Column By: TOM WENNER / RPW – PORT ROYAL, PA – Matt Sheppard is making his ’22 season one of historical significance with another $50k added to his bank account after the Short Track Super Series ELITE Speed Showcase 75 lap win at the Port Royal Speedway on Saturday Night.
This race was far different for Matt as he had to battle back from early tire failure and wrestle the lead away from Stewart Friesen to score the win.
The last 5 laps of the 75 lap feature event had every fan in the stands and pit area on their feet as Matt and Stewart went nose to nose for the $50k on the line. Stewart Friesen made an epic run from 24th to the lead on a challenging race track that many were unable to get hooked up on.
The 2 best Dirt Modified drivers in the country set the stage for those final 5 laps and the result was that everyone in attendance and watching online was treated to a masterpiece event. Stewart Friesen controlled the bottom while Matt Sheppard was ripping the top side.
It took several laps for Sheppard to wrestle that lead away from Friesen, What an ending. If you have the ability to watch the race highlights, go check it out.
Congrats to Port Royal Speedway, Brett Deyo and the Short Track Super Series, and All of the staff at the Port Royal Speedway for putting on 2 exceptional days of racing action.
61 STSS Modifieds registered for the Elite Series Speed Showcase 75-lap race event.
Jimmy Phelps and Mike Mahaney led 36 car field to the green flag. Larry Wight, Mad Max, Ryan Godown, Danny Creeden and Anthony Perrego were immediately chasing the leaders.
On lap 2 the caution lights were flashing as Mike Trautschold was slowing. Mike pitted for service and returned to the field. Darren Smith pitted and returned to action.
The field was reset and back to racing action. Jimmy Phelps was very fast early on and sped away with the lead. Mahaney, McLaughlin, Wight, Perrego and Godown were in tow.
As the field clicked off 5 down, Phelps was blasting away from the field.
At the 10 down mark of the race Jimmy Phelps was pulling away to straightaway lead. Mike Mahaney, Mad Max, Larry Wight, Anthony Perrego, and Ryan Godown were the Top 6.
With 15 down the yellow lights were flashing as the 9s of Matt Sheppard was slowing down the front stretch. The right rear was down on the 9s and Sheppard quickly pitted in the infield for service and returned to the tail of the field.
Jimmy Phelps remained the race leader, Mahaney, Mad Max, Perrego, Godown, Creeden, Pauch Jr., Dippel and Stewart Friesen from 24th to 9th. Billy Decker pulled off during this caution.
The field was restacked and back to green flag racing. Anthony Perrego went from 4th on 2nd on the restart. Friesen moved from 9th to 8th on the restart.
At the 20 down mark of the race Jimmy Phelps was continuing to maintain the race lead. Anthony Perrego was now in 2nd and chasing. Mahaney back to 3rd, Godown 4th, and Mad Max back to 5th.
25 down and Phelps continues to lead. Perrego, Mahaney, Godown and Wight are the Top 5. Stewart Friesen is 6th from 24th and carving through the field like a hot knife through butter.
At 28 down, the yellow lights were again flashing at Craig Von Dohren was slowing in turn 1. Darren Smith, Mad Max, and Keith Flach all pitted and returned to action. The field was restacked showing Phelps, Stewart Friesen now 2nd, Godown 3rd, Perrego 4th, and Wight 5th.
We go back to green and at lap 30 down, 45 to go Steward Friesen is assaulting Jimmy Phelps for the race lead. In a half a lap, Friesen is by Phelps and pulling away. Phelps settled into second with Godown 3rd, Perrego 4th, and Wight 5th.
At the 40 to go mark Stewart Friesen has taken ownership of the race pace. Phelps, Godown, Perrego, Wight, Pauch Jr., Creeden, and Mahaney in tow.
At the 30 to go mark Stewart Friesen has full command of the race lead. Jimmy Phelps is 2nd, Anthony Perrego is now 3rd, Larry Wight 4th, Billy Pauch Jr. 5th, Ryan Godown is back to 6th, and Danny Creeden 7th.
