Sheppard Captures Super DIRTcar Series Victory at Merrittville
Hearn charges to DIRTcar 358-Modified Series win during big Canadian doubleheader
THOROLD, Ontario – Aug. 1, 2011 – Matt Sheppard used lapped traffic to slip past Chad Brachmann late in the Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial 100 Monday night at Merrittville Speedway to pick up his third Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified win of the year. Earlier in the evening, Brett Hearn earned the 798th victory of his career by winning the DIRTcar 358-Modified event postponed from May 23.
A huge night of racing action was on tap at the track near St. Catharines, Ontario, as a season-high 54 cars attempted to qualify for the Big-Block Modified event, which followed the 75-lap completion of the DIRTcar 358-Modified feature that had been postponed by rain on May 23. (Alex and Helen Bruce photo)
In the night’s main event, Tommy Flannigan and Gary Tomkins led the 32-car Bob St. Amand Memorial to the green flag. Flannigan and Tomkins would run the first three laps side-by-side with Tomkins ultimately taking the lead. Brachmann then showed his car’s muscle early as he charged from the fourth starting spot to grab the lead from Tomkins on Lap 7 using the inside of the racetrack to make the pass.
The first caution flag waved on Lap 10 as Mike Bowman and Peter Britten tangled. Sheppard passed three cars on the ensuing restart as he charged from seventh to fourth using the extreme outside of the racetrack to his advantage. Super DIRTcar Series points leader Billy Decker followed Sheppard’s outside line and charged into the fifth spot, passing Flannigan for the position.
Brachmann survived an onslaught of restarts during the middle stages of the race, fending off challenges from second-place running Gary Tomkins.
A restart on Lap 34 saw Sunday night’s Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified winner Dale Planck charge into the Top 5 front around Pete Bicknell, a strong-running Chad Chevalier and Decker.
Bicknell, the Merrittville Speedway owner and a multiple time DIRTcar 358-Modified champion, had his night come to an end on Lap 39 while running in the fifth position, moving Chevalier into the Top-5.
A 30-lap green flag run saw Brachmann once again stretch his lead while a dogfight took place between Tomkins, Sheppard, Planck and Chevalier for the second spot. Sheppard was eventually able to move around Tomkins and distance himself from the battle.
As the field hit the halfway point, Brachmann led Sheppard, Planck, Chevalier and Tomkins.
Brachmann soon caught lapped traffic, allowing Sheppard to close in on the back of Brachmann’s Mighty Tacos-sponsored #3. While Brachmann struggled with traffic, Sheppard was able to negotiate the traffic with ease and eventually found himself on Brachmann’s rear bumper.
Brachmann made a bonsai move on Lap 61, splitting the lapped cars of Tommy Sears and Boyd MacTavish to put two lapped cars between himself and Sheppard and allowing Brachmann to open up his race lead to a comfortable margin. However, his lead would be negated on Lap 67 as Dale Planck’s Top-5 run came to an end as he came to a stop off of Turn 4.
With just 25 laps remaining, Brachmann led Sheppard, Chevalier, Larry Lampman (who started 22nd) and Decker.
On the final restart, Brachmann and Sheppard distanced themselves from the field, with Lampman passing Chevalier for third. Brachmann was soon able to build up a 2-second advantage on Sheppard.
However, Brachmann once again struggled to negotiate lapped traffic and with just 10 laps to go Sheppard was able to catch the leader in traffic. With seven laps to go, as the leaders attempted to negotiate the lapped machine of Boyd MacTavish, Sheppard was able to pull alongside Brachmann and then inched ahead at the line to officially take the lead.
From there, Brachmann was able to stay with Sheppard but not able to make a pass as Sheppard went on to pick up his second win of the 2011 Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified season.
“I hate that we won it like that,” explained Sheppard in victory lane. “We ran down Chad pretty quick on that long green run, and I thought we’d just blow by him, but he was really strong. He had the best car tonight, but we won it.”
Brachmann was extremely disappointed in his post-race interview.
“Every week it’s the same guys here that show no respect to anyone else out there,” Brachmann said. “It’s a shame when you have guys that don’t have enough common sense to move over when they’re multiple laps down for the leaders.”
