By CHRIS MOORE
DELMAR, DE – Delaware International Speedway is becoming a favorite stop for Matt Sheppard.
Despite a six-hour-plus, one-way drive from his home in Savannah, N.Y., the driver known as ‘Super Matt’ looks forward to his stops at the Delmar facility. On Tuesday night, Sheppard proved why.
After an exciting back-and-forth battle with Craig Von Dohren, Sheppard prevailed in the Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply ‘Diamond State 50’ worth $5,000. The event served as Round No. 3 of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central.
“I told Chad (Cathell), I wish this place was closer,” Sheppard said after his second straight ‘Diamond State 50’ triumph.
Von Dohren’s Dick Biever-owned No. 14 led the 27-car field to STSS starter Joe Kriss’ green flag and shot into the lead. Sheppard rolled off the grid seventh after a redraw of top qualifiers.
Sheppard’s big-block-powered Bicknell cut through traffic to emerge in second after clearing both invader Andy Bachetti and reigning Delaware International champion Jordan Watson.
An all-out war followed between Von Dohren and Sheppard.
Lap after lap, the two swapped lanes and raced wheel-to-wheel through a series of restarts.
Von Dohren repelled Sheppard’s advances long enough to collect the $200 Halfway Leader bonus courtesy of Precision Hydraulic & Oil.
Ultimately, the winning move for Sheppard came at the exit of turn four on lap 30 when he darted to the top spot.
Stewart Friesen, who started 11th, climbed to second with a methodical drive to the front. Friesen, however, clipped the inside barrier in turn two and flattened the left-front tire on his Halmar International No. 44, ultimately pulling off the speedway under caution with six laps remaining.
Boyertown, Pa.’s Jeff Strunk, who started 15th, then took over second. Strunk remained on the bumper of Sheppard but settled for second in the Glenn Hyneman-owned No. 126, earning a $3,000 runner-up finish.
“It feels good to be down here,” Strunk said during the on-track podium interviews. “It’s where we belong.”
Von Dohren settled for third-place and takes $2,200 home to Oley, Pa.
“Starting up front allowed me to run my own line,” Von Dohren said. “We had a good car; just not good enough.”
Ryan Watt of Boyertown, Pa., rallied late in the going to finish fourth with the Ron Roberts-owned No. 14W. Mike Gular, also of Boyertown, Pa., ended his night with a fifth-place result after starting 14th in the Terry Fasnacht-owned No. 2A.
As the first representative of the First State, Jordan Watson of Milford, Del., earned a sixth-place finish followed by David Van Horn Jr. of Ringoes, N.J., up from 13th on the grid; NASCAR Truck Series regular Tyler Dippel of Wallkill, N.Y., in his debut at Delaware International; Andy Bachetti of Sheffield, Mass., recovering from a spin while challenging for third; and Middletown, N.Y.’s Anthony Perrego, who ran inside the top-five before fading to 10th.
Heat winners for the 35 assembled STSS Modifieds were Friesen, Watt, Perrego and Dippel. Watt was the $100 Beyea Headers Fast Time Award recipient at 18.235 seconds.
Jim Housworth of Riegelsville, Pa., picked up a hard-fought $1,500 payday in the accompanying STSS Crate 602 Sportsman 20-lap main event, Race No. 2 of the South Region. The win for Housworth was his first on the Short Track Super Series circuit.
“I really appreciate the Short Track Super Series putting on these races for us,” a smiling Housworth said.
Housworth led the entire distance but had to fend off the advances of New York State teenager Ryan Macartney, who earned a series-best runner-up finish. Delaware’s Trent Willey is returning to the Crate 602 Sportsman ranks this season and finished third, followed by third-generation Keystone State talent Dylan Swinehart and another Pennsylvania invader in Joe Toth.
DELAWARE DIAMONDS: WOW ‘That’s Country’ broadcasted live from the speedway from 4-6 p.m. and spent some time on air with Stewart Friesen talking about his dirt Modified roots and current success on the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series….
Rick Laubach received the WELD Wheels Hard Luck Award after running inside the top-five of the main event only to lose power in the Gary Herrmann No. 7….
