RPW Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Matt Sheppard has had to work hard for his wins at OCFS in 2020.
With his consistent finishes, he usually starts at the rear of the handicapped cars.
Tuesday night, he got a break when Mat Williamson gave him 2nd starting spot in the revenge style redraw and Sheppard took full advantage. He ran at the top spot for all 40 laps to take the Revenge 40 win worth $6,000.
Mike Mahaney and Max McLaughlin trailed the 9S to the finish line. The win for Sheppard was his 4th in a row at the “House of Power” and his 15th consecutive top 5 feature finish at OCFS, a streak that dates back to April of 2019.
In the time trials to set the heat lineups, Tim Fuller turned the fastest lap. After the time trials, the top 5 were inverted for the heats. Heat winners were Tyler Jashembowski, Tyler Dippel, Andy Bachetti, Sheppard and Larry Wight.
For the Revenge 40, it was Jashembowski and Sheppard in the front row for the drop of the green with Sheppard immediately jumping out front. In a race filled with attrition, Jashembowski was the first victim, exiting on lap 5. Bachetti moved into second on the restart and was able to stay within a few car lengths of Sheppard for a number of laps before Sheppard began putting some distance between them. Bachetti fell victim to mechanical failure on lap 16 which moved Anthony Perrego up to 2nd. Stewart Friesen, running 4th, had problems on the 22nd lap and dropped out. Perrego had something break on his car on lap 26. Wight, driving with a left front flat, retired on lap 27. Sheppard was easily able to withstand all the restarts over the final laps to take the win over Mahaney, McLaughlin, Williamson and Billy Dunn. Tommy Meier was 6th, Dippel 7th, Jeff Heotzler 8th, Richie Eurich 9th and Craig Mitchell 10th.
“Starting near the front and getting the lead at the start, I just wanted to make sure that I just hit my marks and if I did that, I thought I would be okay,” said Sheppard in Victory Lane. “I appreciate Mat giving us that 2nd starting spot. It certainly was a help.”
If there was a perseverance award for this race, it most definitely would have been won by Eurich. Somewhere around the 30 lap mark, Eurich snapped a bottom shock bolt off of the left rear of the #10. With the car noticeable low, Eurich was able to press on to grab a top 10 finish, a great job by the veteran racer.
Grant Hilfiger made a final turn pass on Kevin Stevens to take the win in the first of the Sportsman Twin 20’s. The race ran the first 15 laps non-stop with Tyler Corcoran, Stevens and Clinton Mills running 1-2-3. Ninth starting Hilfiger gradually picked off cars and had moved himself into 3rd by the 16th lap caution. The restart saw Stevens move into the lead followed by Hilfiger. They ran side by side, Stevens in the low groove with Hilfiger running the high line. Hilfiger led lap 18, Stevens lap 19. But as the raced out of the final turn, Grant was able to take the win by a half a car length over Stevens.
The Stevens car ran into difficulty during post race tech and was disqualified. This moved Corcoran to 2nd, with Mills 3rd, Greg Sleight 4th and Jake Bedell 5th. Finishing 6-10 were Kevin Root, Corey Cormier, Gary Edwards III, John Bockhorn and Troy Arnold.
In the 2nd Sportsman Twin 20, Andrew Buff was able to take advantage of Jared LaBagh’s late race misfortune to capture his first ever win at the 5/8’s oval. Starting on the pole, Buff led the first 13 laps before LaBagh, strong in the high groove, made the pass for the lead. But with starter Jerry Enright ready to give the 2 to go signal, LaBagh spun near the pit gate in turn 3. This put Buff back in front and he was able to lead the final two circuits to record the win. Daniel Morgiewicz finished 2nd and Joe Bonetti 3rd. Sammy Martz Jr and Dom Roselli Jr. completed the top 5 while Cody Higbie, Bobby Flood, Corey Wood, LaBagh and Tanner VanDoren tooks spots 6-10.
The next event appearing on the OCFS schedule is on Saturday, August 1st. The Big Block Modifieds, Sportsman and Street Stocks are scheduled to be in competition.