Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway shines in 100-lap Border Battle, Wight Wins over Sheppard and Johnson
Story & Photo By: Joe Grabianowski/Super DIRTcar Series
PLATTSBURGH, NY – July 1, 2019 – Lightning Larry Wight took advantage of a restart at the halfway point to drive by Matt Sheppard while riding the cushion on the extreme outside line of the half-mile race track. Wight and the Gypsum Racing team went home $10,000 richer and now have a guaranteed starting position in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII in October at Oswego Speedway. Runner-up Matt Sheppard drove to the front early, passing both Mat Williamson and then leader Brett Hearn in one fell swoop. Sheppard had built a massive half-track lead but after the bottom line went away for him he lost speed. In third place came the No. 27J of Danny Johnson who battled hard in the top ten all night to earn his podium result.
Larry Wight, in his iconic crimson red No. 99L Gypsum Racing Big Block Modified, motored to the lead after starting fourth. Wight hovered around his starting place for the first half of the race, but then his car came to life. “I wasn’t too sure what we had at the beginning. We got into the top five and it just leveled out. I watched Jimmy [Phelps] and Matt [Sheppard] drive away from us and I might have saved my tire a bit more. It seemed I could make the top of turns three and four work well,” said Wight.
The track made for some incredible racing with passing all throughout the field. The fast lane was around the top where at times could get choppy. Wight noted, “It was definitely a handful. It was tougher than 200 laps at Oswego!”
Wight’s been strong in weekly competition in his DIRTcar 358 Modified division picking up multiple wins but this was his first Big Block win of 2019. “In our sport a Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified win is by far the top of the list of what you want to get. We’ll keep chipping away at these and hopefully, we can catch these guys.”
On the guaranteed start Wight said, “It’s nice to have the guaranteed start for NAPA Super DIRT Week in your back pocket.”
Family is always first for Wight: “I want to thank my Mom and Dad. My wife and daughter are back home watching on FloRacing!”
For the second year in a row, Matt Sheppard is forced to settle for second. The No. 9s grabbed the lead in the early laps and built a massive lead, nearly half the track. A caution flag at halfway and a dislodged implement tire pushed Sheppard out of rhythm and off his preferred line.
“We had a pretty good car. The difference was that Larry [Wight] could get around the top of turns three and four better than I could. I found a pretty good groove there on the bottom but about halfway through the race somebody clipped one of the [implement] tires and moved it out on the track a little bit. That kind of took my line away,” said Sheppard.
After getting passed by Wight, Sheppard said, “From there on out I was following him around. I was hoping traffic might intervene there at the end and it got pretty close. He was just really good on top of three and four.” In fact, in the final five laps, Sheppard closed the gap to Wight significantly but it just wasn’t enough.
Last year’s winner Danny Johnson was strong right off the bat. He was fast in Hot Laps, Time Trials, and took second in his Heat Race. During the Feature, Johnson battled his way up for a podium finish. “We’re happy to get a good finish. I’m really proud of my Sweeteners Plus team. I want to thank C.C. Performance and Bicknell Racing Products for such a great team,” Johnson said.
The fast way around was the top of the race track and Johnson felt he could have been better. “I tried to make the car better on the bottom but we should have gone with the top. We just missed by a little bit,” he noted.
Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway home track racer Mike Mahaney played musical Big Blocks after encountering problems with both of his race cars. Ultimately Mahaney pulled off with a power steering issue. There was a degree of consolation and a belated birthday gift as Mahaney took home a free Hoosier Racing Tire for picking position number twelve in the Dig Safely 811 Redraw.
Matt Sheppard was fast off the trailer. The now two-time runner-up at Plattsburgh was quickest in Time Trials earning him the Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award.
Next up for the Super DIRTcar Series is the Liberty 100, $7,500-to-win July 4 Independence Day spectacular.
BORDER BATTLE 100 (100 Laps)
- 99l-Larry Wight ; 2. 9s-Matt Sheppard ; 3. 27J-Danny Johnson ; 4. 98H-Jimmy Phelps ; 5. 25-Erick Rudolph ; 6. 88-Mat Williamson ; 7. 91-Billy Decker ; 8. 66X-Carey Terrance ; 9. 21A-Peter Britten ; 10. 26-Ryan Godown ; 11. 20-Brett Hearn ; 12. 96b-Steve Bernier ; 13. 90-Dany Gagne ; 14. 1-Chris Raabe ; 15. 35B-Francois Bellemare ; 16. 2L-Jack Lehner ; 17. 91NY-Jackie Brown ; 18. R2-Rusty Smith ; 19. 55-Matt Woodruff ; 20. 44-Stewart Friesen ; 21. 35-Mike Mahaney ; 22. 37-Paul StSauveur ; 23. 111-Demetrios Drellos ; 24. 66J-Louis Jackson ; 25. 24-Patrick Dupree ; 26. 17-Marcus Dinkins ; 27. 34f-George Foley