Sheppard Happy To Be Back In Weedsport Speedway’s Victory Lane Following Wednesday Night’s DIRTcar 358-Modified Series 75
Warner Captures Companion DIRTcar Sportsman Series Feature As Historic Track Reopens For NAPA Super DIRT Week Action
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
WEEDSPORT, NY – Oct. 9, 2013 – The happiness in Matt Sheppard’s voice told the story of his triumphant run in Wednesday night’s 75-lap DIRTcar 358-Modified Series feature at Weedsport Speedway.
“I’ll tell you what,” Sheppard said with a smile in Victory Lane, “it’s good to be back at Weedsport.”
Indeed, Sheppard, 31, of Waterloo, N.Y., shined in a NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT XLII special that returned competition to the high-banked, one-third-mile oval for the first time since last year’s Super Bowl of DIRTcar Racing. The DIRTcar Northeast circuit’s flagship track sat idle in 2013 until its recent purchase by noted Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified team owner Al Heinke and reopened to a packed house of fans.
A winner of 15 career DIRTcar Big-Block Modified features and the 2010 points title at Weedsport, Sheppard showed that he hasn’t forgotten the fast way around the bullring. He marched forward from the sixth starting spot to take the lead from polesitter and race-long pacesetter Brett Hearn of Sussex, N.J., on lap 24 and never looked back en route to a $4,000 score.
Sheppard steered his Jeff Brownell Sr.-owned Bicknell car under the checkered flag 1.353 seconds ahead of Phelps, N.Y.’s Danny Johnson, who slipped by Jimmy Phelps of Baldwinsville, N.Y., off turn four on the final lap to steal the runner-up money. Johnson advanced from the 14th starting spot in his familiar orange No. 27J.
Phelps, who drives Heinke’s No. 98H on the Super DIRTcar Series and played a pivotal role in preparing the Weedsport facility for action after Heinke’s purchase of the speedway, settled for third after starting third and running second behind Sheppard from lap 36 until Johnson’s dramatic pass on the last circuit. Hearn faded to fourth at the finish after leading laps 1-23 and Mike Mahaney of King Ferry, N.Y., placed fifth.
“It was big to win this tonight,” said Sheppard, who kept his rivals at arm’s length throughout the 40-lap run of green-flag racing that ended the race. “This place has been sitting so long, it’s kind of a like a showpiece. It’s a piece of DIRT Motorsports history and it felt good to get back out there. It felt like I picked up right where I left off (when weekly racing ended two years ago).”
Sheppard’s victory continued his standout 2013 campaign, giving him 22 wins and 61 top-five finishes in 85 overall starts. It was also his fourth win in five DIRTcar 358-Modified Series starts this season.
“I don’t know why we’ve been so successful (in small-block shows) because my car owner will tell you – I don’t really like running these things,” said Sheppard. “I wish we didn’t have (a small-block), but man, we’ve been awful good in them this year. I guess I can’t complain.”
Sheppard also made sure to point out one other significant fact about his triumph.
“Can you believe this is the first satellite show I’ve ever won during DIRT Week?” the normally reserved Sheppard said with an unmistakable tinge of excitement.
That’s a major accomplishment for Sheppard, who stands as the only driver in the history of NAPA Super DIRT Week to win all three major DIRTcar Modified-style events at the one-mile New York State Fairgrounds – the big-block Syracuse 200, 358-Modified 150 and Sportsman Championship – but until Wednesday night had never reached Victory Lane in an evening race at a short track during the fall spectacular.
Just two caution flags slowed the 75-lapper. The first was for a multi-car tangle in turn four on lap 12 that included DIRTcar 358-Modified points leader Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, N.Y., who was able to continue and salvage a 20th-place finish that kept him atop the standings. Later, on lap 35, DIRTcar 358-Modified championship contender Mario Clair of St-Edouard, Que., spun on the homestretch.
Fifty-two DIRTcar 358-Modifieds were signed in for the event.
Quebec’s David Hebert turned the overall fastest lap of the group qualifying session at 16.056 seconds. Other group fast-timers were Hearn (16.162), Mike Bowman of St. Catharines, Ont. (16.189), Stewart Friesen of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. (16.388) and Phelps (16.495).
Heat winners were Brandon Easey of St. Catharines, Ont., Hearn, Danny O’Brien of Kingston, Ont., Dale Planck of Homer, N.Y., and Mahaney. The consolations were captured by Ryan Godown of Ringoes, N.J., and Carey Terrance of Hogansburg, N.Y.
