Sheppard More than Super in Brewerton Speedway Opener
By Jeremiah Fish - April 21, 2006
BREWERTON, NY – Patience, intelligence, and timing. All qualities anyone wants out of their driver. Randy Ross, car owner of the #44S, Currier Plastics, BKS, Adam Ross Cut Stone sponsored big-Block DIRT modified, definitely got all of that, and then some, in a big way from his 24 year old pilot on Friday night at the “D-Shaped Dirt Demon”, Brewerton Speedway. This all-star field found out, first hand, why they call the Waterloo, NY pilot, “Super” Matt Sheppard.
With several of the heavy hitters of the Advanced Auto Parts Super Dirt Series making up the majority of the evenings line up, whoever was going to come out on top knew that they were going to have to bring their A-Game. Every driver that checked in for this evening’s event absolutely brought every thing they had, and put it on the line in front of an appreciative opening night crowd. This was one of those nights where the stands are rocking from the green to checkered flag. The loyal fans had been waiting through a freezing winter for this, and the warriors down on the 1/3 mile clay racing surface did not disappoint.
Heat race number 1 really started the opening nights preliminary races off with a bang. Jimmy Phelps, Pat Ward, Tim Fuller, Bob McCreadie, Ryan Phelps, Billy Dunn, Tim Sears & Dan Vauter would all get after it in this one. When this heat came to checker, and the dust settled you could have thrown a blanket over the top 8 cars, with only 4 of them transferring into the feature event. A tremendous duel in particular pitted the dean of dirt track racing, “Barefoot” Bob McCreadie, in the Kinney Drugs, car #9, a man who’s resume boasts, because Bob never would himself, 500+ (and counting) career victories, over a 30 year span consisting of numerous innovations and revolutionary ideas that brought the sport to where it is today, chasing after Baldwinsville New York’s Jimmy Phelps in the #98H, Mohawk Oil, H&H Sponsored Troyer modified. Phelps garners respect every time he takes to the track, with over 40 career wins to his credit, and an ultra-smooth, timely, driving style. McCreadie has found his way around numerous competitors who have had, what they thought to be, certain victory firmly in their grasp, only to have the Zen master take it away, in the blink of an eye. It would not be so on this night, Phelps pulled out everything he had, to fight off the cagey vet, to take the win by the slimmest of margins in a hotly contested heat race.
Heat number two went to young Kevin Bates, in the HCI Mortgage 42B. Bates will haul up to the Brewerton Speedway every week from his hometown of Lake Ariel, PA. Bates made an impressive move to take the lead, then held off Jim Witko Jr. in the #24, the 99b of Chuck Bower and in a car part owned by world of outlaws-late model star, Tim McCreadie, the 32C of Vic Coffey to take home the win in heat race #2.
Heats 3 & 4 went to “the Doctor” Danny Johnson in the JIR Motor sports 27J, and Tom Sears Jr. held off Matt Sheppard and Billy Decker in the final heat of the night. Nobody went to the concessions stands for a hotdog during the consolation races, with the likes of Pat Ward, Tim Fuller and Jeff Isabell still looking for a spot in the feature. Pat Ward, guided the Gypsum Express 42P to a win in the first consi while the Nativepoker.com #19, with Tim Fuller at the helm, had to scrape up a 4th in that same race to punch his dance card into the main event. With all of formalities out of the way, the battle royal was set, and what a dogfight it would turn out to be.
Jimmy Phelps started his 98H right out front in the 35-lap feature event. Sometimes it’s harder to lead than take one, on lap 2 Kevin Bates made a move to take the lead away. Bates’ lead however, would not be safe for long either, lap 4, his number was up, as the “Doctor” Danny Johnson made a house call in his 27 J car and hung on until a yellow flag was brought out by a spinning Vic Coffey on lap #10. As the Field regrouped, it set the stage for the two competitors who would battle to decide who would conquer this opening night tilt. Matt Sheppard, who started back in eighth had picked his way to the front, and lurking, almost stalking, came the 91 mount of Billy Decker. Lap 13 would see Decker slide his Gypsum Express Rocket into 3rd, two laps later he would be on the back bumper of the 44S of Sheppard and would begin to work him for several laps, high, then low, then finally Decker went by a measuring Matt Sheppard with 15 laps to go.
“A lot of times you can pick up silt on the tires at this track” Sheppard later said, speaking to his patience in managing his 44S into victory lane. Sheppard bided his time in the 2nd position until a yellow flag came on lap 24. On the restart the two car battle that had been developing came to the fore. The 44S and 91,seemed to be connected at the fenders, side by side, lap after lap, until on lap 31 Sheppard would grab the lead for good as Decker valiantly tried to hold on for 2nd, only to be bested by last weeks Fulton Speedway winner, Alan Johnson, driving the Native Poker 14J for Jeff Rudalavage. Pat Ward and Danny Johnson, would round out the top five, in sixth, the 98H of Jimmy Phelps, 7th went to young Pennsylvanian Kevin Bates, followed by Chuck Bower, 99 Ryan Phelps and the 47 car, driven by Scott Prentice rounding out the top 10. Racing action will roar back onto the D-Shaped Dirt Demon, the Brewerton Speedway, next Friday night, gates open at 5:30pm and racing action will go off at 7:30pm. Looking down the road here, for just a moment, keep this date open. May 26. The Empire Super Sprints will be back at the Brewerton Speedway for the first time in many years. These winged sprinters, sponsored by Nativepoker.com, put on an amazing show, and will put up some blistering lap times on the 1/3 mile clay of the Brewerton Speedway on Friday, May 26.