RPW Column: Even After Starting Deep, Mat Williamson Becomes First Canadian To Win Outlaw 200 At Fulton Speedway

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – FULTON, NY – Standing on the grid waiting to start the Outlaw 200 at the Fulton Speedway on Saturday night, Mat Williamson wasn’t very optimistic about his chances to win the big $20,000 top prize.

However, when the checkers flew, the man they call “Money Mat” was holding the big check.

Starting an uncharacteristic 34th for the 200-lap event, Williamson knew he had to have a little bit of luck on his side if he wanted to get to the front of the field and be in contention. However, he realized it was a long race and anything could happen.

Fast forward to a caution period nearing the three-quarter mark of the event and the #88 Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac machine was sitting in second, perched right on the back bumper of leader Tim Sears Jr. Williamson may have struggled during qualifying, but when the money was on the line, he was in the hunt.

The Fulton Speedway racing surface had become completely locked down, taking rubber and becoming essentially a one-lane track where the best spot to be was on the bottom. That was also the lane that Sears was running so for Williamson to make the pass, he had to get creative.

That’s exactly what he did as he moved one groove higher once the green flag flew, taking the lead from Sears only a handful of laps later.

From that point on, it was lights out for the St. Catherines, ONT driver who became the first-ever Canadian-born driver to capture the prestigious event.

“Even though we came from deep, I think where you start matters at this place,” Williamson said. “We started in Canandaigua tonight. There were 33 cars that started ahead of us and you had to methodically work your way ahead of them and things fell our way.”

After the lap 100 break where both Sears and Jimmy Phelps, who was the leader midway, had dominated, the race went nearly 40 laps without a caution. Williamson had worked his way into the top 5 and was challenging the likes of Sheppard, Fuller and Phelps for position.

When that caution came out near lap 160, though, he was second, but does he think he could have caught Sears for the lead without it?

“I don’t know to be honest,” he said. “With lapped traffic, it was kind of a double-edged sword. We caught up to him but then it was basically single-file. With the caution, he knows I’m behind him where as in traffic, you can kind of surprise him and try to roll different places that he’s not in.”

Fortunately, things fell Williamson’s way.

“The way the race went, we had good breaks and we had bad breaks,” he said. “Cautions came out when we didn’t need them and cautions came out when we did. It was just one of them things that we got fortunate on.”

With the way the racing surface was, the optimum place to run was on the bottom, as close to the track’s yuke tires as you could be. That was where Sears, who led 119 laps on the night, was running. Williamson didn’t want to drive through the 83x machine, using a bumper to make the pass, so he had to go where Timmy wasn’t. That took him higher on the track.

Did he think there was something up there or did Mat take a shot and hope it worked?

“My car was actually tight enough that I could roll the middle when people got bottle-necked on the bottom,” he said. “That’s kind of how I got to the front. However, when “Timmer” was leading, obviously there wasn’t anyone in front of him so I needed to kind of pressure him, make him think he needed to try different things.”

It worked.

“I think I surprised him more than anything,” he said. “The top really wasn’t the preferred line and in (turns) three and four, when I was running the middle, I didn’t know if it was going to be any good or not. We were just lucky and good all at the same time and I’m just happy to be here.”

Now, the Buzz Chew Racing car and engine combination will probably not be seeing any racing action for the rest of 2021, but what a way to go out.

“This car’s going to sit until probably next year for the Devil’s Bowl events,” he said with a laugh. “This is a PA Small Block and there aren’t many places we can run it. I’m going be running the Wendt 358-Modified at Oswego and then my Small Block at all of the satellite shows as well as Eastern States. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Does Williamson believe in momentum? Could this race carry him into a good couple of days during Super DIRT Week?

“It actually started, I feel, last week at Albany-Saratoga,” he said. We were good in that Friday night Small Block race and that was really the first big race we won all year outside of the Super DIRTcar Series at Weedsport. However, that was back in May and felt like it was last year. There was a long stretch there where we sucked.”

Now, Williamson has “that feeling” back.

“We just needed to get our confidence back,” he said. “That started last week. We had a decent Big Block car at Malta too, but we weren’t great. We made steps in the right direction and tonight we capitalized and were a lot better.”

