SUSQUEHANNA, PA — Official Release — Photo Courtesy Matt Sheppard Facebook Fan Page — The illustrious career of Matt Sheppard has included high-profile victories and championships.
On Friday night at Penn Can Speedway, Sheppard sat on the “throne” as racing royalty. Sheppard, 32, of Waterloo, N.Y., annexed his first-ever ‘King of the Can’ conquest, topping the 50-lap big-block/small-block Modified event in dominant fashion driving the Norm Hansell-owned No. 357.
‘Super Matt’ collected $5,285 including lap money and a $100 winner’s bonus posted by Simplicity Design, plus the unique “toilet trophy” that has become signature at Penn Can’s year-end event. The win was his first-ever on Penn Can’s tricky one-third-mile track.
The Friday program marked the final Modified race under the outgoing promotional team of Al Wilcox and Reed Miller, completing a 17-year run at the facility. The ‘King of the Can’ was a non-points-paying, affiliate event of the Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP.
Don’s Automotive Mall and VP Racing Fuels provided sponsor support for the ‘King of the Can’ special.
Sheppard, who celebrated openly with his toilet, crown and “plunger scepter” during Victory Lane ceremonies, has proved a formidable competitor in Southern Tier starts with Hansell’s Morrison-powered Troyer this season. He won a Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP event at Thunder Mountain (N.Y.) Speedway in May and nearly took the checkered at Penn Can in the September ‘Hot Summer Night’ special, driving from deep in the pack to the lead before suffering a flat tire.
“I thought we had the win here in September and we got the flat,” Sheppard said. “We came back tonight and the car was just as good. It is a pleasure to drive for Norm (Hansell), Jay (Thomas) and this team.”
Outside-pole starter Darwin Greene led the race’s opening 19 laps as Sheppard moved forward from his fifth starting position. Sheppard arrived in second spot at lap 18, breaking free from a battle with Penn Can champion Kevin Hartnett and invader Mike Mahaney.
Following a lap-19 restart, Sheppard utilized the inside lane to clear Greene for the lead.
Mahaney, driving the Charlie Davis-owned No. 21, worked past Greene for second on lap 32 following an extended battle. Hartnett followed into third two circuits later.
The race’s final two cautions flew on laps 38 and 39.
Mahaney provided a challenge following each of the restarts, but Sheppard opened up distance on the field following the longer green-flag runs.
Mahaney’s car showed signs of smoke and began to slow with engine problems during the final five circuits, allowing Hartnett, of Barto, Pa., to steal the runner-up spot at the checkered. Mahaney settled for third, followed by ninth-starter Anthony Perrego of Montgomery, N.Y., in Gary Mann’s No. 55 and Boyertown, Pa.’s Ryan Watt, driving the Ron Roberts-owned No. 14W. Watt was second on lap 15 when he was forced to pit with a flat right-rear tire.
Placing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Greene of Susquehanna, Pa., after leading laps 1-18; Dan Pompey of Glenwood, Pa., who started 14th; Adam MacGeorge of Great Bend, Pa., driving the Chris Gennarelli-owned No. 86; 26th-starter Alex Stanton, a native of Jackson, Pa., who now resides in Michigan; and Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP champion Andy Bachetti of Sheffield, Mass., who recovered from a spin on the race’s opening lap for 10th.
Heat winners, 10 laps each, were Sheppard, Alan Rudalavage of Newton Lake, Pa., Perrego and Hartnett. Steve Babicek (West Windsor, N.Y.) and Nick Rochinski (Dickson City, Pa.) split the consolations.
Cory Costa of Corning, N.Y., continued his dominance of the area’s Crate 602 Sportsman racing. Costa, on the heels of a weekend sweep at I-88 Speedway in Afton, N.Y., one week prior, topped Friday night’s 30-lap main for the Dig Safely New York GRIT Series.
Through numerous cautions, Costa repelled Penn Can standout Ryan Olsommer of Greentown, Pa., who settled for second spot. Central New York standout Nick Guererri of Waterloo, N.Y., placed third. Marty Bunker of Vestal, N.Y., and Accord (N.Y.) Speedway regular Kenny Boniface of Pine Bush, N.Y., trailed.
