August 4, 2013 – Story and Photo by RaceChaser Online correspondent Steven Ovens – Matt Sheppard is the man to beat at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on a weekly basis. The drivers and fans know that each and every week when they roll into the Ontario County Fairgrounds ½ mile each Saturday night. But when the man to beat faces adversity, Sheppard’s competitors know they have to pounce on the opportunity
Sheppard struggled in his heat race, ultimately falling out of the event when something let loose in the rear end of his F.X. Caprara Chevrolet 9s. This allowed drivers Matt Fink, Mike O’Brien and Justin Wright to secure Heat Race victories.
Sheppard joined top runners Gil Tegg Jr and ‘The Doctor’ Danny Johnson in the consolation event with Tegg being victorious. Sheppard and Johnson would manage to finish in the Top 4 to qualify for the 35-Lap Main Event for the Big-Block Modifieds.
Brian Sage had an incredible run at CMP, leading the first 17 circuits. He would then surrender the lead to Justin Wright who was also impressive in his 19W, ultimately finishing on the podium in third.
But the man on the move the first half of the race was Billy Dunn. He used the high and low line of the Jeremie Corcoran prepared clay oval to make passes from his 12th starting position. By Lap 13, Dunn had finally cracked the Top-5 and was charging.
Dunn’s Number One Speed #49 was faster on the cushion (the outer portion of the speedway) which ran right along the wall exiting Turn 4. But he needed to work the bottom side of the speedway on Lap 22 to take the lead away from Wright as they drag raced down the backstretch of ‘The Land of Legends”.
Dunn would start to open up a large lead, but Sheppard was making ground on 2nd place running Wright. ‘Super Matt’ started 19th and was running third when the caution flew on Lap 26. He could only hope to dispatch of Wright quickly and try to catch Dunn, but he would not get that chance. Dunn worked the cushion to perfection and grabbed his third CMP victory of 2013, one-upping his victory tally at CMP from 2012.
“The car was awesome. I tried to change my line and it didn’t work, so I went back to what was working for me.” Dunn looked forward to some upcoming events, “I hope that this puts a jump in our step. We will prepare the car tomorrow for a race on Monday.”
Sheppard was second and maintains his point lead of 33 points over Dunn, Wright came home third, Justin Haers and Matt Fink rounded out the Top 5.
Kane Bristol picked up CMP career victory #1 Saturday night, using the bottom lane to perfection on a Lap 20 restart with 5 laps to go. Bristol was baffled in victory lane, “I’m lost right now, but I like the view from here.” AJ Lewis, Paul Guererri, Steve Gray and 2-time defending track champion Dan Wiesner completed the Top 5.
Paul Habeck picked up win #1 of 2013 by driving the line Billy Dunn drove to win the modified race, and used it to his advantage to take the 305 Sprint Car feature win. “I was running around 4th or 5th and knew I had to do something different if I wanted a chance to win the race. I threw it up top and it stuck great.” Stuck it did, as Habeck passed Bob Dreste on the outside of Turn 4 to take the lead on Lap 19 of the 20-Lap A-Main. “I ran real high in 3 and 4, the next line up was the wall.”
Dreste came home second, Steve Doell Jr third, with front-runners Daryl Ruggles and Charlie Donk completing the Top 5. Young female competitor Kelly Hebing looked poised to take home her first career win in the 305’s when leader Nick Cooper ran into misfortune with a tow truck under a caution flag. She will have to wait until next week, as her great run ended when she looped her Danny Willmes-owned #10 while battling for the lead on Lap 16.
Mike Welch picked up win #11 for 2013 in a dominating performance in the Parts Plus Street Stock race. Welch was elated in victory lane as Parts Plus is a sponsor on his #00 as well as being a sponsor for the racing action Saturday night.
Wayne Ellison picked up a popular victory in the Pure Stock division, winning his third race in a row in the 15-Lap main event for the Pure Stock competitors. He took the lead on Lap 3 and cruised on to CMP Victory Lane.
The New Legend Sportsman division, a rookie Sportsman division utilizing cars matching the regular Sportsman division, ran two features on this night. One race- a makeup feature event from a previous rainout; the other- a regularly scheduled 12-lap affair. The class allows new drivers to gain valuable seat time before being ‘thrown to the dogs’ in the regular Sportsman division. However, if you win 3 races during the season you get bumped up to the regular Sportsman division.
Tim Barnard would take the win in race 1, followed by Ray Hendershot and Tim Goebl (who returned to racing after a near 20 year layoff). In race number 2, it was Ray Hendershot winning with Tim Barnard finishing second and Tim Goebl in third. Hendershot will now move up to the Sportsman division next week, after winning his 3rd New Legends feature of the year.
You can find a Race Chaser exclusive, including Hendershot’s incredible journey back from Stage 4 cancer, coming soon here on RaceChaserOnline.com.
For more information on Canandaigua Motorsports Park, including information on the “Tony Stewart Sprintacular 2” coming up this Saturday with the Empire Super Sprints, log on to www.canandaiguamotorsportspark.com