Story By: CHRIS MOORE / SHORT TRACK SUPER SERIES – GEORGETOWN, DE – For the sixth consecutive season, late Delaware businessman and auto racing icon Melvin L. Joseph was honored at Georgetown Speedway with the running of the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial.
And the race lived up to the hype.
From the 19th starting position, Matt Sheppard of Savannah, N.Y., earned his first Melvin L. Joseph Memorial victory and the accompanying $10,049-plus payday in the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central opener.
With the victory – his second at Georgetown with the series – Sheppard also kicked off his 2021 STSS South Region title bid in grand fashion.
‘Super Matt’ wheeled his Hurlock Auto Speed Supply No. 9s from the 19th starting position into second position. On a lap-28 restart, Sheppard used the outside line to drive around rival Stewart Friesen for a lead he would never relinquish.
A massive crowd attended the Saturday portion of the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial with 54 STSS Modifieds and 75 STSS Crate 602 Sportsman taking part in the lid-lifter among 164 total race cars on hand.
A pair of Empire State racers – Stewart Friesen and J.R. Heffner – led the field to Joe Kriss’ green flag for the 49-lap main event. After an early tangle in turn two when Heffner’s No. 74 spun in turn two, Mike Mahaney joined Friesen on the front row looking to avenge his Friday night near-miss.
Friesen appeared to be the class of the field, driving away from Mahaney until he reached the tail end of the field.
Mahaney quickly reeled back in Friesen’s Halmar International No. 44 but a yellow halted Mahaney’s charge and reset the field on lap 17.
While the Friesen/Mahaney battle was happening out front, Sheppard was becoming a factor. Sheppard had climbed from his 10th-row starting berth into the sixth position. Sheppard was utilizing the outside lane of the progressively banked half-mile oval to surge forward.
Sheppard capitalized on the 17th-lap restart to drive from sixth to third before quickly disposing of Mahaney for second and setting his sights on Friesen.
Sheppard chased Friesen until the 28th circuit, which proved to be the deciding factor in the race. Sheppard powered around the outside of Friesen and led the remainder of the distance, negotiating lapped traffic flawlessly.
Friesen, of Sprakers, N.Y., settled for a runner-up payday, with Mahaney of Kings Ferry, N.Y., capping a stellar weekend in the First State with another podium finish in third with the Adirondack Automotive No. 35 team.
Tyler Dippel of Wallkill, N.Y., drove the No. 1 Teo-Pro Car to a steady fourth-place effort and Anthony Perrego of Middletown, N.Y., completed the front-five in Brian Smith’s Superior Remodeling No. 44.
Potsdam, N.Y., driver Michael Maresca’s first STSS South Region start in the Gary Simpson-owned No. 12k brought a sixth-place finish to the team. H.J. Bunting of Milford, Del., grabbed a seventh-place finish to represent the First State in the Blades HVAC No. 65 after starting 21st via a consolation victory.
Ringoes, N.J., native Ryan Godown finished eighth, ahead of fellow Garden State racers Brandon Grosso, who placed ninth. After pitting for a flat right-rear tire, Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, N.Y., recovered for a 10th-place finish.
Ad-Art Sign Company $50 heat winners were Friesen, Matt Stangle, Mahaney, Heffner and Cale Ross. Bunting and Duane Howard topped the consolations.
A-Jay Potrzebowski Jr. made the long tow from Horseheads, N.Y., for his first career Georgetown start. Potrzebowski drew the pole starting position and led all 25 laps for his first career series win in the STSS Belmont’s Garage South Region Crate 602 Sportsman Season Opener.
The win granted Potrzebowski a $1,549 payday for his efforts in the 25-lap main event. The race saw one yellow throughout, allowing lap traffic to become a factor. Potrzebowski was up to every challenge, holding on to grab the Sunoco checkered flags.
2018 STSS South Region Crate 602 Sportsman champion Corey Cormier of Otisville, N.Y., grabbed a runner-up position. Payton Talbot of South New Berlin, N.Y., rounded out the podium finishers. Georgetown Speedway defending champion Joe Toth of Newtown, Pa., finished fourth and Oneida, N.Y., driver Matt Janczuk filled out the front five in his series debut.
Seven heat races were run for the STSS Crate 602 Sportsman. Winners were Stephen Kemery, Cormier, Joey Bruning, Steve Davis, Potrzebowski, Brad Trice and Janczuk. Consolations went to James Hill, Bobby Flood and J.J. Courcy.
Todd Sammons won the 12-lap Season Opener for the Little Lincoln division. Sammons topped local favorite Kirk Lawson and M.J. White for the first checkered flag of the 2021 season. Sammons and Lawson thrilled the crowd with a side-by-side battle in the final circuits.
Jerry Hill, a consistent top-five finisher in the Delaware Super Truck division, got over the hump on Saturday with a win in the 12-lap main. The Smith brothers, David and Robert, chased Hill to the finish line in the weekend cap for the Super Trucks.
Ashley Merritt won the Delmarva Charger 12-lap feature from her third starting position. Merritt bested Jay Lowman and Kevin Taylor for the triumph.
Next up for the STSS is a Central Pennsylvania doubleheader weekend on Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21. On Saturday, Selinsgrove Speedway hosts the ‘Icebreaker’ for the STSS Modifieds and Crate 602 Sportsman. On Sunday, neighboring Port Royal Speedway is the destination for the STSS Modifieds in a doubleheader with the ULMS Super Late Models for the ‘Spring Speed Showcase’ program.
Georgetown Speedway is idle through Thursday, April 15 with the Mark ‘Coot’ Williams Super Late Model Memorial and RUSH Late Model ‘Battle of the Bay’ Speedweek event in a double-headline show.
