By MIKE MALLETT
Saturday night’s finale to the 2018 World Finals for the Super DIRTcar Series Modifieds was a 40-lap thriller as the race came down to final circuits to determine the winner. It was Tim Fuller that was able to prevail beating Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker and Brett Hearn.
“These (wins) are way more special,” stated Fuller about winning a feature at the World Finals. “All races are special, but as you get older and you don’t race as much and stuff, to win when you come here is perfect.”
The win capped off a season for Fuller that saw him claim three Super DIRTcar after cutting back his schedule. The Edwards, N.Y., driver was able to just sneak by Sheppard in the final laps to get the job done with his No. 19 Bicknell mount.
“He fired off good,” Fuller said of Sheppard. “He fired off really good and I didn’t think I could run with him. Then it started latching down in the middle where he was running. Then he moved down and went all the way to the bottom. I started running the middle a little bit and you could carry more speed. Then he got mired in that traffic.”
Traffic ended up being the difference maker. As Sheppard got pinned down low, Fuller took advantage. He went to the higher in turns three and four where he was able to get by him through the rubbered down middle groove.
“That happens sometimes, and I’ve had it happen to me and it sucks,” Fuller stated in regards to getting caught off guard in traffic. “If he had moved up a half of a lane to a lane, it was so much better up there and you could keep rolling. He didn’t know. You don’t know when you are leading. You don’t change your line when you are leading. I know what he was thinking. ‘If I can’t pass these guys then nobody can pass me.’ It is what it is.”
The win was a good way to end the grueling day for Fuller after Mother Nature forced both features to be run on Saturday. Fuller had a strong car during the afternoon program only to have a flat tire derail his efforts. In that feature he ended finishing in the seventh spot.
“Got into third, cut a tire down and made it back up to seventh,” mentioned Fuller. “It wasn’t a horrible day. To get back to seventh in that race was pretty good. I’ll take it.”
Sheppard Misses Chance for Charlotte Win
For the first time in three years, Sheppard left Charlotte without a feature win. The Waterloo, N.Y., pilot got a flat tire while leading in the afternoon main-event before returning to finish third. In the nightcap he just missed the right lane in traffic allowing Fuller to take advantage of him.
“The problem was the track starting rubbering and as the race went on the rubber kept moving lower, lower and lower,” cited Sheppard. “Then the lapped the cars kept moving lower and lower. I kind of got pinched lower than I wanted to. Had they moved down a lap or so earlier, I probably would have just gone around them, but they were running in the middle and kept moving down. It’s just one of them deals. They moved down and I moved down at the same time and it gave Fuller an open run at it. He had a good car and you can’t take that away from him.”
Decker Wraps Up ’18 on High Note
Billy Decker brought down his 2018 season with a third place run in the nightcap for the Super DIRTcar Series. Decker, driving Mike Payne’s No. 91, was good in the evening 40-lap feature, but didn’t feel as good earlier in the day when he took home an eighth place finish.
“This Page Trucking car was pretty good,” commented Decker. “We could have used one more adjustment. This thing was rocketship off the trailer. It messed us up a little bit with our planning when it rained out when we had to run a day show today. That changed things a little bit. All-in-all we were still pretty good. We just needed to be a tick better today, that’s all.”
Decker drove his Bicknell up close to both Sheppard and Fuller at the conclusion of the race. He was in the mix for the victory, but he just didn’t have enough to get over the hump into the lead.
“When I could roll my own line I was good, just like them,” he said. “I think at the end we got a little more even. Tim got really good. He was definitely the most maneuverable. That was going to be dicey without lapped traffic. He was really neutral and the best car right there. Obviously the best car won the race, unfortunately it wasn’t us.”
Hearn Completes Four Car Battle
Saturday night also saw Brett Hearn in the mix with the top three. Like Decker, Hearn closed on the lead pack near the end of the race as traffic came into play in such an intense way.
“I got into fourth and I was running Billy and Fuller down,” stated Hearn. “Then the middle started getting good and it got hard to pass the lapped cars. They jump ahead, I’d get free and catch up. Then get held back. It went back and forth, back and forth. Matt came back to all three of us.”