SUSQUEHANNA, PA – At the facility where Billy Decker launched his racing career many years ago, he was ‘king’ on Friday night.
Decker, 48, of Unadilla, N.Y., whose earliest driving efforts came in the long-gone ‘Tiger’ division at Penn Can, emerged from a thrilling three-car battle with Mr. DIRTcar Modified champion Matt Sheppard and track regular Joey Grammes to top the 14th annual ‘King of the Can’ event sponsored by Pioneer Pole Buildings Inc., VP Racing Fuels, Don’s Automotive Mall and Gary’s U-Pull-It. For the third consecutive year, the event was contested as a co-promotion involving track managers Reed Miller and Al Wilcox with Brett Deyo of BD Motorsports Media LLC.
Decker, driving John Wight’s LJL Racing No. 91, earned $5,214 plus contingencies for his efforts in the 50-lap big-block/small-block Modified event and celebrated in Victory Lane by sitting on the “throne” toilet trophy.
“Man, what a race!” said a smiling Decker, whose victory was a popular one with the Penn Can crowd. “I was trying to run my car where it felt the most comfortable on the track, but I knew Matt (Sheppard) was all over me.”
Decker started third via a redraw of top heat-race qualifiers. On lap three, he slipped past Central New York invader Bob Henry Jr. – who started from the pole – to take the lead. Ninth-starter Joey Grammes, the ’06 ‘King of the Can’ winner, put his No. 5J into second by lap six.
Grammes immediately went to work on Decker, igniting a thrilling side-by-side battle on the Susquehanna County one-third-mile oval. While the leaders battled, 10th-starter Sheppard was on the move in Jeff Brownell’s No. 9s. At lap 16, ‘Super Matt’ had motored into third spot.
A caution on lap 21 tightened up the leaders and led to a three-car tussle for the top spot that electrified the crowd. Grammes worked the extreme outside lane chasing Decker, while Sheppard lurked in third. On lap 31, Sheppard completed an inside pass of Grammes for the runner-up spot. One lap later, a slowing Bobby Trapper drew the yellow and set up a shoot-out.
Lap after lap Sheppard was able to work inside of Decker in turns three and four running the inner hub – even leading lap 38 at the line – while Decker’s outside momentum carried him back to the lead at the exit of turn two.
Slower traffic came into the mix during the final six laps as Grammes made a resurgence on the topside of the track.
On the final lap, Sheppard drove to the outside of Decker through turns three and four. At the checkered, Sheppard’s left-front tire was even with the right-rear on Decker’s car. It was that close!
Decker pocketed the $5,014 winner’s share, plus $200 in lap money, a $100 certificate from Bob Hilbert Sportswear, a custom trophy from S&W Awards, a ‘King of the Can’ cooler filled with beer and the “throne” toilet.
The win for Decker was his second in a BD Motorsports Media special event at Penn Can. He previously won the 2011 Race of Champions Dirt Modified Tour ‘Clash at the Can’ 60-lapper.
Sheppard, 31, Waterloo, N.Y., settled for second. Sheppard is still in search of his first Penn Can victory.
“Man, we were close,” noted Sheppard, whose second-place was his best-ever result at Penn Can. “I was so good down in (turns) three and four, but I couldn’t get off the bottom of (turn) two like I needed to. I wasn’t far enough ahead to clear Billy.”
Grammes, of Lehighton, Pa., settled for third driving the No. 5 Bicknell owned by his older brother, Brad. Former two-time (’99 and ’05) ‘King of the Can’ winner Brian Weaver of Windsor, N.Y., authored a steady drive to finish fourth in Ron Dieffenbach’s No. 1A. Bobby Varin of Sharon Springs, N.Y., driving the Joey Decker Racing No. 10, completed the front five. The ’13 Glen Ridge (N.Y.) Motorsports Park champion had started 13th in the main.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Anthony Perrego of Montgomery, N.Y., in Gary Mann’s New York Truck Parts No. 55 (from 12th); 14th-starter Pat Ward of Genoa, N.Y.; Jeff Strunk of Bechtelsville, Pa., driving a No. 16 Teo-Pro car owned by Tyler Haydt; 23rd-starter Kevin Hartnett of Barto, Pa., the ’13 Penn Can champion; and I-88 (N.Y.) Speedway title winner Mike Mahaney of King Ferry, N.Y., who recovered from a lap-two tangle for 10th in Jim Shear’s No. 77x.