Rocky Warner of Gloversville, N.Y., emerged victorious in the evening’s companion 30-lap DIRTcar Sportsman Series feature after grabbing the lead from Cody McPherson of St. Catharines, Ont., on lap 11 and then holding off Dave Marcuccilli of Cayuga, N.Y., for the remainder of the distance.
A winner in NAPA Super DIRT Week competition at the Syracuse Mile in each of the past three years – 2010 and ’11 in the Pro Stock division and ’12 in the Sportsman – Warner turned back the furious late-race challenges of Marcuccilli to secure the $1,000 top prize.
Marcuccilli crossed the finish line 0.480 of a second behind Warner to claim the bridesmaid position. McPherson finished third, Ron Davis III of Memphis, N.Y., placed fourth and DIRTcar Sportsman points leader Mathieu Desjardins of Sorel-Tracy, Que., charged forward from the 22nd starting spot to complete the top five in a race slowed by two caution flags.
Greg Martin of Ransomville, N.Y., led the race’s first nine laps before slowing to bring out a caution flag.
A field of 35 DIRTcar Sportsman turned out for the evening’s action.
Marcuccilli was the overall fastest qualifier in the division’s group time trials with a lap of 17.234 seconds. Other group fast-timers were Martin (17.328), Brad Rouse of St. Catharines, Ont. (17.306) and Adam Hilton of Buffalo, N.Y. (17.440).
Heat winners Martin, Rouse, Marcuccilli and Don Spatorico of Ransomville, N.Y. The consolations were claimed by Joey Ladouceur of Alexandria, Ont., and Desjardins.
NAPA Super DIRT Week continues on Thursday afternoon at the New York State Fairgrounds with time trials for the Syracuse 200 big-block Modified event and the ‘Salute To The Troops 150’ 358-Modified headliner. A big day of racing will end on Thursday night with the DIRTcar 358-Modified Series ‘Hurricane 100’ at Brewerton (N.Y.)
For more information on NAPA Super DIRT Week, log on to www.SuperDIRTWeekOnline.com.
DIRTcar 358-Modified Series Feature Finish (75 laps): 1. Matt Sheppard, 2. Danny Johnson, 3. Jimmy Phelps, 4. Brett Hearn, 5. Mike Mahaney, 6. Dale Planck, 7. Larry Wight, 8. Tim McCreadie, 9. Pat Ward, 10. Danny O’Brien, 11. Ryan Godown, 12. Ryan Susice, 13. Mike Bowman, 14. Justin Haers, 15. Alan Johnson, 16. David Hebert, 17. Vic Coffey, 18. Roy Bresnahan, 19. Mat Williamson, 20. Erick Rudolph, 21. Chad Chevalier, 22. Brandon Easey, 23. Mario Clair, 24. Ryan Arbithnot, 25. Brian McDonald, 26. Stewart Friesen, 27. Carey Terrance, 28. Justin Wright, 29. Chad Brachmann, 30. Shawn Donath
Heat No. 1 Finish (8 laps/top 4 transfer to feature): 1. Brandon Easey, 2. Justin Haers, 3. David Hebert, 4. Justin Wright, 5. Randy Chrysler, 6. Kevin Bates, 7. Yan Bussiere, 8. Tyler Dippel, 9. Kyle Weiss, 10. Alan Therrien, 11. Dave Flannigan Jr.
