Story By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR – BREWERTON, NY – Matt Sheppard left the first night of SummerFAST at Weedsport Speedway Monday night wanting more. Twenty-four hours later, he got it.
Sheppard, of Waterloo, NY, came back on night number two of SummerFAST at Brewerton Speedway, Tuesday night, leading all 60 laps for his fourth Super DIRTcar Series win this year.
He is no stranger to the Central Square, NY track where he already had six career Series victories dating all the way back to 2009. Fortune seemed to be in his favor after a second-place finish in his Heat Race followed by pulling the pole position on the redraw.
When the Feature commenced, he jumped out in front of his competitors to quickly take the lead. Adam Pierson contended with him for the first 15 laps but was passed by Brisbane, Queensland native Peter Britten. Heinke-Baldwin Racing driver Jimmy Phelps, fresh off his Feature win at Weedsport, wanted a piece of the action as well. He navigated his way through the field and into third behind Britten and Sheppard.
“Super” Matt knocked lap after lap off the counter, giving his competition almost no openings to challenge him. He was smooth in Turn 3 and 4, but found he had to take an adjusted approach for Turn 1 and 2.
“I felt pretty comfortable in (Turns) three and four,” Sheppard said. “I moved down off the top and down into the middle. I felt pretty good no matter where I ran. (Turn) one and two, I didn’t really feel comfortable anywhere on the racetrack, so I just stuck to the top most of the race.
“Our car was definitely good enough, I guess. We had a good starting spot. We have a lot of laps around this place in the past. I used to run here weekly. All in all, it just worked out for us tonight.”
After coming away unaffected from the first caution thrown on Lap 11, Sheppard faced his second challenge on Lap 26 when the second caution was thrown. He again remained unscathed, and the battle was now for second place between Britten and Phelps. Phelps won the battle and remained there until a local favorite made a late race advance, resulting in an attention-grabbing finish.
Tom Sears Jr., uncle of full-time Series driver Tim Sears Jr., started 10th and steadily climb his way through the field, putting his experience and familiarity of the track to work. With 10 laps to go, he had charged up seven positions to third. He still wasn’t done.
He passed Phelps with seven laps to go, leaving onlookers eager to see if the local driver could continue his intrepid charge and pull off an incredible upset over the night’s leader with little time to do so.
An unexpected third caution was thrown with two laps remaining, giving the Clay, NY native one more shot at catching Sheppard. Ultimately, his charge would end after passing Phelps, crossing the finish line second.
“Our car was really good tonight,” Sears Jr. said. “We didn’t time trial good. I’m kind of bumming about that. But we raced good in the Heat Race, got in a redraw spot…our car came on the last 25-30 laps. The yellow hurt us there. I think we had something for Matt if yellow didn’t come out. We just restarted and were able to hang on for second. But all in all, it was a good run for us for running one night a week. This is our home track so that helps.”
Peter Britten fought his way back to third with five laps remaining, finishing there to round out the night’s podium.
St. Catharines, ON driver Mat Williamson finished fourth, and Tim Sears Jr. crossed the finish line fifth.
With two of the four races completed of the inaugural four-day SummerFAST event, Matt Sheppard stands on the top of the SummerFAST points leaderboard, followed by Jimmy Phelps and Mike Mahaney. At the completion of the fourth and final SummerFAST race at Land of Legends Raceway in Canandaigua, New York, there will be a special SummerFAST trophy awarded to the driver with the most points.
UP NEXT: The third round of SummerFAST will be at Fulton Speedway, Wednesday, Aug. 17.
FEATURE (60 Laps)
9S-Matt Sheppard; 2. 62S-Tom Sears Jr; 3. 21A-Peter Britten; 4. 88-Mat Williamson; 5. 83X-Tim Sears Jr; 6. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 7. 35-Mike Mahaney; 8. 5H-Chris Hile; 9. 4-Anthony Perrego; 10. 215P-Adam Pierson; 11. 32R-Ronnie Davis III; 12. 3J-Marc Johnson; 13. 8H-Max McLaughlin; 14. 9X-Tyler Trump; 15. 91-Billy Decker; 16. 7Z-Zachary Payne; 17. JS98-Rocky Warner; 18. 3-Justin Haers; 19. 12S-Darren Smith; 20. 2A-Mike Gular; 21. 34-Kevin Root; 22. 17-Marcus Dinkins; 23. (DNF) 2L-Jack Lehner; 24. (DNF) 70A-Alex Payne; 25. (DNF) M1-Dave Marcuccilli; 26. (DNF) 99L-Larry Wight