Matt Sheppard Remains Perfect At Utica-Rome To Start 2023; Ties Friesen For Lead In All-Time Wins
Story By: CHRIS MOORE / UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY – VERNON, NY – For the third time in three races, Matt Sheppard took home the 3 Bastards Brewing Modified feature win on Fire Management & Control of Pennsylvania night.
The win was the 63rd for the Savannah, N.Y., native at Utica-Rome Speedway, tying for the most modified wins of all-time at the ‘Home of Heroes.’
“It’s cool (tying Stewart Friesen on the all-time win list), I’m kind of getting a one-up on him right now,” Sheppard said of tying the record. “He’s off doing the NASCAR deal in the trucks and we’re here doing the NASCAR (Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series) deal here at Utica-Rome now.”
Sheppard used a pair of early restarts to drive from his 11th starting position into third before racing by the leaders to take the top spot and ultimately the win.
“I thought the big move for us was the opening green, I went in on the bottom and a bunch of guys slid up,” Sheppard proclaimed of his early race moves. “I think we were fifth or sixth by the time we got out of turn two.”
Canandaigua, N.Y.’s Alex Payne started on the outside of the front row and quickly got the early lead before the race’s first caution on lap three.
With Sheppard sixth, another big move was on the horizon.
“We got a really good restart, and I wasn’t sure where (Addison) Bowman was gonna be with the Wegner engine,” explained Sheppard. “Fortunately, he left an opening down the straightaway and we were able to get a run around him and a good launch into turn one.”
The move took Sheppard from sixth to third and quickly he raced inside Norwich, N.Y.’s Alan Barker for the runner-up position at the completion of the fourth circuit.
Sheppard worked over Payne for multiple laps before getting the run through turns one and two on lap nine and taking the lead away for good.
“He (Payne) runs well, and he’ll be very good here as the season progresses,” spoke Sheppard of his competition. “The track was interesting tonight; the rain delay threw us for a curveball, and it slicked off much faster than I thought it would.
“It got very technical on the top and bottom and I think experience really came into play as the race went on.”
Middlesex, N.Y.’s Alan Johnson was the runner-up with a late-race charge aboard the Mark Spoor Racing No. 14J and Genoa, N.Y.’s Pat Ward rounded out the podium in the Joe Beyea owned No. 42P.
Sheffield, Mass., native Andy Bachetti raced from 10th to fourth and Payne rounded out the top five.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were East Greenbush, N.Y.’s Bobby Hackel IV; Ransomville, N.Y.’s Erick Rudolph; Covington Township, Pa.’s Alex Yankowski; Norwich, N.Y.’s Alan Barker, who gave Sheppard a run for the lead on a late race restart before slipping over the embankment; and Roscoe, N.Y.’s Mike Trautschold.
South New Berlin, N.Y.’s Payton Talbot gifted himself a birthday present, coming from his 20th starting position to win the Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman feature.
Durhamville, N.Y.’s Matt Janczuk appeared on his way to the win, before his new No. 33X Teo-Pro car slowed under yellow flag conditions with just two laps to go.
Talbot took advantage of the restart, racing around Walton, N.Y.’s Blaine Klinger for the win.
Klinger placed second. Jim Rothwell, Tanner Warner, and Willy Decker Jr. rounded out the top five.
Fort Johnson, N.Y.’s Josh Coonradt took home his first Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock win of the 2023 campaign. Coonradt led all 20-laps for the win.
Ivan Joslin, who started 10th, finished second with Jason Morrison, Nick Stone, and A.J. Walters rounding out the top five.
New Berlin, N.Y.’s Zack Welch grabbed his second win of the season with the Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman, taking the lead at the halfway point and never looking back for the checkered flag.
Connor Prokop and Nick Zielinski were the podium finishers.
Rudy King Jr. (DOHC) and Wayne Russell Jr. (SOHC) were victorious with the Fonda Fair Four Cylinders in their 12-lap feature.
Brett Putnam won his second Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshot main event while Trevor Houghton won the Junior Slingshot affair.
Racing resumes next Friday, May 26 when Moteloc LLC. presents the ‘Memorial Day Weekend Kickoff.’ The program will be led by Twin 20s for the 3 Bastards Brewing Modifieds. The Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman, Next Generation GraphiX Pro Stocks, Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman and Fonda Fair Four Cylinders all join the program.
Gates open at 5 p.m., with hot laps at 6:45 p.m. and racing at 7:30 p.m.
Grandstand admission is $18 for Adults, $16 for Seniors and Kids 11 and under admitted FREE. Pit admission is $40 (ages 13 and up), $35 (NASCAR or Utica-Rome Members), $10 Kids (ages 6-12) and $2 for Children ages 5 and under.
3 Bastards Brewing Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Alan Johnson, Pat Ward, Andy Bachetti, Alex Payne, Bobby Hackel IV, Erick Rudolph, Alex Yankowski, Alan Barker, Mike Trautschold, Addison Bowman, Randy Shantel, Ron Holmes, Eric Leet, Tim Mayne, Michelle Courcy, Billy Decker, Brad Poppleton, Rocky Warner, Willy Decker.
Did Not Start: JaMike Sowle, Kevin Root
Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): PAYTON TALBOT, Blaine Klinger, Jim Rothwell, Tanner Warner, Willy Decker Jr., Alex Hughes, Josh Amodio, Allan Hodge, Chip Constantino, Ed Lukas, Jim Nagle, David Hackett Jr., Seth Martin, Matt Richardson, Bobby Heintz, David Dickey, Joey Buonagurio, Blake Sarpriacone, Ed Downing, Jason Reome, Matt Janczuk, Stephen Denton, Teddy Clayton Jr., Jeremy Slosek, Mike Richmond.
Did Not Start: Shawn Frost, Tim Lafler, Jim Gould
Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): JOSH COONRADT, Ivan Joslin, Jason Morrison, Nick Stone, A.J. Walters, Beau Ballard, Bret Belden, Jim Normoyle, Ken Griffin, Tim Wood, Johnny Holmes, Mike Kazlauskas, George Cushman, Mike Keith, Gus Gould, Don Collins, Shane Playford, Andy Graves.
Did Not Start: Matt Rose
Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman (20 laps): ZACK WELCH, Connor Prokop, Nick Zielinski, Eric Jensen, Dalton Doyle, Kirsten Swartz, Carson Rothwell, Ernie Staelens, Timmy Wilmot, Dylan Piersall, Matt Bukovan, Dylan Nichols, Bobby Newman, Brodie Davis, Maddy Broedel, Hunter Tarbania, Zack Falciani.
Did Not Start: E.J. Gallup
Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Feature Finish (12 laps): RUDY KING JR. (DOHC), Sophia Denova, Kyle Coley, David Denova, Jeff Weeks, Wayne Russell Jr. (SOHC), Jacob Kimball, Hank Wedgren, Hank Wedgren Jr.
Disqualified: Tim Vandermark
Did Not Start: T.J. Marlitt
Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshot Feature Finish (20 laps): BRETT PUTNAM, Justin House, Chris Darrow, Scott Sprague, Paul Holic, Jason Dufel, Nicholas Jenkins, Kevin Loveless, Alexandine Boisvert, Addison Still, Corky Warner.
Did Not Start: Tadd Granger
Junior Slingshot Feature Finish (15 laps): TREVOR HOUGHTON, Bodie Marks, Sullivan Dickey, Chase Spoor, Blake Banek, Addisyn Roger, Jayden Wust, Preston Trautschold, Brody Janczuk, Ayden Goodier.
Did Not Start: Ayna Sarpriacone
Algonkin Motel Hard Luck Award: Rocky Warner