RPW Column: Matt Sheppard Now One Away From 400 With Big Block Win Saturday At Land Of Legends

Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – CANANDAIGUA, NY – Racing fans left Land of Legends Raceway with many things to remember about Saturday, May 22nd.

Matt Sheppard showed why he is a boss at his home track in the Big Block Modified feature.

Marcus Dinkins and Peter Britten, fresh off a win the previous night at Albany-Saratoga, made up the front row for the 2nd week of the Pepsi Big Block Modifieds. Britten would get the opening jump to lead the first lap as Dinkins fell back. Meanwhile, the man they call “Super Matt” moved his way up from 9th on the grid via redraw. At the end of lap two, Sheppard was in the fourth. By lap four, he was up to 2nd and closing in on “The Batman” in a DC Comics battle. Lap seven saw the first yellow of the feature as Robbie Johnson was slow down the front chute.

Sheppard timed restarts well tonight as he made the eventual race-winning pass on Britten downstairs to take the lead. As Sheppard was beginning to pull away, a yellow came out as Lance Dusett, and Eric Williams collided in turn 2. Sheppard would hold serve on the restart for a lap when Gil Tegg Jr. was slow to bring out another caution.

It seemed like Justin Haers would wind up as a possible contender to Sheppard on a lap 17 restart getting by Britten and clearing the Aussie just a lap later but could not. The gap was up to 3.1 seconds as Sheppard approached lap traffic. Sheppard took the dub by 4.7 seconds at the checkers for his 83rd career win at Land of Legends and starting off the track season with back-to-back wins.

“We just had one of them tracks, one of them racecars tonight where everything went our way. [I’ve] Driven a lot of really good racecars here before, but tonight this thing was really, really good. Just anywhere I wanted to go and was just glued to the bottom. Really happy with our performance tonight,” Sheppard said to RPW post-race.

The win is his fourth consecutive LOL win in races he has entered (counting OktoberFAST), including five wins in the last six races and races he entered.

It also puts him at 399 career wins. His upcoming schedule to hit the 400 mark include the New Egypt Speedway this coming Tuesday in the Short Track Super Series, Utica-Rome Speedway Friday, a return to Land of Legends Raceway Saturday, and the Heroes Remembered 100 at Weedsport Speedway in the Super DIRTCar Series next Sunday.

“It doesn’t really matter to me,” Sheppard said when asked where he would prefer to win 400. “Anywhere you can get a win is special.”

The other big race of the night in Canandaigua was the second round of the CRSA Sprints Tour, and fans received a treat in this one. Last week, a regular 305 Sprint race at Land of Legends saw Bobby Parrow beat Alysha Bay in a close final lap. Tonight’s feature? Roles reversed at the time, but in a much tighter and intense battle throughout the second half.

The 20 lap feature had Dana Wagner and Alysha Bay bring the field between the chalk lines, and away they went. Bay got the advantage on the outside to lead lap one. Parrow closed in on Wagner at the end of the second lap and looked to the inside on turn one next lap to take the runner-up spot away. The gap was approximately 1.5 seconds until the yellow lights came on for a turn 4 spin.

Trevor Years made an outside pass to take P3 away from Wagner, exiting turn two on the restart. Wagner fell back into the path of Darryl Ruggles. Still, as Ruggles set up his pass in turn three on lap six, John Cunningham and Ethan Gray tangled in turn two to bring out another caution.

The following restart, Parrow was setting up his preferred groove on the cushion. He could get it to work at the halfway point, getting by Bay on the outside to lead lap 11. Parrow’s night was nearly ended a lap later when he almost hit a spun Jacob Lynch, who sported a Lightning McQueen-inspired paint job.

Bay immediately took a peek to the inside on the restart with eight laps to go, and for four laps, the adversaries were side by side. Five laps remaining, Bay attempted a slide job in turns one and two, but Parrow was still to her right and kept his foot in it. It looked at that point on Parrow had the race won, but with three to go, Parrow went way wide in three and four, allowing Bay to close in on the bottom. Bay got the lead off of two and stayed side by side, even splitting the first lapped car of Lynch during this run. At the white flag, it was Bay by a car length over Parrow, and going into turn 3, Bay attempted to use a lapped car as a pick to give Parrow a higher lane. Parrow was almost able to make the pass in the final corner, but Bay powered off first and took the checkers first by nearly a half-second over Parrow.

However, Bay was disqualified post-race for a technical infraction. Per CRSA, the top 6 were teched by officials. All except Bay passed, giving Bobby Parrow the win, his first win in the CRSA tour.

In Sportsman, Matt Guererri took his first win of the season but had to hold off a hard-charging Zach Payne to get it done.

“He (Zach) was fast. He definitely had a better car than I did. I got a few good runs on the outside. I got him on the restart, and obviously, he rolled me back on the bottom; he was better down there. I wasn’t really that good on the top; it was too far out. I couldn’t run the bottom. He just made a couple of mistakes, and I was able to capitalize. He was fast, ran me clean. It was fun racing,” Guererri said.

Other winners tonight included Jimmy Grant in Street Stocks and Tyler Burnell in Hobby Stocks.

Mother nature has not been kind to Land of Legends this season, postponing the season opener three times up to last week. Rains arrived pre-race and were light to cause a delay, but not a postponement. Thanks to the track maintenance crew at Land of Legends combined with many track packing by the drivers, hot laps began around 7pm. The final feature (Hobby Stocks) ended just past 11pm. There is a curfew rule at the track saying the last race must start before 11pm. Hobby Stocks started at 10:57pm. Mother nature suffered its first defeat of the season to LOL in their fierce matchup. Big props to everyone there for not just getting the track-ready but speeding things up even having a last chance showdown for Sportsman, something that wasn’t seen last week due to car counts.

