RPW Column: Sheppard Dominates Land Of Legends Season Opener; Roberts Escapes Violent Flip

Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – CANANDAIGUA, NY – The 4th attempt for Paul Cole and the Land of Legends Raceway staff to officially kick off the 2021 season was a success.

After initially scheduling the season for April 24th with a 358 Modified event, sunny skies finally overlooked the Ontario County Fairgrounds. Land of Legends brought an entertaining card for the fans either in the stands or the now free Land of Legends TV stream.

The Pepsi Big Block Modifieds was the meat in the card tonight, going 35 laps. Big Block rookie Garrison Krentz and track favorite Matt Sheppard led the field to the green. Sheppard got the easy jump, but a yellow came out for Tim Fuller having issues in turn one. The re-do was successful, but while Sheppard led lap one, the race was temporarily overshadowed by a scary wreck at the front straight. Lance Dusett pinched Adam Roberts into the guardrail, crossing the start/finish line, which sent Robert pirouetting end over end. As it looked like the flip ended, the car was in the path of James Sweeting. This left Sweeting nowhere to go and tattooing the bottom of Roberts, sending Roberts into another sequence of flips and catching fire. Sweeting’s car also caught fire after his head-on collision. Thankfully, those two drivers walked away in a hellacious accident.

“Thanks to the track crew, getting right there and helping me out. Scary for sure, this Troyer TD-5 held up real nice, protected me, can’t be happier,” Roberts said to RPW after his wild ride.

“It was pretty dusty, going down the front straightaway. After that restart, I didn’t really see much. Next thing I know, I saw Roberts in the air. Just too late, smoked him. Unfortunate, but I’m glad he’s alright,” Sweeting added.

After cleanup, the race was all Matt Sheppard. He led the entire way to take a whopping eight-second victory over Erick Rudolph and leaving six drivers on the lead lap. It was a dominant day for “Super Matt” as he was the fastest driver in hot laps, the winner in Heat 2 by four seconds, redrawing second, and going up another level on the rest of the Big Block drivers in the feature.

“You don’t get too many nights like that. Happy everything went our way tonight,” Sheppard told RPW. “I grew up coming here. I’ve been coming here all my life. It’s like another home, and I’ll always feel like home racing here.”

The race win was Sheppard’s 82nd career win at Land of Legends, breaking a tie with “The Doctor” Danny Johnson for 4th on the all-time wins list. The next step is “The Hurricane” Steve Paine, with 94 wins in Canandaigua.

Peter Britten had an impressive day finishing in the fourth position. A late decision as “The Batman” told us pre-race he will be running weekly at Land of Legends on Saturdays this season. Garrison Krentz rounded out the top five in his first LOL race since moving up from the Sportsman division.

The Sportsman was the night’s co-main event as Zach Sobotka held off Nick Guererri to take his third career win at Land of Legends. Sobotka needed this big one as entering the weekend; he was 102 points behind Andrew Buff in the DIRTCar NE Hoosier Weekly standings. As he scored a win tonight, Buff placed 11th at Albany-Saratoga Friday night, which will definitely close the gap down for the bonus.

“We got off to a slow start in our heat. Made a lot of changes to the car. Definitely ended up working out for us,” Sobotka said. “Kind of fell in the groove early in the race. 7 car of [Paul] Guererri, that’s the problem of starting on the pole, you don’t really know what’s fast yet. He just rolled the bottom, and I drew the top a little bit better. It ended up working in my favor.”

Bobby Parrow took home a great win in the 305 Sprints. While having a disadvantage on restarts, getting edged by Alysha Bay, and losing the lead on lap 5, Parrow found a run outside of Bay to answer back and take the lead for good. It was close for Parrow as he got caught up in traffic coming to the white flag, but he got out of it clean and took the win home.

Other winners included Jimmy Grant in Street Stocks and Justin Eldredge in Hobby Stocks.

95 cars were scored in heats for tonight.

Next week, Land of Legends is back with another Saturday Spectacular, including all five classes. Heat races begin at 6:30pm on May 22nd, including a free stream on Land of Legends TV.

For more content with Sheppard, Sobotka, Roberts, and Sweeting, in addition to pre-race interviews with Darryl Ruggles, Matt Guererri, and Peter Britten, head to the RSN Trackside Facebook page.

