipson.

Did Not Start: Hank Wedgren, T.J. Marlitt, Wayne Russell Jr.

2023 Fonda Four Cylinder Champions: RUDY KING JR. (DOHC) & WAYNE RUSSELL JR. (SOHC)

Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshot Feature Finish (20 laps): BRETT PUTNAM, Chris Darrow, Tadd Granger, Dan Slosek, Nicholas Jenkins, Kevin Loveless, Kyle Rogers, Corbyn White, Jason Dufel, Paul Holic, Bill Trexler Sr., Scott Sprague.

2023 Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshot Champion: BRETT PUTNAM

Junior Slingshot Feature Finish (15 laps): BODIE MARKS, Blake Banek, Chase Spoor, Sullivan Dickey, Trevor Houghton, Jayden Wust, Preston Trautschold, Ayden Goodier, Brody Janczuk, Ayna Sarpriacone.

2023 Junior Slingshot Champion: TREVOR HOUGHTON  

Algonkin Motel Hard Luck Award: Paul Holic