Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – DUNDEE, NY – When you’re on a roll, it seems like you can do no wrong.
That’s exactly how Matt Sheppard’s luck seems to be going right now.
Friday night, Sheppard added another check in the win column with a 14th to first run at the Outlaw Speedway to take the 43-lap Ted Siri Memorial for Modifieds.
The win was number 30 on the 2022 season for Sheppard who has now won six of the last seven races he’s strapped into his #9s machine.
Only Jimmy Phelps has slowed the roll Sheppard’s been on when he won Monday night at Weedsport. This is one hell of a ride “SuperMatt” is on right now.
“Whenever you get on a roll like this, you just ride it as long as you can,” Sheppard said. “We were happy this race fit in our schedule. We had the night off tonight and it’s really nice to be back here at Outlaw.”
Sheppard started his night with mechanical troubles during his heat race. That forced him to start deep on the grid for the main event.
That didn’t stop the Savannah, NY driver who sliced through the field like a hot knife through butter. He was up to second by lap 16 when leader Steve Paine started to billow smoke from the rear of his HigFab Chassis #7x and came up lame in turns three and four. The 2021 track champ was done for the night.
From that point on, Sheppard was a man on a mission. It looked like he was all set to take the big $4,321 payday. However, the starter put a slight delay in the party.
A two-car accident on the white flag lap between Alex Payne and Jim LaRock set up a one-lap shootout for the victory. Payne wasn’t happy with invader Rocky Warner for his involvement in the accident afterwards.
Sheppard had track winners Brady Fultz and Cory Costa on his back bumper for the restart, but it was just a formality. Sheppard was the man on this night as he took his third victory at the speedway of 2022.
“It was great to race in front of such a big crowd here to night,” he said. “It’s great to see these grandstands packed and hopefully the fans enjoyed the show.”
Sheppard was once a regular at the Dundee, NY oval, winning the Modified track championship on three occasions. However, he’s since made Utica-Rome Speedway his Friday night home but still loves when he gets to turn laps at Outlaw.
“I’m not really what you’d call an outsider here,” he said. “I spent a lot of years here running weekly and always enjoy coming back.”
The night was in honor of Ted Siri, father of track promoter Tyler Siri, who passed away in December. Sheppard understood just how much this race meant to the Siri’s and was honored to be the events inaugural winner.
“I have to thank the entire Siri family,” he said. “This was an extremely big race tonight. Losing their patriarch is always tough but this was an amazing event in his honor.”
He also thanked his team for their dedication, especially through the run they’ve been having.
“I really have to thank my crew,” he said. “It’s been a long week and it’s been kind of a grind. They’ve been sticking with me, my girlfriend’s been with me helping all week as well and I couldn’t do this without my crew, my family and my friends.”
Fultz had a solid run all evening and came home with a fine second place finish to cap off his night with Cory Costa in third.
Phil Vigneri III in this Wraptile Graphics #44V ran strong in the feature to come home in fourth with AJay Potrzebowski II completing the top five.
Here’s a little side note to Matt Sheppard’s night. Even with the problems he was facing after his heat race, Sheppard jumped in to help Steve Paine change the radiator on Paine’s machine just before the feature.
This was a true sign of sportsmanship by Matt and only seemed ironic that would have had to get by Paine for the lead had Steve not had is problems.