Heat No. 2 Finish (8 laps/top 4 transfer to feature): 1. Brett Hearn, 2. Matt Sheppard, 3. Pat Ward, 4. Ryan Susice, 5. Mat Williamson, 6. Chad Chevalier, 7. Mark D’llario, 8. Brian McDonald, 9. Tommy Flannigan, 10. Ryan Arbithnot, 11. Mike Ward
Heat No. 3 Finish (8 laps/top 4 transfer to feature): 1. Danny O’Brien, 2. Mike Bowman, 3. Erick Rudolph, 4. Chad Brachmann, 5. Mario Clair, 6. Larry Wight, 7. Jeff McGinnis, 8. Shane Donath, 9. Brian Sage, 10. C.G. Morey
Heat No. 4 Finish (8 laps/top 4 transfer to feature): 1. Dale Planck, 2. Stewart Friesen, 3. Danny Johnson, 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Carey Terrance, 6. Roy Bresnahan, 7. Vic Coffey, 8. Roger Chrysler, 9. Jordan McCreadie, 10. Bill Mullin
Heat No. 5 Finish (8 laps/top 4 transfer to feature): 1. Mike Mahaney, 2. Jimmy Phelps, 3. Alan Johnson, 4. Shawn Donath, 5. Ryan Godown, 6. Pierre Dagenias, 7. Zach Aubertine, 8. Bob Winters, 9. Roger Levesque (DNS) Roy Shields
Consolation No. 1 Finish (10 laps/top 3 transfer to feature): 1. Ryan Godown, 2. Roy Bresnahan, 3. Chad Chevalier, 4. Jeff McGinnis, 5. Brian McDonald, 6. Roger Chrysler, 7. Brian Sage, 8. Ryan Arbithnot, 9. Roger Levesque, 10. Mario Clair, 11. Randy Chrysler, 12. Zach Aubertine, 13. Yan Bussiere, 14. Dave Flannigan Jr., 15. Kyle Weiss (DNS) Bill Mullin
Consolation No. 2 Finish (10 laps/top 3 transfer to feature): 1. Carey Terrance, 2. Larry Wight, 3. Mat Williamson, 4. Kevin Bates, 5. Vic Coffey, 6. Shane Donath, 7. Pierre Dagenais, 8. Tommy Flannigan, 9. Mark D’llario, 10. C.G. Morey, 11. Tyler Dippel, 12. Bob Winters, 13. Mike Ward, 14. Jordan McCreadie, 15. Alan Therrien (DNS) Roy Shields
DIRTcar Sportsman Series Feature Finish (30 laps): 1. Rocky Warner, 2. Dave Marcuccilli, 3. Cody McPherson, 4. Ron Davis III, 5. Mathieu Desjardins, 6. Brad Rouse, 7. Kevin Ridley, 8. Martin Pelletier, 9. Adam Hilton, 10. Don Spatorico, 11. Justin Sharp, 12. Boyd MacTavish, 13. James Henry, 14. Nate Reynolds, 15. Michael Sabia, 16. James Michael Friesen, 17. Kane Bristol, 18. Joey Ladouceur, 19. A.J. Lloyd, 20. Daryl Nutting, 21. Ben Wheeler, 22. Kyle Fink, 23. Josh VanBrocklin, 24. Louie Jackson Jr., 25. Earl Rudy, 26. Jenna David, 27. Jessica Power, 28. Brandon Ford, 29. Steve Bernier, 30. Greg Martin
Heat No. 1 Finish (8 laps/top 5 transfer to feature): 1. Greg Martin, 2. Martin Pelletier, 3. Cody MacPherson,4. Josh VanBrocklin, 5. Nate Reynolds, 6. Joey Ladouceur, 7. Ben Wheeler, 8. John Ellsworth (DQ – light) Louie Jackson Jr.
Heat No. 2 Finish (8 laps/top 5 transfer to feature): 1. Brad Rouse, 2. Kevin Ridley, 3. Ron Davis III, 4. A.J. Lloyd, 5. James Michael Friesen, 6. Jenna David, 7. Earl Rudy, 8. Chris Daugherty, 9. Jeremy Pitcher
Heat No. 3 Finish (8 laps/top 5 transfer to feature): 1. Dave Marcuccilli, 2. Rocky Warner, 3. Boyd MacTavish, 4. Justin Sharp, 5. Kane Bristol, 6. Kyle Fink, 7. Mathieu Dejardins, 8. Steve Bernier, 9. Daryl Nutting
Heat No. 4 Finish (8 laps/top 5 transfer to feature): 1. Don Spatorico, 2. Adam Hilton, 3. James Henry, 4. Michael Sabia, 5. Brandon Ford, 6. Jessica Power, 7. Phil Vigneri III, 8. Ricky Thompson, 9. John Miller
Consolation No. 1 Finish (10 laps/top 3 transfer to feature): 1. Joey Ladouceur, 2. Jenna David, 3. Earl Rudy, 4. Ben Wheeler, 5. Louie Jackson Jr., 6. John Ellsworth, 7. Chris Daugherty (DNS) Jeremy Pitcher
Consolation No. 2 Finish (10 laps/top 3 transfer to feature): 1. Mathieu Desjardins, 2. Kyle Fink, 3. Steve Bernier, 4. Daryl Nutting, 5. Jessica Power, 6. Phil Vigneri III, 7. John Miller (DNS) Ricky Thompson
The Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast Region is brought to fans by several sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Chevy Performance Parts, NAPA Auto Parts, and Safety-Kleen. Contingency sponsors are ASI, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD Performance, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, Superflow and Wrisco Industries. Super DIRT Week sponsors include: Beyea Headers, Draco Springs, Fast Shafts, Fluidampr, FK Rod Ends, Fox Shocks, Pro Fabrication and Turbostart. Lighting for Super DIRT Week is brought to you by Musco Lighting.