By MIKE MALLETT
At the start of Friday night’s main-event for the Super DIRTcar Series big-block Modifieds at the World Finals, Mat Williamson trailed Matt Sheppard by three points in the chase for the 2019 title. When it was over, a little bad luck for Sheppard and a solid finish for Williamson earned him an 18 point advantage heading into the final race of 2019 on Saturday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
“We can control our own destiny,” cited Williamson after finishing fifth. “We are in the redraw, which is obviously a plus. We learned some things tonight that we need to get better on. All-in-all, it’s a good night.”
Williamson got a boost when Matt Sheppard had to pit early in the feature with a right front flat. Sheppard nearly spun out on the opening lap of the feature. Luckily, he saved it only to get a flat right front two laps later when contact was made with the rear of Larry Wight’s car as he tried to tuck underneath cutting down the tire. Sheppard slowed to bring out the caution before going to the rear.
Williamson saw Sheppard head to the pit area. He knew he just had to have a solid night. He didn’t feel like he had the best car, but it was good enough to retake the point lead after Sheppard rallied to his way back to 10th.
“I honestly don’t think we were that great,” stated Williamson. “We just battled through it. We just had to be there. When I saw Matt pull off, from there I was watching the big screen to see where he was. It shows how good this team is really. We kept our heads down, kept working after a tough call in the heat race there. We came out smelling like a rose in this deal.”
The tough call in the heat race saw Williamson docked a row for jumping the start. Sheppard went on to get the win while Williamson finished outside of a redraw spot.
The title chase comes down to Saturday night’s feature in which both drivers are locked into the redraw.
Ward in the Hunt for World Finals Win
Pat Ward has not had the best of seasons aboard the Gypsum Express No. 42p. The Genoa, N.Y., driver will have good runs and then have night’s where he struggles or just has bad luck. In Friday’s 40-lap feature at The Dirt Track, Ward was in the hunt for the win with a Bicknell mount that was exceptionally good on longer runs. Unfortunately, those runs didn’t come at the right time for Ward.
“That one long run I was running Jimmy (Phelps) back down,” mentioned Ward. “I could not refire that good on restarts in the top groove. I had a good car. I was good at Oswego and Middletown and had problems both places running pretty decent. I think we are alright. I sure didn’t need all those yellows.
“Everybody knows I’ve been terrible the last half of the year, I’m not hiding that fact. We’ve been digging and trying. I’m happy to get a top five here. This is a tough group of cars.”
Super DIRTcar Series Notes
It was night a good night for the Graham Racing team cars. Billy Dunn was battling for the lead with Billy Decker in traffic. Decker got boxed in when another car broke in front of him and he had to slam on the brakes. Dunn slammed into him. The yellow came out lining Decker and Dunn back up one two. Dunn’s day ended shortly after when the car locked up and stopped on the backstretch with fluid leaking from the rear of the car.
Max McLaughlin, in the other Graham car, had a fast car only to have problems to cause him to pull off while running in the top 10…
The contact would cost Decker a shot at the win as well. Decker’s run with the lead ended a few laps later with a flat tire on the No. 91. Afterwards Decker indicated the car received extensive damage to the front and back of his car…
Brett Hearn was forced to start at the tail of his heat race. Hearn hit the hot pits after hot laps and made adjustments to his No. 20 which was not allowed…