High Side Hustlin’ Puts Matt Sheppard in Utica-Rome Victory Lane Friday

Written by Chris Moore

VERNON, NY – High side hustlin’.

For the third consecutive week, Matt Sheppard topped the 3 Bastards Brewing Modified feature at Utica-Rome Speedway.

This time, Sheppard used the extreme outside to race from the 12th starting position to take the lead on lap 24 for the victory.

“The track is a lot different this year,” Sheppard proclaimed. “It’s been really slick and we’re still working on our package to get better.

“I found a little bit of speed on the top side,” the Savannah, N.Y., resident continued. “It seemed like nobody else was up there and it worked out for us.”

With Sheppard rolling from the sixth row, Unadilla, N.Y.’s Brandon Walters and Oneida, N.Y.’s Randy Shantel made up the front row.

Walters raced out to the early lead, but Shantel wasn’t deterred from chasing after the leader.

After the race’s only yellow fell on lap one, Shantel reeled back in on Walters and made a move around him to take the lead away on lap 10.

Two laps later, however, Walters found another gear and cleared Shantel again for the lead and began to set sail.

Meanwhile, Sheppard’s charge began on lap 10, picking off one position at a time until he reached seventh on the 12th circuit.

The driver of the No. 9S moved to sixth on lap 14 and then picked off two cars at once to get to fourth at the halfway point.

“I made the one big move when I got a run off of (turn) two and was able to get two cars at once,” Sheppard explained.

From there, the chase was on for Sheppard, moving into third on lap 18, racing around Willy Decker and then Randy Shantel one lap later for the runner-up spot.

By the time Sheppard moved into second, the difference between the lead duo was nearly three seconds and multiple lap cars.

Despite the healthy gap, Sheppard reeled in Brandon Walters and made the pass for the lead and the win with six laps to go.

Walters settled for the runner-up position and York, N.Y.’s Justin Wright rounded out the podium after starting in eighth.

Johnstown, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner came home fourth aboard the Jason Simmons Racing No. 98 and Randy Shantel completed the top five in his best finish of the season in his number No. 97.

Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Fultonville, N.Y.’s JaMike Sowle in the Carol and Alton Palmer owned No. 76; Covington Township, Pa.’s Alex Yankowski in his family-owned No. 84y; Roscoe, Pa.’s Michael Trautschold in his Quality Forestry Management No. 28T; Vernon, N.Y.’s Willy Decker in his self-owned No. 1X; and Sprakers, N.Y.’s Jessica Friesen in her One Zee Tee’s No. 1Z.

Friesen, Sowle, and Decker claimed the three heat races for the twenty-five car field.

Oneida, N.Y.’s Matt Janczuk won his second consecutive Taylor’s Trailers Crate 602 Sportsman feature, gapping the field by just over six seconds.

After a series of early yellows, Janczuk picked his way to the front from 12th and set sail in the latter part of the race for the victory.

John DuMond, Allan Hodge, Payton Talbot, and Ed Lukas rounded out the top five.

A.J. Walters joined Janczuk as back-to-back winners, in the Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks division.

Walters came from eighth, emerging from a multi-car battle with Bret Belden, Jim Normoyle, and Shane Playford for the victory.

Playford was the runner-up, with Belden, Normoyle, and Ivan Joslin rounding out the top five.

The M2 Metal Crate Late Models were on hand for their first of two appearances in 2024.

Penfield, N.Y.’s Chad Homan, who won both of the Crate Late Model features at Utica-Rome in 2021, dominated the 20-lap affair, lapping up to third place.

Austin Allen and Rob Pitcher rounded out the podium cars and lead lap cars at the end of the caution-free affair.

Fort Johnson, N.Y., native Josh Coonradt won his second Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman feature in three weeks to open the season.

Coonradt, who started sixth, went to second on the opening lap of the race before taking the lead away and withstanding several restarts to get the win.

Last week’s winner Eric Jensen and Lance Hill rounded out the podium.

Rudy King Jr. won the race of the night in the Fonda Fair Four Cylinder division. The Dual Cam win came down to the final lap, with King Jr. outlasting Jacob Kimball by a bumper for the victory.

T.J. Marlitt won the Single Cam portion of the event for his first win of the season.

Racing continues at Utica-Rome Speedway next Friday, May 10 with all five weekly divisions in action, plus the Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshots & Junior Slingshots on the inner oval. The May 10 event will serve as Round No. 2 for the F.X. Caprara Car Companies Thunder on the Thruway Series. The 3 Bastards Brewing Modifieds, Taylor’s Trailers Crate 602 Sportsman, and Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks will all race for an increased winner’s share. The Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman, and Fonda Fair Four Cylinders both return for another week of points racing action.

The event will be broadcast live on FloRacing (www.floracing.tv).

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.


