Matt Sheppard Becomes 12th Short Track SuperNationals Modified Winner; 165 Race Cars Jam Afton Pits
Story By: Brett Deyo/SSTS
Photos By: Jim Brown/RacersGuide.com
AFTON, NY – 12 races, 12 different winners.
With a jam-packed pit area filled with 165 race cars Saturday at Afton Motorsports Park, Matt Sheppard put another line on his resume, taking home the top prize from the 12th running of the American Racer Cup Short Track SuperNationals Weekend.
In the process, the Savannah, N.Y., driver inched closer to another piece of history as he chases the $57,500 Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance ‘Grand Championship’ with now just two events remaining.
Sheppard topped the 50-lap Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Modified event, Round No. 7 of the Halmar International North Region. He extended his series championship lead in the process.
“This was a big race for us,” Sheppard said in Victory Lane as fireworks lit up the Afton sky. “It’s another step closer to the goal at the end of the season.”
Sunoco Race Fuels and Insinger Performance have offered a huge $25,000 cash bonus to a driver winning the STSS North and South Regions plus the American Racer Cup which would bring a driver’s earnings to $57,500 total. Sheppard has already won the Cup and needs only to take the green at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway on Nov. 2 to win the South title. After his win on Saturday, he holds the lead into the North Region finale at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., Thursday, Oct. 24.
Sheppard’s day didn’t start out easy at Afton. He drew 71 of a possible 75 numbers and started ninth in his heat race. He was able to carve through the field in his qualifier and make the redraw.
For the 50-lap main event, he started fourth.
Pole starter Bobby Varin didn’t make it easy on Sheppard. Varin held the lead in the Palmer’s Service Center No. 76 for 21 laps around the Afton oval, darting in and out of lapped traffic with Sheppard on his heels.
Ultimately, Sheppard took command of the event on lap 22 and would never be seriously challenged. Sheppard negotiated lapped traffic and survived a final restart with three laps remaining to take a victory worth $5,825.
Sheppard took home the $5,500 winner’s share, a $200 bonus from Superior Remodeling as the Halfway Leader and $125 as the MJK Home Maintenance Heat-Race Hard Charger.
Johnstown, N.Y.’s Varin, who participated in the very first Short Track SuperNationals back in 2006, recorded a second-place finish worth more than $3,000.
“We were definitely better tonight than we’ve been,” Varin said. “We had a good car, but Matt (Sheppard) was in a whole different world.”
Driving Norm Hansell’s No. 357, Duane Howard of Oley, Pa., climbed from 11th on the grid to place third, followed by former SuperNationals winner Andy Bachetti of Sheffield, Mass., and 26th-starter Mike Gular of Boyertown, Pa., who earned the $200 Precision Hydraulic & Oil Hard Charger Award.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Danny Bouc of Pipersville, Pa., who ran as high as second in the Craig and Leslie Pondish No. 6; Ryan Jordan of Dryden, N.Y., up from 17th; Jimmy Wells of Tillson, N.Y.; 15th-starter Brett Tonkin of Carbondale, Pa.; and Alex Yankowski of Covington Township, Pa.
With 54 STSS Modifieds signing in, six Rob Sherlock Roofing $100-to-win heat races were required to set the starting field. Winners were Chance Spoonhower, Varin, Brian Malcolm, Jeremy Smith, Mitch Gibbs and Wells. The three consolation races went to Brandon Grosso, Danny Creeden and Leo Fotopoulos.
Representing Accord (N.Y.) Speedway, Jimmy Wells came out victorious from the American Racer Cup One-on-One Match Races. Wells won the final six rounds of the Match Races including the final one in a standoff against Sheppard. Wells received $2,000 for his efforts. All other participants took home a free tire certificate courtesy of American Racer.
Tim Hartman Jr. completed a perfect weekend at the Short Track SuperNationals. Hartman won the 25-lap STSS Crate 602 Sportsman North Region finale, not only registering the $1,500 victory, but clinching the championship in the five-race series as well. Hartman will receive $1,500 for the title in January at the series Awards Banquet.
