and Sheppard Kick-Off 2016 Season with Impressive Wins at
VERNON, NY- The Utica-Rome Speedway kicked off
its 2016 season this past Sunday, April 17th, with a
pair of 20-lap feature events for the Gates-Cole Insurance
Modifieds. The two events were won by familiar faces as Larry
Wight picked up the win in the first and Matt Sheppard made
an exciting pass at the end of the race for the win in the
second. The night also saw Rocky Warner return to Victory
Lane for the SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman, Jeremy Vunk for the
Broedel Energy Open Sportsman and Luke Horning for the Pro
first Gates-Cole Insurance 20-lap Modified feature of the
season Wight got the win but it didnt come easy. Marc
Johnson and Matt Hulsizer opened the race swapping the lead
multiple in the first five circuits before Hulsizer finally
settled in as the leader. Hulsizer then began feeling the
pressure from Wight. Wight pressured him before finally getting
by on lap eight. Wight blasted by Hulsizer in traffic on the
cushion in turns and four.
only caution came on lap 12 when Vinnie Vitale had problems
and slowed in turns three and four. Once the race got back
underway Wight felt some pressure from Tim Fuller. Fuller
worked every lane he could but it didnt matter as Wight
refused to give up the lead. Wight picked up the $1,500 victory
with Fuller and Hulsizer finishing out the podium. Sheppard
finished fourth while Pat Ward finished fifth.
second 20-lap feature Chris Hile bolted from his outside front
row starting position to the lead around Mike Mahaney. Hile
had constant pressure from Mahaney as they both worked the
high-groove on the race track. They remained in the top two
spots while Sheppard was advancing from fifth to third. Sheppard
several efforts on the inside to get into the top two but
couldnt get it done early.
like the first feature, a caution bunched the field on lap
12. The restart allowed action to pick up once again. Hile
held off Mahaney as much as he could but Mahaney pulled a
classic slide job on lap 16 to secure the top position in
turns three and four. The action wasnt done at this
point. Sheppard closed in on Mahaney and used a slide job
of his own on lap 19 to take over the lead. Sheppard led the
final circuit for the 26th win of his career at Utica-Rome.
Danny Varin charged from 10th to finish in second. Mahaney
crossed the line third but was later disqualified after running
out of fuel and coming up light on the scales. This moved
Hile back into third with Ward and Fuller rounding out the
up next week at the Utica-Rome Speedway is another exciting
event for the Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds, SUNY Canton
602 Sportsman, the Broedel Energy Open Sportsman and the Pro
Stocks. Theyll be joined by the Go Nuclear Late Models
in the Prelude to the Gnome Cup. Action starts for the program
presented by Wilber-Duck Chevrolet at 6 p.m.
more information about the speedway please visit our website
BEER 55TH SEASON OPENER RACE SUMMARY
INSURANCE MODIFIED FEATURE #1 FINISH (20 LAPS)- LARRY WIGHT,
Tim Fuller, Matt Hulsizer, Matt Sheppard, Pat Ward, Ronnie
Johnson, Chris Hile, Mike Mahaney, Marc Johnson, Danny Varin,
Ryan Phelps, Danny Johnson, Rob Bellinger, Vic Coffey, Mat
Williamson, Josh Hohenforst, Billy Whittaker, Ryan Bartlett,
Max McLaughlin, Tim Mayne, Justin Haers, Mark Kislowski, Vinnie
Vitale, and Shaun Pangman.
INSURANCE MODIFIED FEATURE #2 FINISH (20 LAPS)- MATT SHEPPARD,
Danny Varin, Chris Hile, Pat Ward, Tim Fuller, Larry Wight,
Ronnie Johnson, Matt Hulsizer, Danny Johnson, Vic Coffey,
Marc Johnson, Ryan Phelps, Mat Williamson, Josh Hohenforst,
Billy Whittaker, Vinnie Vitale, Max McLaughlin, Ryan Bartlett,
Katelyn Hile, Shaun Pangman, Mark Kislowski, Rob Bellinger,
Justin Haers, and Mike Mahaney.
SHEPPARD TAKES BIG GATOR IN DIRTCAR NATIONALS
Hearn won the battle but it was Sheppard who won the war as
he captured his second career DIRTcar Nationals title. Throughout
the four days of Big Block action, Sheppard never finished
outside the top five. He finished fifth on opening night and
then took home a win before a second and a third to conclude
the week.Sheppards third place finish was enough for
him to claim the championship. He battled Friesen for the
final five laps and nearly pulled off the last lap pass for
second. Although he was denied the position he enjoyed his
second career DIRTcar Nationals title. His last came back
We had an awesome race
car all week, said Sheppard. We had another good
car tonight. Brett snookered us on tires a little bit. We
were really coming on Stewie there at the end. I couldnt
be prouder of all those guys standing over there that stepped
up to help out. To come down here out of the box to have a
first, second, third and a fifth is pretty good, pretty consistent.
