Story By: CHRIS MOORE / SHORT TRACK SUPER SERIES – VERNON, NY – Ding. Ding. That was the sound as the green flag fell and Sprakers, N.Y.’s Stewart Friesen and Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard began a 61-lap heavyweight bout.
In the end, Friesen captured the first ever trip for the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco to Utica-Rome Speedway in the ‘Richie Evans Remembered 61.’
“I was worried, starting up front, somebody behind you can find something and run you down. But Matt (Sheppard) started up front with me, so I knew we’d be searching together,” explained Friesen in Victory Lane.
Friesen’s win pocketed him $6,161.61-plus and extended his record as the all-time winningest driver on the STSS. Friesen, who entered the night fourth in Hurlock Auto & Speed North Region point standings, drew closer to the point lead as well.
Following the Beyea Custom Headers Redraw, Sheppard and Friesen occupied the front row, and the battle was on. The two sit atop the Utica-Rome all-time win list and the STSS all-time win list.
At the drop of series starter Joe Kriss’ green flag, Friesen jumped off the outside and darted to the lead, before a yellow on lap one for Billy Van Pelt facing the wrong direction in turn two.
After another early yellow, Friesen set the pace, while Sheppard continued trying to reel him in. The two caught the back half of the field by the 10th circuit, as
Sheppard continued to try to seize an opportunity to sneak by Friesen.
Meanwhile, King Ferry, N.Y. native Mike Mahaney was reeling in East Greenbush, N.Y.’s Bobby Hackel, slipping by for third on lap 13. Two laps later, Middlesex, N.Y.’s Alan Johnson drove around Hackel to take fourth.
A few laps later, Johnson continued to work forward, reeling in and slipping by Mahaney on lap 23 and taking the third position.
Friesen and Sheppard continued to knife through lap traffic, lapping into the top-10 before a lap-37 yellow came out for fourth place running Mike Mahaney breaking on the front stretch.
After another yellow on lap 38, the green flag fell for the final time and Friesen went right back to work. Sheppard tried the top and bottom in each corner, but Friesen’s No. 44 was too strong.
While Friesen led Sheppard, Johnstown, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner came to life, climbing to the third position all by himself. While Warner camped out in third, Alan Johnson battled with Jessica Friesen, Mat Williamson, and Anthony Perrego for the fourth spot.
In the end, Friesen never made the mistake Sheppard needed, capturing the historic event at the ‘Home of Heroes.’
Sheppard finished in the runner-up spot in his Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s, and Rocky Warner rounded out the podium finishers in the Jason Simmons Racing No. 98.
St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada’s Mat Williamson won the battle for fourth in his Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Mo. 3 and Alan Johnson grabbed fifth in the Friendly Ford No. 14J.
Sixth was Middletown, N.Y.’s Anthony Perrego, who salvaged a good finish after going a lap down. Sprakers, N.Y.’s Jessica Friesen ran in the top-10 all night, coming home seventh, and Sheffield, Mass., native Andy Bachetti snagged the eighth spot.
Ninth was Ransomville, N.Y.’s Erick Rudolph in the Revive Spine Center no. 25 and Montezuma, N.Y.’s Dave Marcuccilli rounded out the top-10.
Mat Williamson was the ‘Hot Rod Hodge’ Hard Charger Award recipient, climbing from 20th to finish fourth and earning an additional $561.
Stewart Friesen also captured the ‘Hot Rod Hodge’ six-lap dash worth an additional $1,061.
Heat winners, receiving $50 each from FloRacing were Jessica Friesen, Billy Decker, Johnson, and Stewart Friesen. The consolation races went to David Schilling and Tyler Dippel.
Thirty-nine STSS big-block/small-block Modifieds signed in at the gate to participate in the first-ever Modified race at Utica-Rome Speedway.
Fifty-one Crate 602 Sportsman registered for Round No. 4 of the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region.
South New Berlin, N.Y.’s Payton Talbot picked up his first career STSS win from his third starting position in the 25-lap main.
Talbot chased Niskayuna, N.Y.’s Tim Hartman Jr. for the first 17 laps of the feature, as the top two in series points were duking it out for the win.
Hartman Jr. stayed down on the bottom, while Talbot rolled the top side in turns three and four reeling in Hartman lap-by-lap. On lap 18, Talbot had caught Hartman and rolled around Hartman to take the lead for good.
The win, his second of the season at Utica-Rome, earned Talbot $1,561 for his efforts, and pulled him within four points of Hartman for the STSS North Region point lead.
Hartman Jr. held on to the second position and Central Square, N.Y.’s Alan Fink rounded out the top three. Clay, N.Y.’s Rocco Leone grabbed the fourth position and Johnstown, N.Y.’s Brian Calabrese rounded out the top five.
Racing resumes for the STSS on Tuesday, July 22 at the newly configured Bridgeport (N.J.) Motorsports Park for the ‘South Jersey Shootout’ featuring the sixth event of the Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central for the Modifieds (50 laps, $5,000 to win, $1,000 for 10th & $400 to start) and Round No. 5 the Belmont’s Garage Crate 602 Sportsman event (25 laps, $1,500 to win, $100 to start).
