Billy Decker Outlasts Matt Sheppard in Closing Laps to Win ‘Highbank Holdup’ at Fulton
Story By: MATT NOLES / RACERSGUIDE.COM
Photos By: DAVE DALESANDRO / RACERSGUIDE.COM
FULTON, NY- April 30, 2017- After last night, Billy Decker is now synonymous with the phrase the ‘third time’s the charm.’
For the third consecutive year, the driver of the Page Trucking No. 91 found his way to victory lane at the conclusion of the Super DIRTcar Series ‘Highbank Holdup’ 100-lap modified feature on Saturday night.
After timing fastest with a lap of 16.485 seconds during time trials, Decker cruised to a second-place finish in his heat race behind Brett Hearn and after the redraw, the ‘Franklin Flyer’ found himself starting sixth on the grid. At the drop of Dave Farney’s green flag, Decker quickly broke into the top-five and chased down then race-leader Brett Hearn to gain the top spot. It was a position he would not relinquish for the remainder of the event.
“I don’t know how I’m so good here,” Decker stated after his victory. “Between my style of racing and what we’re doing for setups, everything seems to fit well. Thank goodness because we have to run well some place.”
The former track champion looked more than ‘good’ from the onset of the evening. With his history at the Fulton, New York oval, it seemed almost a given that the former modified track champion would be on the short list of drivers to beat and with good reason. From the moment his Bicknell chassis hit the speedway surface, all of his contemporaries knew that if they were going to reach victory lane, he was the man they would have to beat.
“We came here with the same setup we did last year,” Decker continued. “We unloaded the same way we did for the 200 [Outlaw 200] and we had a pretty good race car for that event as well and obviously you don’t want to change anything that’s working real good so we’re not going to until somebody beats us. I don’t mean to sound arrogant or cocky because we could get beat next week but for now, we’re in good shape.”
Where long-distance races are concerned at the Fulton Speedway, it seems to be only a matter of time before the bottom of the speedway surface takes rubber and becomes the fastest way around the Oswego County facility. Needless to say, this placed a fleeting sense of urgency on Decker to get around fellow competitor Brett Hearn and into the top spot as early as possible.
“There was a little bit of urgency to get to the front,” He remarked. “I got just a little tight and he [Hearn] was rolling good and driving away from me but I just stayed steady and lapped-traffic started to mess him up pretty bad. I think they raced him harder than they raced me and I think that’s what helped us to catch him.”
Appearances tend to be deceiving and with one on-track battle complete, Decker seemed to be in for an easy cruise to victory lane except for one driver; defending series champion Matt Sheppard.
“I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure from him,” stated Decker. “The only time I saw him was when I was trying to put the No. 22 a lap down and I moved up off the bottom to try and put a crossover move on him and Matt got in there and that’s the only time I saw him. I knew he was running really good and you can’t rollover with him because if you do, you know he’s going to pass you.”
Though Sheppard was undeniably in a position to take advantage of any miscue that Decker would commit, the wily veteran kept a clean and smooth line during the remaining circuits to head back to victory lane on the highbanks of Fulton.
“At the end of the race you just couldn’t get out of the traction,” concluded Decker. “If I wasn’t careful I’d get a little sideways getting in and I didn’t want to scrub the tires any more than I had to. It’s a good way to start the season and we did this last year; now we just need to do better moving forward.”
Matt Noles is a contributing writer for Racer’s Guide and Dirt Track Digest. He currently resides in Sprakers, New York and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.