Hopefully we can keep it going all season.
Sheppard Wins DIRTcar Nationals Barn Burner on Thursday Night
By MIKE MALLETT
FL Thursday nights 30-lap Modified DIRTcar Nationals
main-event at Volusia Speedway Park came down to a battle
between two of the best Super DIRTcar Series drivers in the
Northeast. Matt Sheppard and Larry Wight duked it out for
the final 10 laps of the feature race with Sheppard coming
out on top at the checkered flag. Sheppards win came
behind the wheel of his self-owned No. 9s Bicknell. The Waterloo,
N.Y., driver split with Heinke-Baldwin Racing over the winter
after a successful 2015 that saw him win the series title.
This forced Sheppard to go in a different direction this year.
Sheppard chose to start his own team and it quickly paid dividends
as he marched to his seventh career DIRTcar Nationals triumph.This
is unreal, said Sheppard. It was such a crazy
off-season for us; building this team in such a short period
of time. We can say Im going out on my own but not really.
I got a ton of great people that have stepped up to help out.
Everything really came together. The crew has been busting
their butt all night on this car. We had trouble in qualifying,
we had trouble in the heat race and they never gave up. Man
two races in and we are sitting in Victory Lane already that
is awesome.Wight redrew the pole and was flanked for
the start by opening night winner Tim Fuller. Wight surged
to the lead at the start before caution slowed the pace after
only one lap. Billy VanInwegen caught the inner guardrail
and shot up the bank collecting several cars in turns three
and four. Everyone was able to continue except VanInwegen
as his night came to an end with front end damage.The field
restarted with Wight at the point but he quickly lost two
positions as both Labauch and Fuller shot by in turns one
and two. Laubach raced to the lead with Fuller looking to
his outside as they battled down the backstretch. Laubach
would come out on top as the race leader. Laubach set a torrid
pace from this point as Fuller did everything in his power
to remain in the thick of things at the front of the field.
Laubach continued to distance himself with Fuller searching
around as the high-line that propelled him to victory wasnt
as strong as it was on Wednesday night. Action began picking
up as the race reached the halfway point. Laubach caught the
tail of the field which impeded his progress as he had to
work through traffic. The rest of the field took advantage
and closed the gap. Laubach led with Fuller second while Wight
and Sheppard swapped the third position lap after lap. With
just eight circuits left, Sheppard and Wight pounced on Laubach
and Fuller. Fuller faded while Laubach got boxed in by a slower
car on the bottom allowing Sheppard to roll the middle and
Wight to use the extreme outside. The three drivers waged
a fierce battle for the lead until Sheppard finally edged
in front on lap 24. He (Laubach) got jammed up and I
was able to roll around the outside of him there, he
said. The key thing was I was able to go around the
lapped car into one and then I got it turned fast enough to
get down to the bottom to get that good run off of one and
down the backstretch. Thats what sealed the deal for
us. Even though Sheppard was able to wrestle the lead
from Laubach he still had to hold off Wight. Wight began slamming
the cushion in his LJL Racing Teo Pro Car. This allowed him
to stay within striking distance of Sheppard. Sheppard altered
his line just slightly to find the bite off of turn two. This
alteration provided him the opportunity to gain some breathing
room as he worked through traffic quickly. It got pretty
hectic out there, Sheppard said. I was pretty
good on the bottom. I ran out of tear offs with about five
or six to go. That was a little nerve wracking. Im just
so thankful to be able to hang on to win this for everybody.
Sheppard scored the win over Wight by 1.2 seconds. Wight wheeled
his No. 99L around the cushion but it wasnt enough to
pull off the upset victory in the closing laps. Weve
been doing a lot of testing down here, Wight said. We
are trying to use it for all we can. I think tonight we had
a really good car. It took me a little too long to find the
top of one and two. We were in the middle of three and four.
Right there at the end traffic got the best of me. Matt (Sheppard)
was able to get down to the bottom and run away from me.
Wight was hoping to add a Small Gator trophy to the Big Gator
trophy he won at the conclusion of 2015. A second DIRTcar
Nationals title is a possibility now that he has two top five
finishes on the week. Hell continue to search for a
win in the final two nights of competition. This Gypsum
Wholesalers car has been phenomenal, Wight said. To
come down here and try and pick it up twice would be great.
