MIDDLETOWN, NY – Matt Sheppard has found the secret to not only winning at the Orange County Speedway, but totally dominating at the historic Middletown, NY Speedway.
On Thursday night it was the 103rd Anniversary celebration at Orange County and $60,000 dollars in prize money featuring a winner’s check for $17,500 was on the line for the 75 lap main event.
When it was over a smiling Sheppard stood in victory lane after a 12.009 second victory saying, “I can’t say enough about this car. It was a rocket all night. It was just so comfortable to drive. I had a lot of fun and this is a good place to get dialed in.”
Continuing he said, “I guess the hardest part of the race is to decide where the car felt best” as it felt good just about everywhere.”
In the understatement of the night Matt simply closed by saying, “I guess everything went our way tonight.”
Second and third place runners Stewart Friesen and Anthony Perrego were basically a Matt Sheppard mutual admiration society.
Friesen, who got past Perrego with about six laps to go said, “Matt has this place dialed in”.
While Perrego simply noted, “Matt really has got things together and we just have to go home and do some more homework.”
A quality field of 33 cars started the night with Danny Creeden, Jimmy Horton, Dillon Steuer and Sheppard gaining victories.
Meanwhile, Billy Decker captured the consi.
In the draw Perrego drew one, Steuer two, Larry Wight three and Sheppard four while Friesen lined up inside of row four.
The early going saw Steuer take the lead from the outside of row one..
However, the first yellow came out on the fourth lap as Gary Edwards slowed in the fourth turn. Also during this yellow session Max McLaughlin went to the pits for the first of three times as he was forced to change a right rear.
On the restart McLaughlin got around on the front stretch and headed to the pits for some quick front end corrections.
Action resumed and Sheppard continually attempted to work the inside and it was on the 15th circuit as the leaders exited the fourth turn that the 9s went to the top of the charts for good.
With 25 down it was Sheppard, Perrego, Steuer, Peter Britten, Friesen, Horton, Mike Gular, Charles Loiodice, Creeden and Wight in the top ten.
As individual battles occurred for various spots Sheppard had built himself up nearly a half lap lead with 30 laps on the scoreboard.
By the 39th lap he had lapped all the way up to 12th as he passed Mat Williamson.
However, on the 40th circuit the yellow came out for Creeden as he apparently had some contact with Tyler Boniface in the second turn. Sheppard’s 11 second lead was gone.
Pit side activity was heavy during the yellow as McLaughlin pitted for the hat trick with the crew repairing the right front shock and Wight’s crew checked the right rear end of the 99L. With only ten cars in the lead lap Larry went back in tenth and when he had pitted that’s exactly where he was running.
On the restart it was a show of 44’s with Perrego down low and Friesen up high against the wall.
With “50” on the board it was Sheppard, Perrego, Friesen, Steuer, Horton, Britten, Wight, Loiodice, Gular and Creeden in the top ten.
Laps ticked off and with Sheppard maintaining a consistent two to three second lead the battle for second was going to allow Matt to run away and hide once again.
The laps ticked off and the Perrego-Friesen second place battle was attracting attention as they ran bumper to bumper and side by side lap after lap.
Finally, Friesen made the pass that stuck with around five to go.
At the checker it was a 12.009 win for Sheppard while Friesen, Perrego, Steuer and Horton completing the top five.
For Matt Sheppard his fortunes have turned around considerably as from 1999 to 2018 he had not won a single main event at Orange County.
However, since 2019 “Super Matt” has won 20 feature events at Middletown.
Josh Coondradt swept the night as he captured his heat, dash and the 20 lap Pro Stock feature.
The defending Eastern States Pro Stock champ started on the pole and led the entire distance winning by six seconds over Jason Casey.
Completing the Pro Stock nine car field were Ivan Joselin, Chuck Dumblewski, Jay Casey, Chris Stalker, Sean Corr, Frank Twing and Roxanne Roy.
103rd Anniversary Orange County Modified Finish
Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Anthony Perrego, Dillon Steuer, Jimmy Horton, Peter Britten, Larry Wight, Mike Gular, Charles Loiodice, Danny Creeden, Mat Williamson, Tanner Van Doren, Darren Smith, Max McLaughlin, Marc Johnson, Billy Van Inwegen, Gary Edwards, Mike Mahaney, Adam Pierson, Sam Martz, Billy Decker, Tyler Boniface, Bobby Flood, Jack Lehner, Tim Fuller and Craig Mitchell.
DNQ-Matt Janiak, Tommy Meier, Brian Calabrese, Bob McGannon, Bob Hentschel, Rich Eurich, Brett Hearn (engine problems DNS consi