RESULTS

Big Block Modifieds (35 Laps)
9s Matt Sheppard ($2500), 2. 25 Erick Rudolph (8.370s), 3. 3 Justin Haers (11.405s), 4. 21a Peter Britten (16.703s), 5. 56 Garrison Krentz (16.975s), 6. 14J Alan Johnson (17.537s), 7. 22g Gil Tegg Jr. (-1L), 8. 23 Kyle Coffey (-1L), 9. 21p Derrick Podsiadlo (-1L), 10. 19w Justin Wright (-1L), 11. 33J Robbie Johnson (-1L), 12. 77 Lance Dusett (-2L), 13. 21x Eric Williams (-2L), 14. 31m James Maier (-11L), 15. 7s Torrey Stoughtenger (-23L), 16. 36 Eldon Payne (-30L), 17. 44 Russell Morseman (-31L), 18. 63 Adam Roberts (-34L), 19. 11J James Sweeting (-34L), 20. 17 Marcus Dinkins (-34L), 21. 19 Tim Fuller (-34L), 22. 10m Henry Maier.
Heat winners: 25 Rudolph, 9s Sheppard, 19 Fuller
Fastest Lap: 9s Sheppard 18.753s

Sportsman (25 Laps)
38 Zach Sobotka ($1000), 2. 25g Nick Guererri (0.348s), 3. 12g Matt Guererri (1.224s), 4. 70a Alex Payne (3.568s), 5. 1F AJ Lloyd (5.626s), 6. 7z Zach Payne (6.299s), 7. 7 Paul Guererri (7.313s), 8. 111 Brett Senek (8.673s), 9. 20x Kevin Ridley (9.988s), 10. 11n Ricky Newton (10.694s), 11. 9 Tim Baker (11.706s), 12. 3 Justin McKay (12.733s), 13. 35 Nick Cooper (14.739s), 14. 132 Dalton Martin (15.038s), 15. 68 Dave DiPietro (15.166s), 16. 61 Andrew Jacobson (17.442s), 17. 51 Tim Lafler (17.880s), 18. 23b Tim Borden (19.862s), 19. 2 Loren Lincoln (20.972s), 20. 51a Zac MacDonald (22.649s), 21. 4j Jason Doty (23.271s), 22. 90 Nathan Peckham (-1L), 23. 42 Brandon Glover (-1L), 24. 04 Eric Years (-2L), 25. 31 Kane Bristol (-9L), 26. 00 Sam Hoxie (-10L), 27. 113 Frank Guererri Jr. (-20L), 28. 31k Kennedy Payne (-22L).
Heat Winners: 31 Bristol, 25 N. Guererri, 7 Z. Payne
Fastest Lap: 7 P. Guererri 20.590s

305 Sprints (20 Laps)
53 Bobby Parrow ($600), 2. 48a Alysha Bay (0.596s), 3. 48J Darryl Ruggles (5.886s), 4. 75 Brandyn Griffin (8.036s), 5. 17e Ethan Gray (10.264s), 6. 13t Trevor Years (13.439s), 7. 2 Randy Years (18.111s), 8. 66 Jordan Hutton (25.289s), 9. 9k Kyle Pierce (-1L), 10. 18c Dan Craun (-1L), 11. 77 Matt Rotz (-1L), 12. 62 Jacob Lynch (-1L), 13. 38 Jason Whipple (-16L)
Heat Winners: 2 R. Years, 53 Parrow
Fastest Lap: 53 Parrow 17.530s

Street Stocks (20 Laps)
36 Jimmy Grant, 2. 25b Marc Minutolo (5.320s), 3. 00 Mike Welch (6.213s), 4. Cj1 CJ Guererri (12.192s), 5. 5c Rick Crego (12.567s), 6. 55p Parker Smith (18.409s), 7. 55b Blane Smith (21.542s), 8. 37x Carl Johnson (21.812s), 9. 34q Jason Quigley (22.511s), 10. 64b Bob Buono, 11. 122 Chris Beyea (24.290s), 12. 63 Mike Fellows (-2L), 13. 12s Dakohta Sharpe (-4L), 14. 3 Pat Hobbs (-10L), 15. 57j Adam Depuy (-11L), 16. 74 Ron Metcalf (-11L), 17. 24j Marcus Springer (-16L), 18. 15k Jared Hill (-17L), 19. 25J Brad Steinruck (-19L)
Heat Winners: 25b Minutolo, 5c Crego, 36 Grant
Fastest Lap: 36 Grant 22.130s

Hobby Stocks (15 Laps)
25 Justin Eldredge, 2. 57J Tyler Burnell (0.589s), 3. 13b Brian Lloyd (1.378s), 4. 15k Jeremy Trank (2.236s), 5. 25b Marc Minutolo (2.645s), 6. 36 Willy Grant (2.821s), 7. 86L Shawn Lloyd (3.095s), 8. 36w Jeff Hand (3.869s), 9. 28 Brandon Barron (5.654s), 10. 52 Amber Pierce (7.027s), 11. 54 Allison Pierce (8.041s), 12. 42 Casey Wagner
Heat Winners: 25 Eldredge, 57J Burnell
Fastest Lap: 25j Eldredge 23.001s

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