YORK HAVEN, PA – “I thought it was over.”
Those were the words of Matt Sheppard as he reflected on Sunday night’s Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance York County Nationals at BAPS Motor Speedway.
‘Super Matt’ was leading the 50-lap Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco big-block/small-block Modified event when he packed the right-rear wheel with mud and relinquished the lead to head to the pits.
Restarting at the rear of the field, Sheppard worked through traffic with the Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s to complete a “last-to-first” drive to a $10,000 payday in the series’ richest event.
The win for the Waterloo, N.Y., native was his second of the season in the Velocita-USA South Region, having previously won at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar, Del., on May 24.
In Victory Lane, Sheppard’s car sat steaming and leaking fluids onto the BAPS red clay surface. Sheppard climbed from the mist to celebrate his 10k payday on the roof.
A field of 27 STSS Modifieds took the green before a large and enthusiastic BAPS crowd with Andy Bachetti leading the field via a redraw of top qualifiers.
Bachetti shot into the lead with Ryan Godown, driving the Lincoln Auto Body No. 5, in tow. Godown took command of the race on lap five, but Sheppard was on the move. By lap 12, Sheppard – who started sixth – swept into the lead.
Stewart Friesen, meanwhile, shot into second two laps later.
Sheppard’s night, many believed, was over when he slowed at the exit of turn four on lap 17. Sheppard headed to the pits and Friesen assumed the lead for the first time.
While Friesen led, all eyes were on Sheppard’s No. 9s. By halfway, he had climbed to the top-10.
By lap 30, he was third. Sheppard completed the pass of Godown on lap 33 and two laps later pulled alongside Friesen for a double-file restart.
At the green, Sheppard swept past Friesen on the outside lane and never looked back.
Sprakers, N.Y.’s Friesen pulled in on the leader several times but was scored the runner-up for the second consecutive year with his Halmar International-backed No. 44.
After being involved in a tangle on lap 21, Boyertown, Pa., driver Ryan Watt charged back through the field to earn a podium finish in the Ron Roberts-owned No. 14W. Watt originally started from 19th and earned the race’s Hard Charger distinction.
Ringoes, N.J.’s Godown ended his consistent run in fourth-place with Dieter Schmidt’s big-block and pole starter Bachetti, of Sheffield, Mass., righted his recent disastrous STSS luck with a top-five finish at the conclusion of 50 laps.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Jeff Strunk of Boyertown, Pa., in the Glenn Hyneman-owned No. 126 after starting second; David Van Horn of Harmony, N.J., who ran inside the top-five for much of the race; 12th-starter Craig Von Dohren of Oley, Pa., in the Dick Biever No. 14s; Joseph ‘Jo-Jo’ Watson of Milford, Del., after several skirmishes; and Billy Pauch Jr. of Milford, N.J., driving his self-owned No. 15.
A field of 35 STSS Modifieds signed in on the neutral Central PA ground.
Sheppard set Beyea Headers Fast Time in qualifying worth $100 with a lap of 18.012 seconds.
Heat winners were Bachetti, Friesen, Rick Laubach and Sheppard. Wade Hendrickson topped the consolation.
BAPS BITS: A very strong Sunday night crowd took in the sole Modified appearance of 2018 at the Scott Gobrecht-owned and Kolten Gouse-managed BAPS Motor Speedway. Attendees commented on the steady facility improvements and new suites at the resurgent track….
Track conditions produced action from front to back of the STSS Modified field….
Series sponsor Bob Hilbert Sportswear had a strong presence at the event with giveaways and promotional items at the gate….
Matt Sheppard’s only prior BAPS Motor Speedway start came in 2006 when the Super DIRTcar Series last visited the four-tenths-mile oval….
Rick Laubach looked to be a top-three contender before his Ryan Kerr-owned No. 1K headed to the pit area late in the distance….
Duane Howard nursed the Norm Hansell-owned No. 357 to a 13th-place finish despite brake issues and – at one point – falling three laps down on the field….
Next up for the Short Track Super Series is the ‘Hustlin’ the High Banks 54’ at Woodhull (N.Y.) Raceway on Wednesday, August 8 (Rain Date: August 9), Round No. 5 of the Halmar International North Region offering $5,400 to win for the STSS Modifieds. Crate 602 Sportsman (North Region Race No. 2) and Street Stocks complete the program.
To learn more about the 2018 Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.
The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, Insinger Performance, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Allstar Performance, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, HyperCo, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Land Hoe Maintenance, K&N, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, QA1, Race Pro Weekly, Racing Optics, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, Vahlco, Velocita, Weld & Wilwood.
SUNOCO RACE FUELS/INSINGER PERFORMANCE YORK COUNTY NATIONALS RACE SUMMARY – BAPS MOTOR SPEEDWAY JULY 29, 2018
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region Event No. 4 Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): MATT SHEPPARD ($10,000), Stewart Friesen, Ryan Watt, Ryan Godown, Andy Bachetti, Jeff Strunk, David Van Horn, Craig Von Dohren, Joseph Watson, Billy Pauch Jr., Danny Bouc, Jordan Watson, Duane Howard, Jim Britt, Billy Decker, Jeremy Smith, Frank Cozze, Anthony Perrego, Rick Laubach, Jimmy Horton, Wade Hendrickson, Dan Creeden, Mike Maresca, Mike Gular, Jared Umbenhauer, Brett Kressley, Doug Manmiller.
Did Not Qualify: Kevin Beach, Richie Pratt Jr, Kevin Sockriter, Steve Davis, Brandon Grosso, Brian Hitz, Justin Grim, Ryan Anderson
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire): Craig Von Dohren (eighth) & Danny Bouc (11th)
ATL Fuel Cell Bonus ($200 Certificate): Andy Bachetti (fifth)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Card): Ryan Godown (fourth) & Joseph Watson (ninth)
Beyea Headers Fast Time ($100): Matt Sheppard (18.012 seconds)
Beyea Headers Heat Winners ($50 Certificate): Andy Bachetti, Stewart Friesen, Rick Laubach & Matt Sheppard
Beyea Headers Hard Charger ($200 Certificate): Ryan Watt (19th to third)
Fast Axle Bonus ($50 Certificate): Jeff Strunk (sixth)
Henry’s Exhaust Power Position ($50 Certificate): Danny Bouc (11th)
Precision Hydraulic & Oil Hard Charger ($200): Ryan Watt (19th to third)
QA1 Hard Charger ($50 Certificate): Ryan Watt (19th to third)
Racing Optics Bonus (Tear-Off Sleeve): Ryan Watt (third)
Sunoco Race Fuels Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Stewart Friesen (second), Jordan Watson (12th) & Danny Creeden (22nd)
Vahlco Wheels Hard Charger ($50 Certificate): Ryan Watt (19th to third)
WELD Wheels Hard Luck Award (FREE Wheel): Mike Gular (24th)
Wilwood ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($50 Certificate): David Van Horn (seventh)