Will Eastman of Oneonta, N.Y., won the 20-lap main for the Penn Can weekly XCel 600 Modifieds in convincing fashion. John Ayre chased Eastman across the line.
KING’S COURT: Top-10 drivers from the Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP standings (made official Oct. 11 at I-88) returning to compete at Penn CanFriday were eligible for $200 cash bonuses. The recipients, announced during the pre-race drivers’ meeting, were Andy Bachetti, Ryan Watt and Mike Mahaney….
Gary Tomkins drove a second Coar-Clark No. 119 for the event as a teammate to Brian Malcolm, who suffered rear-end issues during qualifying. Bobby Varin drove a No. 187 for Pennsylvania’s Steve Young….
Nick Rochinski powered from 22nd to challenge for a top-five position when his No. 20R lost an engine on lap 38….
Ryan Watt’s impressive drive from the rear of the field took place with a Pennsylvania-legal, sealed small-block engine fueled by gasoline. Watt lost his ‘open’ engine at Fulton (N.Y.) Speedway earlier this month….
Track conditions provided for two- and three-wide racing throughout the night with minimal dust….
Speedway co-promoters Miller and Wilcox address the crowd and thanked those who supported Penn Can for the past 17 years….
BD Motorsports Media LLC heads to Accord Speedway in Accord, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 29 for the ‘Gobbler’ Northeast dirt-track finale. Modifieds race 50 laps for $7,117.11 thanks to Sowle Trailer Repair ($1,000 for 5th, $500 for 10th, $300 to start). Sportsman ($1,500 to win) and the Ron Wright Memorial for Street/Pure Stocks complete the card. Visit www.bdmotorsportsmedia.comfor full details.
To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP, visitwww.bdmotorsportsmedia.com, e-mail Brett Deyo email@example.com or call 845.728.2781. BD Motorsports Media is on Facebook and on Twitter: @BrettDeyo.
15TH ANNUAL ‘KING OF THE CAN’ RACE SUMMARY – OCTOBER 17, 2014
Modified Feature Finish (50 Laps): MATT SHEPPARD ($5,285), Kevin Hartnett, Mike Mahaney, Anthony Perrego, Ryan Watt, Darwin Greene, Dan Pompey, Adam MacGeorge, Alex Stanton, Andy Bachetti, Steve Babicek, Mike Colsten, Bobby Trapper, Bobby Varin, Joey Colsten, Nick Rochinski, Kyle Merkel, Joe Dgien, Joey Grammes, Bob Trapper, Bob Henry Jr., Gary Tomkins, Tyler Siri, Alan Rudalavage, Mike Schane, Billy Van Pelt.
Did Not Qualify: Chris Piasecki, Mike Clapperton, Sam Allen, Brian Malcolm, Chris Wood, Joel Batzel, Nick Nye, Rusty Smith, Joe Eisenhauer, Brad Shaffer.
Lap Money Breakdown ($952): Mike Mahaney ($210), Darwin Greene ($193), Matt Sheppard ($170); Kevin Hartnett ($159); Ryan Watt ($90); Anthony Perrego ($80); Alex Stanton ($50).
Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP Attendance Bonuses ($200):Andy Bachetti, Mike Mahaney & Ryan Watt
Dig Safely New York GRIT Series Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (30 Laps): CORY COSTA ($1,000), Ryan Olsommer, Nick Guererri, Marty Bunker, Kenny Boniface, Randy Gates, Mike Butler, Dale Welty, Jake Dgien, Connor Cleveland, Stacy Jackson, Todd Titus, Nick Branning, Gregg Turner, Ivan Joslin, Bob Janesky, Kevin Jordan, Ted Mills III, Chris Stevens, Colton Wilson, Shea Montgomery, Shane Lewis, Rich Powell, Josh Towner.
Did Not Qualify: Tony Pangrazio.
Disqualified: Ben Wheeler.
XCel 600 Modified Feature Finish (20 Laps): WILL EASTMAN, John Ayre, Kyle Fallis, Steve Sherwood, Drew Fallis, Matt Colwell, Tim Frantz, Jason Mills, A.J. Miller, Jimmy Ayre, B.E. Mills, C.J. Yochum, Nick Chase.
Did Not Start: Kamdin Maby.