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply North Region Event No. 6 Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Rocky Warner, Mat Williamson, Alan Johnson, Anthony Perrego, Jessica Friesen, Andy Bachetti, Erick Rudolph, Dave Marcuccilli, Alex Yankowski, Bobby Varin, Tyler Dippel, Brett Haas, David Schilling, JaMike Sowle, Shaun Walker, Bobby Hackel, Billy VanPelt, Joe Judge, JR Hurlburt, Mike Gular, Mike Mahaney, Willy Decker, Marshall Hurd, Ronnie Johnson, Billy Decker, Randy Shantel, Sean Beardsley
Did Not Qualify: Demetrios Drellos, Jeff Rockefeller, Jeff Taylor, Brian Murphy, Bob Henry Jr., C.J. Castelletti, Elmo Reckner, Ryan Krachun, Michael Trautschold, Ronnie Holmes
“Hot Rod Hodge” Dash for Cash Finish (6 laps): STEWART FRIESEN ($1,061), Matt Sheppard ($500), Billy Decker ($300), Mike Mahaney ($200), Jessica Friesen ($100), Bobby Hackel ($100), Alan Johnson ($100), Mike Gular ($100)
Belden Motorsports “Silver Fox” Award ($81): Alan Johnson (Oldest Driver)
Heather Marr Halfway Leader Bonus ($50.50): Billy Decker
Kayla & Tommy Conroy “Hodgie’s Choice” Award ($61): Jessica Friesen (Tim Hodge’s Choice)
Maresca Racing “Holy Crap You’re Short” Award ($107): Jessica Friesen (Shortest Driver)
NG Promotions “Sorry About Your Luck Award” ($150): Matt Sheppard (Started Last)
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): Anthony Perrego (6th) & Brett Haas (14th)
Autism Awareness Winner’s Award presented by Halmar ($250): Stewart Friesen
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses: Mat Williamson(fourth) & Erick Rudolph(ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Bobby Varin (Redrew 12th)
Flach Family Lap 43 Leader Bonus ($143): Stewart Friesen
FloRacing Heat Winner Bonuses ($50): Jessica Friesen, Billy Decker, Alan Johnson & Stewart Friesen
Henry’s Exhaust System Bonus ($50 Certificate): Alex Yankowski (11th)
“Hot Rod Hodge” Hard Charger Award ($561): Mat Williamson (20th to fourth)
“Hot Rod Hodge” Missed By One Awards ($200 each): Jeff Rockefeller and Demetrios Drellos
NYSSCA Bonus ($100): Stewart Friesen
Parks Companies Hard Luck Award ($500): Billy Decker
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Stewart Friesen ($150 Certificate – first); Matt Sheppard ($75 Certificate – second); Rocky Warner ($50 Certificate – third); Dave Marcuccilli ($25 Certificate – 10th)
Spyder High Performance Filters Bonuses: Alan Johnson (FREE Filter – fifth); David Schilling (50-percent Certificate – 15th)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Matt Sheppard (second); Bobby Varin (12th); Mike Gular (22nd)
Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader Bonus ($200): Stewart Friesen
TKS Painting Front-Row Bonuses: Matt Sheppard (Pole – $50); Stewart Friesen (Outside Pole – $25)
Wilwood Brakes Lucky 7 Bonus ($75 Certificate): Jessica Friesen (seventh)
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region Event No. 4 Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): PAYTON TALBOT, Tim Hartman, Jr., Alan Fink, Rocco Leone, Brian Calabrese, Brad Alger, Matt Guererri, Joey Bruning, A.J. Digsby, Will Shields, Shawn Frost, Tanner Warner, Richie Riggs, Michael Ballestero, Brendan Gibbons, Ajay Potrzebowski Jr., Ed Lukas, Willy Decker Jr., Dale Welty, Steve Davis, Jeremiah Munson, Addison Bowman, Joe Toth, Hunter Lapp, Tommy Collins, Dave Richer, Scott Mallette, Alex Payne, Matt Janczuk.
Did Not Qualify: David Hackett Jr., Steve Constantino, Blaine Klinger, Troy Zilles, Mike Grover, Anthony Cardamone, David Manchester, Tucker O’Connor, Allan Hodge, Ed Downing, Steve Kotary, Kenny Peoples Jr., Tim Falter, Michael McCallion, John Baker, Kevin Crave, Daniel Morgiewicz, Aiden Grover, Kaiden Dgien, Bobby Hackel, Jason Reome, Kyle DeMetro
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonus (FREE Tire Certificate): Will Shields (10th)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($25): Willy Decker Jr. (Redrew 10th)
Fastline Performance Bonuses ($100 Certificates): Tim Hartman (second) & Tanner Warner (12th)
NYSSCA Bonus ($50): Payton Talbot