A stacked field of 49 Modifieds signed in for competition. $50 American Racer-Lias Tire heat winners were Stewart Friesen (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.), Sheppard, Frank Cozze (Wind Gap, Pa.), Elmo Reckner (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) and Grammes. Mike Schane (Lake Ariel, Pa.) and Hartnett split the consolations.
Ryan Olsommer, an Open Sportsman veteran who purchased a crate engine mid-season, drove to his first ’13 victory in the 25-lap main event for the Crate 602 Sportsman. The Greentown, Pa., driver collected $1,000-plus for the triumph. Olsommer took command on lap six and paced the remaining 19 circuits of the event.
Penn Can champion Alex Stanton of Jackson, Pa., who pitted early in the event with a flat right-rear tire, worked through the field to finish a fast-closing second. Accord (N.Y.) Speedway Spec Sportsman champion Tyler Boniface of Pine Bush, N.Y., placed third, followed by Butch Green of Newark Valley, N.Y. (driving the Ryan Stone No. 67R) and Ed Dachenhausen of Danbury, Conn.
Jonathan Carpenter of New Milford, Pa., continued his dominance of Southern Tier Street Stock racing in the 25-lap, $650-to win headliner. Carpenter, engaged in a four-car battle for the lead, took over the top spot with three laps remaining and raced on to the win over Ted Morseman of Athens, Pa., Paul Harrington of Sidney, N.Y., Earl Zimmer of Newark Valley, N.Y., and Randy Fox of Hallstead, Pa.
Next up for BD Motorsports Media is the 2013 dirt-track finale at Accord (N.Y.) Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 30 headlined by a 50-lap big-block/small-block Modified event paying $6,711 to win with support from Sowle Trailer Repair and Glen Ridge (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. Sportsman (25 laps, $1,000 to win) and Street Stocks in the Ron Wright Memorial complete the card. Visit www.bdmotorsportsmedia, call 845.728.2781 or e-mail Deyo99H@aol.com for further information. Accord Speedway is on the web at www.accordspeedway.com.
CAN QUIPS: After the track generator failed twice during the Modified qualifying events, John White of Light Track Rental (LTR) saved the evening for fans and competitors. Wight hustled to bring a back-up generator which was quickly hooked up and providing lighting for the remainder of the show….
Decker became the 12th different ‘King of the Can’ Modified winner in 14 editions of Penn Can’s traditional year-end event….
Heat winner and past ‘King of the Can’ winner Stewart Friesen retired from the event on lap four with a broken left-rear torsion arm on the Tadd Parks-owned No. 1….
At the drivers’ meeting, a pair of ‘Loyalty Awards’ were distributed via a drawing of drivers who had attended at least three of the four summer BD Motorsports Media events. The recipients of prize packages were Brian Malcolm (outer body kit courtesy of S&D Bodyline in Bath, Pa.) and Elmo Reckner (inner jigs, door mounts, quarter mounts, roof mounts, nose mounts, front and rear bumpers and rubrails from Shiley Fabrication of Williamstown, Pa.)….
Ninety-one race cars filled the pit area for the three-division event. The 49-car Modified field was joined by 24 Crate 602 Sportsman and 18 Street Stocks….
Pre-race activities included grandstand area race car displays by recent Short Track SuperNationals winner Craig Hanson and Penn Can champion Kevin Hartnett. DJ All-Day Entertainment provided music for the early arriving crowd….
Aboard ‘pick-up rides’ both Bobby Varin (fifth in Joey Decker’s No. 10) and Jeff Strunk (eighth driving for noted pavement racer Tyler Haydt) earned top-10 finishes….
Crate 602 Sportsman and Street Stock competitors shared in contingency prizes from S&R Graphics and Nitro Fabrication thanks to the efforts of Ryan Stone….
Veteran Frank Cozze drew a buzz from the crowd in the night’s third heat race when he drove from the final row (starting ninth) to pick up a victory driving Norm Hansell’s No. 357….
