Story By: DAN KAPUSCINSKI / WEEDSPORT SPEEDWAY – WEEDSPORT, NY – More than 120 race cars opened the 2018 season at Weedsport Speedway on Sunday with Matt Sheppard, Kevin Ridley and Darryl Ruggles all earning spots on victory hill presented by WACK 1420AM.
Over 40 DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds were on hand Sunday battling for 26 starting positions in the $3,000 to win Ice Breaker 50.
A heads-up feature event would see the four heat race winners start in the front two rows with ‘AJ Slideways’ Alan Johnson grabbing the point from the top side at the start.
The night’s first yellow would wave on lap-2 for heat race winner Matt Hulsizer, who slammed the outside turn two wall after contact from Ryan Arbithnot. Hulsizer was ok, but his car was severely damaged.
On the restart Jimmy Phelps and Erick Rudolph were able to move into second and third, taking advantage of Rob Bellinger who slowed with a flat left front tire which drew another caution flag.
On the following restart Phelps was now challenging Johnson for the point and after two laps of tight side-by-side racing, Phelps was able to clear Johnson for the lead on lap-6.
With Phelps charging out front, Chris Hile and Matt Sheppard were on the move.
Hile started 10th and was in a battle for third with Rudolph by lap-10 with Sheppard cracking the top ten by lap-15.
As the laps continued to tick away, Phelps’ lead had stabilized at nearly a full straight away over Johnson, Rudolph, Hile, Pat Ward, and Gary Tomkins.
Another yellow at lap-23 for Danny Johnson and Roy Bresnahan brought the field together just before halfway with Hile making a spectacular run for the lead on the restart.
The No. 5h flew by both Rudolph and Johnson on the high side to take second when the lights went green and was now immediately giving chase to Phelps out front.
As Hile battled Phelps hard for the top spot, Sheppard continued to methodically work his way through the pack. On lap-28, Sheppard hit the top five after working by Rudolph, continuing his charge.
As Sheppard closed, Hile found another level on the cushion in his battle with Phelps. At the conclusion of lap-32 Hile finally got the run he needed to steal the lead away from the Phelps No. 98h.
Just three laps later the crowd could sense that Sheppard may have something for the front runners, after starting 20th. Sheppard move into the top three at lap-34 and less than 10-laps later was knocking on the door of Phelps for the runner-up position.
After gaining the lead, Hile looked as though he may run away, but with less than 10-laps to go he missed the cushion into turn three and at the same time Sheppard muscled his way low on Phelps to take second.
Just three laps later Sheppard drew in on Hile and made quick work of the No. 5h to snag the lead at the start of lap-45.
Sheppard was never again challenged, running away to his 19th career DIRTcar Big Block Modified win at Weedsport over Hile, Phelps, Johnson, Tomkins, Rudolph, Ward, Billy Decker, Danny Varin and Tim Fuller.
“We were awful in our heat race,” said Sheppard. “We were just scratching our heads before the feature and threw something at it. I didn’t think we were that good in the beginning, but as the race wore on we just got better and better. We were just able to work the bottom when no one else could. That was fun to work through the pack from 20th.”
A field of 57 DIRTcar Sportsman were on hand for the opening event of the Spano Container Sportsman Shootout Series on Sunday with Kevin Ridley and Dave Marcuccilli continuing their stranglehold on The Port.
Ridley and Matt Guererri started the 25-lap main event from the front row after the redraw with Ridley moving to the point in the No. 20x.
Nick Guererri started the event on the outside of the second row but would draw the race’s first caution on lap-3 with a flat left front tire on the No. 25g.
A few more cautions would slow the pace of the event in the early going, but when the momentum began to build, so did the pace of the Marcuccilli No. M1. Marcuccilli started 8th and drove all the way to third by lap-11.
The Kevin Root No. 34 followed Marcuccilli’s progress, diving into fourth on lap-12, as Ridley continued to build a smooth lead in front of the field.
With 10-laps to go Marcuccilli found the back bumper of Guererri for second, but caution would wave yet again, this time for Corey Barker who found the inside wall in turn two.
On the restart Marcuccilli and Guererri continued where they left off, battling back and forth for the second position with Marcuccilli eventually winning out on lap-19.
In the waning stages Ridley had the field well under control until one last caution flew on the race’s final circuit for Nick Krause.
The caution brought Ridley back to the field with Marcuccilli, Guererri, Root, Eric Giguere, Will Shields, Andrew Smith, Tony Finch, Alex Yankowski and Ben Wheeler in tow.
The green-white-checkered finish did nothing to slow Ridley however, as the defending Sportsman Shootout Series champion cruised to his second consecutive opening night win at The Port over Marcuccilli, Guererri, Root and Giguere.
