By STEVEN PETTY
CANANDAIGUA, NY – Going into night five of DIRTcar Racing’s OktoberFAST at the Land of Legends Raceway in Canandaigua on Saturday night, Waterloo’s Matt Sheppard has had a week to forget. With an outside front-row starting position, the nine-time track champion found himself in a familiar place after the 60-lap event for the Big-Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series, victory lane.
Sheppard and Pat Ward led the field to the green flag with Sheppard using the outside groove to take off into the lead. Fourth place starter Mike Mahaney also used the outside line to take over second on the takeoff lap as well. After a pair of early race cautions, the field started to string themselves around the Canandaigua half mile.
“Mad Max” Max McLaughlin worked his way by Ward to move into third place on lap 17 and by lap 26, was starting to challenge Mahaney for second. Erick Rudolph would start to enter the picture on lap 34, as the 19th place starter from Ransomville was outside the top five and on lap 40, would enter the top five and made a challenge for third place.
With 17 laps remaining, the yellow lights would come on for a fifth time on as Stewart Friesen slowed on the backstretch and Justin Wright had nowhere to go and made hard contact with Friesen. Friesen broke a right rear brake line and lost the brakes of the Halmar International entry.
On the lap 43 restart, Rudolph would move into the top three and would challenge Mahaney for second, as Sheppard continued to show the way. Mat Williamson battled back into the podium on lap 46 and was able to get around Mahaney with five laps remaining for the second position.
Sheppard would go on to score the win, his first of OktoberFAST. Williamson finished in second and was followed to the line by Mahaney, Rudolph, and Billy Decker. Max McLaughlin, Larry Wight, Tim Fuller, Rocky Warner and Jimmy Phelps would complete the top ten.
“It felt great tonight,” stated race winner Matt Sheppard “After the last few nights, I was wondering if I remembered how to race a racecar. Everything was spot on tonight. I committed myself to the top and when I moved to the bottom, the car felt good there as well.”
“I was vocal last night on how the tracks have been the last couple of nights and tonight, hopefully, the fans enjoyed the show and sticking it out with the delays,” commented runner-up finisher Mat Williamson. “Looking forward to Weedsport tomorrow, that track is always racey. The car was a 7 out of 10. I must thank all my crew. They worked hard all week, especially today.”
Mahaney, the third place finisher, continued his strong runs during OktoberFAST.
“We’ve had a fast car all week,” stated Mahaney. “Tonight, the track was heavier than I expected it to be. We’ve been consistent all week too and have had some good draws and just need that to continue. I’m looking forward to running Weedsport tomorrow. I won my first Big-Block race there and hope we can get another win there tomorrow night.”
The six-days known as OktoberFAST will come to a close on Sunday night at “The Birthplace of DIRTcar Northeast”, the historic Weedsport Speedway for a 75-lap affair for the mighty Modifieds.
Billy Whittaker Cars & Trux Big-Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series ($32,150)
*Feature (60 laps): 1. 9s-MATT SHEPPARD ($7,500), 2. 88-Mat Williamson, 3. 35-Mike Mahaney, 4. 25-Erick Rudolph, 5. 91-Billy Decker, 6. 32c-Max McLaughlin, 7. 99L-Larry Wight, 8. 19-Tim Fuller, 9. 98-Rocky Warner, 10. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 11. 5h-Chris Hile, 12. 20-Brett Hearn, 13. 14j-Alan Johnson, 14. 3j-Marc Johnson, 15. 111-Demetrios Drellos, 16. 165-Rex King Jr., 17. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 18. 1z-Jessica Friesen, 19. 2-Jack Lehner, 20. 3-Justin Haers, 21. 48too-Dave Rauscher, 22. 121-Gary Tomkins, 23. 10-Ryan Susice, 24. 42p-Pat Ward, 25. 44-Stewart Friesen, 26. 19w-Justin Wright, 27. 19m-Jessey Mueller, 28. 49-Billy Dunn.
