Sheppard Wins 900th Modified Feature At Utica-Rome Speedway Before Packed House

Written by Chris Moore

VERNON, NY – The ‘9s’ wins No. 900.

Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard put his Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s in Victory Lane in the 900th Sunoco Modified feature in the history of Utica-Rome Speedway on A-Verdi Storage Containers night.

A massive crowd took in the action on a beautiful night for racing in Vernon.

For Sheppard, the win was the 44th of his illustrious career at Utica-Rome and his second in as many events after three second-place finishes to open the season.

The win also came on a night when Utica-Rome Speedway management boosted the winners’ share. Sheppard pocketed a cool $3,500.

Sean Beardsley and Tim Mayne made up the front row, while Sheppard’s charge started from the 10th position.

On the opening lap, Whitney Point, N.Y.’s Marshall Hurd drove from his fourth starting position, around the top-three and into the lead. Middlesex, N.Y.’s Alan Johnson – who started sixth – followed Hurd and was second quickly behind Hurd.

Johnson wasted no time working around Hurd, racing to the lead on lap two. Johnson began to march away.

Sheffield, Mass., native Andy Bachetti and Sheppard were next to race with Hurd, trying to crack the top-three. The trio was three-wide at one point, with Bachetti taking second on lap three, with Sheppard racing to third one circuit later.

Sprakers, N.Y.’s Stewart Friesen then began to make his presence known, climbing to fourth before reeling the battle between Sheppard and Bachetti for second, while Johnson was driving away up front.

On lap nine, Bachetti slipped off the banking in turns three and four, allowing Sheppard and Friesen to drive underneath of him.

With a clear track between himself and Johnson, Sheppard quickly reeled in ‘AJ Slideways’ decimating the once straightaway advantage. Sheppard took over the lead as the field completed their 14th trip around the speedway.

Four laps later, Friesen drove around Johnson as well, but Sheppard’s lead had grown to half a straightaway on the half-mile oval.

In the remaining 12 circuits, Friesen continued to slowly catch Sheppard, as they worked in and out traffic. However, Friesen’s late race bid came up short.
Friesen gave one last-ditch effort, diving underneath of Sheppard in the final two turns, but Sheppard’s high side momentum held off Friesen and grabbed the 900th Modified event at the ‘Home of Heroes.’

Alan Johnson maintained third in his Friendly Ford No. 14j with Bachetti bringing the Garrity Asphalt Reclamation No. 4 home fourth. Johnstown, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner raced from last after missing his heat race to a fifth-place finish in the Jason Simmons Racing No. 98.

Sprakers, N.Y.’s Jessica Friesen brought the One Zee Tee’s No. 1z home sixth, with Vernon, N.Y.’s Willy Decker returning for a seventh-place finish. Hurd faded to eighth, with Sean Beardsley coming home ninth, and Paris, N.Y.’s Claude Hutchings Jr. rounding out the top-10.

South New Berlin, N.Y.’s Payton Talbot picked up his first career Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman feature win. Talbot quickly raced from his sixth starting position to take the lead early, and never looked back. He earned $1,000.

Vernon, N.Y.’s Willy Decker Jr. raced from 12th to second but couldn’t take advantage of two late race restarts to steal his second win of the season. Munnsville, N.Y.’s Shawn Frost rounded out the podium finishers.

Mexico, N.Y.’s Addison Bowman secured a fourth-place finish with Dolgeville, N.Y.’s Dave Richer rounding out the top five.

Nick Stone of Schenectady, N.Y., picked up his third Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks feature win of the season. Stone quickly raced from his sixth starting spot and into the lead in just three laps. From there, Stone was never challenged, winning by nearly half the track in the 20-lap main.

Point leader Beau Ballard raced to second from his eighth starting position and Jim Normoyle rounded out the top five.

