Alan Johnson Wins Regular Season Finale At Brewerton Speedway In Thrilling Last Lap, Last Corner Pass; Matt Sheppard Wins First Ever Track Championship

By Dave Medler

BREWERTON, NY  – The DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds saved their best for last on the final point night of the 2009 season on Friday at Brewerton Speedway. Good friends Pat Ward and Alan Johnson had a Battle Royal for the race win while three and sometimes four wide racing was seen throughout the entire 50 lap event. Johnson used a last lap, last corner pass of Ward to pick up the $3,000 payday. Matt Sheppard out of Waterloo, NY kept the two leaders within sight to finish 3rd, but more importantly Sheppard picked up his first ever Brewerton Speedway Big Block Modified Championship.

Other winners on Windstream Communications night were Tony Buffa in the Xtreme Auto Recovery IMCA Modifeds, Tim Devendorf in the Beaver River Distribution ESDCA Mod Lites, Stephen Denton in Tired Iron Repair 4-Cylinder Super Stocks, and Chris Bonoffski took the checkers in the Gladiators. Track Champions were Matt Sheppard in the DIRTcar Modifieds, Kevan Cook in the IMCA Modifieds, Doug Williams in the ESDCA Mod Lites, Chuck Powelczyk in the 4-Cylinder Super Stocks, and Bruce Unger in the Gladiators.

Mike Bowman out raced the starting field to lead the opening lap of the Big Block Modified Feature as Chris Hile and Alan Johnson kept pace with the leader. At lap 5 Bowman and Johnson ran nose to tail out front still setting the pace. Larry Wight, Hile and Kevin Bates fought for top-five spots.

With Bowman running the bottom of the speedway, Johnson drove around the leader exiting turn four to be scored the new leader on lap nine. On lap 14 Johnson saw his straightaway lead evaporate for a slowing Tony Steiner on the back straight.

On the restart Johnson who usually always runs the bottom chose the outside putting Pat Ward to his inside setting up a battle to the finish between the two seasoned veterans.

Johnson and Ward would run nose to tail and side by side lap after lap with Ward inching ahead running the bottom on lap twenty-three. One lap later Johnson would once again fight back to regain the lead. While the race for the lead was going on Matt Sheppard had the best seat in the house running 3rd within striking distance of the top-two.

Just past the halfway point Ward once again found the bite he needed on the bottom to narrowly lead lap 28, Sheppard, Chuck Bower and Jimmy Phelps showed in the top-five. With all eyes not only on the fight for the lead but three and four wide battles all over the speedway the torrid pace was slowed on lap 36 for a slowing Larry Wight.

When the starter gave the ten to go sign Ward and Johnson still thrilled the fans running nose to tail and side by side with Sheppard still right there in third. Bower and Willy Decker were having strong runs in fourth and fifth. A quick yellow with 5 laps to go would give Ward and Johnson a chance to catch their breath for a final shootout to the finish.

Over the final laps Johnson would hound Ward using the top of the speedway. As the two entered the final lap they ran side by side with Johnson finding one last burst of speed exiting turn four for a narrow 0.189 second victory over Ward. Sheppard finished 3rd just 0.779 seconds behind. Willy Decker came home 4th and Bobby Varin in his maiden voyage in the Commercial Roofing No.10 finished 5th from the 17th starting spot.

“I never expected this one once Pat (Ward) got me, then I saw Matt (Sheppard) down low I thought I was going to be third-fourth who knows what,” said Alan Johnson after parking his Bully’s Truck Stop No.14j in Victory lane. I kept working the top, there must of been others cars up there because it started blowing the dust off it worked well.”

Johnson who is usually a bottom dweller said he tried the bottom for awhile but it just wasn’t working for him. “Once I got down there I couldn’t get it slowed down enough or getting it going coming off,” he said. Johnson finished off by saying he couldn’t thank the Wight’s enough for putting the money, time and effort in to the Brewerton Speedway and saving the track.

Matt Sheppard in his Extreme Lubricants No.9s joined Johnson in victory lane to be crowned the 2009 Big Block Modified Champion for the first time. “This feels good, it’s the toughest place around, the best in the business is here. We were trailing all year long, we were finishing good but we weren’t winning races. The only way we were going to get it done was start winning races. We knocked off three in a row and that did it for us.”

Sheppard finished up by saying his C.C Performance engines have run flawless as has his Bicknell cars. He thanked his crew for the countless hours they put in the car and Jeff Brownell for putting top notch equipment under him.