The recent STSS success for Sheppard and the Hurlock Auto & Speed team has come with big-block power under the hood of the No. 9s….
Tough night for Saturday’s Grandview (Pa.) Speedway winner Duane Howard, who was jostled around in heat action before the Norm Hansell-owned No. 357 went off on the hook after contact with the inside barrier in turn two….
Regional Super Late Model standout Amanda Whaley made a rare STSS Modified start but failed to qualify….
Mike Mahaney rallied from 25th to finish 11th in the main, earning the $200 Mr. Mulch Hard Charger Award worth $200….
Both Tyler Dippel and Stewart Friesen planned the Delaware dirt on Tuesday and Dover International Speedway concrete on Friday….
Racing resumes for the STSS on Thursday, May 23 at New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway with the return of the ‘Dirty Jersey’ for big-block/small-block Modifieds plus United Racing Club (URC) 360 Sprint Cars and STSS Crate 602 Sportsman. The Halmar International North Region bookends Memorial Day Weekend on May 26 at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Center Lisle, N.Y., with the ‘Lightning on the Mountain’ event.
To learn more about the 2019 Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.
The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, Insinger Performance, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Velocita-USA, Design for Vision/Sunglass Central, Rob Sherlock Roofing, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH Springs, Escape RV, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, HyperCo, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Land Hoe Maintenance, K&N, MJK Home Maintenance, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, QA1, Racing Optics, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO, Velocita, WELD Racing & Wilwood.
HURLOCK AUTO & SPEED ‘DIAMOND STATE 50’ RACE SUMMARY – DELAWARE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY APRIL 30, 2019
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region Event No. 3 Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): MATT SHEPPARD,Jeff Strunk, Craig Von Dohren, Ryan Watt , Mike Gular, Jordan Watson, David Van Horn Jr., Tyler Dippel, Andy Bachetti, Anthony Perrego, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Krachun, Brad Trice, Joseph Watson, Stewart Friesen, Brandon Grosso, Howard O’Neal, Billy Pauch Jr., H.J. Bunting, Danny Bouc, Scott Van Gorder, Kevin Sockriter, Robbie Emory, Carson Wright, Rick Laubach, Duane Howard, Richie Pratt Jr.
Did Not Qualify: Ryan Riddle, Amanda Whaley, Mike White, Roger Manning, Shawn Ward, Jordn Justice, Ryan Anderson, Clay Tatman.
American Racer Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire): Jordan Watson (sixth) & Brad Trice (13th)
ATL Fuel Cell Bonus ($200 Certificate): Mike Gular (fifth)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Ryan Watt (fourth) & Andy Bachetti (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Fast Time Award ($100): Ryan Watt (18.235 seconds)
Bill Brown & Company ‘Move of the Race’ Award ($50): Jeff Strunk
EIBACH Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Jordan Watson (sixth)
Henry’s Exhaust System Bonus ($50 Certificate): Mike Mahaney (11th)
Mr. Mulch of Seaford Hard Charger ($250): Mike Mahaney (25th to 11th)
Precision Hydraulic & Oil Halfway Leader ($200): Craig Von Dohren
Racing Optics Bonus (Tear-Off Sleeve): Craig Von Dohren (third)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonus ($50 Certificate): Jeff Strunk (second) Ryan Krachun (12th) & Kevin Sockriter (22nd)
VAHLCO Wheels Hard Charger ($50 Certificate): Mike Mahaney
WELD Wheels Hard Luck Award (FREE 5XL Wheel): Rick Laubach
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Crate 602 Sportsman South Region Event No. 2 Feature Finish (20 laps): JIM HOUSWORTH,Ryan Macartney, Trent Wiley, Dylan Swinehart, Joe Toth, James Hill, Corey Cormier, Scott Hitchens, Tom Moore Jr., Trent Van Vorst, Adam White, Cole Stangle, Samantha Muller, Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Brown, Ethan Simpson, Jeff Marker, Michael White, Sean Metz, David Jenkins, Jim Gallagher Jr., Sammy Martz Jr., Dwayne Crockett, John Stevenson, Justin Grosso.
Did Not Qualify: Tommy Wilkins, Jonathan Swift, Nico Flammer, Mark Pettyjohn.