Hartman took over the lead when Dave Rosa pulled to the infield was paced the remainder of the distance over Nick Nye, Kenny Hammond, Dale Welty and Bobby Flood.
A stacked field of 47 STSS Crate 602 Sportsman took part in the program.
Doug Polhamus took home $750 as the Street Stock victor. The season’s largest field at Afton – 32 cars – checked in for competition. Polhamus first emerged from a battle with Jerry Lobdell, then fought off a late-race charge from Kurt Decker to take the win. Decker, Jonathan Carpenter, Doug Stack Sr. and Shane Wolf Jr. trailed.
The Mohawk Valley Vintage Dirt Modifieds made the pilgrimage to Afton with 32 cars in attendance. John Kuleseo and Brian Moore led two events across the stripe.
Over the two-day Short Track SuperNationals, 291 race cars hit the Afton oval.
Next up for the STSS is the Behrent’s Performance ‘Hard Clay Finale’ at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y., Thursday, Oct. 24. STSS Modifieds race 50 laps for $10,000 to win plus the Rapid Tire 25 for 360 Sprint Cars with $3,000 up for grabs.
Complete information is at the following link: www.shorttracksuperseries.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/SaturdaySTSNInformationSheet.pdf
Afton Motorsports Park is located conveniently off I-88 Exit 7 (Afton), approximately 25 miles north and east of Binghamton, at 46 East Main Street Afton, N.Y. 13730. There is plentiful space for parking and camping. To learn more about Afton Motorsports Park, visit www.aftonmotorsportspark.com.
To learn more about the 2019 Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.
The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, Insinger Performance, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Velocita-USA, Design for Vision/Sunglass Central, Rob Sherlock Roofing, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH Springs, Escape RV, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, HyperCo, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Land Hoe Maintenance, K&N, MJK Home Maintenance, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, QA1, Racing Optics, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO, Velocita, WELD Racing & Wilwood.
AMERICAN RACER CUP SHORT TRACK SUPERNATIONALS 12 RACE SUMMARY – AFTON MOTORSPORTS PARK OCTOBER 12, 2019
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Modified Halmar International North Region Event No. 7 Feature Finish (50 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Bobby Varin, Duane Howard, Andy Bachetti, Mike Gular, Danny Bouc, Ryan Jordan, Jimmy Wells, Brett Tonkin, Alex Yankowski, Craig Hanson, Tyler Siri, Shaun Walker, J.R. Hurlburt, Jeremy Smith, Brian Gleason, Danny Creeden, Brandon Grosso, Brian Malcolm, Paul Jensen, Mitch Gibbs, Billy Van Pelt, Allison Ricci, Leo Fotopoulos, Chance Spoonhower, Cory Costa, Brandon Walters, Brad Rothaupt.
Did Not Qualify: Rusty Smith, Frank Yankowski, Billy Pauch Jr., Alan Barker, Joe Judge, Tim Hartman Jr., Larry Mekic, Rick Wilk, Justin Holland, Don Bellen, Scott Lander, Nick Nye, Eric Williams, Darwin Greene, Mark Pullen, Ken Titus, Jimmy Zacharias, Kathy Bellen, Kevin Vaclavicek, Dan Hineline, Dennis Clapperton, H.J. Bunting, Brian Mady, Steve Davis, Barry White, Mat Williamson.
