Justin Wright & Matt Sheppard Share Twin 20’s Spotlight Friday At Utica-Rome Speedway

Story By: CHRIS MOORE / UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY – VERNON, NY – Justin Wright and Matt Sheppard both visited Sunoco Modified Victory Lane on Friday night, claiming the ‘Twin 20’ victories at Utica-Rome Speedway on Tom Cole’s Lexi LLC night.

Ironically, in last Friday’s main event, Sheppard jumped in Wright’s family-owned No. 19w machine after the point leader experienced engine troubles aboard his No. 9s in his heat race.

This week, Wright, of York, N.Y., claimed his first Modified win in nearly five years and his first ever at the ‘Home of Heroes.’

“It’s cool to win, but this was 20 laps. I’ll get up on the roof after we win a 30-lapper,” said Wright of his tamed excitement. “I have nothing but respect for Matt. I selfishly put him in the car (last week) because we’ve been struggling and there’s no better feedback out there.”

Wright started from the pole starting position and led all 20 laps on his way to the first win of his Utica-Rome Speedway career.

Wright paced the field as the opening 15 laps clicked off caution-free. Paris, N.Y.’s Claude Hutchings Jr. chased the leader in second while Fultonville, N.Y.’s JaMike Sowle began to apply the pressure on Hutchings for second around lap 10.

Plattsburgh, N.Y.’s Nick Heywood – who was running fourth at the time – pulled off the speedway on lap nine, handing the position to Ronnie Johnson.

Alan Johnson was on the move in the early going as well, racing from the ninth position into the top five after Heywood pulled off the speedway.

The first caution flag fell prior to the completion of the 16th circuit, as second-place runner Claude Hutchings slowed in turn two.

The field was reset for the first time moving Sowle to second, and Ronnie Johnson into the third position.

On the restart, Wright slipped away, while Ronnie Johnson outgunned Sowle for the runner-up spot and began to reel in the leader.

Ronnie Johnson began to reel in the leader but ran out of time at the end of the 20-lap main event.

Wright claimed his first win of the season with Duanesburg, N.Y.’s Ronnie Johnson and Sowle in tow.

Ransomville, N.Y.’s Erick Rudolph raced from the 12th starting position to come home fourth and Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard climbed into the top five in the late stages from his 15th-place starting position.

Following the first ‘Twin 20’ Justin Wright drew the invert number of four, putting Rudolph on the pole for ‘Twin 20’ No. 2.

It was Sheppard, however, wasting no time from his fifth starting position who was quickly making moves to get to the front. Sheppard got to fourth at the completion of the first lap when the yellow flag came out.

On the ensuing restart, Sheppard raced Ronnie Johnson for third and underneath Sowle for second before the field entered the third turn on lap two.

Sheppard quickly closed in on Rudolph, using the inside line to slide underneath Rudolph one lap later, taking the lead for good.

Despite multiple restarts, Sheppard’s Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply No. 9s was too strong, claiming his sixth win of the season.

“I didn’t know where I wanted to be on those restarts, he could really pull me down the straightaway unless I got a really good jump,” explained Sheppard of the close racing between him and Rudolph.

Rudolph held on for a second-place finish and Ronnie Johnson claimed his second podium finish of the night.

Gloversville, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner came home fourth aboard his Jason Simmons Racing No. 98 machine and Binghamton, N.Y.’s Darren Smith piloted his Jeremy Smith Racing No. 12 car to a fifth-place finish.

Durhamville, N.Y.’s Matt Janczuk claimed his third consecutive Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman feature win, this time coming from the 17th starting position.

After struggling in his heat race, Janczuk quickly went to work in the 25-lap main. Janczuk got to second but had work to do to catch leader Allan Hodge. Hodge – of Sherburne, N.Y. – was the fastest car in hot laps and won his heat race, appearing to be the car to beat.

Janczuk however cut the distance between himself and Hodge and made the pass for the win with less than five laps to go. Hodge held on for a runner-up finish and Oneida, N.Y.’s Ed Lukas rounded out the top three with his best finish of the season.

Mexico, N.Y.’s Addison Bowman took home the fourth spot and South New Berlin, N.Y.’s Payton Talbot rounded out the top five.

Jay Corbin returned to Victory Lane with the Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks on Friday night. After setting a new track record (21.641) in his heat race, Corbin carried that speed into the 20-lap feature event for his second win of the season.

Jason Morrison got to second early but had nothing to offer the eventual winner. Morrison settled for second and Beau Ballard rounded out the podium finishers. Josh Coonradt followed up his back-to-back wins with a fourth-place finish and Bill Knapp came home in fifth.

