Column By: RYAN LOEFFLER / RPW – FULTON, NY – The 37th annual Outlaw 200 at Fulton Speedway ended in dominant fashion by one driver, Matt Sheppard.
Sheppard passed Mat Williamson during the middle stages of the second 100-lap segment and went on to score back-to-back wins in the $20,000-to-win event.
It was also the third time in his career that “SuperMatt” has tasted the champagne and dawned the infamous cowboy hate in victory lane after the 200-laps were over.
“We were spot on from the minute we got here,” Sheppard said. “We’ve had some trouble in the big shows lately so this one was a good one to get.”
Sheppard recently finished runner-up in the Fonda 200 at Fonda Speedway and 17th in the Super DIRTcar Series’ Malta Massive Weekend 115-lapper at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway after a late-race flat tire.
The Savannah, NY driver jumped out to an early advantage after passing Williamson who was able to keep with the 9s until the leaders hit lap traffic. Sheppard was able to stretch his lead to a full straightaway, and at one point, had lapped cars into the top 10 on his way to leading at the halfway break.
“We didn’t fire off on the restarts too well,” Sheppard admitted post-race.
Williamson was able to get back by the 9s after the halfway break and led some laps. However, Sheppard stormed back and took over the top spot once again, for good, and that was all she wrote.
“We didn’t end up touching a thing during the break,” he said. “This thing was flawless.”
For Williamson, it wasn’t a win but the St. Catherines, ONT driver just missed out on another crown-jewel victory as he placed second in the event for the second year-in-a-row.
“I wasn’t nearly as good as him through lap traffic,” Williamson said about Sheppard after the race. “We’ve got nothing to hang our heads about. We had a good car. We’ll see what we can do this week at Oswego.”
Third-place finisher Larry Wight was able to charge from 16th, although he thought he left some speed in the pits at halfway.
“To have this much bite left after all this type of race was phenomenal,” Wight said. “Home track advantage helped to find the extra bite but I think we didn’t make enough changes at the break to keep up with those guys.”
Reigning track champion, Tim Sears Jr. capped off a good weekend by finishing in the fourth position. Sears started in 17th after taking his locked in position following his qualifying race win on Friday.
“The track was great tonight,” Sears said. “It seemed like you could race all over.”
Sears was able to get by the 91 of Billy Decker late in the race but just didn’t have enough.
“I feel like that was all we had tonight,” he said. “The lap traffic was tough to get through.”