By BOBBY SWEENEY
MECHANICSVILLE, MD – Matt Sheppard 2020 got off to a rocky start, but things are starting to turn around for the Waterloo, N.Y., driver. On Sunday night, Sheppard stormed to his second big win of the season taking the Short Track Super Series Battle at Budd’s Creek victory at Maryland’s Potomac Speedway.
“The beginning of that was scary,” Sheppard said. “We’ve been to a few of these bullrings recently, and these cars keep getting more exotic and harder to drive, and cars are just all over the place.”
Stewart Friesen led the field to the green in the 50-lap feature, with Billy Pauch Jr. stalking him in the opening laps, cautions, and restarts.
A lap four restart saw Pauch sneak by Friesen to take the lead, but never had time to put any distance between himself and Friesen through the rash of yellows.
Behind the top two, Larry Wight had climbed to third, while Sheppard recovered from a sketchy start to sit fourth by lap ten.
A rocket restart sent Sheppard to second on lap 11, while Friesen was left to fend off Wight. While Pauch got a good jump on the green, Sheppard quickly erased his gap, diving low and taking the lead on lap 15.
“Even though it was scary at the start, we were able to get up through there into the top four and really show off our good race car,” stated Sheppard. “We’ve been rolling good since Chatham.”
Meanwhile, Friesen regained his footing, sliding by Pauch for second with 19 circuits in.
Sheppard held a steady two-second advantage over Friesen at halfway, but traffic was awaiting the leaders on the fast third mile.
By lap 30, Friesen cut the lead in half, but Sheppard worked a group of lapped cars to perfection. Friesen got hung up, and Sheppard reinstated his original advantage.
On lap 35, David VanHorn broke and slowed for a caution, erasing both the traffic and Sheppard’s lead.
In clean air, Sheppard dropped the hammer and gapped Friesen by almost a straightaway in short notice.
One final yellow on lap 42 gave Friesen, Pauch Jr., and Wight a last swing at Sheppard, but Sheppard aced the restart and pulled away.
While Sheppard’s lead during the final laps was significantly slimmer than the prior run, it was more than enough, as Sheppard was the first under the checkered flag to score his first Short Track Super Series win of the season worth $5,000.
Friesen started pole and led the first trio of laps, having a see-saw race that ended with a second place run.
“Billy Jr. snookered me on that restart and got around me,” noted Friesen. “I stayed with him and tried the same move he pulled on me but it got too dusty up there. At the end of the day, Sheppard had us covered. This place was probably most close to Chatham out of all the new tracks we ran, and he stomped us there.”
Pauch Jr. kept up his speed from the Carolina swing, but this time had little bad luck to hold him down, finishing tonight in third.
“I got Stew up top on a restart, I figured he didn’t know that and I got a good run down the hill,” stated Pauch. “These guys are just a little bit better in the black than I am, I can hang in the brown but they got me by a little when it gets dark. Those two have us covered right now, but we’ll keep digging.”
Mike Gular ran a strong race finishing in fourth and Wight held on to round out the top five.
In the accompanying Short Track Super Series 602 Sportsman feature, Tim Hartman Jr., took full advantage of his pole starting position. Hartman took the lead after early after a brief battle with Scott Hitchens. From there, Hartman survived numerous restarts in the rough and tumble 25-lap feature. He was perfect throughout in his run to the $1,500 payday.
Hitchens stole the second from Jim Housworth in the closing laps and finished there while Housworth locked down the third spot. James Hill crossed the line fourth and Brad Roberts came from mid-pack to finish fifth.
BATTLE AT BUDD’S CREEK RACE SUMMARY – POTOMAC SPEEDWAY SUNDAY, JUNE 7, 2020
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Modified Velocita-USA South Region Event No. 3 Feature Finish (50 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Stewart Friesen, Billy Pauch Jr., Mike Gular, Larry Wight, Alex Yankowski, Tyler Dippel, Ryan Watt, Jeff Strunk, Jordan Watson, Craig Von Dohren, Brandon Grosso, Don Cogdill III, Clay Tatman, Ryan Riddle, David Van Horn Jr, Bobby Watkins, Danny Bouc, Rick Laubach, Andy Bachetti, Jimmy Horton.
Did Not Start: Richie Pratt Jr.
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Crate 602 Sportsman South Region Event No. 3 Feature Finish (25 laps): TIM HARTMAN JR., Scott Hitchens, Jim Housworth, James Hill, Brad Roberts, Samantha Muller, Adam White, Michael White, Tanner Van Doren, Anthony Tramontana, Joe Toth, Erik McKinney, Tom Moore Jr, DJ Hunt, Bob Lineman Jr, Justin Grosso, John Stevenson, David Dickey, Nick Van Winkle, Shawn McPhee, David Crossman, Zachary Merola, John Meyer, Jeff Coffey, Ryan Conrad, Steve Lary, Greg Nailor Jr, Sean Metz, Paul Mancini, Tom Princiotta.