It was a solid night for the Merrittville regulars as Larry Lampman charged from 22nd and hung on for third over young Mat Williamson. Decker rounded out the Top 5.
Sheppard and Planck were both docked 30 points for running their small-block modifieds. Super DIRTcar Big-Block Series regulars must run Big-Block Modifieds at their events or they will face a 30-point penalty.
Hearn tops DIRTcar 358-Modified Series Feature
In the 75-lap completion of the DIRTcar 358-Modified feature, Brett Hearn picked up the 798th win of his legendary career. Twenty-six of the original 30 starters returned for the resumed event, but Ryan Susice and Dale Planck both dropped out of the event during pace laps.
Hearn, who was leading when the race was postponed in May, resumed the lead early in the event, but Chad Brachmann powered to the front on Lap 28. Hearn was able to catch Brachmann as the leaders negotiated traffic and retook the lead on Lap 53.
From there, Hearn didn’t look back as he picked up the $4,000 victory. With the win, Hearn takes over the DIRTcar 358-Modified Series points lead.
Pete Bicknell charged late to finish second, while Matt Sheppard, Mat Williamson and Danny Johnson rounded out the Top 5.
Bob St. Amand Memorial 100 Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified Statistical Report; Merrittville Speedway; Aug. 1, 2011
A-main (100 laps) – 1) 9s Matt Sheppard ($6,000); 2) 3B Chad Brachmann; 3) 22 Larry Lampman; 4) 6m Mat Williamson 5) 91 Billy Decker 6) 27J Danny Johnson 7) 12 Chad Chevalier 8) 99 Ryan Phelps 9) 20 Brett Hearn 10) 19J Tommy Flannigan 11) 76 Travis Braun 12) 99L Larry Wight 13) 98H Jimmy Phelps 14) 6x Dale Planck 15) 38x Ryan Susice 16) 673 Gary Tomkins 17) 66x Carey Terrance 18) 8R Rob Bellinger 19) 3 Justin Haers 20) 26 Rick Richner 21) 21a Peter Britten 22) 17D Danny O’Brien 23) 62s Tommy Sears 24) 69 Rob Pietz 25) 8 Rich Scagliotta 26) 37s Boyd MacTavish 27) 10 Tim Currier 28) 08 Mark D’Ilario 29) 15J Tim Jones 30) 42 Pete Bicknell 31) 06 Brandon Easey 32) 71 Mike Bowman
Did Not Qualify: 0 Dan Humes; 1 Stewart Friesen; 5H Chris Hiles; 7 Scott Kerwin; 8s Justin Sharp; 13 Dennis Gianci; 17c Pete Cosco; 21k Randy Chrysler; T21 Roger Chrysler; 22J Jeremy Wilder; 28 Todd Gordon; 38 Scott; 65 Rex King; 74 Matt Billings; 82 Kenny Winfield; 88 Shayne Pierce; 96 Fred Carleton; 108 Bill Bleich; 123 Robbie Krull; 165 Rex King Jr.
Zavitz Financial Strategies 100 DIRTcar 358-Modified Series; Merrittville Speedway; Aug. 1, 2011
A-main (100 laps, final 75 laps completed Monday night) – 1) 20 Brett Hearn; 2) 42 Pete Bicknell; 3) 9s Matt Sheppard; 4) 6 Mat Williamson; 5) 27J Danny Johnson; 6) 3 Chad Brachmann; 7) 76 Travis Braun; 8) 17D Danny O’Brien; 9) 12 Chad Chevalier; 10) 26 Rick Richner; 11) 15J Tim Jones; 12) 38 Luke Whitteker; 13) 19J Tommy Flannigan; 14) 66x Carey Terrance; 15) 22J Jeremy Wilder; 16) 37s Boyd MacTavish; 17) 74 Matt Billings; 18) 96 Fred Carleton; 19) 82 Scott Wood; 20) 7 Jimmy Phelps; 21) 108 Bill Bleich; 22) 71 Mike Bowman; 23) 123 Robbie Krull; 24) 1w Stewart Friesen; 25) 1H David Hébert; 26) 6x Dale Planck; 27) 22c Mario Clair; 28) 38x Ryan Susice; 29) 19 John Lazore; 30) 44 James Michael Friesen.