Makin’ Tracks – Utica-Rome and Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat – DTD Exclusive

By BILL FOLEY

There used to be a saying at the opening of an old time television sports show that went something like, “The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat.”

Well, never was that more appropriate than at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night as for the fifth time this season and 38th time in his career Matt Sheppard celebrated in victory lane.

Meanwhile, Marc Johnson who has never won at the track, had his first win stolen from him as he led until just past the final turn of the final lap as Super Matt did it again.

Johnson had taken the lead in the very early going and was dominating. Sheppard systematically began to pick them off as he started in 14th. He was ninth of the fourth lap, seventh on the sixth, sixth on the seventh, fifth on the ninth, fourth on the 12th, third on the 13th and second on the 16th.




However, traffic was ugly and Johnson along with the 9s weren’t exactly cruising through it. On the last lap at the west end of the speedway Matt went high and he wasn’t sure that it was going to work, but it did as he won by a mere tenth of a second.

A lap car caused a nightmare for Johnson on the final lap and his choice at the end simply didn’t pay off.

Sheppard, who probably is getting bored of all these victory lane interviews, was pretty excited about this one.

In victory lane he exclaimed, “Wow, Marc was really good out there and he was way out front. I didn’t think I had enough for him, but at the end I had one shot at the high side and it stuck. I got a great run off four, a really good run off four. I just hoped the car would stick and I hoped that I would not slide off the end.”

Continuing he explained, “Lapped traffic was dicey and it was tough out there.”

He also said, “I really have to thank my guys as I tore this car up pretty good at Canandaigua last night and they fixed it for tonight.”

On Friday night Chris Hile got passed on the fourth turn of the final lap as Jimmy Phelps won and unfortunately for Marc Johnson the same scenario resulted in him being forced to settle for second.

I have to think he wasn’t happy to come home with a runner up finish as heartbreak is just part of the sport.

The nailbiters weren’t just limited to the Mods as in the Pro Stock division Jim Normoyle was seeking his first win in 15 years at UR. While he was leading most of the race the trio of Frank Hyat, Mike Welch and Shane Henderson were putting on a solid show for second through fourth.

In the end Welch got Normoyle late in the event for his fifth UR win of the year.

Dave Moyer hasn’t won a Sportsman race at the track during his entire career that goes back to 1995. Sure he won a Pro Stock main back in the early 2000’s and spent some time in a mod, but the wins have eluded him. That is until Sunday night.

The win didn’t go as smoothly as he hoped as on an early race restart chaos hit in the fourth turn and several cars were piled up including challenger A.J. Miller, high point man Matt Janzcuk, A.J. Filbeck and Charlie Tibbitts.

Track officials tried to go back to review it on video replay, but unfortunately the equipment that was being used was new and the capability of rewinding it wasn’t available for showing. The cars went several laps as officials hoped that they could get a look at what happened, but it was to no avail.

It was an unfortunate set of circumstances.

Pit Stops

Several new faces in the pits as there were 20 Mods,25 Sportsman, 11 Pro Stocks and 10 Rookies…

Different Sportsman in the pits included Alan Fink, Mike Button, Alan Hodge, Dylan Zacharias, A.J. Digsby, Tight Scott Rood while Mod new faces were Jim Walsh and Ken Sparks. Kenny Gates and A.J. Walters were in the house with the Pro Stocks and in the Rookies Pat Ellis, Kierra Backus, Chris Bonoffsky, and Rachel Zacharias were new…

Dylan Zacharias had the hardest hit of his career on Friday night at Brewerton as the impact with the front stretch wall lifted the entire car off the ground by at least a couple of feet. Dylan noted he had a sore neck, but getting to UR was tough as the panhard bar, both wheels, shocks, torsion arms, nerf bars and other parts had to be replaced and repaired. The impact knocked off the distributor cap and bent the clutch handle. He thanks folks at HBR for helping him and noted that without their help he wouldn’t have been back this weekend…

Bobby Varin a strong third in the Mod main…

Ironically in one of the Pro Stock heats Normoyle and Welch finished side by side with Jim getting the win…

Solid run for Mike Maresca as he came home with a sixth after running fifth at the halfway point. He got passed in the closing stages by Tim Fuller…

Pat Ward continued his consistent runs with a fourth on the night…

Robbie Bellinger was absent with motor troubles while wife Beth was on hand with here 1s…

Alan Johnson was missing as with the motor situation for the team they are picking and choosing their shows. He will be in the field for the King of Dirt Small Block race this Sunday…

Danny Varin didn’t have a motor as he lost it while leading the Mod main last week. He was off running ESS at Weedsport. Hopefully, he’ll be back soon…

Mark Effner came home with a runner up in the Sportsmen with a solid run as he was in hot pursuit of winner Dave Moyer…

Chris Mackey was third, but a pat on the back goes to him along with Lonnie Rood and Brent Joy for each donating a bike to the Davidson Auto Group Kids Club giveway as five bikes were taken home by kids on Sunday…

The Bobby Paige Foundation folks were on hand for the giveaway of 55 back packs with school supplies to the kids and even Kyle Kiehn donated a couple from his team…

Matt Janczuk after the early race jingle did claw his way back for a top ten finish with a damaged race car…

This coming Sunday will be a racing night to remember with the Mods along with all three King of Dirt divisions…the 358’s, Sportsman and Pro Stocks. Twin features for the Pro Stocks…

Any news or comments send along to foley395@hotmail.com. This column is not affiliated with any track and if there are any concerns don’t bother management just contact me.