Makin’ Tracks – Wild, Emotional Night at Brewerton – DTD Exclusive

By BILL FOLEY

The Duel at the Demon resulted in a variety of emotions. There was joy, anger and frustration that not only impacted drivers, but their crews and yes even fans.

Records will show Matt Sheppard getting the win, but fans there also saw something that many never see…Billy Decker losing his temper. There was hard contact between Decker and Sheppard on at least two occasions, but some will say it was just racing while other will say that Matt probably could have waited and still would have had his chance.

After Sheppard had his explanation and Decker had his comments.

Bottom line is that seldom in my years of announcing have I seen Decker take action against another driver. Oh I am sure some Sheppard fan will say “Remember when Decker ran this guy in 2000 something,” but I am only focused on one race on one night in September of 2017.




Racing needs heroes and villains. No one likes it when I say that, but racing has gotten to be sterile and suddenly the boo birds are out there for Sheppard as he is getting the same result that use to echo from the grandstands that greeted the name of Brett Hearn.

There is nothing wrong with that. If they are booing you then you are being successful. That’s what racing should be all about. The heck with the political correctness that has been infiltrating the sport.

I love Brewerton because it is a tight track. Contact is inevitable. There is no way nearly 30 Mods can fit on the third mile D-shaped surface without contact. That is what has always made Brewerton exciting.

But the controversy always comes when the question of “how much contact is okay?”

Personally, I don’t have a horse in this race. I enjoy talking and visiting with all the drivers and teams. Admittedly I enjoy interviewing new winners or first time victors, but there is always something new to learn from anyone who comes to victory lane as every race is different.

Sheppard is the guy to beat at this time. There is no doubt about it. There have been all sorts of discussions of why Sheppard is so good. Some say he’s cheating, but that is always said when someone is a winner. Sheppard simply joins the likes of Brett Hearn, Jimmy Shampine, Will Cagle and others who in the eyes of some simply won too much.

Others say he’s done something geometrically with the chassis through engineering. He was building his own chassis or creation when he was running for HBR. Who knows?

But the fact is he’s fast, his engines have been reliable, he’s catching breaks, he’s pretty damn good, and at this time he’s the guy to beat and everyone else seems to be playing catching up.

I asked Max McLaughlin what it would take to win his first Super DIRTcar Series race and he said with a smile, “Matt Sheppard has to break.” He was joking, but I think he was saying what a lot of others in the pits were thinking.

Well, for Matt Sheppard it was SDS win 56 of his career and moved him to fourth all-time. Oh yeah and then there was the rest of the weekend.

Don’t Leave After the Mods

Okay, so it took a little while to get the DIRTcar Demon 50 Sportsman race going, but once it was it was well worth watching.

Dave Marcuccelli took the lead on the fourth lap and was never challenged, but the action behind him was sensational.

You had Rocky Warner too light in his prelim and he started in the back. So as the race wound down Warner had flown up through the field and there was a battle royale between Jeremy Pitcher, Corey Barker and Warner. It appeared it was for second place.

However, on the 37th lap a transmission problem saw the M1 slow suddenly and pull into the front stretch infield.

Suddenly the battle for second would go for the next 13 laps with the $1,000 first place money at stake.

Barker edged out Pitcher and Ronnie Davis rallied for third.

It was a pretty damn good race.

For Barker it was by far the biggest win of his career and he did it not with a 2017 experimental car, but a 2010 Troyer that had been sitting in the garage. It was the best birthday present he could have ever received.

Meanwhile, Pitcher finished second and it was quite evident by looking at his face it hurt. This is his last full-season of racing as it is time to spend time with his wife with non-racing experiences and he’s walking away.

He has been a champion and is quite intense. Jeremy is one of those guys who has been contributing to the caliber of the class for years and will go away as one of the best to run at Fulton. We’ve had some good discussions over the years and I will miss visiting with him and interviewing him in victory lane. Jeremy good luck and hopefully you will visit once in a while as I am sure someone will have a car you can hop into.

Rocky settled for fourth and Glenn Forward completed the top five.