Seth Martin claimed his third win of the season with the Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman. Martin’s win in the 12-lap main also vaults him to second in the points standings.

E.J. Gallup claimed his third consecutive runner-up finish and Eric Jensen rounded out the top three.

For the second consecutive week Corey Valade (DOHC) and Justin Pope (SOHC) went to Victory Lane with the Fonda Fair Four Cylinders. Valade has now won six times this season, while Pope claimed his third win of the season and second in a Single Cam car.

Nathaniel Boesse topped the Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshot feature in the opening night of the Northeast Region Super National Weekend for the Tobias Racing Slingshot Series.

On the D&S Landscaping Junior Slingshot side of things, Trevor Houghton dominated the 15-lap main event for the win in the weekend kickoff.

Racing resumes Friday, July 15 at Utica-Rome Speedway as Westmoreland Golf Club presents the night racing. The CRSA 305 Sprint Cars will join the regular Friday night program at the ‘Home of Heroes.’

Modified Twin 20 No. 1 Feature Finish (20 laps): JUSTIN WRIGHT, Ronnie Johnson, JaMike Sowle, Erick Rudolph, Matt Sheppard, Rocky Warner, Alex Yankowski, Darren Smith, Pat Ward, Brett Haas, Shaun Walker, Andy Bachetti, J.F. Corriveau, Will Shields, Tucker O’Connor, J.R. Hurlburt, Randy Shantel, Alan Johnson, Billy Decker, Claude Hutchings Jr., Alan Barker, Tim Mayne, Robert Bublak, Nick Heywood, Ted Starr, Aaron Jacobs.

Modified Twin 20 No. 2 Feature Finish (20 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Erick Rudolph, Ronnie Johnson, Rocky Warner, Darren Smith, Brett Haas, JaMike Sowle, Shaun Walker, Pat Ward, Alex Yankowski, Alan Barker, Tucker O’Connor, Robert Bublak, Will Shields, J.R. Hurlburt, Justin Wright, Aaron Jacobs, Randy Shantel, J.F. Corriveau, Andy Bachetti, Tim Mayne, Ted Starr, Alan Johnson, Claude Hutchings Jr.

Did Not Start: Billy Decker, Nick Heywood

Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): MATT JANCZUK, Allan Hodge, Ed Lukas, Addison Bowman, Payton Talbot, Jeremy Slosek, Tanner Warner, Stephen Denton, Chris Mackey, David Hackett Jr., Willy Decker Jr., Rocco Leone, David Dickey, Mike Richmond, Matt Richardson, Dave Richer, A.J. Miller, Shawn Frost, Brent Joy, Kyle DeMetro, Jimmy Moyer, Dave Moyer, Ed Downing.

Pro Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): JAY CORBIN, Jason Morrison, Beau Ballard, Josh Coonradt, Bill Knapp, Bret Belden, Ken Griffen, Tim Wood, Dan Slosek, Dillon Vanston, Jim Normoyle, John Holmes, Ed Kotary, Mike Kazlauskas.

Limited Sportsman Feature Finish (15 laps): SETH MARTIN, E.J. Gallup, Eric Jensen, Zack Welch, Mike Haman, John Anderson, Ernie Staelens, Dylan Piersall, Amos Hughes, Amber Jacobs, Alexis Jacobs.

Four Cylinder Cruiser Feature Finish (12 laps): COREY VALADE (DOHC), Dan Valade, Justin Pope (SOHC), Kyle Coley, David DeNova, Rudy King Jr., Donald Kimball, Hank Wedgren, Matt Bukovan, Hunter Tarbania, Wayne Russell Jr.

All-Star Slingshot Feature Finish (20 laps): NATHANIEL BOESSE, Brett Putnam, Kirsten Swartz, Mason Pittenger, James Benz, Andrew Turpin, Lucas Pattenger, Chris Darrow, Tavien Blowers, Scott Sprague, Josh Persse, Tyler Vadney, Jim Pollard, Tucker Jones, Andrew Millard, Joel Vadney, Dustin Sehn, Tadd Granger, Nicholas Jenkins.

Did Not Start: Eymarah Bowman

Junior Slingshot Feature Finish (15 laps): TREVOR HOUGHTON, Chase Spoor, Sullivan Dickey, Blake Banek, Savannah Simmons, Jaden Pierce, Jayden Wust, Brody Janczuk, Maddy Broedel, Ayden Goodier, Corky Warner, Braxton Martin.

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