BREWERTON, NY (August 7, 2009)The 2009 Super DIRTcar Series has suddenly turned into the ‘Super Matt’ Series as Matt Sheppard dominated the Northeast premier Big-Block Modified tour for the second straight race, climbing to the top in the ‘Summit Motors 100’ Friday at Brewerton Speedway. Powered by VP’s C12 racing fuel, second-generation star from Waterloo, NY dusted the field for the second time in five days en route to his latest $6,000 triumph at the ‘D-Shaped DIRT Demon.’
“We were real good at Merrittville and we didn’t touch the car this week, I mean didn’t touch ONE thing on it,” remarked Sheppard, 27, following his second straight victory at Brewerton that gives him three on both the series and at his Friday home track. “Came here with the same exact deal and it was good again tonight, so we’re definitely going to write it down and put that in the notebook for later.”
Veteran Alan Johnson remained in contention from the opening green flag before settling for runner-up laurels, with local favorite Jimmy Phelps, cousin Ryan Phelps and defending track and Mr. DIRTcar Champion Billy Decker rounding out the front-five. Danny Johnson crossed the line seventh to earn a guaranteed starting berth in the prestigious Rite Aid 200 Championship race on Oct. 11 of Super DIRT Week XXXVIII at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
Despite drawing the pole to start the 100-lap finale, Sheppard dropped to second behind front row partner Dale Planck with Jimmy Phelps, Decker and Alan Johnson picking up chase further back. Just as Chris Hile looped his mount in turn to force out the first of only three yellow flags, Johnson unseated Decker in the fourth slot to move outside for the ensuing lap nine restart. Only two more laps clicked off before third-place starter Gary Tomkins spun all alone in the first corner collecting Larry Wight in the aftermath. Sheppard hounded Planck back under green flag conditions until finally forging the first lead change as the top two crossed the stripe to complete lap 26.
The third and final caution period arrived on lap 30 when Sean Beardsley suffered a flat left-rear tire, giving Johnson, Planck, Decker and Jimmy Phelps another chance to keep pace with the speeding Sheppard. Decker was first to take advantage, jumping past Planck on the last restart, blasting out of turn four high around Johnson on lap 33, then completing the forward charge outside of Sheppard as the leaders crossed the line side-by-side the next time around.
Johnson grabbed second by lap 40 with Sheppard hanging tight just ahead of Jimmy Phelps and Planck, but Sheppard returned the favor almost immediately and the JB Motorsports no. 9s Xtreme Lubricants/Bicknell entry disposed of Decker soonafter with half the race in the record book.
Sheppard wasted little time pulling away from the pack while Decker went in the opposite direction as the race wore on. Jimmy Phelps overtook Decker for third on lap 73 and just four circuits later Ryan Phelps dropped Decker to fifth where he would stay for the remainder.
With traffic stretched around the entire speedway, the leaders made three-wide maneuvers regularly although their lane choice differed as the laps dwindled. Sheppard swept around heavyweights Justin Haers and Vic Coffey to complete lap 80 while Johnson split lapped cars twice in the final 10 laps to stay in reach. In the end it never mattered as Sheppard opened up an eight-car margin under the final checkered flag.
Finishing out of the top-five for the first time in 11 events this season was current Super DIRTcar Series points leader Brett Hearn, followed by Danny Johnson, Pat Ward, and Canadians Stewart Friesen and Pat O’Brien, who was the last driver to complete the entire distance.
“The car was probably better than what I showed,” noted Sheppard, after increasing his DIRTcar Northeast Big-Block Modified-best feature win total to an even dozen with his first career series victory at Brewerton. “You never know with this place so I just tried to take it conservative and ride around the bottom, plugged away and was able to sneak back by. I’m sure Alan was right there. We had a good car, might’ve been a little better than what I showed but I definitely wanted to take it easy.” “These Bicknell chassis have been awesome and the cars are really dialed in with these Integra Racing Shocks. Then when you get a dialed in car you need a motor. These CC Performance engines have just been awesome as well all year long. I can’t thank enough my owner, Jeff Brownell, and all my guys. Especially Minnie, he’s the only guy to come with me tonight and was there when we won at Merrittville, too,” Sheppard added.