I cant thank the crew enough. Laubach, a Modified
standout in his own right from Hellertown, Pa., was able to
hang on to the final spot on the podium. He was disappointed
with how the race played out. He said he felt like the slower
car may have cost him an opportunity for a DIRTcar Nationals
win for the second year in a row. You want to win one,
said Labuach. I didnt think I was going to get
the lead from those guys. Then I started pulling away from
them and I was comfortable before I got caught up in the lapped
traffic. That guy wouldnt get out of my way. If I could
have just got by him I think I could have held them off. That
is part of it, I just wasnt good enough to get by him
so it is what it is. Stewart Friesen rallied late from
his 10th starting spot to finish in fourth while Erick Rudolph
came from seventh to complete the top five. Laubach was the
fastest car on the night in group qualifying with a lap of
17.817. Heat wins were secured by Laubach, Billy Pauch, Billy
Dunn and Dave Rauscher. Peter Britten and Steve Bernard won
their respective consolation events.
Racing returns Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park for
the 10th day of the DIRTcar Nationals. Gates open at 5 p.m.
and racing begins at 7:30 p.m. Follow the series on Twitter
@SuperDIRTcar, or click www.SuperDIRTcarSeries.com.
DIRTcar Nationals Note Tyler Dippel was fined $500 and placed
on probation until the end of the 2016 Super DIRTcar Series
season following an incident the previous night.
Nationals Statistical Report; Feb. 18, 2016; Volusia Speedway
Park; Barberville, Fla.
(30 Laps) 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard,
2. 99L-Larry Wight, 3. 7-Rick Laubach, 4. 44-Stewart Freisen,
5. 25R-Erick Rudolph, 6. 49-Billy Dunn, 7. 19-Tim Fuller,
8. 1-Billy Pauch, 9. 20-Brett Hearn, 10. 1T-Tyler Dippel,
11. 07-Tim Kerr, 12. 32c-Vic Coffey, 13. 21a-Pete Britten,
14. 54-Steve Bernard, 15. 14J-Alan Johnson, 16. 74-J.R Heffner,
17. 27J-Danny Johnson, 18. 5*-Tyler Siri, 19. 83-Brian Swartzlander,
20. 1G-Darwin Green, 21. 6m-Mat Williamson, 22. 323-Neal Williams,
23. 85-H.J. Bunting, 24. 48T-Dave Rauscher, 25. 28p-Eldon
Payne, 26. 5-Billy VanInwegen
Chance Showdown 1
(10-laps Top 3 Finishers Transer) 1. 21a-Pete
Britten, 2. 83-Brian Swartzlander, 3. 19m-Jessey Mueller,
4. 21k-Randy Chrysler, 5. 8-Rich Scagliotta, 6. 64-Daniel
Nadeau, 7. 30-Jamie Mills
Chance Showdown 2
(10-laps Top 3 Finishers Transer) 1. 54-Steve
Bernard, 2. 1G-Darwin Green, 3. 6m-Mat Williamson, 4. 14-C.G.
Morey, 5. OBs-Jeremy Markle, 6. 29J-Chris Ostrowsky, 7. 29e-Erik
(8 Laps Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 7 Rick Laubach, 2. 99L Larry Wight, 3. 5* Tyler
Siri, 4. 85 H.J. Bunting, 5. 5 Billy VanInwegen, 6. 19m Jessey
Mueller, 7. 83 Brian Swartzlander, 8. 21k Randy Chrysler,
9. 64 Daniel Nadeau
(8 Laps Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 1-Billy Pauch, 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 3. 44-Stewart Freisen,
4. 1T-Tyler Dippel, 5. 32c-Vic Coffey, 6. 21a-Pete Britten,
7. 30-Jamie Mills, 8. 8-Rich Scagliotta
(8 Laps Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 49-Billy Dunn, 2. 20-Brett Hearn, 3. 27J-Danny Johnson,
4. 07-Tim Kerr, 5. 74-J.R Heffner, 6. 54-Steve Bernard, 7.
6m-Mat Williamson, 8. 29e-Erik Martin, 9. 28p-Eldon Payne
(8 Laps Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 25R-Erick Rudolph, 2. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 3. 48T-Dave
Rauscher, 4. 14J-Alan Johnson, 5. 323-Neal Williams, 6. 1G-Darwin
Green, 7. OBs-Jeremy Markle, 8. 29J-Chris Ostrowsky, 9. 14-C.G.