“We’ve definitely picked up our game here the last couple years,” said Ridley. “Hopefully we can have another good battle with Dave (Marcuccilli) for the championship this season.”
A large field of nearly 30 NY6A Micro Sprints were on hand Sunday with Darryl Ruggles taking the win in the A-Main over John Smith, Matt Smith, Jordan Noody and DJ Shuman in the top five.
The NY6A division will return on Tuesday, June 19 along with the USAC National Sprints and the Spano Container Sportsman.
Weedsport Speedway will be back in action on Monday, May 28 for the Heroes Remembered 100 for the Super DIRTcar Series, presented by DC Rauscher.
The Spano Container Sportsman Shootout Series will join the card on May 28 for a two-division show, which will see racing begin at 6 p.m.
For a full 2018 Weedsport Speedway schedule be sure to visit online at www.weedsportspeedway.com. Fans can also FOLLOW on Twitter @WeedsportSpdwy and LIKE on Facebook at www.facebook.com/weedsportspeedway.
Ice Breaker 50 pres. by WACK 1420AM
Weedsport Speedway – Weedsport, NY
Sunday, May 20
DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds
Ice Breaker 50: 1. 9S – MATT SHEPPARD, 2. 5H – Chris Hile, 3. 98H – Jimmy Phelps, 4. 14J – Alan Johnson, 5. 84 – Gary Tomkins, 6. 25 – Erick Rudolph, 7. 42P – Pat Ward, 8. 91 – Billy Decker, 9. 93 – Danny Varin, 10. 19 – Tim Fuller, 11. 6M – Mat Williamson, 12. 3RS – Billy Dunn, 13. 1X – Willy Decker, 14. 6H – Max McLaughlin, 15. 88 – Mike Mahaney, 16. 62S – Tom Sears Jr., 17. 3J – Marc Johnson, 18. 27J – Danny Jonhson, 19. 23 – Kyle Coffey, 20. 70R – Ryan Arbithnot, 21. 34 – Andrew Ferguson, 22. 8R – Rob Bellinger, 23. 02 – Roy Bresnahan, 24. 16 – Mike Bowman, 25. 3 – Justin Haers, 26. 55 – Matt Hulsizer
Heat Winners: Bellinger, A. Johnson, Phelps, Hulsizer
Consi Winners: Fuller, Dunn
Spano Container Sportsman Shootout Series
Feature (25-laps): 1. 20X – KEVIN RIDLEY, 2. M1 – Dave Marcuccilli, 3. 12G – Matt Guererri, 4. 34 – Kevin Root, 5. 67G – Eric Giguere, 6. 82 – Will Shields, 7. 0 – Tony Finch III, 8. 1 – Andrew Smith, 9. 84Y – Alex Yankowski, 10. 25G – Nick Guererri, 11. 99 – Ben Wheeler, 12. 09 – Connor Cleveland, 13. 38 – Zach Sobotka, 14. 18 – Brandon Ford, 15. 87 – Rocco Leone, 16. JV1 – James Spano, 17. 3M – Mike Stanton Jr., 18. 16 – Earl Rudy, 19. 117 – CJ Castaletti Jr., 20. 713 – Tom Collins Jr., 21. 24K – Nick Krause, 22. 5 – Amy Holland, 23. 31 – Corey Barker, 24. 24 – Dustin Jordan, 25. 67 – Greg Doust, 26. 98T – Tyler Thompson, 27. 8 – Alan Fink, 28. 25 – Tom Juno
Heat Winners: M. Guererri, Krause, Ford, Ridley, Marcuccilli, Yankowski
Consi Winners: Castaletti, Jordon, Leone
NY6A Micro Sprints
Feature (20-laps): 1. 29 – Darryl Ruggles, 2. 23 – John Smith, 3. 1 – Matt Smith, 4. 9 – Jordan Noody, 5. 62 – DJ Shuman, 6. 26 – Ricky Pritchard, 7. 44 – Casey Williams, 8. 66 – Lisa Kretzer, 9. 17 – Danny Knoll III, 10. 96 – Steve Hutchinson, 11. 1K – Mark Kilroy, 12. 17K – Scott Kruetter, 13. 74 – Michael Kaiser, 14. TX7 – Dave Schilling, 15. 16 – Nick Groff, 16. 15 – Nate Hendrix, 17. 13 – Mark Johnson, 18. 7F – Ivan Forney, 19. 007 – Gary Kretzer, 20. 41W – Eric Wise, 21. 20C – Micky Ciliberto, 22. 7B – Mitchell Bard, 23. 15C – Cheyanna Ling, 24. 2B – Collin Bard
Heat Winners: M. Smith, Ruggles, Noody