By MIKE MALLETT
Matt Sheppard stalked Jimmy Phelps for much of the second half of Monday’s race at the Cornwall Motor Speedway during the 358-Modified Super DIRTcar series event. Sheppard waited for a mistake and he got it with two laps to go as Phelps found himself stuck behind a lapped car and unable to find the right way through.
Sheppard rolled the outside groove going into turns one and two as Phelps was behind the slower car on the bottom. He then completed the pass coming through turns three and four on the outside groove.
“We had a good car and I was trying to capitalize on that,” said Sheppard. “It was tough to pass a little bit. Every time I got close to him (Phelps) I’d try something. I was hoping the lapped cars would bog him down a little bit and it finally worked out in my favor.”
It gave Sheppard a win and a fourth place finish on the weekend meaning he is now undefeated in 358 Super DIRTcar series competition in 2013 with the win at Merrittville Speedway as well.
“This is the best we’ve been here in a while,” commented Sheppard. “We were good all weekend and that it is nice. We’ve been good all year and that is kind of showing. I would have rather won last night but we are doing alright on the Big-Block tour but we are undefeated on the small-block tour. Usually the roles are reversed.”
Sheppard went to say that had he run the Small-Block car on Sunday night he might have been able to go two-for-two on the weekend.
Cornwall Motor Speedway Notes (7/1): Jimmy Phelps backed up his fifth place finish on Sunday with a third on Monday night. Phelps led much of the race after passing Brian McDonald for the lead. In the closing laps traffic ultimately cost him a shot at the win.
“It was one of those situations where you’re damned if you do damned if you don’t,” commented Phelps. “If I try passing him on the outside that lets Sheppard nose under me or I get stuck and then that happens. I was a sitting duck.”
On the final lap Phelps went for it all as he drove hard into turns three and four hoping the car would stick to the top and get him a run on Sheppard. It didn’t work and it ultimately cost him second.
“I threw it in there on the last lap looking to try and catch the top,” stated Phelps. “I was going for it because there was no need to hold anything back at that point.”
Mat Williamson crossed the line second after Phelps took drastic measures in the final corner giving him a second and a seventh on the weekend. He was happy to get things back on track.
“We were third place car because Jimmy (Phelps) and Matt (Sheppard) were faster,” said Williamson. “Jimmy (Phelps) made a mistake on the last lap. The way we’ve been running lately it feels good to be back towards the top. We still have work to do to beat them guys but they do it for a living so I’m just happy to be back up there running good.”
Williamson utilized the outside groove to make a few passes, mostly on restarts. Once a few laps were run he was forced back to the bottom.
“On restarts I could make the outside work then my tire get would get too hot and I couldn’t run the outside anymore,” stated Williamson. “It was good. I figured I’d lose spots starting outside but I took advantage of it. It was good that way.”
Williamson planned to head home immediately following the racing action to prepare for competition at Ransomville Speedway this week. Then in two weeks he returns to his Friday night home of Lernerville Speedway. A place he’s already seen a lot of success with multiple feature wins.
“We are loving it,” commented Williamson of Lernerville. “You can go four and five wide. The guys are great down there and they are getting better. We love the place and they treat you nice. The hospitality is great and we are going to keep doing what we are doing.”
Danny Johnson powered to a fourth place finish after starting ninth via the redraw. Johnson was piloting a No. 14 car normally driven by Tom Bendedict at Mohawk International Raceway.
“Dave (Thompson) set this deal up,” said Johnson. “We had a real good car but starting ninth was our biggest downfall. We are happy to finish in the top five and bring the car home in one piece.”
As of now Johnson is unsure of future plans with the team or if this was a one race deal.
Carey Terrance had a career weekend. The Hogansburg, N.Y., driver rolled to a win in the Big-Block Super DIRTcar series race and then a fifth place finish in yesterday’s event. He struggled Monday with handling issues.
“Yeah that was a career victory for us,” said Terrance about winning Sunday. “The guys did an awesome job putting the car together. We struggled a bit tonight because we lost a brake line in a jingle about halfway though. To come back to fifth is pretty good.”
Terrance ran the Small-Block powerplant both nights and that was to his advantage.
“The big guys (SDS regulars) were here and they were at a disadvantage with the Big-Block,” said Terrance. “I capitalized by running the Small-Block and we were able to get the win last night.”