1. 7-Rick Laubach, 17.817; 2. 5*-Tyler Siri, 18.395;
3. 5-Billy VanInwegen, 18.404; 4. 99L-Larry Wight, 18.517;
5. 85-H.J. Bunting, 18.592; 6. 21k-Randy Chrysler, 18.803;
7. 83-Brian Swartzlander, 19.314; 8. 64-Daniel Nadeau, 20.156;
9. 19m-Jessey Mueller, 20.573
1. 1-Billy Pauch, 17.961; 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 18.075; 3. 1T-Tyler
Dippel, 18.172; 4. 44-Stewart Freisen, 18.253; 5. 32c-Vic
Coffey, 18.657; 6. 30-Jamie Mills, 18.694; 7. 21a-Pete Britten,
18.724; 8. 8-Rich Scagliotta, 18.993
1. 49-Billy Dunn, 18.080; 2. 20-Brett Hearn, 18.336;
3. 27J-Danny Johnson, 18.387; 4. 07-Tim Kerr, 18.527; 5. 74-J.R
Heffner, 18.543; 6. 54-Steve Bernard, 18.553; 7. 28p-Eldon
Payne, 18.583; 8. 6m-Mat Williamson, 18.663; 9. 29e-Erik Martin,
1. 25R-Erick Rudolph, 18.476; 2. 48T-Dave Rauscher,
18.539; 3. OBs-Jeremy Markle, 18.597; 4. 9s-Matt Sheppard,
18.606; 5. 1G-Darwin Green, 18.688; 6. 14J-Alan Johnson, 18.716;
7. 323-Neal Williams, 18.934; 8. 14-C.G. Morey, 19.094; 9.
29J-Chris Ostrowsky, 20.122; 10. X-Ed Kitchell, 24.126
Sheppard Ready for Challenge of Running His Own Team in 16
By MIKE MALLETT
Sheppard has been fortunate over the course of his career
to drive for some very good car owners including his most
recent stint with Heinke-Baldwin Racing. As has been well
documented that team split nearly three weeks ago leaving
Sheppard looking for something for the upcoming 2016 season.
After mulling over his options and looking at things, Sheppard
has decided its time to start his own team.
putting my own deal together, said Sheppard. Obviously
starting from scratch so its going to take a lot of
help from a lot of different people, but so far things are
going well. A lot of people have stepped up and we are getting
closer to getting a program together. We arent quite
there but we are getting close. We need some other people
to step up. Its been a busy couple weeks with a lot
of phone calls. There is a lot of stuff to put together. Im
just trying to take it one step at time while at the same
time trying to put ten things together at once.
decision means Sheppard is starting from the ground up. He
has to acquire everything from the tools needed weekly at
the track to a truck and trailer to get his equipment to the
speedway while also putting together his cars to race. His
work on that process has already begun.
biggest deal right now, Ive told a lot of people, is
that its like a big puzzle and I need to put a lot of
pieces together to make sure I got a good program, stated
Sheppard. Basically right now Im trying to tackle
one piece of the puzzle at a time. That is the most nerve
racking point. I think once we get the program together and
I get what I need, and that isnt so much cars and motors,
as it is trucks, trailers and tools, stuff like that. Once
I can piece all that together when it gets down to racing
the stuff Im sure well be comfortable. Its
the building the stuff from scratch that is going to be the
has been fortunate that his previous car owners have let him,
for the most part, do is own thing. Hes been able to
make most of the decisions. Now hell be making all of
the decisions. Unlike in the past, those decisions will also
include dealing with the financial end of running his own
definitely excited, commented Sheppard about being the
decision maker. Ive always had the luxury of having
a lot of say in how my program is run. Through the years I
had a lot of owners that have trusted me to make decisions.
I pretty much know the ins-and-outs. Its going to be
the first time that Im financially responsible at the
end of the day. At that the same time Im kind of excited
to be able to get everything together and do a program the
way I want to do it.
has indicated hell return to Bicknell cars for the upcoming
season. Hes always had a close relationship with the
company and even though hes had major success the last
two years in Troyers, including a Super DIRTcar Series championship,
he feels more comfortable with Bicknell.
going to be back in the Bicknell cars, stated Sheppard.
Ive always had a close relationship with them.
Its not that I dont like the Troyer cars and weve
had a lot of success in them. I didnt feel as connected
with them. Randy (Williamson), (Bob) Slack, Pete (Bicknell)
and all the guys at Bicknell; Ive had a great relationship
with them throughout the years and they are willing to step
up and help me out a little bit to get me back into this deal.
I look forward to working with them again.
similar schedule is in the works for the Brewerton Speedway,
Canandaigua Motorsports Park and Utica-Rome Speedway champion.
Hell also return to defend his Super DIRTcar Serie title.
going to run a similar schedule, he said. If I
can get everything together Id like to run the same
deal I did last year with my stuff. The only difference being
Im going to run some races at other places for other
people. Other than that it is going to depend on how strong
of a program I can put together. Im definitely looking
at Canandaigua, Utica and the series again. Obviously Id
love to get back to Brewerton Friday nights too.
now has the opportunity to go on the road for other car owners
once again. He has been in contact with Pennsylvania car owner
Norm Hansell but a deal hasnt been struck to this point.
The duo had success together in the past after nearly collecting
a Race of Champions Series title. Hes also been in contact
with other car owners and possible supporters as he continues
to finalize the deals necessary to get his program off the