At the Lap 24 to go mark the caution lights are displayed for Billy Pauch Jr. who was running 5th. Pauch Jr. is stopped in Turn 4 with the Holsten Bicknell 96 not under power. Mad Max, David Schilling, Keith Flach, and Craig Von Dohren all pit for service and come back.
The field makes an attempt at racing and the yellow is back out for Jimmy Horton who is slow with the Halmar 43. Horton has a flat tire and comes to the infield pits for service and returns. This time Mike Mahaney, Mike Gular and Brandon Grosso all come pitside for service and return.
The field is restacked and back to racing. At the Lap 21 to go mark Keith Flach spins in front of the flagmen and needs wrecker service to be removed from the speedway surface.
Mike Gular is visiting the pits again for service. The field is restacked and another attempt at racing occurs before Ryan Watt slows and brings out the caution. Watt visited the pits and returned to racing action.
The running order is Friesen your leader followed by Phelps, Perrego, Wight, Godown, and Yankowski. The field heads back to green flag racing action.
At the 15 to go mark of the race Stewart Friesen is showing the way, Phelps, Perrego, Wight, Matt Sheppard is 5th from the rear of the field after his flat tire change.
Andy Bachetti brings out the caution at the lap 14 to go mark. Mad Max, David Schilling, Mike Trautschold, and Brett Haas all visit the pits. The field is restacked with Friesen, Phelps, Perrego, Wight, Sheppard, and Godown in tow. We again head back to racing action.
At the 10 to go mark of the race, Friesen is still your leader but all eyes are now on Matt Sheppard who is making an incredible charge from the rear of the field. Friesen has been running the bottom while Sheppard is coming through the pack on the top side of the speedway. Friesen, Phelps, Sheppard, Perrego and Wight are the Top 5.
Matt Sheppard moved around Jimmy Phelps at the 9 to go mark. At the 6 to go mark of the race the caution lights are flashing for Rocky Warner who is slowing and out of fuel. There is word among the pits that many are concerned about having enough fuel left to go the distance.
Demetrios Drellos, Jordan Watson, and Andy Bachetti all visit the puts. Watson ran out of fuel and is having a hard time re-firing the car.
The caution sets up an incredible epic 6 lap dash to the ending of the $50k to win Speed Showcase 75. Stewart Friesen v. Matt Sheppard along with Jimmy Phelps, Anthony Perrego, Larry Wight and Alex Yankowski.
The green flag drops and Friesen and Sheppard go at it nose to nose with Friesen taking the low side while Matt Sheppard is blasting the top side. Side by Side for several laps.
Stewart Friesen was able to hold off Sheppard’s advances for several laps until Matt Sheppard got enough bite and momentum on the high side to sneak by for the lead on the white flag lap for the victory. Stewart Friesen finished 2nd.
Jimmy Phelps came home 3rd with Larry Wight crossing the line fourth but was disqualified for failing to make race weight after the event.
Anthony Perrego was 4th with Alex Yankowski 5th, Ryan Godown 6th, Matt Stangle 7th, Alan Johnson 8th, Tyler Dippel 9th and Mat Williamson 10th.
Friday Night Modified Winners were:
Race One Winner: Tyler Dippel
2. Anthony Perrego
3. Matt Sheppard
4. Danny Bouc
Race Two Winner: Max McLaughlin
2. Mat Williamson
3. Brandon Grosso
4. Mike Gular
Race Three Winner: Mike Mahaney
2. Billy Pauch Jr.
3. Mike Trautschold
4. Jimmy Horton
Race Four Winner: Ryan Godown
2. Danny Creeden
3. Duane Howard
4. Brett Haas
Race Five Winner: Jimmy Phelps
2. Larry Wight
3. Alex Yankowski
4. Ronnie Johnson
Saturday B Main One Winner: Jordan Watson
2. Stewart Friesen
3. Rocky Warner
4. Craig Von Dohren
Saturday B Main Two Winner: Louden Reimert
2. Demetrius Drellos
3. Matt Stangle
4. Billy Decker
Saturday B Main Three Winner: Jeff Strunk
2. Alan Johnson
3. Keith Flach
4. David Schilling
This set the feature field for the 75 lap Speed Showcase.