RPW Column: Matt Sheppard Closes Friday At Orange County With $5,000 Short Track Super Series Payday

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – There may not have been points on the line towards the Short Track Super Series North Region standings, but on Friday night at the Orange County Fair Speedway, Matt Sheppard didn’t care.

He was perfectly fine collecting the big check at the end of the 50-lap Hard Clay Finale.

Sheppard was the driver in victory lane after leading every circuit around the Middletown, NY oval and having a spirited run through lapped traffic. Yea, he may have started on the outside pole, but the lap cars sure made things interesting as the race went on.

“I felt pretty confident in my racecar tonight.” Sheppard said. “At the same time, though, it’s always nice to put a couple lap cars between you and the second-place guy.”

As the race came closer to the finish, lap traffic was extremely prevalent and Sheppard used them to his advantage.

“When I cleared that group (of lap cars) at the end and got an open race track, I was just counting down the laps,” he said. “That’s when I wanted it to end really quick.”

From the word go on Friday, Sheppard’s Short Track Super Series machine was on the money, and he knew it.”

“This race car was bad to the bone all night,” he said. “It really was. Sometimes you never know what you’re going to have when you get to the track, but from the second we unloaded this thing for hot laps, it was bad ass.”

Even with as good as his Deyo-series car was, Sheppard had a great Friday at all around at Orange County. He also captured the $5,000-to-win Will Cagle Champions Invitational. This was a 24-lap affair that saw him work hard and quickly from his mid-pack starting position.

After multiple laps trying to work his way by leader Tim McCreadie, Sheppard used the low line through turns three and four to power around the Petruska-owned #66 on lap 10 and never looked back.

“This definitely was a big night for our entire team,” he said. “We were joking on the way down here about all the stuff that was going on today. I told my crew chief maybe we should quit messing around and win them both.”

Sheppard’s not resting on his accomplishments from Friday, though.

“We’ll take it and enjoy today,” he said. “Now, we’ll move on to tomorrow.”

Late in the going of the 50-lap event, it looked as if David Schilling in his two-race old PMC Race Car was going to be the runner-up on the night.

Schilling was running a very good line on the bottom with his W16 powerplant under the hood, but lap traffic also came into play.

Anthony Perrego and Mat Williamson joined Schilling in a spirited battle for second in as the laps ticked off, with both drivers making moves on the 1-800-GOT-JUNK car in lap traffic.

Perrego came home and was happy with his run, thankful there was a top side for him to make moves during the event.

“I think everybody was trying to kill the bottom lane during the race,” Perrego said. “That’s where you kind of needed to be. We had a couple good restarts to sneak up there and we just worked our way past a few guys. We really had to work for this.”

The 2021 Orange County Fair Speedway Big Block and Small Block Modified champion really enjoyed racing with Schilling once he got to the top five.

“It was great racing with David,” he said. “We got into lap traffic late and I think the pace slowed down just enough where I could roll around the outside of him.”

Third place finisher Mat Williamson was extremely happy with a third place finish after problems in the Will Cagle Champions race. A brake failure caused his car to go head-on into the turn three wall and upside down.

While it wasn’t the same car, it was the same team Williamson was driving for in the Short Track Super Series event and you could tell he was visually dejected for hurting that car for them.

“My guys work very hard building such great cars and great equipment,” Williamson said. “To write one off like that sucks but to come back in this race and finish third, we’re pretty happy.”

Just like Perrego, Williamson had to work hard for every position he obtained in the race.

“Anthony was really good on the outside on those restarts,” he said. “I couldn’t make the outside work so we just had to stay on the bottom and negotiate through the lap traffic and here we are.”

Schilling came home fourth with Larry Wight completing the top five. Tyler Dippel was the event’s Hard Charger, working his way up 20 positions through the event to come home in the ninth spot.

It was looking like the Orange County fans were going to be in for a classic battle between Sheppard and Stewart Friesen.

Friesen had worked his way up to the second spot quickly from his sixth starting position and was chasing down the leader when the driveshaft let go on the #44 as the lap counter clicked nine. His night was done.

‘HARD CLAY FINALE’ RESULTS SUMMARY – ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY OCTOBER 22, 2021

Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply North Region Event No. 12 Modified Feature Finish (50 laps, non-points): MATT SHEPPARD, Anthony Perrego, Mat Williamson, David Schilling, Larry Wight, Bobby Flood, J.R. Heffner, Andy Bachetti, Tyler Dippel, Rocky Warner, Danny Creeden, Richard Smith, Mike Mahaney, Danny Tyler, Allison Ricci, Demetrios Drellos, Kyle Inman, Sean Beardsley, Stan Frankenfield, Alan Barker, Jerry Higbie, Marc Johnson, Dillon Steuer, Will Shields, Jimmy Horton, Peter Britten, Shane Jablonka, Stewart Friesen, Billy Van Inwegen, Tanner Van Doren.

Did Not Qualify: Roger Henion Jr., Daniel Morgiewicz, Cody Higbie, Tyler Jashembowski, Doug Snyder, L.J. Lombardo, Bob Hentschel, Leo Fotopoulos, Geoff Quackenbush, Michael Sabia, Chris Stevens, Jim Maher, Tim McCreadie, Corey Cormier, Stanley Wilkins, Nick Plumstead, Tom Hindley, Charles Loiodice, Tommy Meier, Joe Bonetti, Rich Eurich, Sean Mandel, Gary Lindberg, Tyler Boniface

American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): Bobby Flood (sixth) & Danny Tyler (14th)
Autism Awareness Winner’s Award presented by Halmar ($250): Matt Sheppard
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses: David Schilling (fourth) & Tyler Dippel (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Marc Johnson (Redrew 10th)
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Heat Winner Bonuses ($50): Danny Creeden, Stewart Friesen, Mat Williamson, Matt Sheppard & Jerry Higbie
Evergreen Fuels Inc. High Temperature Bonus ($64 High Temperature Match): Matt Sheppard
Grand True Value Rental Ron Goodrich Memorial Lap 30 Leader Bonus ($300): Matt Sheppard
Grand True Value Rental Hard Charger Award ($200): Tyler Dippel (29th to ninth)
Henry’s Exhaust System Bonus ($50 Certificate): Danny Creeden (11th)
Rock Fantasy Halfway Leader Bonus ($250): Matt Sheppard
Spyder High Performance Filters Bonuses: Larry Wight (FREE Filter – fifth); Allison Ricci (50-percent Certificate – 15th)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Anthony Perrego (second); Richard Smith (12th); Marc Johnson (22nd)
TKS Painting Front-Row Bonuses: Jerry Higbie (Pole – $50); Matt Sheppard (Outside Pole – $25)
Wilwood Brakes Lucky 7 Bonus ($75 Certificate): J.R. Heffner (seventh)

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