By Bill Foley
It’s been years since I’ve witnessed such a dominating performance of a Modified driver, but David Schilling put on a show for the ages as he simply drove away from a talented field on night two of the Short Track Super Series Sunshine Swing.
The victory didn’t go over as well as some had hoped. Schilling runs a Brett Deyo owned Wegner “open” motor that was in his father’s car (the car Brett owns that Schilling drives was in the pit stall).
Matt Sheppard finished second, but after the final restart with just three laps remaining, Schilling pulled away for a nearly three second win. It was total domination.
Numerous drivers pit side weren’t exactly overjoyed at the end of the night as the issue of a car with the promoter’s motor simply embarrassed the field.
It was quite obvious Matt Sheppard and Larry Wight weren’t exactly happy how things went down, and others also made comments in regard to the race.
However, so much was going on all night long
To start out Stewart Friesen’s crew had replaced the motor that was smoking on night one. Stew said regarding the injured power plant, “It’s repairable.”
The driver’s meeting showed the commitment that Deyo has as he noted, “We want to make sure we can get three races in, and we will start early tomorrow (Friday) if necessary.” The weather forecast for Friday and Saturday was brutal with inches of rain slated for what would be the final day of the Sunshine Swing.
He noted that 34,000 viewers were watching night one on Flo and consider that East Bay Lucas Oil Late Models and Volusia All Stars were also on at the same time, so the viewership was solid.
One nice touch on the first night was Alex Payne wishing his sister a happy birthday on her 16th.
It was interesting to talk to Yan Bussiere who is here running Sportsman. He finished on the podium the first night. He was fourth on night two. His car is the championship #6 that Mat Williamson drove to the Merrittville title and had at Oswego last year.
It rained for a while, but the race action still started relatively on time around 7 p.m.
Heat winners were Darren Smith, David Schilling and Peter Britten.
Smith continues to show tremendous improvement as last year Billy Decker mentored him. Billy arrived in Florida yesterday with his bags (golf bag). He won’t be running down here.
Danny Creeden finished second in his heat which is a credit to him and his crew. He had hit the front stretch wall in hot laps and noted, he “broke the front axle and bent the frame.”
Jeff Taylor simply can’t catch a break as the rebuilt 11T got rear ended by Corbin Millar between three and four in the early stages of heat action. Fortunately, no damage to either.
Sparks flew as Alex Payne bounced his right rear off the outside wall on lap one of his heat. He failed to qualify and had to make the main through the consi.
Stewart Friesen and Payne, first and third on opening night, were consi qualifiers.
Peter Britten finally caught a break with a good draw and started on the pole of his prelim winning over Larry Wight.
Tanner Van Doren has been sick throughout the week and noted that “focusing” was difficult the first night but felt much better on night two.
Tyler Siri made his debut on Thursday night and had carburetor problems in his heat, replaced it and finished third in the main. He said due to business commitments he will be headed home and won’t be racing after this week in Florida. He noted that he could have a three car Modified team up North this year with Bobby Varin and him running two and another driver could be a possible third.
I loved Sheppard’s comment in the redraw interview as he noted that it would be a “slip, sliding, wild All Tech.”
Corey Cormier was in the draw for the second night and in heat action he said, “We just needed more stagger” to get better.
The Doctor and Bobby Watkins got in via Sunshine Swing provisionals.
The feature was nothing but a Schilling show. He had a full straight lead by lap four.
Early battle for second between Mike Gular and Siri kept the fans interest.
By the ninth lap eight cars were already lapped including Friesen and Payne.
Matt Sheppard found himself in fourth by the halfway point in the 35 lap and one lap later passed Britten for third.
With 24 laps in Schilling had a nine plus second lead on a track where he was turning 19 second per lap.
Moments before the only yellow of the race Sheppard went to second passing Siri.
Francois Bellemare brought out the only caution as he spun in the backstretch.
By that time only six cars were in the lead lap, but Wight came around to make it seven.
In the final moments the much-anticipated shootout between Schilling and Sheppard never materialized.
However, Wight sent a Hail Mary drive to the outside and it worked. He got around Britten and Gular for a top five finish. I don’t care how you feel about Larry, but he always puts on a show. It was balls out, go for broke to get a fifth-place finish.
Sheppard was second and the car he brought to Florida for this event was the one he ran “on the rough Oswego track” a couple of years ago. He did not bring any new equipment to the Sunshine Swing or to Volusia. In fact, he told DTD, “The motor I’m running at Volusia is the first motor I bought from C.C. in 2016.” No matter. He’s always a contender.
Well, weather permitting, there will be a night three and it should be interesting. However, personally I wouldn’t hold my breath for night four as the forecast is simply brutal in regard to moisture.
Action is already scheduled to start an hour earlier on Friday with the weather anticipated to move in by eight or so. It’s possible to get this one in as Deyo runs an efficient show. If he needs to drop interviews he does. If he needs to save time redrawing in the pits he will. He wants the drivers to get paychecks. The Sportsman are vying for point money as there is a fund awaiting them at the end of the week.
The mods are keeping point standings, but not sure if there is a trophy or money for that. Currently it would seem Matt Sheppard is leading the points. Anyone surprised?