RPW Column: Blazing-Hot Matt Sheppard Wins At Orange County Saturday; Third Win In Three Days

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Matt Sheppard continued his recent successes as he won at the Orange County Fair Speedway on Saturday night.

It was his 2nd OCFS win in 3 days as he won the Thursday 103rd Anniversary Race. It was also his 3rd straight day with a win as he drove to victory Friday night at the Utica-Rome Speedway.

After making a poor redraw in last Saturday’s racing event. Sheppard made a good one for this week’s United Rentals DIRTcar Big Block Modified feature. Sheppard started outside pole this week and after taking the lead at the start, he led it all from green to checker to win for the eighth time at OCFS in 2022 and for the 22nd time in his career.

Tommy Meier drew pole position, but at the drop of the green, it was Sheppard quickly to the lead. Sheppard was quick to pile up the distance between himself and Dillon Steuer. Dillon had started 5th, but by lap 2, he had already moved into 2nd. Sheppard was having none of there being a race at the front as he pulled away to a big lead.

While Sheppard was out for a Sunday drive at the front, Mike Gular was putting the pressure on Steuer. After 22 green flag laps, the caution was out. wiping out Sheppard’s huge lead. The restart saw more of the same as Sheppard again put distance between himself and Steuer. As the race neared it’s conclusion, there were little changes in the running order. One exception to that was Max McLaughlin, who gained two spots on the restart.

At the finish, it was Sheppard, a winner by nearly 4 seconds over Steuer with Mike Gular finishing 3rd, McLaughlin 4th and Anthony Perrego 5th. Completing the top 10 were Craig Mitchell 6th, Charles Loiodice 7th, Jimmy Horton 8th, Billy VanInwegen 9th and Meier 10th.

Billy VanInwegen took the lead early and drove away from the rest of the field to capture the H.O. Penn 358 Small Block Modified feature.

Chris Stevens was the early leader, but VanInwegen quickly took the lead on lap 4. After that, it was a race for 2nd as Billy V. was just too strong. Charles Loiodice had a strong car Saturday, making a nice run to pass Chris Stevens on lap 13 and finished 2nd. Stevens finished 3rd as Craig Mitchell finished 4th and Dillon Steuer 5th. Gary Edwards III finished 6th, Tommy Meier 7th, Anthony Perrego 8th, Pat Reiser 9th and Danny Creeden 10th.

Anthony Falanga took the lead on lap 4 and went on to win his first Arkel Motors Sportsman feature since2016.

The beginning of the race got off to a rocky start as a big pileup in turn one resulted in a flip of the recently returned to racing, Donnie Elliott. Tighe Sherlock was also involved. But there were no injuries reported.

Falanga took the lead from Eddie Owens on lap 4 and he survived several restarts to get the win. Dominic Roselli Jr. raced from deep in the pack to finish 2nd after a great race with Jared LaBagh. LaBagh finished 3rd, racing with a tribute scheme that was on his father’s car back in it;s championship days. Gary LaBagh passed away earlier this week. Jared did his dad proud Saturday, a tremendous effort.

Sportsman points leader. Mike Sabia, will no doubt be adding to his lead when the points are tabulated this week as he finished 4th. Owens, with a great race, finished 5th. Rounding out the top 10 were Kasey Hufcut 6th, Ryan Neiger 7th, Jake Bedell 8th, Drew Boniface 9th and Cody Higbie 10th.

It was a big day for the Henry family Saturday. It was Walt Henry’s wife, Alicia’s birthday. To celebrate, the OCFS and Accord Speedway Street/Pure Stock ace scored his first open wheel victory in the Precision Hydraulic and Oil Rookie Sportsman.

Henry survived several attempts from Mike Weislowski to take the lead on restarts. Weslowski would be in the high groove, but Henry got good runs on the low side in turn 2 and kept the lead.

Trailing Henry and Weslowski at the checkers were Rookie points leader Joey Conklin Jr in 3rd. Patrick Murphy was 4th and Shawn Murphy 5th. Randy Torres was 6th, Fred Pavia 7th, Donnie Campbell 8th, Mike Mikulski 9th and Matt Sydoryk 10th.

On Saturday, August 20th, the North East Parts Group Street Stocks will be joining the Modifieds, 358 Small Block Modifieds and Sportsman. The field on Modifieds will be trimmed to the final 4 as the countdown to the 2022 OCFS Modified Champion continues.

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