MELVIN L. JOSEPH MEMORIAL RESULTS SUMMARY – GEORGETOWN SPEEDWAY SATURDAY, MARCH 13
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Modified Velocita-USA South Region Presented By Design for Vision & Sunglass Central Round No. 1 Feature Finish (49 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Stewart Friesen, Mike Mahaney, Tyler Dippel, Anthony Perrego, Michael Maresca, H.J. Bunting, Ryan Godown, Brandon Grosso, Erick Rudolph, Max McLaughlin, Danny Bouc, Ryan Watt, Dominick Buffalino, Joseph Watson, Billy Pauch Jr., Tim Buckwalter, Matt Stangle, Rick Laubach, Jordan Watson, Andy Bachetti, Cale Ross, Craig Von Dohren, Demetrios Drellos, Neal Williams, Mike Gular, Larry Wight, Duane Howard, J.R. Heffner, Richie Pratt Jr.
Did Not Qualify: Alex Yankowski, Kevin Sockriter, Rocky Warner, Ryan Krachun, Jimmy Horton, Dan Creeden, Danny Hieber, David Van Horn, John Willman, Marshall Hurd, Carson Wright, Derrick McGrew Jr., Brandon Hightower, Jeff Taylor, Mike Franz, Allison Ricci, Ryan Riddle, David Schilling, Ron Roberts, Jr., Brett Haas, Danny Tyler, Stan Frankenfield, Norman Short, Brad Trice.
Melvin L. Joseph Construction Company Lap Money ($2,401 Total): Stewart Friesen ($343); Mike Mahaney ($343); Anthony Perrego ($343); Matt Sheppard ($294); Tyler Dippel ($294); Michael Maresca ($196); Erick Rudolph ($196); Matt Stangle ($196); H.J. Bunting ($147); Demetrios Drellos ($49).
Ad-Art Sign Company Heat Winners ($50 Each): Stewart Friesen, Matt Stangle, Mike Mahaney, J.R. Heffner & Cale Ross
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): Ryan Godown (8th) & Ryan Watt (13th)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Tyler Dippel (fourth) & Brandon Grosso (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Cale Ross (Redrew 11th)
Bill Brown & Company Heat-Race Hard Charger ($50): Dominick Buffalino (10th to fourth)
Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz Halfway Leader Award ($100): Stewart Friesen
Design for Vision/Sunglass Central Winner’s Award (Oakley Sunglasses): Matt Sheppard
Henry’s Exhaust System Power Position ($50 Certificate): Max McLaughlin (11th)
Kruger Trailers Inc. Hard Charger Award ($250): Matt Sheppard (19th to first)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Stewart Friesen (second), Danny Bouc (12th) & Cale Ross (22nd)
Taylor & Messick Hard Luck Awards ($250 Each): David Schilling & Danny Tyler
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Award ($75 Certificate): H.J. Bunting (seventh)
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Crate 602 Sportsman Belmont’s Garage South Region Round No. 1 Feature Finish (25 laps): A-JAY POTRZEBOWSKI, JR., Corey Cormier, Payton Talbot, Joe Toth, Matt Janczuk, Justin Grosso, L.J. Lombardo, Stephen Kemery, Steve Davis, Brad Trice, Kyle Smith, Adam White, Joey Bruning, Tommy Collins, Michael Ballestero, Greg Reed, Paul Mancini, Dylan Swinehart, Zachary Payne, Ryan Godown, Jr., Scott Hitchens, Doug Snyder, James Hill, Robby Dunn, Tanner Van Doren, A-Jay Potrzebowski Sr., Brendon Gibbons, Tighe Sherlock, Bobby Flood, Anthony Tramontana, J.J. Courcy, Michael White.
Did Not Qualify: Sean Metz, Addison Bowman, Chas Wolbert, Danny Maher, Greg Humlhanz, Ryan Simmons, Jake Mason, Jared Labagh, Sammy Martz, Jr., Cody Manmiller, Chad Sandt, John Stevenson, Kevin Borden, Joshua Allen, Ricky Quick, Lance Irwin, Isabella Van Orden, Pat Wall, Sean Weiss, Kenny Bock, Logan Watt, Jared Miller, Dakota Kohler, Brett Buono, Trent Willey, Tracy Gauger, Nick Van Wickle, Jimmy DeVitt, Scott Kohler, David Jenkins, Daniel Morgiewicz, Jim Dallett, Jordan Lawrence, Rodney Henri, Greg Nailor, Jr., Kerry Ryder, Matt Smith, Zac Weller, William Adams, Zachary Steffy, Anthony Raisner, Ryan Stangle, Shawn McPhee.
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonus (FREE Tire Certificate): L.J. Lombardo (seventh)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($25): Stephen Kemery (Redrew ninth)
Evergreen Fuels Inc. “Worst Hand” Redraw ($75): Stephen Kemery (redrew ninth)
Mancini Custom Homes Hard Charger ($200): Michael Ballestero (29th to 15th)
Little Lincoln Feature Finish (12 laps): TODD SAMMONS, Kirk Lawson, M.J. White, Jordan Herbert, Mel Joseph Jr., Eric Reed, Terry Chaney, Sean Smith, Wayne Seaton, Bunky White, James Harmon, Bryan Piercy.
Delaware Super Truck Feature Finish (12 laps): JERRY HILL, David Smith, Robert Smith, Jesse West, Michelle Jackson, Zack Phillips, Dickie Beauchamp, Scott Trice, Blake Esham, Brian Jones, Thomas “Action” Jackson, Matt Esham.
Delmarva Charger Feature Finish (12 laps): ASHLEY MERRITT, Jay Lowman, Kevin Taylor, Joe Waters, Randy Merritt, Chris Carroll, Jeffery Tubbs, Sean Martinez, Paul Gary, Scott Dunn, Jeff DeGroat.