By DEAN REYNOLDS
OSWEGO, NY – “I thought I just gave the race away,” exclaimed Matt Sheppard after Saturday afternoons win in the 150-lap feature for the DIRTcar 358-Modifieds.
On lap 58 the Waterloo, N.Y., standout slipped up in turn three, one lap, one corner and that’s all Mat Williamson needed to get by and what Sheppard thought was the win.
Five laps later, Williamson returned the favor if you will and Sheppard slipped under coming off turn two to never surrender the lead again and capture the Great RV Outdoors 150 at the Oswego Speedway. The win was worth over $20,000 and it was his first triumph since 2003 when he was driving for Wayne Ryan.
One year after it went from a survival test as unruly track conditions made it who could last to the finish to a surface where you needed to be patient and hit your marks lap after lap.
“The track took rubber very early and even with lap cars you just didn’t want to give up the bottom,” Sheppard went on, “When I got back by Mat you can bet that I wasn’t going to leave the bottom no matter what.
“It’s tough when a track does gets like that, it’s not the best racing but it does make it a mental game,” Sheppard went on. “You have to be so precise not to slip out of the groove or not hit the inside wall and get a left front flat.”
As the race went on Williamson continued to stalk the familiar #9s and when the duo caught up to Jordan McCreadie in the final five laps it created nerve wracking moments for both teams. Several times Williamson made contact.
“I definitely felt him back there, but he was just hitting me square where it didn’t upset my car too much,” he went on. “Hey, I get it and Mat was doing what he had to do but if there is someone I want behind me it’s him. He and his team are class acts and we of course do a lot of business with Bicknell so it was good to see a one-two finish.”
The small-block event, whether it was at Syracuse or Oswego, is not on top of the list for the many time Mr. DIRT Big-Block champion and this race came into plans late.
“We really didn’t have any plans to run the small-block race until about a month ago. I will run the race if I get a ride like last year (he ran for CG Morey),” Sheppard said, “But my sponsors stepped up and we put this deal together and it was strong right from when we unloaded.
“To win this race does feel good, Oswego is becoming special so anytime you can grab a checkered flag it’s something you win always remember.”
For Matt Sheppard, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 is indeed a day to remember.