RPW Column: Sometimes, You Just Need An “Elite” Win, & Mat Williamson Got One Saturday At Georgetown

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – GEORGETOWN, DE – Sometimes, you just need a win, and Mat Williamson got it in a BIG $25,000 way Saturday night, winning the Short Track Super Series Elite Melvin L. Joseph Memorial at Georgetown Speedway.

After throwing sliders with Mike Mahaney on several restarts, the St. Catherines, ONT driver held off the hottest man in Dirt Modified racing right now, Matt Sheppard, on two key late-race restarts to grab the checkered flag and put some momentum back in his corner.

“It’s just great to win a big race before the end of the year,” Williamson said.  “We’ve got Charlotte (The Super DIRTcar Series’ World Finals) in a couple days but to win one for Jeff & Harry (Behrent) means a lot.”

Williamson splits time between this car on Brett Deyo’s series, the Buzz Chew #88 on the DIRTcar Series, as well as the Wendt #6 and his own race car.  However, on this night, especially for the #3 team, they all needed this win.

“We’ve had a rough year,” he said.  “It’s nice to finish off strong and get some momentum going into next year.”

Sheppard finished second on the night and locked up both the Short Track Super Series South Region & Elite Series championships to go along with his North region and “unofficially” his Super DIRTcar Series title.

How was he able to hold him off to score one, heads up against the 9s, in a big paying race?

“When he rolled beside me on that last restart, I was like damn, we’re in trouble,” he said.  “Matt’s been so good and they’ve really set the bar for how good they really are.”

Was Williamson nervous?

“Obviously, I was a little worried,” he said.  “I just knew I had to hit my marks, protect the slider into (turn) one and nail three and four so I could get some breathing room.”

What was going through Mat’s mind as he ran the final six laps, knowing Sheppard was probably on his rear bumper, trying to get around?

“I don’t know where he was at the end,” he said.  “I don’t know how far back he was or if he was right on me.  I just knew I had to hit six perfect laps.”

Every time the caution came out in the 40-lap event, did they help or hurt Williamson’s mindset?

“You didn’t really want them when you were leading,” he said.  “However, when you were in second, you kind of wanted them because that you knew that was your only shot.”

Early in the race, Williamson grabbed the lead from Mike Mahaney and was hoping to set sail for the rest of the race.  Was it a calculated move?

“I know I passed Mike there early on under green,” he said. “I think he was searching, didn’t really know where to be on the race track.  It’s one of those deals when you’re leading, you don’t know really where to be on the track.  I could and luckily we got by him.”

Williamson and Mahaney then swapped the lead on several restarts.  How was he able to hold his composure and make the right moves?

“It was a slide-or-die deal there in (turns) one and two,” he said.  “Mike got me with a slider and Stewart (Friesen) got underneath me.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to maintain second.  Obviously, you needed to if you wanted to do that back to Mike.  It was just good racing.”

Sheppard just didn’t have enough for Mat late in the race to score the big prize but had to settle for second.

“We started tenth tonight,” Sheppard said.  “I was hoping to just sneak up there and be in the mix.  Then, I got to second but Mat was just too good and that top was too good.”

Did Sheppard feel like he had a shot at Williamson late in the going, especially with that final restart?

“It would have taken him making a major mistake,” he said.  “Mat’s too good of a race car driver.  He’s not going to do that.”

Stewart Friesen brought the Halmar #44 home in the third spot when the race was over.  Was he happy with his run?

“We finished the season fairly strong here with some good top three’s,” Friesen said.  “No big wins but we’ll take it.  We’re excited to get to the off-season and get back to work and regroup for next year.”

Did Friesen feel like the Georgetown track was set up so he could get another victory?

“I feel like this weekend was the best shape this place has ever been in that I’ve seen,” he said.  “It was a lot of fun tonight.  It had a lot of speed and was a really racy race track.  Congrats to the guys in front of us, Mat and Matt.  See everyone next year.”

Friesen hasn’t had what many would say is a “Stewart Friesen-type” season in 2022, but good finishes in several late year events has to feel good.

“It’s been a tough year for all of us on the team,” he said.  “We’re looking forward to 2023.”

Ryan Godown and Max McLaughlin completed the top five.

Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco Halmar International ‘Elite’ Series Round No. 6 Feature Finish (40 laps): MAT WILLIAMSON, Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Ryan Godown, Max McLaughlin, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Watt, Anthony Perrego, Rocky Warner, Danny Bouc, Mike Gular, Ryan Krachun, Joseph Watson, Craig Von Dohren, Jordan Watson, Jimmy Horton, Danny Creeden, Alex Yankowski, Ryan Riddle, David Schilling, Cale Ross, Andy Bachetti, Jeff Strunk, Ronnie Johnson, Rick Laubach, Louden Reimert, Matt Stangle, Brandon Grosso.

Did Not Start: Austin Hubbard

Did Not Qualify: Norman Short Jr., Billy Pauch Jr., H.J. Bunting, Sean Weiss, Brad Roberts, Mike Trautschold, John Willman, Anthony Tramontana

American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): Rocky Warner (ninth) & Joseph Watson (15th)
Auto Gallery of Delaware Hard Charger ($300): Ryan Watt (19th to seventh)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Ryan Godown (fourth) & Rocky Warner (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Rocky Warner (Redrew 12th)
Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz Halfway Leader Bonus ($200): Mat Williamson
Eibach Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Mike Mahaney (sixth)
Elite Welder Training & Testing Redraw Bonus ($200): Rocky Warner (Redrew 12th)
Henry’s Exhaust System Power Position ($50 Certificate): Mike Gular (11th)
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Mat Williamson (winner – $150 certificate); Matt Sheppard (second – $75 certificate); Stewart Friesen (third – $50 certificate); Danny Bouc (10th – $25 certificate)
Schultz Racing Fuel Cells Bonus ($100 Certificate): Danny Bouc (10th)
Spyder Performance Filters Bonuses: Max McLaughlin (fifth – FREE Filter); Jordan Watson (15th – 50-percent off certificate)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Matt Sheppard (second), Ryan Krachun (12th) & Andy Bachetti (22nd)
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Award ($75 Certificate): Ryan Watt (seventh)
Halmar International ‘Elite’ Series Champion: Matt Sheppard ($25,000)
Hurlock Auto & Speed South Region Champion: Matt Sheppard ($15,000)
Sunoco Championship Series Georgetown Speedway J.W. Brown Logging Modified Champion: Ryan Godown ($2,500)

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