Perrego holds off Matt Sheppard to score his third career Super DIRTcar Series win and first during the championship season
Anthony Perrego earned a hard-fought victory Tuesday night at Big Diamond Speedway, holding off a persistent Matt Sheppard in the final laps to score his first points-paying Super DIRTcar Series victory.
The Walden, NY driver entered the race with two Series wins already, but both last came in 2020 and neither were during a championship season.
He put himself in prime position to return to Victory Lane by drawing the pole for the 75-lap Feature and earning the SRI Performance/Stock Car Steel redraw $100 bonus.
Using his previous experience of running a Small Block Modified at the southern Pennsylvania track, Perrego launched ahead of the field at the drop of the green flag.
Behind him, Sheppard – the nine-time and defending Series champion and most recent Series winner – was methodically chipping away at the gap Perrego had created. He passed Felix Roy for third on Lap 17 and then began hunting Mat Williamson for second. When the Buzz Chew Racing driver went high trying to pass a lapped car, it gave Sheppard the gap he needed to sneak underneath him and take second on Lap 34.
Cue the iconic “Jaws” theme. The Waterloo, NY driver erased Perrego’s more than a second led by Lap 57, leading to an 18-lap brawl for the win.
Separated by inches turn after turn, every decision they made had to be perfect. The smallest error by Perrego could mean an easy pass for Sheppard and the smallest slip by Sheppard would the loss of valuable ground.
After leading the pack through lapped traffic and keeping Sheppard at bay behind him, Perrego had one more set of challenges to overcome before he was declared the victor.
A yellow flag was dropped on Lap 71, bringing the competitors to a restart with four laps remaining. The Four Star Racing driver lined up next to the defending Series champion, firing hard on the restart. He again shot out in front, but the momentum was short lived, as another caution dropped one lap later.
Perrego retained his lead once again on the final restart and continued to defend against every attack Sheppard threw at him. Sheppard threw his #9s to the top side, hoping for enough grip to get by, but with none there was left to watch Perrego drive away to a meaningful victory.
“The draw was kind of everything,” Perrego said. “I come once in a while with a Small Block to Big Diamond. The draw is really important. Obviously, it proved that tonight. We had a really good car in the beginning. We took off and were really fast. I don’t know if we used it up a little too much there, but, the right rear tire is bald and Matt (Sheppard) was really pestering me there at the end. We rolled by a couple lapped cars there at the end on the outside… Those last few laps there were definitely nerve racking. My tire was going, but we were just kind of skating around and we were able to hold on.”
Sheppard had to settled for second, recording his fourth podium finish this season.
“I almost got up under [Perrego],” he said. “I was probably about a half car length short of getting to where I needed to get… I was able to get up next to him [on the restarts]. The track rubbered up pretty quick. Honestly, I’m just happy to come out of here with a second-place run to help us in the points lead.”
Williamson held on to his third-place position, earning his fifth top 10 in six races this season.
“It was a tough run,” Williamson said. “It’s hard when the track latches rubber like that. I went to go around a lap car on top, and Matt (Sheppard) got underneath me… I saw how hard him and Anthony (Perrego) were going. My only option was to try to survive and keep my right rear going, and maybe they would burn theirs off. In the end, we had more tire left than they did, but that didn’t matter.”
Mike Mahaney finished in fourth and Peter Britten finished in fifth. It was Britten’s fourth top-five finish this season and fifth top 10 finish in a row.
UP NEXT: The Super DIRTcar Series will return to Weedsport Speedway for the Hall of Fame 100 on Sunday, July 16, in a 100-lap, $10,000-to-win, Super DIRT Week Qualifier showcase event.
Anthracite Assault 75 (75 Laps)
1. 4-Anthony Perrego; 2. 9S-Matt Sheppard; 3. 88-Mat Williamson; 4. 35-Mike Mahaney; 5. 21A-Peter Britten; 6. 12-Darren Smith; 7. 2-Jack Lehner; 8. 83X-Tim Sears Jr; 9. 5H-Chris Hile; 10. 99L-Larry Wight; 11. 32R-Ronnie Davis III; 12. 20R-Nick Rochinski; 13. 8H-Max McLaughlin; 14. 37M-Mathieu Desjardins; 15. (DNF) 33-Louden Reimert; 16. (DNF) 84Y-Alex Yankowski; 17. (DNF) 91-Felix Roy; 18. (DNF) 2A-Mike Gular; 19. (DNF) 126-Jeff Strunk; 20. (DNF) 215-Adam Pierson; 21. (DNF) 15-Billy Pauch Jr; 22. (DNF) 14-CG Morey; 23. (DNF) 54-Steve Bernard; 24. (DNF) 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 25. (DNF) 17-Marcus Dinkins; 26. (DNF) 3-Sammy Martz