Alysha Bay picked up her first career Utica-Rome Speedway win, and the fourth of CRSA Sprint Car career. Bay started on the pole and led every lap of the 20-lap main, picking up the first of two appearances for the series at the Route 5 oval.

Stephentown, N.Y.’s Matt Tanner reeled Bay in and with a late-race yellow, had an opportunity to take the lead on the outside, but ran out of laps, coming home second with Dana Wagner rounding out the top-three.

Twenty-four CRSA Sprint Cars took part in the action.

David Hackett Jr. went wire-to-wire, grabbing his first career Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman 15-lap win. Nick Stone recorded his best career Sportsman run, coming home second, and the point leader – Clayton DuMond – rounded out the top-three.

Justin Pope continued his winning ways, grabbing his fourth Cool Stuff Antiques Four Cylinder 12-lap win in as many tries. Wayne Russell Jr. was the Single Cam winner, his third of the season.

Racing resumes Friday, July 2, for the ‘Independence Weekend Kickoff’ on Parks Companies Night. The Sunoco Modifieds will race for $3,500-to-win to headline the event. Joining the modifieds will be the Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman, Next Generation Graphix Pro Stocks, Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman, and the Cool Stuff Antiques Four Cylinders.

The Senior Services Insurance All-Star Slingshots and the D&S Landscaping Junior Slingshots will be on hand as well on the inner oval.

Additionally, there will be a Fireworks Extravaganza at dusk.

Gates will open at 5 p.m. and racing is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Utica-Rome Speedway is located at 5591 NY-5 (Seneca Turnpike) Vernon, NY 13476. The official website is Like Utica-Rome Speedway on Facebook or @UR_Speedway.


Sunoco Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Stewart Friesen, Alan Johnson, Andy Bachetti, Rocky Warner, Jessica Friesen, Willy Decker, Marshall Hurd, Sean Beardsley, Claude Hutchings Jr., Brian Gleason, Shaun Walker, Randy Shantel, Tim Mayne, David Schilling, Darren Smith, Jeff Rockefeller, Ronnie Holmes, Adam Roberts, Dave Constantino, Aaron Jacobs, Jim Walsh

Did Not Start: JaMike Sowle

Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): PAYTON TALBOT, Willy Decker Jr., Shawn Frost, Addison Bowman, Dave Richer, Will Shields, Rocco Leone, Tucker O’Connor, Richie Riggs, AJ Miller, Joe Williams, Pat Nolan, Ed Lukas, Steve Kotary, Tim Falter, David Manchester, Jason Reome, Dylan Eldred, John Baker, Chip Constantino, Don Bellen, Brian Calabrese

Next Generation Grafix Pro Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): NICK STONE, Beau Ballard, Jim Normoyle, Ivan Joslin, Bill Knapp, Ed Kotary, Andy Graves, John Roese, Aaron Page, Mike Kazlauskas, John Holmes, Jerry Streeter, Brian Wesseldine

CRSA Sprint Car Feature Finish (20 laps): ALYSHA BAY, Matt Tanner, Dana Wagner, Jordan Hutton, Jeff Trombley, Daryl Ruggles, Josh Flint, Trevor Years, Kyle Pierce, Dalton Herrick, Ron Greek, Dan Craun, John Cunningham, Mike Kiser, Matt Priscott, Tucker Donath, Hank Katz, Emily Van Inwegen, Ethan Gray, Cory Sparks, Brandyn Griffin, Steve Glover, Tom Fletcher, Chase Moran

Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman Feature Finish (15 laps): DAVID HACKET JR., Nick Stone, Clayton DuMond, Jeremy Slosek, Stephen Gray, Matt Backus, Ed Downing, Carl Schilling, Jason Lopes, Mike Haman

Cool Stuff Antiques Four Cylinder Feature Finish (15 laps): JUSTIN POPE (DOHC), Corey Valade, Wayne Russell Jr. (SOHC), Matt Bukovan, Donald Kimball, Jean Foster, Austin Steigerwald.