Jul 12, 2012 12:57 AM EDT
Matt Sheppard Supreme in “RoC at the Rock”
Rich Vleck, DUNDEE, NY, (July 11, 2012)- Heading into 2012, Matt Sheppard did not have great affinity for Black Rock Speedway, but after Wednesday Night, where he captured his second win in as many attempts this season at the 4/10-mile oval, he is starting to like it.
Sheppard, of Waterloo, NY, started in 11th for the 60-lap Honeoye Auto Parts RoC at the Rock Feature, but shot up through the pack, moving underneath Stewart Friesen on lap 22 and holding off Alan Johnson down the stretch for his first RoC Series win of the year.
“This car was good all night,” declared Sheppard in Victory Lane. “I didn’t know what to expect. A lot of guys were guessing on tires and stuff, but whatever we did tonight worked out perfectly.”
Utilizing the small block option for the night, redrawing the 11th starting spot put “Super Matt” in a spot where he could not waste time getting to the front.
“I went soft on the tires so I wanted to get there really quick so once I got up there I had to be a little easy on the tires, I couldn’t push it real hard.”
The feature started with pole sitter Stewart Friesen taking command of the field in the early stages. The soft tires showed their prowess early on as Larry Wight charged up from eighth to second by lap six while Sheppard went from 11th to fourth by that point. During the next green flag stretch of 17 laps, he would drive his No. 9s quickly into second and then take the lead from Friesen just before a lap 23 caution.
Once out in front, Sheppard’s focus turned to preserving his tires and keeping Jimmy Phelps and Alan Johnson at bay. On lap 45, Johnson would take second, and on the next lap his brother Danny would draw the final caution with a flat tire, setting up a sprint to the finish
“I saw the board and knew Alan started back there with me so I figured he had to be good,” reflected Sheppard after the event.
AJ was utilizing a Big Block power plant in his No. 10J while using a much harder tire compound; components which began to show their strength down the stretch.
In the final 14 laps, “AJ Slideways” would try all he could to move by a driver he has seen grow into a star, but could not uncover the solution. In the final five laps, he began to build speed coming off of turn two but did not have enough room to cross underneath the leader and complete a pass.
“I had a great car, I just didn’t need that last caution,” said Johnson after the event was concluded. “The bottom was much better so there just wasn’t enough to get by on the top side.”
In the final three laps, the lead duo had hit the tail end of the field, making a tactical run to the finish while also allowing Jimmy Phelps to reel in the top two. In the end though, the Baldwinsville driver would have to settle for third.
“At one point I thought we had a shot but those guys were good and I’m pretty pleased with the run tonight,” noted Phelps.
Ryan Godown put on an impressive performance on the night, as the New Jersey driver drove up to fourth from the back of the pack after he pitted on lap six. Godown used a multitude of lines to charge through the field, including diving to the bottom in a wild three-wide charge with five laps remaining.
Pat Ward would round out the top five at the track he was a regular for part of 2006. Ward was steady throughout the night on the bottom of the track.
Sixth place would go to Friesen, who entered the night as the RoC North Series point leader. Crossing in seventh was BRS sportsman regular Brady Fultz who put on a show on the top of the track in his small block. Fultz would just hold off Billy Decker at the finish line for seventh. Decker’s eighth place effort was still a quality finish after he slammed into the backstretch wall in his heat and then came from 23rd starting spot in the feature.
Also coming from the consolation event to the front was Canadian Tommy Flannigan, who finished in ninth. Gary Tomkins will round out the top 10, just ahead of Danny Johnson, who like Decker, slammed the backstretch wall in his heat race and had to transfer through the consolation to make the feature.
A total of 32 modifieds were on hand. Heat wins went to Phelps, Friesen, Tom Juhl and Sheppard. Danny Johnson scored the consolation event win. There were just four cautions in the modified feature, including just two in the final 54 laps.
A special point of the night occurred just before the modified feature when promoter Dan Harpell made a presentation to racing legend Dutch Hoag, who was honored on the night as the Grand Marshal for the event.
Earl Zimmer used a lap 12 restart to driver around Bob Buono and then held him off down the stretch to claim the RoC Street Stock feature win and in the process take over the series point lead.
Zimmer, the current Penn Can point leader, had to withstand numerous return attempts from Buono when he peaked to the inside. On lap 22 though, Zimmer moved his No. 2EZ to the bottom and was able to keep the current co-point leader at BRS at bay as he would drive to the checkered flags.
“There wasn’t really an easy part, Buono put on a pretty good race there at the end,” stated Zimmer in his first trip to BRS Victory Lane. “We kept chugging and took a little brake out of it and it seemed to come around.”
Zimmer was riding in fourth on lap 11 when Paul Harrington and Jeremy Potzrewboski, who were breathing down race leader Bob Buono, came together and both had to go pitside. On the ensuing restart, Zimmer, who was able to pull alongside the leader, had the line he needed to drive to the lead.
Buono would give strong chase the rest of the way but would have to settle for second. Jon Carpenter got by Cory Costa late for third while Harrington drove his way up from the back to score a top five.
Adam DelGrosso pulled off the hat trick in the FWD 4-Cylinder division with his third win in as many weeks at BRS. DelGrosso had an exhaust issue on the final lap but was able to hang on in his No. 11.
DelGrosso took the lead from Joe Boylan coming to complete lap five when the No. 2 developed a problem. Up until that point, DelGrosso was mired in a deep battle just to be in second place. Once assuming the lead though, he would not look back.
Trevor Dudley, took a few brief peaks at the race lead, however would have to settle for second. Carl LeBarron would win a spirited battle with Nate Peckham to claim third while James Neff completed the top five.
For more information, visit www.BlackRockSpeedway.com.
Roc Modified Feature (60 Laps)- MATT SHEPPARD, Alan Johnson, Jimmy Phelps, Ryan Godown, Pat Ward, Stewart Friesen, Brady Fultz, Billy Decker, Tommy Flannigan, Gary Tomkins, Danny Johnson, Billy VanPelt, Donnie Lawson, Derrick Podsiadlo, Kevin Bates, Dave Rauscher, Brian Swarthout, Eldon Payne Jr., Chris Ostrowsky, Casey Pavlick, Tom Juhl, Larry Wight, Tyler Siri, Dale Welty.
Did Not Qualify (8)- Ron Cartwright, Ron White, Scott Boudinot, Dave Allen, Roy Shields, Ray Bliss, Ray Dann, Marcus Dinkins.
Lap Leader- Friesen 1-21, Sheppard 22-60.
Heat Winners- Phelps, Friesen, Juhl, Sheppard.
Consi Winner- D. Johnson.
Lap Leaders- Cecce 1-3, Buono 4-11, Zimmer 12-20.
Heat Winners- Carpenter, Green.
FWD 4-Cylinder Feature (15 Laps)- ADAM DelGROSSO, Trevor Dudley, Carl LeBarron, Nate Peckham, James Neff, Dave Boylan, Eric Boylan, Zach Curren, Jamie Eldridge, Bill LaViolette, Joe Boylan, Rick Horton.
Lap Leaders- J. Boylan 1-4, DelGrosso 5-15.
Heat Winners- DelGrosso, Peckham.