Sixth through 10 were Jessica Power, Zach Sobotka, Brad Rouse (who had problems early on), Tyler Trump and Billy Clark.

Pit Stops

You had to have fun watching Andrew Ferguson as he started 21st and worked his way up to 10th at one point before settling for 12th…

Peter Britten was behind the wheel of Sharon Speedway based Jim Weller’s car. Peter destroyed a car in Canada a week earlier…

Alan Johnson had a new motor in the 14j and started the 55 for the main. Mark Spoor indicated, “The new oiling system on a fresh motor and the scavenge line collapsed and we didn’t want to hurt it.”…

Ryan Bartlett in brother Tyler’s car. The team had pulled out the big-block, but had lost a small-block a week earlier at Can-Am…

Tim Murphy had a new car. It was a former Jimmy Phelps-Max McLaughlin ride out of the HBR shop with the M1 on it. Murphy said, “Well we now have Donnie Wetmore’s M1 number back in the pits here at Brewerton just the way it should be.”…

Billy Decker was fast timer of the night and ironically had never been fastest at an SDS show at the Demon. It was his fifth fast time of the year and 71st of his career…

Larry Wight edged out Decker by .145 of a second in the first heat of the night for the Mods…

Other heat winners Tim Fuller, Justin Haers and Brett Hearn…

The Sportsman field was tremendous and head winners included Jessica Power, Alan Fink, Dave Marcuccelli, Brad Rouse and Kevin Ridley…

Mod consis went to Ferguson and Tim Kerr…

Beth Bellinger made her Brewerton big-block debut. She’s run at Utica-Rome this year. Husband Robbie took the night off…

Rocky Warner timed poorly and didn’t get out of the heat as he finished sixth. He won the consi, was DQ’d for being too light and started at the tail end of the field…

A consi tangle saw George Sanford and Jeff Taylor get locked together and Sanford flipped causing extensive damage…

Joe Isabell and Tyler Thompson had a solid drives to win the second Sportsman consolations…

37 Mods and 46 Sportsman pit-side..

Pat Ward led the Mod main early, but nearly got collected on lap 12 when Adam Roberts spun in the first turn…

Wight gained the lead on a restart on lap 19 and led to 89…

Sheppard got the lead with 11 laps to go as he took the top spot off turn four…

Jimmy Phelps had a steady, consistent run and came home in third, just four tenths of a second behind the 99L…

The late race battle between Decker, Ward, Tim Sears Jr. and Mike Mahaney was sensational for fourth place. In the end Sears was fourth followed by Decker, Mahaney and Ward…

Max McLaughlin started 25th and came home eighth…

The final yellow came on the 77th lap when Lee Gill rubbed the front stretch wall and it set up the final shootout. It was a wild race…

Victory lane for the Mods got moved to under the Demon sign in the midway. It was done so a Muscular Dystrophy Association teenager could present the awards to the winners.  It was a little easier being behind the grandstands, but it was also something that was different. I am not sure it will be done again. With the emotions from the race those emotions carried over to the victory lane area and when SDS announcer Mike Mallett came back to the tower he indicated it was one of the most chaotic scenes he had ever been involved in. I think he was glad to have escaped…

Another wild moment of the night saw Sportsman driver Rich Townsend flip in turn four on the 20th lap of the feature…

Tyler Trump is a full back for the Sandy Creek Comets football team and couldn’t get to the track until well after 10 p.m. He entered second in points in the DIRTcar Central Division so he had a provisional. Tyler started at the tail end of the field in 31st and came home a respectable ninth…

Nick Krause got in as he was the fastest non qualified car and started 30th…

Well, for me that was the last night announcing this year at Brewerton so it is back to writing for DTD during Super DIRT Week. Just to explain DIRTcar runs the shows and appoints announcers. Adam and I aren’t appointed as we are “the other” announcers for who the organization sends.

Always fun working with SDS announcer Mike Mallett as we had a good time on Friday…

I’ll be curious to see the reactions to this column…

That’s it and we’ll see what next year brings. Any comments or news send along to foley395@hotmail.com. I enjoy hearing from readers.