DELMAR, DE – What a night, what a finish.
BD Motorsports Media LLC opened a new era of NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series racing at Delaware International Speedway on Friday night. Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard thrilled the large crowd with a final-lap pass to win the Jake Marine Memorial for the Millman’s NAPA Auto Parts Modifieds at the half-mile oval.
Management delayed the start of the event to file the large number of attendees into the facility. It was worth the wait.
Sheppard bested a 32-car field of Modifieds to pick up the $8,585 payday in memory of Marine, a prominent Delmarva car owner and supporter of the sport who passed away in February 2020 while attending a race at All-Tech Raceway in Florida. Marine’s family enjoyed the event from a VIP tower.
The 30-lap main event, run on a wide and smooth surface prepared by Charles Cathell, produced a thrilling conclusion.
Sheppard, who had trailed Mike Gular for the late stages of the main, ducked to the inside of Gular following the white flag from starter Tanner Hollis. Sheppard surged ahead down the backstretch and slid to the cushion entering turn three.
Gular drove back to the inside through turns three and four. The lead duo drag-raced to the Sunoco Race Fuels checkered flag with Sheppard – who started seventh in his Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s – prevailing by a car-length.
“You can’t forget why we are here tonight: Jake Marine. Just like Brett (Deyo) said at the drivers’ meeting, everyone has a Jake Marine story,” an elated Sheppard said on the frontstretch, recalling his younger days watching Marine’s iconic No. 85 cars compete.
Boyertown, Pa.’s Gular, the event’s pole starter, relinquished the lead to reigning track champion Jordan Watson at the outset before reclaiming the top spot on an eighth-lap restart in the Terry Fasnacht-owned No. 2A.
Sheppard cleared Watson on lap 19 and stalked Gular for the final 11 circuits, before completing the pass on the final circuit.
“The track was absolutely awesome,” Sheppard said. “It seemed like I struggled a little bit on the restarts. I’d get by some guys and lose some spots on the restarts.
“I got up into second and I could get next to Mike (Gular) and couldn’t do anything. Then I messed up a couple times and he drove away. I kind of got back up on him again and I don’t know if I got a really good run up off of (turn) two or he bobbled a little bit, but I saw the opening. I knew I had room to throw a slider, but I would probably be out of control.
“I was just about out in the weeds (in turns three and four coming to the checkered), but we held onto it.”
Gular settled for second, with Milford, Del.’s Watson driving the family-owned No. 1J to the final podium position. Danny Bouc of Pipersville, Pa., advanced from 10th to fourth in a steady drive and Alex Yankowski of Covington Township, Pa., completed the top five. Yankowski started 19th and earned the $250 Kruger Trailers Hard Charger Award.
Heat winners for the 32 Modifieds on hand were Gular, H.J. Bunting (in a Marine No. 85 tribute), Mike Mahaney and Sheppard. Ryan Riddle topped the consolation.
Bunting’s No. 85 paced the four-wide salute prior to the Modified feature in Marine’s memory.
Joe Toth of Upper Makefield, Pa., swept the outside lane to take the 25-lap Blue Hen Dispose-All Crate 602 Sportsman 25-lap triumph, worth $1,085 plus an $85 bonus from the Marine family and $100 from Belmont’s Garage as a heat-race winner.
Toth stalked race-long leader James Hill before powering around the topside with six laps remaining.
Toth was driving a No. 917 painted as a throwback tribute to his grandfather, former racer Bill Tanner.
Hill’s car came up light on the scales post-race, moving Michael White into the runner-up position. Thomas Sherby, Jordn Justice and Eric Kormann completed the front five.
Heat winners for the 33 Crate 602 Sportsman, each receiving $100 from Belmont’s Garage, were Dylan Swinehart, Tom Moore Jr., Sherby and Toth. The consolation went to Matt Peck.
The Southern Delaware Vintage Stock Car feature saw D.J. Cameron prevail in the 12-lap feature, while Nathan Auston was declared the division’s ‘Sportsman’ winner.
Melvin Joseph Jr. thwarted the advances of Dylan Betts to pick up the Little Lincoln 12-lap event.
After an early crash that saw his No. 69 perched atop another truck, Jerry Hill rallied to use a last-lap pass to pick up the Delaware Super Truck 12-lap main event.
Jay Lowman dominated the 12-lap Delmarva Charger feature in the division’s Season Opener.