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire): Brett Tonkin (ninth) & Tyler Siri (12th)
ATL Fuel Cells Bonus ($200 Certificate): Mike Gular (fifth)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Card): Andy Bachetti (fourth) & Brett Tonkin (ninth)
EIBACH Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Danny Bouc (sixth)
Henry’s Exhaust System Power Position ($50 Certificate): Craig Hanson (11th)
Hornet Trucking Last Car On Lead Lap Bonus ($100): Billy Van Pelt (22nd)
MJK Home Maintenance Heat Race Hard Charger ($125): Matt Sheppard ($125)
NYSSCA Awards: Bobby Varin (first member – $100) & Brett Tonkin (first Afton regular – $50)
Precision Hydraulic & Oil Hard Charger ($200): Mike Gular (26th to fifth)
Racing Optics Bonus (Sleeve of Tearoffs): Duane Howard (third)
Rob Sherlock Roofing Heat Winners ($100): Chance Spoonhower, Bobby Varin, Brian Malcolm, Jeremy Smith, Mitch Gibbs & Jimmy Wells
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Bobby Varun (second), Tyler Siri (12th) & Billy Van Pelt (22nd)
Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader ($200): Matt Sheppard
Upstate Automotive Top Accord Speedway Driver ($200): Andy Bachetti (fourth)
WELD Racing Wheels Hard Luck Award (FREE 5XL Wheel): H.J. Bunting
Wilwood ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($50 Certificate): Ryan Jordan
American Racer Cup Modified Match Races ($2,000): JIMMY WELLS over Matt Sheppard, Bobby Varin, Duane Howard, Billy Pauch Jr., Alan Barker, Brian Malcolm, Brandon Walters, Nick Nye, Billy Van Pelt
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Crate 602 Sportsman North Region Event No. 5 Feature Finish (25 laps): TIM HARTMAN JR., Nick Nye, Kenny Hammond, Dale Welty, Bobby Flood, Joe Brown, Gary Smith, Jim Rothwell, Allen Hodge, Hunter Lapp, Jim Housworth, Brett Buono, Michael Sabia, Dustin Harris, Daniel Morgiewicz, Blaine Klinger, Rich Ricci III, Lem Atkins, Randy Gates, Rich Green, Marshall Hurd, A.J. Digsby, Dave Rosa, Steve Andersen, Ray Leonard, Travis Green, Jimmy Johnson.
Evergreen Fuels/Flood Racing Runner-Up Bonus ($75): Nick Nye
Did Not Qualify: Brent Cross, Brandon Loucks, Mike Grover, Matt Brewer, Tyler Ward, Ryan Stone, Zack Sam, Tim Guild, Brandon Fritsch, Anthony Recchio, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Jason Feinberg, Alex Bell, John Williams, Jamie Cortazar, Todd Titus, Craig Pritchard, Tighe Sherlock, Don Bellen, Dave Van Buren.
Street Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): DOUG POLHAMUS, Kurt Decker, Jonathan Carpenter, Doug Stack Sr., Shane Wolf Jr., Lanson Albanese, Kurt Stebbins, Rich Sharpsteen, Doug Stack Jr., Tyler Yeagle, Dennis Cummings, Dave Cronk, Bob Crandall, Jerry Lobdell Jr., Bob Buono, Jason Thomas, Oliver Gage, Butch Green, Mike Morse, Mike Wilbur, Dusty Decker, Jared Hill, Steve Polhamus, Rich Wagner Jr.
Did Not Qualify: Abe Romanik, Don Reeves, Cyrus Homer, Noah Talada, Jeremy Warren, Vinny Lowsaw, Dan Force, Vern McLaughlin.
Mohawk Valley Vintage Feature Finish (20 laps): JOHN KULESEO, Bob Johnson, Rob Sanford, Mike Houghtaling, Frank Hoard Jr., Steve Longo, Dan Wood, Darryl Hulbert, Dwayne Hiller, Mark Byerly, Kirk Lawson, Dan Karl, Denzell Billings, John Roese, Bill Liese, Will Reed, Justin Schenck, Paul Billings, Ed Lawrence, Malcolm Warner.
Mohawk Valley Classic Feature Finish (12 laps): BRIAN MOORE, Roger Williams, Jeff Mitchell, George Palmer, Tex Gordon, Mike Cole, Michelle Kuleszo, Alan McDonald, Phillip Mitchell, Mark Reardon, Larry Hoyt, Doug Atkins.