Kevan Cook led the early going of the 20 lap Xtreme Auto Recovery IMCA Modified feature taking the lead on lap four. At the halfway point Cook and Rob Keller Jr. ran nose to tail for the lead with Tony Buffa Jr., JJ Courcy and Jerry Beck showing in the top-five. Two laps later, lap 12 Keller was able to drive under Cook to take command of the race.

With 5 laps to go Keller opened a five-car advantage as Buffa ran 2nd as he tried to close in on the leader. With 4 laps to go the whole race would change after a quick yellow. On the restart Keller suddenly shot to the top of the speedway losing the lead and dropping to third. Over the final laps Buffa would pull away for the win, his second of the year. Kevan Cook, Jerry Beck, JJ Courcy and Rob Keller rounded out the top-five.

Kevan Cook would be crowned the Track Champion to go along with his nine feature wins in the 2009 season.

Clayton Brewer III would lead the opening 16 laps of the 20 lap Beaver River ESDCA Mod Lite Feature. Coming into the night Tim Devendorf knew he had to win to stand a chance at the track title. Devendorf did his part taking the lead on lap 17 then parked his Jeff Hayes owned No.2 in victory lane. Doug Williams finished third in his Dig Safely No.811 collecting the Track Championship by 15 points over Devendorf.

In the Tired Iron Repair 15 lap 4-Cylinder Super Stock feature Stephen Denton would grab the lead on lap 4 and from there would go on to the ten car length win. Randy Knight, Chuck Powelczyk, Jessica Herbert and Jim Money would round out the top-five. With 6 wins and consistent finishes Chuck Powelczyk finished the 2009 season as Track Champion.

In the Gladiators Chris Bonoffski parked his No.16b in victory lane. Jerry Herbert, Art Dupra, Ben Rabin and Roland Fisk chased the winner across the line. Bruce Unger held a late lead but lost the clutch on his No. 711 forcing him off the track. Unger, however, was crowned the Track Champion.

The Brewerton Speedway will be silent till Thursday, October 8th during Super DIRT Week. Leaf Racewear will present the 17th Annual 100 lap 358 Modified Super DIRT Series Event. Also on the card will be the Top Stitch Embroidery 25 lap Mod Lite Championship. All gates will open at 4:30 p.m.

For more information please visit www.brewertonspeedway.com or call the Speedway office at 315-668-6906 or the RACE LINE 315-668-Race.

DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds 50 Laps – ALAN JOHNSON, Pat Ward, Matt Sheppard, Willy Decker, Bobby Varin, Jimmy Phelps, Chuck Bower, Michael Storms, Ryan Phelps, Jim Witko, Chris Hile, Mike Bowman, Tom Sears Jr., Chad Phelps, Mike Mahaney, Vinnie Vitale, Roy Shields, Billy Decker, Kevin Bates, Larry Wight, Tony Steiner.

Xtreme Auto Recovery IMCA Modifieds 20 Laps – TONY BUFFA JR., Kevan Cook, Jerry Beck, JJ Courcy, Rob Keller Jr., Les Hubbard, Calvin Painter, Joe Miles, Dave Talbot, Tony Finch, Brandon Carvey, Jeff Cardinale, Coleen Finch, Bill Anderson, Jim Walsh, Becca Eastman, Jeff Amidon, Mike Jones, Jason Amidon, Ken Rogers, Pete Anderson, DNS Glenn Weaver.

Beaver River Distribution ESDCA Mod Lites 20 Laps – TIM DEVENDORF, Clayton Brewer III, Doug Williams, Lowell Zehr, Justin Crisafulli, Terry Lapham, Rocco Leone, Jeff Blackburn, Matt Magner, Frank Sobotka, Jason Broedel, Jeff Barker, Nick Graziano, Ricky Yelle, Sam Morse, Michael Occhipinti, Sam Usborne, Bruce Broedel, Jeff Herbert, Lisa Thomas, Bruce Ackley, Scott Ford, Kelly Skinner, Jim Tuttle.

Tired Iron Repair 4-Cylinder Super Stocks 15 Laps – STEPHEN DENTON, Randy Knight, Chuck Powelczyk, Jessica Herbert, Jim Money, Aron Backus, Zach Petrie, Lorraine Powelczyk, Wendall Washington, Jerry Curcie Jr., Sam Carista, Sam Curcie, Bill Carista, Loren Redhead, Ethan Halsey, Glen Erwin, Doug O’Hara, John Goldman.

Gladiators – CHRIS BONOFFSKI, Jerry Herbert, Art Dupra, Ben Rabin, Roland Fisk.