BARBERVILLE, Fla. – Feb. 17, 2011 – On a night that begged for horsepower and patience, often at the same time, Matt Sheppard made all the right moves Thursday in the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified feature event at the 40th DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio at Volusia Speedway Park.
Rolling off from the inside of Row 3, Sheppard picked his way through heavy traffic early in the 30-lap race, finding a groove on the bottom side of the half-mile oval that worked for his Xtreme Lubricants Bicknell machine. He let leaders Dave Rauscher and Willy Decker battle while he tried to fend off Tim Fuller. Sheppard and Fuller kept pace with each other, Sheppard on the bottom, Fuller on the high side. With 10 laps down, Fuller found his way to the lead while Sheppard tried to race past Friesen, who won the Big-Block Modified opener on Wednesday night at Volusia.
Sheppard, of Waterloo, N.Y., kept the pressure on, slipping past Friesen with 12 laps complete and setting his sights on Fuller. Those two then raced side-by-side before they caught the back of the field. At the halfway point, the two tried to lap a car. Fuller went to the top, Sheppard to the bottom, splitting the car. The move wound up knocking Fuller from the race after contact to the front end of his Smith Brothers Concrete Foundations Teo forced him to the pits. Sheppard would never trail again.
“It was tough,” said Sheppard, the defending DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH champion. “The track was real fast. It’s tough on the cars. You really had to drive hard and manhandle them tonight. I got the right break in traffic. I picked the right lane and was able to get by Tim (Fuller) and hold on for the rest of the race.
“It was pretty wild out there. We had a lapped car running in the middle. He chose the top and I chose the bottom. It ended up working out in my favor.”
On the ensuing double-file restart, Sheppard chose the outside lane with Decker to his inside. Sheppard made the top groove work as they charged into the first corner. Andy Bachetti had a great restart as he surged into second, seemingly poised to attack Sheppard, but a caution with 21 laps complete and another one lap later helped Decker and Friesen reclaim the podium positions. In all, there were five cautions during the race.
Sheppard shot out to a big lead on the final 8-lap sprint to the checkered flag, with Friesen, who won the opener on Wednesday night, chasing him to the checkered flag in second. Decker finished third with Jimmy Horton and Brett Hearn rounding out the top five.
“I think I needed a little luck,” said Decker, of Vernon, N.Y. “We weren’t getting through the holes as good as the other guys were. We had a good car. I think if we could have got through them we would have had something for them.”
Fuller was the quickest in group qualifying when he turned a lap around the half-mile Volusia Speedway Park oval In 17.135 seconds to lead his group. Sheppard topped his group with a lap of 17.248 seconds and Rob Bellinger led his group with a lap of 17.597 seconds.
Rauscher, Bachetti and Sheppard won their heats with Rick Laubach capturing the B-main.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the DIRTcar Late Models, World of Outlaws Late Models and Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds compete at Volusia. Gates open at 5 p.m., hot laps are at 6 p.m. and racing is at 7:30 p.m.
DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio; Volusia Speedway Park; Feb. 17, 2011
Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified A-main (30-Laps) – 1. Matt Sheppard; 2. Stewart Friesen; 3. Willy Decker; 4. Jimmy Horton; 5. Brett Hearn; 6. Andy Bachetti; 7. Bobby Varin; 8. Rob Bellinger; 9. Mike Iles; 10. Rick Laubach; 11. Matt DeLorenzo; 12. Rich Scagliotta; 13. Dave Rauscher; 14. Danny Johnson; 15. Tim Kerr; 16. Darwin Greene; 17. Billy VanIngwegen; 18. Danny Varin; 19. Randy Chrysler; 20. Tim Currier; 21. Michel Chicione; 22. Tim Fuller; 23. Kevin Bates; 24. Ray Swinehart; 25. Danny Hieber; 26. Brian Truppi. Time of race: 25 minutes, 24.262 seconds. Margin of victory: 2.369 seconds. Cautions: 5 (Laps 2-twice, 15, 21, 22). Lap leaders: Rauscher (1-6), Decker (7-10), Fuller (11-14), Sheppard (15-30).