3 Bastards Brewing Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): 1. 9S-MATT SHEPPARD[12]; 2. 22W-Brandon Walters[1]; 3. 19W-Justin Wright[9]; 4. JS98-Rocky Warner[10]; 5. 97S-Randy Shantel[2]; 6. 76-Jamike Sowle[4]; 7. 84Y-Alex Yankowski[11]; 8. 28T-Michael Trautschold[7]; 9. 1X-Willy Decker[3]; 10. 1Z-Jessica Friesen[6]; 11. 16S-Jeremy Slosek[5]; 12. 91-Billy Decker[16]; 13. 97-Bobby Hackel IV[13]; 14. 77-Alan Barker[8]; 15. 34-Rusty Smith[20]; 16. 23-Brandon Loucks[14]; 17. 4A-Josh Allen[17]; 18. 9J-Jim Becker[21]; 19. 96-Andy Graves[23]; 20. 16-Aaron Jacobs[22]; 21. 8M-Tim Mayne[19]; 22. 28G-Jim Gould[24]; 23. 42P-Pat Ward[15]; 24. 44C-Ed Downing[25]

Did Not Start: 7G-Brad Godshalk

Taylor’s Trailers Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): 1. 33X-MATT JANCZUK[12]; 2. 31J-John Dumond[2]; 3. 7H-Allan Hodge[9]; 4. 14T-Payton Talbot[18]; 5. 77L-Ed Lukas[7]; 6. 2K-Josh Amodio[11]; 7. 9K-Blaine Klinger[21]; 8. 22X-Mike Richmond[24]; 9. 23-David Dickey[13]; 10. 15-Shawn Frost[19]; 11. 10A-AJ Digsby[4]; 12. 12B-Tyler Bobar[5]; 13. 74-Matt Perry[14]; 14. 40D-Butchie Irwin[10]; 15. 314-Clayton Dumond[23]; 16. 55-Jonny Feagles[8]; 17. 67W-Zack Welch[6]; 18. 7UP-Gary Smith[26]; 19. 12P-Connor Prokop[17]; 20. 262-Matthew Richardson[15]; 21. 69-Blake Sarpriacone[1]; 22. 44CD-Stephen Denton[16]; 23. 82H-David Hackett[20]; 24. 621-Seth Martin[22]

Did Not Start: 01-Dylan Nichols; 318-Dave Richer

M2 Metal LLC Crate Late Model Feature Finish (20 laps): 1. 91-CHAD HOMAN[3]; 2. 32-Austin Allen[4]; 3. 17-Rob Pitcher[8]; 4. 98-Craig Graham[1]; 5. 14-Brandt Graham[2]; 6. 14AJ-AJ Miller[6]; 7. 26-Derrick Mcgrew Jr[9]; 8. 16-Aaron Jacobs[7]; 9. 96-Mike Smith[5]

SRI Performance Pole Award ($75 Gift Card): 98-Craig Graham

Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): 1. 22W-AJ WALTERS[8]; 2. 6-Shane Playford[7]; 3. 81-Bret Belden[4]; 4. 74N-Jim Normoyle[2]; 5. 49-Ivan Joslin[12]; 6. 81A-Michael Achzet[10]; 7. 22-Tim Wood[6]; 8. 715-Jason Morrison[5]; 9. 28H-Johnny Holmes[3]; 10. 13-George Cushman[1]; 11. 14K-Mike Keith[14]; 12. 15K-Mike Kazluaskas[15]; 13. 14H-Hunter Keith[16]; 14. 28G-Gus Gould[9]; 15. 101-Ed Kotary[11]; 16. 44-Ray Richer[17]; 17. 4C-Toby Cooper[13]; 18. 11X-Hunter Tarbania[18]

Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman (15 laps): 1. 00X-JOSH COONRADT[7]; 2. 57-Eric Jensen[8]; 3. 92C-Lance Hill[11]; 4. 4-Carson Rothwell[10]; 5. 26B-Maddy Broedel[5]; 6. 78-Stephen Winsor[12]; 7. 10-Andrew MacFadden[6]; 8. 17S-Ernie Staelens[3]; 9. 44D-Kadyn Depasquale[15]; 10. 77V-Jamie Vanabs[14]; 11. 12-Hayden Coons[13]; 12. 17-Mike Haman[16]; 13. 43J-Jayden Wust[4]; 14. 5C-Randy Cosselman[9]; 15. 36-Matt Bukovan[2]

Did Not Start: 77N-Bobby Newman; 79-Eric Winsor; 60-Brad Poppleton; 24-Kirsten Swartz

Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Feature Finish (12 laps): 1. 666D-RUDY KING JR[4]; 2. 78D-Jacob Kimball[1]; 3. XXXD-Donald Kimball[6]; 4. 8WD-Jeff Weeks[3]; 5. 0D-Kyle Coley[14]; 6. 13D-Kyle Simmons[11]; SINGLE CAM WINNER. 212S-TJ MARLITT[2]; 8. 35S-Hank Wedgren[9]; 9. 31D-Jeff Connolly[12]; 10. H35S-Hank Wedgren Jr[13]; 11. 7BD-Robert Burch[7]; 12. 54S-Wayne Russell Jr[5]; 13. 7D-David Denova[8]; 14. 19TS-Kayla Gould[10]