Column By: DYLAN FRIEBEL / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Matt Sheppard has now gone 2-for-2 on the week at Orange County Fair Speedway, but are we surprised at all?
When the 80-lap Big Block Modified feature was set to roll on to track Friday night, Sheppard was starting seventh after the redraw, but wasted no time.
By a lap 13 restart early in the feature, he was in fourth and slowly but surely made his way around the 44 of Stewart Friesen and 18D of Billy Dunn to take the lead nearing the lap 30 mark.
From there, he never looked back.
“I was actually bad early,” Sheppard said. “I fell back at the drop of the green and, once we got rolling and got heat in the tires, that’s when my car came alive.”
Traffic almost assuredly can be the equalizer in any long-distance race, and it almost played a roll in Friday night’s event on the Hard Clay.
“Lap traffic played a factor tonight,” he said. “It was tough to get by those guys. We had a good enough piece where I was able to put some lap cars between myself and Billy (Dunn).”
Before this past April at the Hard Clay Open, Matt Sheppard had never won at the famed ‘House Of Power.’ Now he’s 3-for-3 this season, including the last two nights during the Centennial Weekend.
“It certainly didn’t hurt winning in April,” he said. “We won that race and now the past two nights here. Four-in-a-row would be great, though.”
Sheppard isn’t just collecting checkered flags. He’s also getting ready to make a huge deposit to the bank. Could he add another 100K to his total on Saturday?
“To win $20,000 to the past two days is awesome,” he said. “When we take the green tomorrow (Saturday), we will walk out here with no less than $21,000 ($1,000 to take the green) which is awesome for a weekend. We obviously want to win the big one on Saturday.”
Matt Sheppard, Billy Dunn, Stewart Friesen, Anthony Perrego, Larry Wight, Mat Williamson, Danny Johnson, Mike Mahaney, Erick Rudolph, Tim Fuller, Billy Pauch, Chris Hile, Jimmy Phelps, Tim Sears Jr., Justin Haers, Brett Hearn, Danny Creeden, Bob McGannon, Jimmy Horton, Michael Storms, Dillon Steuer, Tommy Meier, Matt Janiak, Ryan Godown, Brian Krummel, Andy Bachetti, Marc Johnson, Chris Whitehead, Billy VanInwegen, Pat Ward, Jack Lehner, Jackie Brown Jr., Mike Gular, Matt Hitchcock, Jeff Strunk, Peter Britten, Tyler Boniface, Billy Decker, Craig Mitchell, Tyler Dippel,