Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – In a special race to honor the career of 5 time OCFS Modified Champion Will Cagle, Matt Sheppard took the lead early and cruised to the victory over Tim Fuller and Tim McCreadie. The 24 lap distance honored Cagle’s #24 and paid Sheppard $5.000 for his efforts.
As the 16 starters were drawing their starting spots, no one had selected the pole position and finally, the final driver to draw took the leftover #1 chip, And that driver was the all time OCFS feature winner Brett Hearn. Tommy Meier shared the outside pole.
The green flag saw Meier getting out front with T Mac 2nd. The first yellow flew for leader Meier as he broke. Back to green saw McCreadie continue to over Sheppard as disaster struck Mat Williamson on lap 4 as what was reported as a loss of brakes caused a crash with Williamson flipping the Behrent’s #3. This was the car the team had planned for Sunday’s 200.
McCreadie continued to lead on the restart over Hearn and Sheppard. Super Matt quickly took 2nd and started to close on McCreadie as Fuller was moving up, passing Hearn for 3rd on lap 8.
Sheppard took the lead on lap 9 and pulled to to a good lead. Fuller took 2nd from McCreadie on lap 18. Sheppard ran out the final few laps, taking the win by 2.6 seconds over Fuller with McCreadie 3rd, Hearn 4th and Larry Wight 5th. Billy Decker, Jeff Heotzler, Kenny Tremont, Ronnie Johnson and Anthony Perrego completed the top 10.
“Timmy was a little better on the top in 1 and 2, but it was in 3 and 4 where I could get a run on him. “I can’t say enough about my guys, the car has been getting better the whole night. I can’t thank Middletown enough for putting on this Race of Champions for Will Cagle, a true legend. It’s definitely a nice payday. And having this race gives us a taste of what we might see on a long run Sunday,” Sheppard said. “Right now, the track is in beautiful condition, it’s wide, it’s racey, it smooth, just the way a dirt track should be.”
“I didn’t expect after starting 11th to be able to get up there,” Fuller said. “We had a good race with Timmy. It was a good show. What a beautiful surface, I was here in the spring and it wasn’t too good. But this is beautiful, it’s as good as it gets.”
“It was a lot of fun to be racing with those 2 guys,” McCreadie said. “I tried my best. I was really good early. When I saw they were taking pictures, I knew somebody was close to me. It was a good run for the Atlas Paving car, running it for the Petruska family. It’s a joy to have them back to the track. I’m truly honored to drive for them and I’m glad I came back this weekend.”