Qualifying Group 1 (Pos./Name/Time) – 1. Rob Bellinger (17.597); 2. Dave Rauscher (17.776); 3. Danny Hieber (17.785); 4. Randy Chrysler (17.847); 5. Brian Truppi (17.931); 6. Matt DeLorenzo (17.951); 7. Ray Swinehart (18.053); 8. Tim Currier (18.097); 9. Kevin Bates (18.1); 10 (Jeff Schaffer (18.239); 11 (Tim Kerr (18.289)
Qualifying Group 2 (Pos./Name/Time) – 1. Tim Fuller (17.135); 2. Andy Bachetti (17.305); 3. Billy VanIngwegen (17.779); 4. Rich Scagliotta (17.785); 5. Rick Laubach (17.818); 6. Danny Johnson (17.916); 7. Mike Iles (17.925); 8. Jeremy Markle (18.075); 9. Michel Chicione (18.279); 10. Roger Chrysler (18.393)
Qualifying Group 3 (Pos./Name/Time) – 1. Matt Sheppard (17.248); 2. Willy Decker (17.267); 3. Stewart Friesen (17.344); 4. Danny Varin (17.462); 5. Chris Higgins (17.517); 6. Bobby Varin (17.624); 7. Brett Hearn (17.688); 8. Mario Clair (18.386); 9. Darwin Greene (no time); 10. Jimmy Horton (no time).
Heat 1 –1. Dave Rauscher, 2. Rob Bellinger, 3. Danny Hieber, 4. Randy Chrysler, 5. Brian Truppi, 6. Matt DeLorenzo, 7. Tim Currier, 8. Ray Swinehart, 9. Kevin Bates, 10. Tim Kerr, 11. Jeff Schaffer
Heat 2 – 1. Andy Bachetti, 2. Tim Fuller, 3. Rich Scagliotta, 4. Danny Johnson, 5. Billy VanIngwegen, 6. Michel Chicione, 7. Rick Laubach, 8. Mike Iles, 9. Roger Chrysler, DNS. Jeremy Markle
Heat 3 – 1. Matt Sheppard, 2. Willy Decker, 3. Bobby Varin, 4. Stewart Friesen, 5. Jimmy Horton, 6. Brett Hearn, 7. Danny Varin, 8. Darwin Greene, 9. Chris Higgins, DNS. Mario Clair
B-Main – 1. Rick Laubach, 2. Tim Currier, 3. Danny Varin, 4. Mike Iles, 5. Ray Swinehart, 6. Tim Kerr, 7. Kevin Bates, 8. Darwin Greene, 9. Roger Chrysler, 10. Jeff Schaffer, DNS. Mario Clair, DNS. Jeremy Markle, DNS. Chris Higgins.
|POINTS||DRIVER / HOMETOWN||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Starts||Money Won|
|4||90||Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY||0||0||2||2||$1,250|
|6||88||Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ||0||1||2||2||$1,250|
|9||78||Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ||0||0||1||2||$975|
|11||69||Tim Fuller/Edwards, NY||0||1||1||2||$900|
|13||60||Mike Iles/Medford, NJ||0||0||1||2||$700|
|15||56||Matt DeLorenzo/Cropseyville, NY||0||0||0||2||$600|
|17||53||Tim Currier/Aubrun, NY||0||0||0||2||$525|
|19||45||Danny Varin/Sharon Springs, NY||0||0||0||2||$450|
|20||44||Kevin Bates/Lake Ariel, PA||0||0||0||2||$400|
|21||43||Ray Swinehart/Perkionville, PA||0||0||0||2||$400|
|23||40||Danny Hieber/Newtown, PA||0||0||0||2||$400|
|24||36||Chris Higgins/Raliegh, NC||0||0||0||1||$450|
|27||34||Jeremy Markle/Port Jervis,NY||0||0||0||1||$375|
|28||32||Michel Chicoine/Ste-Cecile de Milton,QUE||0||0||0||1||$200|
|29||20||Brian Truppi/Redington, NJ||0||0||0||1||$200|
|31||20||Jeff Schaefer/Fombell, PA||0||0||0||0||$0|