Sheppard Stars At Merrittville
THOROLD, Ontario — After battling through lapped traffic for the lead over St. Catharines racer Mike Bowman, three-time Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series Champion Matt Sheppard took his second series win of the season at Merrittville Speedway Monday.
“We’ve had a lot of great race cars at Merrittville over the years, and I think this is probably the best one we’ve ever had,” said Sheppard. Before Bowman’s win in 2012, Sheppard claimed three consecutive Super DIRTcar Series races at Merrittville Speedway. “I love this place, I have a lot of success here.”
Bowman sought to repeat his success in last year’s Bob St. Amand Sr. Memorial Super DIRTcar Series feature, in which he led all 100 laps to claim his first-ever series win. At the green flag in Monday’s race, he charged ahead of pole-sitter Gary Tomkins claiming first before the completion of lap one. The local star stayed ahead of the pack in the No. 71, leaving Chris Steele and Gary Tomkins behind him in a fight for second.
Sheppard, who started fifth claiming fourth by lap 14 and third in lap 15. Bowman worked his way through lapped cars skillfully on the three-eighths-mile banked clay oval while Sheppard challenged Steele in lap 36.
A lap-27 caution, brought as Chad Brachmann’s No. 3 hit the inside wall in turn 1, slowed Sheppard’s advance and put him a row behind the leaders on the double-file restart. However, Sheppard’s Xtreme Lubricants/FX Caprara Car Companies No. 9s was as fast as ever at the green, and he gained enough momentum to cruise by Steele’s No. 17 on the backstretch in lap 36.
With just one car between himself and the lead, Sheppard charged forward in hopes of challenging Bowman, also strong on Merrittville’s unique D-shaped track. Yet again, Bowman adroitly maneuvered lapped traffic, but this time Sheppard was just as adept, pulling up beside the 71 as it pulled beside Dave Rauschers 48too in a tense 3-wide maneuver.
Bowman cruised forward, but Sheppard was close enough, and fast enough, to again race side-by-side with the leader. As the two simultaneously lapped the No. 49 of Billy Dunn, Sheppard found the momentum he needed to power ahead of Bowman. At the same time, Danny Johnson, who had been closing in on the leaders, took advantage of a briefly faltering Bowman to claim second.