PORT ROYAL, PA — In incredible fashion, Matt Sheppard raced from a flat right rear tire to win race three of the “Speed Showcase,” worth more than $50,000.
The win was Sheppard Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco’s ninth victory of the 2022 season and his second straight win over $50,000 with the STSS.
2022 STSS Speed Showcase at Port Royal Speedway
The Savannah, NY resident passed Stewart Friesen with less than two laps to go to win the newest addition to the modified racing crown jewels.
“I was really struggling in traffic (after getting a flat tire), and I wasn’t even sure we got a top-10 race car,” a delighted Sheppard told Victory Lane.
“Once I got into a clean race track this thing took off…what a crazy last lap. I hope no one left sooner.
With Sheppard coming in from the 11th starting position, Jimmy Phelps and Mike Mahaney occupied the front row for the 75 lap affair.
Phelps quickly took an impressive early lead, while Mahaney settled into second.
The race resumed for the final podium spot with several drivers vying for third place. Larry Wight, Anthony Perrego and Ryan Godown swapped places at the start.
VIDEO: Short Track Super Series FloRacing’s Brandon Paul and Chris Moore break down the Speed Showcase.
Several yellows flew throughout the first part of the race with drivers trying to adjust their race cars for the long haul over 75 laps.
Despite the yellows, Stewart Friesen of Sprakers, NY, quickly fought his way through the field, climbing into the top five at a rapid pace from his 24th starting position.
Meanwhile, Sheppard was mired in a battle with St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada’s Mat Williamson for ninth position. Sheppard gained momentum from the outside of turn two, when Williamson came off the bottom of the corner.
The pair reunited and Sheppard slammed into the outside wall. Two laps later, Sheppard limped with a flat rear right tire.
Sheppard would come from behind as Friesen’s attack on the pitch continued. Friesen would eventually topple Phelps, who was the dominant car at the start, and take the lead.
Friesen set a scorching pace from then on, appearing to be on track for the $50,000 payday. The second half of the race was plagued with more yellows as the cars began to fall victim to worn tires.
Several drivers went to the pit area to change tires, make shock adjustments and some to add fuel to their race cars.
By lap 60, Sheppard’s rear charge quickly became apparent, as the #9 Hurlock Auto & Speed raced into the top 10.
The more yolks that flew, the more Sheppard was able to fight his way through. Sheppard started on the outside of the second row with 10 laps to go.
Sheppard took the opportunity to take second place before another yellow flag fell on lap 69, with just six laps to go.
Yellow stages a battle for the ages between the two titans in modified racing. Sheppard, one of the hottest drivers in the country, and Friesen, the dominant car for much of the 75-lap race.
Friesen left the bottom furrow on the restart to take the lead, leaving Sheppard to chase.
Sheppard ran the extreme on the outside of turns one and two trying to down Friesen, while the Halmar International hugged the bottom of the half-mile fast lane.
When STSS starter Joe Kriss flashed the two to go sign, Sheppard made his move. ‘Super Matt’ built the momentum to stop alongside Friesen to immediately take the lead from behind.
Sheppard cleared Friesen out of turn four and led the final two laps, his only two of the race, to claim the $50,000 top prize.
Friesen, of Sprakers, NY, would settle for second place.
“We just ran out of tires at the end,” said a dejected Friesen after the race. “It’s a privilege to be here in Port Royal and hopefully we can try again next year.”
Jimmy Phelps would settle for the final podium spot in HBR #98H.
“We had a great car, but obviously those guys were a bit better when it counted…my guys gave me a great car and I thought for a while we had a winning car,” said explained Phelps, satisfied with his podium.
Anthony Perrego of Middletown, NY, came in fourth in the Brian Smith-owned No. 44 and Alex Yankowski of Covington Township, Pennsylvania rounded out the top five in his family-owned No. 84y.
Finishing sixth and 10th respectively were Ryan Godown of Ringoes, NJ, who placed in the top ten throughout the 75-lap race; Neshanic Station, Matt Stangle of NJ, who followed last year’s podium with a top 10; Alan Johnson of Middlesex, NY, slipped into eighth place in the Mark Spoor Racing No. 14j; Tyler Dippel of Wallkill, NY, who placed in the top 10 in his third race of 2022; and Mat Williamson rounded out the top 10 at Behrent’s Performance Warehouse No. 3.
The STSS River Valley Builders North Region is hosting its championship round on Friday, October 21 at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, NY, with the “Hard Clay Finale” paying $10,000 to win.
Next up for the STSS Hurlock Auto & Speed South Region and Halmar International Elite Series is the “Mid-Atlantic Championship” at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway Thursday through Saturday. October 27-29. The three-day race weekend features three modified features including the Halmar International ‘Elite’ Series Finale and Southern Region Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply, Super Late Models, STSS Crate 602 Sportsman Concludes the south area of the Belmont Garage, RUSH Late Models and much more. The weekend culminates with the ‘Melvin L. Joseph Memorial’ at $25,000 and 49 rpm.
To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, email [email protected], check out “Short Track Super Series” on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.