The 2013 ‘King of the Can’ is presented by Pioneer Pole Buildings, VP Racing Fuels, Trackside Products, Gary’s U-Pull-It, Don’s Automotive Mall, Manmiller Electric, American Racer/Lias Tire, S&D Bodyline, Shiley Fabrication, BFP Specialty, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, S&W Awards, Lakey’s Tavern, Four Star Lettering and many other marketing partners
PIONEER POLE BUILDINGS-VP RACING FUELS-GARY’S U-PULL-IT-DON’S AUTOMOTIVE MALL ‘KING OF THE CAN’ RACE SUMMARY – OCTOBER 18, 2013
Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): BILLY DECKER ($5,214), Matt Sheppard, Joey Grammes, Brian Weaver, Bobby Varin, Anthony Perrego, Pat Ward, Jeff Strunk, Kevin Hartnett, Mike Mahaney, Bob Henry, Elmo Reckner, Mike Colsten, Frank Cozze, Joey Colsten, Tom McGurrin, Danny Creeden, Nick Rochinski, Mike Clapperton, Craig Hanson, Mike Dougherty Jr., Brian Malcolm, Alan Rudalavage, Bob Trapper, Billy Van Pelt, Tyler Dippel, Chris Wood, Stewart Friesen, Mike Schane.
Did Not Qualify: Brent Wilcox, Steve Wren Jr., Ken Titus, Roy Shields, Adam MacGeorge, C.G. Morey, Shaun Walker, Jeff Schell, Butch Green, Christine Martin, Tommy Meier, Tyler Singleton, Steve Babicek, Richard Smith, Alan Johnson, Jim Mahaney, Justin Holland, Mel Schrufer, Jimmy Davis, Danny Tyler.
Lap Money Breakdown ($1,002 Total): Brian Weaver ($220), Billy Decker ($200), Joey Grammes ($182), Matt Sheppard ($180), Bobby Varin ($100), Bob Henry Jr. ($60), Anthony Perrego ($40) & Elmo Reckner ($20)
Shiley Fabrication Loyalty Award (Bumpers, Rubrails, Body Mounts & Jigs): Elmo Reckner
S&D Bodyline Loyalty Award Outer Body Kit: Brian Malcolm
American Racer Lias-Tire Heat Winners ($50 each): Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Frank Cozze, Elmo Reckner & Joey Grammes
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Top-Three Finishers ($100 Certificates): Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard & Joey Grammes
Manmiller Electric Hard Charger Award ($100): Kevin Hartnett (23rd to ninth)
Tim Long Big Diamond Speedway Bonus ($50): Jeff Strunk
Penn Can Highest-Finishing Regular Bonus (Four Passes, 2014 Opener): Joey Grammes
American Racer-Lias Tire Fresh Rubber Bonus (One FREE Tire): Frank Cozze (14th)
Shiley Fabrication Hard Luck Award (Bumpers & Rubrails): Stewart Friesen
Lineman Racing $50 Gift Cards: Anthony Perrego (sixth) & Mike Mahaney (10th)
BFP Specialty $500 Body Credit: Jimmy Davis
S&D Bodyline $100 Body Credit: Christine Martin
Lead A Lap, Drink A Beer Bonus: Billy Decker (47 cans of beer and custom cooler), Bob Henry Jr. (two) & Matt Sheppard (one)
S&W Awards Custom Trophy: Billy Decker
Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): RYAN OLSOMMER ($1,000), Alex Stanton, Tyler Boniface, Butch Green, Ed Dachenhausen, John Hargrave, Mike Nagel Jr., Josh Keesey, Cory Costa, Bob Buono, Mark Clauss, Jake Dgien, Rich Powell, Dillon Groover, Nick Branning, Jim Britt, Earl Rudy, Kyle Plumstead, Steve Wren Jr., Ray Bliss, Randy Gates, Shelly Stanton, Jamie Cortazar.
Street Stock Feature Finish (25 laps): JONATHAN CARPENTER ($650), Ted Morseman, Paul Harrington, Earl Zimmer, Randy Fox, Matt Spencer, John Hoover, Greg Krooker, Robert Hill, Kyle Stark, Shane Wolf Jr., Chad Stone, Rick Davis, Steve Wren Jr., Rich Green, Eric Boynton, Scott Reagan, Russ Morseman.