Williams and Sheppard Brawl at Brewerton, more notes from SummerFAST Night #1 – DTD Exclusive

By Mike Mallett

Just two laps. That’s all Mat Williamson led in Monday night’s opening round of SummerFAST for the Super DIRTcar Series. He made sure it was the most important two; it was the last two of the 60-lap feature.

Williamson passed the one driver he’s chasing in the Super DIRTcar Series: Matt Sheppard.

“We didn’t tighten up near enough,” said Williamson. “It was a lot slicker than it normally gets. The 358 races in the fall, there’s still a top, a bottom, and a middle. We actually watched the replay in the trailer earlier to kind of figure out what I needed to do to be better. Fortunately, the night just played out in our favor. Anytime you can pass Matt Sheppard, he’s the greatest of this generation, so to race with them and then pass him for a win, I’ll remember that for a long time.”

The final 14 laps saw Williamson chasing Sheppard. Sheppard was beginning to struggle, with Williamson picking up momentum. With five to go, he got to the back bumper as Sheppard continued moving around as he looked for speed.

“In three and four, I felt like I was better than him on the bottom,” said Williamson. “He would run so many different lanes in one and two to screw around with me, but I don’t know if he was just trying to keep me guessing. Finally, luckily, he went to the bottom when I went to the top, and I could get underneath getting into three there.” 

Williamson was able to find the high line when it mattered. He got by Sheppard on the outside as they raced off of turn four to the white flag. 

“It was tight,” said Williamson. “We made a little contact. He was doing what he needed to do to try and win the race, and I was trying to win the race as well. It was a fun race. We both have respect for each other on the racetrack, and that’s what it takes.”

He held off Sheppard on the final lap to put his Buzz Chew Cadillac No. 88 in victory lane for a $7,500 paycheck.

“I knew that I needed to snooker him,” said Williamson. “I don’t know if I took off on him on the last lap because I felt like I was just trying to play protection mode for one lap and get it to the end. So fun race, fun racing at Brewerton as always, and I always look forward to coming here.”

Sheppard Has a Rare Miss: It isn’t a regular occurrence to see Sheppard give up the lead once he gets it. On this night, he did. Sheppard was struggling to hang on. His car just wasn’t as good as it needed to be to get the job done.

“I didn’t think it was gonna get like this tonight,” said Sheppard. “We just didn’t tighten up enough. When I lost that brown ring going down the top of the backstretch, that really hurt me. I was using that to carry momentum and just get me down the backstretch. Once that disappeared, I knew I was a sitting duck. I was trying to move around. I thought maybe the groove changed, and I’m like, the groove didn’t change; this thing just ain’t in the racetrack anymore.” 

High Point Guy Problems: Larry Wight and Jimmy Phelps, who sit inside the top five in weekly points at the Brewerton Speedway, struggled on Monday night. Both drivers timed poorly, with Phelps’ 15th and Wight 17th out of the 23 cars in their group. That put them at the back of their heat races.  They both found themselves in a Last Chance Showdown before they both took provisional starting spots in the feature. Wight made an early exit, finishing in 27th, while Phelps had a solid rebound passing more than anyone else to finish in seventh.

Small Block Power: Multiple drivers utilizing small block power qualified for the feature, including recent winner Amy Holland and Dave Marcuccilli. Holland was the strongest, finishing in 11th. Marcuccilli did not finish, relegating him to the 25th position in the final rundown.  Chris Mackey, who usually runs a small-block, debuted a new big-block and he finished 13th.