RPW Column: SuperMatt & The Dark Knight Couldn’t Stop Batman At OCFS; Sheppard & Johnson Come Up Short At ESW
Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – For the second night in-a-row at Orange County Fair Speedway, Matt Sheppard was leading late in the feature event, and was passed.
Lately, that doesn’t happen. Once the 9s gets out front, it’s light’s out. However, on Saturday, it wasn’t meant to be in the Eastern States 358-Modified Championship.
Even though Sheppard didn’t win, he was happy with his car and to be in contention for the $10,000 top prize.
“That was fun,” Sheppard said. “What a crazy race. I honestly felt like we had the third best car and kind of got lucky in traffic and got by Peter (Britten) and Marc (Johnson). We were doing okay and holding our own until we got to the gaggle of lap cars.”
One night before, in the Short Track Super Series event, Sheppard had a hard time dealing with a lap car and it cost him the feature win. Did that go through his mind again?
“I was kind of torn,” he said. “I was afraid if I followed them around the bottom, somebody would roll me in the middle. I really didn’t know what to do.”
Ultimately, he had to make a decision.
“I was thinking that I could just roll the middle and block whoever was behind me,” he said. “I really underestimated how much the bottom had locked down and how much the middle had gone away.”
That ended up costing Sheppard.
“Man, those guys went sailing by me,” he said. “They both had really good race cars. Peter was a rocket ship from the second he unloaded today. Congrats to him and another good run for us.”
On the final results tally, between Britten, the winner, and Sheppard in third was Marc Johnson who came so close to winning on Saturday night but was very pleased with his run.
“It hurts to be that close,” Johnson said. “Hell of a race though. My guys gave me a hell of a race car. I think (Scott) Hamlin and Kevin (Starchak) letting me race at other tracks besides my home tracks has helped me. I just have to thank all my guys and my sponsors. This is unbelievable.”
Was Johnson surprised on that final lap?
“I got hung up a little bit there in the center,” he said. “There really wasn’t much I could do. I left it open trying to make gains on lap traffic but it is what it is.”