90 cars took time for hot laps tonight.

Land of Legends is back next week for another full card sponsored by VP Lubricants. Heat races are expected to go green at 6:30pm.

For full post-race interviews with Sheppard and Guererri, in addition to pre-race interviews with Parrow, Britten, and Kyle Coffey, check out the RSN Trackside Facebook page.

Big Blocks (35 Laps)
9s Matt Sheppard ($2000), 2. 3 Justin Haers (4.784s), 3. 21a Peter Britten (7.650s), 4. 25 Erick Rudolph (8.333s), 5. 19 Tim Fuller (14.218s), 6. 14J Alan Johnson (15.174s), 7. 23 Kyle Coffey (15.780s), 8. 7f Matt Farnham (18.761s), 9. 19w Justin Wright (-1L), 10. 17 Marcus Dinkins (-1L), 11. 31m James Maier (-1L), 12. 21x Eric Williams (-1L), 13. 56 Garrison Krentz (-3L), 14. 27j Daniel Johnson Jr. (-14L), 15. 7s Torrey Stoughtenger (-20L), 16. 22g Gil Tegg Jr. (-24L), 17. 77 Lance Dusett (-27L), 18. 21p Derrick Podsiadlo (-27L), 19. 33J Robbie Johnson (-29L), 20. 10m Henry Maier
Heat Winners: 3 Haers, 9s Sheppard, 23 Coffey
Fastest Lap: 9s Sheppard: 18.339s

Sportsman (25 Laps)
12g Matt Guererri ($750), 2. 7z Zach Payne (0.506s), 3. 38 Zach Sobotka (4.972s), 4. 7 Paul Guererri (6.702s), 5. 113 Frank Guererri Jr. (7.203s), 6. 25g Nick Guererri (7.272s), 7. 35 Nick Cooper (8.568s), 8. 70a Alex Payne (8.935s), 9. 1F AJ Lloyd (10.020s), 10. 36m Zach George (11.249s), 11. 11n Ricky Newton (-12.824s), 12. 132 Dalton Martin (-14.631s), 13. 9 Tim Baker (15.835s), 14. 21v Tony Velez (16.046s), 15. 00 Sam Hoxie (18.056s), 16. 28x Jordan Moden (18.564s), 17. 2 Loren Lincoln (26.624s), 18. 93 Tyler Vinson (-2L), 19. 90 Nathan Peckham (-4L), 20. 31 Kane Bristol (-6L), 21. 61 Andrew Jacobson (-22L), 22. 3 Justin McKay (-22L), 23. 42 Brandon Grover (-22L), 24. 51 Tim Lafler (-22L)
Heat Winners: 113 Frank Guererri Jr., 93 Vinson, 7 Paul Guererri, 70a Alex Payne
Fastest Lap: 7z Payne: 19.948s

CRSA Sprints (20 Laps)
53 Bobby Parrow ($770), 2. 3a Jeff Trombley, 3. 13t Trevor Years, 4. 48jr Darryl Ruggles, 5. 45 David Ferguson, 6. 18c Dan Craun, 7. 56d Peter Dance, 8. 25w Dana Wagner, 9. 2 Randy Years, 10. 121 Steve Glover, 11. 75 Brandyn Griffin, 12. 38 Jason Whipple, 13. 41j Josh Flint, 14. 66 Jordan Hutton, 15. 28 Ronnie Greeg, 16. 410 Jerry Sehn Jr., 17. 41 Chase Moran, 18. J27 John Cunningham, 19. 77 Matt Rotz, 20. 11 Jacob Lynch, 21. 17e Ethan Gray, 22. 9k Kyle Pierce, 23. 48a Alysha Bay (DSQ)
Heat Winners: 25w Wagner, 18c Craun, 53 Parrow
Fastest Lap: 48a Bay: 17.277s

Street Stocks (20 Laps)
36 Jimmy Grant, 2. 00 Mike Welch, 3. 74d Dennis Cummings, 4. Cj1 CJ Guererri, 5 57j Adam DePuy, 6. 37x Carl Johnson, 7. 5c Rick Crego, 8. 9 Aksel Jensen, 9. 34q Jason Quigley, 10. 25b Marc Minutolo, 11. 93 Jared Hill, 12. 74 Ronald Metcalf, 13. 64b Bob Buono, 14. 24j Marcus Springer, 15. 55p Parker Smith, 16. 63 Mike Fellows, 17. 510 Brad Steinruck Jr., 18. 122 Chris Beyea, 19. 3 Patrick Hobbs, 20. 12s Dakota Sharp, 21. 25 Blane Smith
Heat Winners: 34q Quigley, cj1 Guererri
Fastest Lap: 36 Grant: 20.643s

Hobby Stocks (12 Laps)
57J Tyler Burnell, 2. 1 Joshua Oles, 3. 25j Justin Eldredge, 4. 13b Brian Lloyd, 5. 36 Marc Minutolo, 6. 36 Willy Grant, 7. 15k Jeremy Trank, 8. 42 Casey Wagner, 9. 54 Allison Pierce, 10. 52 Amber Pierce, 11. 28 Brandon Barron
Heat Winners: 25j Eldredge, 57J Burnell
Fastest Lap: 57J Burnell: 23.468s

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