NIGHTLY NOTES: A total of 111 race cars filled the Delaware International Speedway pit area for the 2023 Season Opener, which went off despite mixed forecasts calling for showers in the evening…
Etta’s Catering made its debut in the main concession stand, which was reopened for the night…
The Marine family donated $85 to each of the top-10 Modified finishers and first, fifth and eighth in the Crate 602 Sportsman division…
The 50/50 raffle prize was $1,077 and claimed…
The event was the first for BD Motorsports Media LLC under a NASCAR sanction. All four Brett Deyo-operated facilities will be part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series in ’23…
Racing resumes at Delaware International Speedway on Wednesday, April 12 with the Millman’s NAPA Auto Parts Modifieds racing for $3,000 to win plus the Hovis Auto & Truck Center RUSH Racing Series presented by Born2Run Lubricants ‘Battle of the Bay’ Round No. 1, Little Lincolns, Delaware Super Trucks and Delmarva Chargers.
A new website for Delaware International Speedway is live at www.delawareinternationalspeedway.com. Keep posted as the site is updated daily.
Like “Delaware International Speedway” on Facebook for more.
Delaware International Speedway is located at 37854 Sussex Highway Delmar, DE 19940. A new office phone number exclusively for the dirt track has been set up: 302.567.8294 and e-mail email@example.com.
‘JAKE MARINE MEMORIAL’ RESULTS SUMMARY – DELAWARE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2023
‘Jake Marine Memorial’ Millman’s NAPA Auto Parts Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Mike Gular, Jordan Watson, Danny Bouc, Alex Yankowski, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Krachun, Jimmy Horton, Ryan Godown, Matt Stangle, Bobby Hackel, Danny Creeden, Joseph Watson, Danny Hieber, Bobby Watkins, Ryan Riddle, Sean Metz, HJ Bunting, Loudon Reimert, Brett Ballard, David Schilling, Norman Short, Jr., Tanner Van Doren, Brandon Grosso, James Hill, Austin Hubbard, John Willman, Carson Wright
Did Not Qualify: Daniel Morgiewicz, Brandon Watkins, Dylan Swinehart, Anthony Perrego
Ad-Art Sign Company Top Spec Small-Block Bonus ($250): Sean Metz
Kruger Trailer Hard Charger ($250): Alex Yankowski (19th to fifth)
Marine Family Bonuses ($85): Matt Sheppard (first); Mike Gular (second); Jordan Watson (third); Danny Bouc (fourth); Alex Yankowski (fifth); Mike Mahaney (sixth); Ryan Krachun (seventh); Jimmy Horton (eighth); Ryan Godown (ninth); Matt Stangle (10th)
‘Jake Marine Memorial’ Blue Hen Dispose-All Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): JOE TOTH, Michael White, Thomas Sherby, Jordn Justice, Eric Kormann, Scott Hitchens, Adam White, Paulie Hartwig III, Greg Humlhanz, Matt Peck, Matt Smith, Brandon Watkins, Jason Musser, Tom Moore, Jr., Greg Reed, Brayden Benson, Ashley Metz, Chris Martinez, Dylan Swinehart, Luke Bunting, Donnie Tingle, Ryan McKinney, Zac Weller, Freddy Massey, Richie Walls, Jr., James Hill (disqualified – weight)
Did Not Qualify: Caleb Scott, George Richardson, Jeff Marker, Kaleb Steele, Justin Zook, Donald Porter, Greg Taylor
Belmont’s Garage Heat Race Winners ($100): Dylan Swinehart, Tom Moore, Jr., Thomas Sherby, Joe Toth
Marine Family Bonuses ($85): Joe Toth (first); Eric Kormann (fifth); Paulie Hartwig III (eighth)
Reigel Promotions Bonus ($25): Chris Martinez (18th)
Southern Delaware Vintage Modified Feature Finish (12 laps): DJ CAMERON, Jamie Eichholz, Jason Dean, Austin Allan, Terry Chaney, Justin Mabrey
Southern Delaware Vintage Sportsman Feature Finish (12 laps): NATHAN AUSTIN, Garritt Reagan, Roscoe Clough, Dave Schamp, Glenn Lyon, Jamie Schirmer, Jason Cahall
Little Lincoln Feature Finish (12 laps): MEL JOSEPH JR., Dylan Betts, Jordan Herbert, Eric Reed, Bryan Piercy, Ryan Walsen, Tyler White, MJ White, Scott Calhoun, Kirk Lawson
Delaware Super Truck Feature Finish (12 laps): JERRY HILL, Scott Trice, Andrew Nelson, Zack Phillips, Troy Hopkins, Cameron Benson, Greg Nailor, L.J. Walbert, Thomas Jackson, Tony Guinta, TJ Hazlewood, Matt Esham, Dale Elliott, Gary Aaron
Delmarva Charger Feature Finish (12 laps): JAY LOWMAN, Ashley Merritt, Robbie Strain, Tyler Hottle, Wyatt Cummings, Randy Merritt, Michael Harmon, Jr., Billy Cummings, Ron Falkner, Craig Kelly