Pat Ward And Matt Sheppard Take Utica-Rome Speedway Modified Checkers

VERNON, NY – Fans at the Utica-Rome Speedway were treated to another action-packed night of DIRTcar racing this past Sunday, July 16, with double features for the Gates-Cole Auto Insurance Modifieds, the $1,000 to win Mike Martin Memorial for Broedel Energy Sportsman plus Pro Stocks.  Pat Ward scored his first win of season in the first Modified 30-lap event while Matt Sheppard dominated the second feature.  Dave Marcuccilli was the victor in the Sportsman while Mike Welch dominated the Pro Stock main on A-Verdi Storage Containers, LaLonde Electric, and VP Race Fuels night.
In the makeup Gates-Cole Auto Insurance Modified feature from June 18, Steve Way used his pole starting spot to take the lead, a spot he held for the opening two circuits when the only caution of the event slowed the pace.  On the restart, sixth place starter Claude Hutchings Jr. blasted by Way to take the lead and he immediately started to pull away.  After destroying a car two weeks ago, Hutchings built a brand-new car and he had it operating to perfection as he set a quick pace around the half mile.  While Hutchings led, seventh place starter Alan Johnson and 11th place starter Pat Ward were charging through the field.  By lap five, Johnson was third with Ward in fourth and pressing for the third position.   Ward slipped by Johnson for third on the seventh circuit and then by second place running Way a lap later.
As the field completed the 15th lap of the 30-lap event, Ward was reeling in Hutchings and was on his rear bumper.  Following Hutchings and Ward at halfway was Johnson, Bobby Varin, and 14th place starter Matt Sheppard. When lap 17 clicked on the scoreboard, Ward was scored the leader as he charged by Hutchings.  At this point, Sheppard was continuing his charge to the front as he slipped by Varin for fourth on lap 16.  Sheppard’s late race charge would fall short however, as by the time he grabbed the runner-up spot from Hutchings on lap 29, Ward was no where to be found as he was way out front.  At the checkered, it was Ward over Sheppard, Hutchings, Alan Johnson, Bobby Varin, Tim Fuller, Danny Varin, Marc Johnson, Way, and Brandon Walters.
In the Gates-Cole Auto Insurance Modified 30-lap nightcap, Darwin Greene and Brandon Walters brought the field to the initial green with Walters taking the lead.  Walters, using the high line around the speedway, would hold on to the lead for the opening nine circuits until sixth place starter Tim Fuller took over the point.  Matt Sheppard, again starting in the 14th spot, was on a mission as broke into the top five on lap seven and by lap 13, he was into the second spot.  At halfway, it was Fuller over Sheppard, Walters, Greene, and Rob Bellinger.
Lap after lap, Sheppard chipped away at Fuller’s advantage until he was able to pull alongside Fuller and get by to lead lap 20.  Sheppard easily pulled away from the field as he raced to his third win of the season with Fuller, Rob Bellinger, Pat Ward, Marc Johnson, Brandon Walters, Bobby Varin, Danny Varin, Darwin Greene, and Mike Maresca rounding out the top 10.
In the Mike Martin Memorial for the Broedel Energy Sportsman, Kevin Root grabbed the lead on the opening lap from his pole starting spot with fellow front row starter Kyle Inman in close pursuit.  The opening laps of the 20-lap main event saw a crowd-pleasing battle between Root, Inman, Mackey, and 10th place starter Dave Marcuccilli all battling for the top spot.  Inman was able to wrestle the lead away from Root on lap nine and at the halfway point it was Inman, Root, Marcuccilli, and Rocky Warner.  Lap 11 saw Marcuccilli slip by Root for second and on lap 15, Marcuccilli was able to wrestle the lead away from Inman.  At the point, it was all Marcuccilli as he raced to the $1,000 victory for his second win of the season at Utica-Rome.  Inman, Root, Warner, AJ Filbeck, Mackey, Tyler Trump, Matt Janczuk, Dave Moyer, and Brad Alger completed the top 10.  With the win, Marcuccilli is the only guaranteed starter for the $5,000 to win Ultimate Sportsman Showdown on Sunday July 23.
The Pro Stock 20-lap feature saw Bill Knapp lead the opening five laps from his fourth starting spot but Mike Welch, from the eighth spot, took over the lead on lap six.  From that point, Welch dominated the remainder of the race as he easily raced to his third consecutive win. Shane Henderson, Knapp, Ernie Staelens, Aaron Page rounded out the top five.
The biggest Sportsman event of the year comes to Utica-Rome Speedway next Sunday, July 23, with the $5,000 to win Ultimate Sportsman Showdown.  The 50-lap main event will pay a minimum of $500 to start while the scheduled B, C, and D Mains (number of mains is dependent on car count) will also pay out.  The pit gates will open at 4 p.m., grandstands at 4:30 p.m., with racing set to begin at 7 p.m.  Grandstand admission for this event is only $13 for adults while children 16 and under are free.  For more information on this event, please visit or call the speedway at (315) 829-4557.
GATES-COLE AUTO INSURANCE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH FROM 6/18 (30 LAPS)-PAT WARD, Matt Sheppard, Claude Hutchings Jr., Alan Johnson, Bobby Varin, Tim Fuller, Danny Varin, Marc Johnson, Steve Way, Brandon Walters, Beth Bellinger, Rob Bellinger, Jack Miller, Randy Shantel, Mike Maresca, Darwin Greene, and Mike Mahaney. DNS-Jessey Mueller, Jim Nagle, and CG Morey.
GATES-COLE AUTO INSURANCE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)-MATT SHEPPARD, Tim Fuller, Rob Bellinger, Pat Ward, Marc Johnson, Brandon Walters, Bobby Varin, Danny Varin, Darwin Greene, Mike Maresca, Alan Johnson, Jack Miller, Claude Hutchings Jr., Kyle Coffey, Steve Way, Beth Bellinger, Jack Lehner, Randy Shantel, Mike Mahaney, and Joel Thomas.
BROEDEL ENERGY SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-DAVE MARCUCCILLI, Kyle Inman, Kevin Root, Rocky Warner, AJ Filbeck, Chris Mackey, Tyler Trump, Matt Janczuk, Dave Moyer, Brad Alger, Andrew Buff, Jason Rood, AJ Miller, Nathan Peckham, Brian Pessolano, Daryl Nutting, Charlie Tibbitts, Kyle DeMetro, Scott Duell, Tommy Collins Jr., Kyle Kiehn, Jeff Taylor, Tim Falter, Aaron Jacobs, Jeremy Nestved, Stephen Denton, George Dyer, Mark Effner, and Carl Inman.  DNS-Brent Joy and CJ Castelletti.
PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-MIKE WELCH, Shane Henderson, Bill Knapp, Ernie Staelens, Aaron Page, Mike Kazlauskas, Jim Normoyle, and Frank Hyatt.