(35th Annual Outlaw 200) – MAT WILLIAMSON, Tim Sears Jr. Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Tim Fuller, Rocky Warner, Michael Maresca, Dave Marcuccilli, Chris Hile, Ryan Susice, Pat Ward, Alan Johnson, Chad Phelps, Willy Decker, Tom Collins, Ryan Jordan, Justin Crisafulli, Jeff Prentice, Colton Wilson, Glenn Forward, Corey Barker, Alex Payne, Jimmy Phelps, Jackson Gill, Joe August Jeff Taylor, Shawn Walker, Todd Root, Tyler Trump, Roy Bresnahan, Jim Witko Jr., Billy Dunn, Danny Johnson, Marshall Hurd, Jordan Kelly, Billy Decker, Eldon Payne, Garett Rushlow, Darren Smith, Nick Nye, Gordy Button, Bob Henry Jr., Mike Mahaney, Kyle Inman, Mike Stanton Jr., JJ Courcy.

Modified Heat Races – 10 Laps – Top 5 Qualify – Top 2 Redraw

(Modified Heat 1) – Tim Fuller, Michael Maresca, Willy Decker, Mike Stanton Jr., Gordy Button, Tyler Trump, Jackson Gill, Bob Henry Jr., Will Shields, Jimmy Phelps, Ben Bushaw.

(Modified Heat 2) – Danny Johnson, JJ Courcy, Chad Phelps, Colton Wilson, Ryan Jordan, Mat Williamson, Erick Rudolph, Dave Marcuccilli, Joe Shields, Preston Forbes, Tim Murphy.

(Modified Heat 3) – Alan Johnson, Tim Sears Jr., Kyle Inman, Todd Root, Jim Witko, Darren Smith, Roy Bresnahan, Marshall Hurd, Tim Harris, Alan Fink.

(Modified Heat 4) – Eldon Payne, Nick Nye, Mike Mahaney, Joe August, Glenn Forward, Jim Walsh, Jordan Kelly, Pat Ward, Dylan Zacharias, Sean Beardsley.

(Modified Heat 5) – Justin Crisafulli, Larry Wight, Matt Sheppard, Chris Hile, Garett Rushlow, Shawn Walker, Tommy Collins, Brett Tonkin, Mike Bruce, Rocky Warner.

(Modified Heat 6) – Jeff Taylor, Alex Payne, Ryan Susice, Jeff Prentice, Billy Decker, Alan Barker, Corey Barker, Billy Dunn, CJ Castelletti, Mike Ward.

Modified Consolations 12 laps – 3 Qualify

Modified Consi 1) – Mat Williamson, Bob Henry Jr., Jimmy Phelps, Erick Rudolph, Tyler Trump, Jackson Gill, Will Shields, Joe Shields, Ben Bushaw, Dave Marcuccilli. DNS Preston Forbes, Tim Murphy.

(Modified Consi 2) – Pat Ward, Roy Bresnahan, Jordan Kelly, Marshall Hurd, Jim Walsh, Darren Smith, Sean Beardsley, Tim Harris, Alan Fink, DNS Dylan Zacharias.

(Modified Consi # 3) – Billy Dunn, Tommy Collins, Shawn Walker, Alan Barker, Brett Tonkin, Mike Bruce, Mike Ward, Rocky Warner. DNS Corey Barker, CJ Castelletti.

(Modified LCQ 15-laps – Winner Qualifies) – Tyler Trump, Erick Rudolph, Marshall Hurd, Will Shields, Alan Barker, Brett Tonkin, Jim Walsh, Tim Harris, Mike Bruce, Jackson Gill, Tim Murphy, Mike Ward, Joe Shields, CJ Castelletti, Alan Fink, DNS Ben Bushaw, Preston Forbes, Dylan Zacharias, Sean Beardsley, Darren Smith.

(Hoosier Tire to the Hard Luck Winner) – Jimmy Phelps.

(Drum of VP Racing Fuel to the Hard Charger of the race) – Mat Williamson

($100 longest tow award from Brian McDied Contracting) – Jim Witko Jr.

($300 to the top finishing Bicknell car) – Mat Williamson.

 
 
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