2022 Short Track Super Series at Utica-Rome Speedway

Matt Sheppard Races From 22nd To First For STSS Win At Utica-Rome

Matt Sheppard Races From 22nd To First For STSS Win At Utica-Rome

Matt Sheppard charged from his 22nd starting spot to claim Thursday's Short Track Super Series victory at Utica-Rome Speedway.

Jul 23, 2022 by FloRacing Staff

VERNON, NY – Super Form. For the sixth time this season on the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco, Matt Sheppard was triumphant, this time at Utica-Rome Speedway.

Sheppard raced from his 22nd starting position to claim the $6,100-plus payday in the ‘Richie Evans Remembered 61,’ which was his seventh of the season at his Friday night home track in Round No. 7 of the River Valley Builders North Region.

“I told one of my guys before the feature, I’d rather start 22nd with a car that’s driving well than start on the pole with a car that’s not driving well,” proclaimed Sheppard of his confidence despite coming from the outside of the 11th row to start the main event.

“I kind of stalled out in the middle there, but the track started blowing off and when that happened, we started rolling really good,” an elated Sheppard said of his charge to the front.

With Sheppard starting deep in the field, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada’s Mat Williamson and Pittsfield, Mass., native Brett Haas occupied the front at the drop of the green flag following the Beyea Custom Headers Redraw.

Williamson raced out to the front of the field while Edwards, N.Y.’s Tim Fuller quickly occupied the runner-up spot after getting by Haas on the initial start.

Gloversville, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner was on the march in the early going, racing from the ninth starting position into the top five just six laps into the 61-lap affair.

Three laps later, Fuller used the inside groove to drive underneath Mat Williamson and take the lead just as the field completed the ninth circuit.

Stewart Friesen was looking to join Fuller up front, as he raced by Williamson one lap later for the runner-up spot after starting in fifth.

The race’s first yellow flew on lap 13, as Ransomville, N.Y.’s Erick Rudolph slowed to a stop at the entry of the third turn.

Fuller raced back to the lead on the restart, but his lead was short-lived. Friesen began to use the outside groove, finding speed at the top of the speedway and driving around Fuller on lap 17.

With Friesen setting the pace at the front of the field, Sheppard was continuing his charge through the field. The next yellow fell on lap 26 after Alex Yankowski had mechanical problems, parking his No. 84Y over the turns one and two banking.

With the race just short of the halfway mark, Friesen was leading Fuller, Williamson, Warner, and Haas, with Sheppard lurking in the seventh position.

The following restart was a key one for Sheppard, as the Savannah, N.Y., resident drove underneath Haas, Williamson, and Jessica Friesen to get to fourth by the completion of the 26th circuit.

Two laps later Sheppard used the outside line to get around Warner for a podium position. Sheppard then cleared Fuller for the runner-up spot as the field completed lap 37.

The race’s next yellow fell on lap 41, giving Sheppard the opportunity he needed to take the lead away from Friesen. Sheppard used the outside line to get around Friesen, taking the lead away for good.

Sheppard led the remaining 20 laps to pick up his sixth STSS victory of the season and extend his lead atop the River Valley Builders North Region standings.

“I saw him sneaking up the leaderboard and didn’t know if we’d have enough to hold him off. When he got by us on that restart it was game over after that,” said Friesen of his runner-up finish.

“Keeping this company? There are no complaints for us,” said Rocky Warner, who rounded out the podium finishers. “To be racing with the guys we were battling shows we’re gaining ground.”

Williamson came home fourth in his Behrent’s Performance Warehouse No. 3, remaining within shouting distance of Sheppard atop the North Region point standings.

Baldwinsville, N.Y.’s Jimmy Phelps rounded out the top five after starting in 10th, his best career STSS finish aboard his HBR No. 98H.

Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were: Fuller, who faded late to finish just outside the top five; Anthony Perrego, who came from the consolation piloting his Brian Smith-owned No. 44 car; Marc Johnson, who advanced from 16th starting position to race into the top-10 late; Ronnie Johnson, who went back and forth for much of the 61-lap affair; and Max McLaughlin, matching Ronnie Johnson with an up and down night to round out the top ten aboard his HBR No. 8H ride.

Thirty-eight STSS Modifieds signed in to compete in the ‘Richie Evans Remembered 61.’

Heat race winners, receiving $61 each courtesy of FloRacing, were McLaughlin, Phelps, Justin Wright, and Ronnie Johnson. Billy Decker and Sheppard were the consolation winners.

Durhamville, N.Y.’s Matt Janczuk captured the 30-lap, $2,061-to-win Crate 602 Sportsman victory, the first of his STSS career and 62nd at Utica-Rome Speedway.

Janczuk came from the ninth starting position to outduel Payton Talbot on a lap-12 restart for the win in Round No. 5 of the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region.

Talbot took second after starting on the pole with Tyler Corcoran claiming his first ever STSS podium finish. Jim Nagle and Mike Richmond completed the top five.

Thirty-nine STSS Crate 602 Sportsman took park in the night of racing.

Up next for the STSS is the ‘South Jersey Shootout’ at N.J.’s Bridgeport Motorsports Park on Tuesday, July 26 with a 50-lap STSS Modified event paying $5,000 to win (Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply South Region Round No. 5) and a 25-lap, $1,500-to-win Crate 602 Sportsman main (Belmont’s Garage South Region Round No. 3).

Utica-Rome Speedway is located at 5591 NY-5 (Seneca Turnpike) Vernon, NY 13476. The official website is www.uticaromespeedway.com and can be reached by phone at 315.953.4097.  Like Utica-Rome Speedway on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @UR_Speedway.

To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail bdmotorsportsmedia@gmail.com, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.