Heats (8 laps / 5 qualify / top-3 redraw)
#1: Haers, King, Ward, Tomkins, Wright, Dunn, Susice, Davis, Maresca, Britten, Bachetti, Dusett.
#2: Wight, Drellos, Warner, Decker, M.Johnson, Lehner, Groover, Trump, Coffey, Maier, D.Johnson, Payne, Bennett.
#3: Sheppard, McLaughlin, Phelps, Hile, Rudolph, Marcuccilli, Mueller, Sweeting, Johnston, McCreadie, August, Rauscher, Swarthout.
#4: Mahaney, Fuller, Williamson, Hearn, S.Friesen, A.Johnson, J.Friesen, Dinkins, Morey, Podsiadlo, Roberts, Bresnahan, Tegg.
Last Chance Showdowns (10 laps/ 3 qualify)
#1: Marcuccilli, Dunn, Susice, Maresca, Johnston, Mueller, Sweeting, Davis, McCreadie, Rauscher, Bennett, Dusett, Britten(DNS), Bachetti(DNS), August(DNS), Tegg(DNS).
#2: Lehner, A.Johnson, J.Friesen, Trump, Coffey, Groover, Dinkins, D.Johnson, Podsiadlo, Swarthout, Roberts, Maier, Morey, Payne, Bresnahan(DNS).
Provisionals: Mueller, Rauscher.
Group Time Trials (3 laps / 51 cars)
#1: Justin Haers 18.040 sec. (99.778 mph), Peter Britten, Rex King Jr., Justin Wright, Pat Ward, Billy Dunn, Michael Maresca, Ryan Susice, Andy Bachetti, Ronnie Davis III, Lance Dusett(-NT-), Gary Tomkins(-NT-).
#2: Demetrios Drellos 18.269 sec. (98.528 mph), Larry Wight, Billy Decker, Rocky Warner, Kyle Coffey, Marc Johnson, Jack Lehner, Gillon Groover, Tyler Trump, Daniel Johnson, Alex Payne, Jimmy Maier, Cass Bennett.
#3: Matt Sheppard 18.457 sec. (98.457 mph), Max McLaughlin, Jimmy Phelps, Jessey Mueller, Chris Hile, Dave Marcuccilli, Erick Rudolph, James Sweeting, Jordan McCreadie, Robbie Johnston III, Dave Rauscher, Joe August, Brian Swarthout.
#4: Mat Williamson 18.363 sec. (98.023 mph), Mike Mahaney, Stewart Friesen, Brett Hearn, Tim Fuller, Jessica Friesen, Alan Johnson, Derrick Podsiadlo, Adam Roberts, C.G. Morey, Gil Tegg Jr., Marcus Dinkins, Roy Bresnahan.
SuperGen Products with Champion Power Equipment Prizes ($2,020.20)
Fast Time Award $500: Justin Haers
2nd-Fast Time Award $250: Demetrios Drellos
Last Chance Showdown (1st Non-Qualifier) $250: Michael Maresca
Hard Luck Award $500: Gil Tegg Jr.
Hard Charger Bonus $250: Erick Rudolph
Leader Lap 19 Bonus $20.20: Matt Sheppard
DNQ: 02-Roy Bresnahan, 4-Andy Bachetti, 7mm-Michael Maresca, 11j-James Sweeting, 12x-Dillon Groover, 14-C.G. Morey, 14s-Brian Swarthout, 17-Marcus Dinkins, 14ny-Daniel Johnson Jr., 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 21a-Peter Britten, 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 23-Kyle Coffey, 28-Jordan McCreadie, 31m-Jimmy Maier, 32r-Ronnie Davis III, 33j-Robbie Johnston III, 63-Adam Roberts, 70a-Alex Payne, 72-Cass Bennett, 77-Lance Dusett, 88a-Joe August, 2020-Tyler Trump.