FULTON, NY – Matt Sheppard lived up to his nickname ‘Super Matt’ Saturday night at the Fulton Speedway winning his first ever Sunoco Fulton Ethanol Facility Outlaw 200 presented by SUNY Canton.
Sheppard took the lead from early leader Billy Decker on lap-23 and from there would never give up the top spot over the final 177 laps.
“Finally! I was telling these guys (crew) this morning, I have never, ever had good luck in this race. I don’t even know how many times I finished it,” said an ecstatic Matt Sheppard after parking his FX Caprara Chevy/HBR/Mohawk Northeast/No.9H/ Troyer in victory lane.
“Three years ago we were third, last year second, and then I said tonight is the night, we’re going to win this. And man, we did, this is awesome,” he said.
Sheppard collected the $20,000 check plus lap money, giving him momentum heading into Super DIRT Week starting Tuesday.
Billy Decker would outrun Yan Bussiere leading the opening lap as he showed the 45-car starting field the quick way around to start the 29th Annual Sunoco Fulton Ethanol Facility Outlaw 200 presented by SUNY Canton.
Just as quick as the race started the yellow would fly for one of the race favorites as Brett Hearn moved from fifth to second on the opening lap before getting a right rear flat. Hearn went pit-side and returned.
Yellow flag fever would be the theme in the first half of the race with 45 drivers going for the top prize. The one who would take advantage of the early yellows was Matt Sheppard who started eighth and would find himself sitting third for a lap 15 restart and would take just two laps to move into second and take off after Decker.
A caution for Dave Rauscher was just what Sheppard needed as he blasted by Decker on a restart and was scored the new leader on lap 23 as he drove away from the field at that point of the race.
When the race reached lap 50 Sheppard was on rails on the bottom of the speedway, only leaving that groove when he had to get around back markers to put them a lap down. Decker, Larry Wight, Jimmy Phelps, Rob Bellinger, Danny Varin and Erick Rudolph were putting on a show using every inch of the speedway as they battled for second through seventh.
When the race hit the 70-lap mark, Sheppard and Decker were in a two-car break away with cars all around the speedway as they not only raced up front but had to negotiate traffic. Larry Wight, Jimmy Phelps, Rob Bellinger and now crowd favorite Tim McCreadie joined the fray.
On lap 76 Jimmy Phelps would move into second and set his sights on Sheppard. One lap later another yellow would fly putting Phelps on Sheppard’s back bumper.
More yellow fever would hit the race over the final laps to the halfway break, lap 100. Phelps and Decker could keep Sheppard in sight as the swapped second place back-and-forth before lap 100.
After a 15-minute break to make adjustments the top-ten would be, Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Jimmy Phelps, Erick Rudolph, Danny Johnson, Tim McCreadie, Larry Wight, Roy Bresnahan, Doug Manmiller and Stewart Friesen.
When the green came back out Sheppard took off, establishing a comfortable lead leaving the rest of the field to battle for position.
On lap 111 McCreadie worked his way to second mainly hammering the top of the speedway as he took off after Sheppard who was once again mired in traffic.
With positions from second through seventh changing all the time, Erick Rudolph took over second place on lap 139 for his shot at Sheppard who was on cruise control. The only time anyone got close to him was when he was putting cars a lap down.
After a quick yellow, Danny Johnson moved into second on lap-150 and it was the Doctor’s turn to operate and see if he could challenge Sheppard for the $20,000 top-prize.
On lap 154 Larry Wight and Tim McCreadie made racing contact that McCreadie thought was more than that. Going into turn three McCreadie purposely took Wight out spinning him around.
Track officials put McCreadie to the rear. Wight would make a quick stop in the pits and would return.
On a lap162 restart Decker would move back into second place. After keeping pace with Sheppard by running the top of the speedway, Decker would see his chance at the win go away on lap-168 when he showed smoke and headed to the pits ending his night.
With 25 laps to go Sheppard was still on rails hugging the bottom as was Phelps a couple cars back. Behind the top-two Johnson, Craig VonDorhen, Rudolph and Stewart Friesen were locked in a battle for third through sixth. Just one lap later Danny Johnson suddenly headed to the pits.
On lap 181 the last serious challenge to Sheppard’s lead happened in turns three and four. With Sheppard locked behind lapped cars, Phelps got a run on Sheppard but couldn’t make the pass as a yellow would fly stopping Phelps’ momentum.
This set up a 9-lap dash to the checkers and the big payday.
When the green came back out nobody seriously challenged Sheppard as his car was as smooth on lap 200 as it was at the start of the race.
Jimmy Phelps came home in second. Larry Wight put on a show coming from the rear to a third place finish making it a Troyer podium sweep. Erick Rudolph and Danny Varin completed the top-five. Roy Bresnahan, Chris Hile, Gary Tomkins, Craig VonDorhen and Pat Ward rounded out the top ten.
(SUNOCO RACE FUELS OUTLAW 200) – MATT SHEPPARD, Jimmy Phelps, Larry Wight, Erick Rudolph, Danny Varin, Roy Bresnahan, Chris Hile, Gary Tomkins, Craig VonDorhen, Pat Ward, Tyler Dipple, Tyler Siri, Vic Coffey, Tom Kinsella, Tim Currier, Justin Wright, Jim Walsh, Mike Bowman, Bob Henry Jr., Dave Rauscher, Ryan Phelps, Stewart Friesen, Danny Johnson, Vinnie Vitale, Billy Decker, Doug Manmiller, Anthony Perrego, Tim McCreadie, Tim Sears Jr., Chad Brachmann, Brett Hearn, Tim Kerr, Katelyn Kane, Randy Chrysler, Chad Phelps, Robbie Bellinger, Bobby Varin, Dale Planck, Darwin Greene, Roy Shields, Mike Mahaney, Matt Hulsizer, Adam Roberts, Chuck Bower, Yan Bussiere.
(LAP LEADERS) – Billy Decker 1-22 Matt Sheppard 23-200.
Bicknell Racing Products $1,000 Halfway Leader – Matt Sheppard
Pilat Graphic Design – $800 Graphics Package – Vinnie Vitale
Hoosier Racing Tire Hard Luck Award – Free Tire – Alan Johnson.
OUTLAW 200 MODIFIED HEATS – TOP TWO REDRAW-FOUR QUALIFY
(HEAT 1) – Tim McCreadie, Jimmy Phelps, Darwin Greene, Bobby Varin, Danny Johnson, Shawn Donath, Brian Sage, Anthony Perrego, Mat Williamson, Chris Mackey, Ryan Jordan.
(HEAT 2) – Brett Hearn, Justin Wright, Mike Bowman, Chuck Bower, Dale Planck, Ryan Phelps, Craig VonDorhen, Mike Mahaney, Tim Harris, Jordan McCreadie, Greg Birosh.
(HEAT 3) – Danny Varin, Yan Bussiere, Tim Sears Jr., Chad Brachmann, Roy Bresnahan, Alan Johnson, Tyler Siri, Jeff Crambo, Katelyn Kane, Tom Kinsella, Bruno LePage.
(HEAT 4) – Rob Bellinger, Larry Wight, Vic Coffey, Tim Kerr, Roy Shields, Jim Walsh, Kevin Bates, Tim Schneider, Ryan Watt, Nick Nye, Justin Haers.
(HEAT 5) – Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Dave Rauscher, Stewart Friesen, Adam Roberts, Tyler Dipple, Mike Ward, Brian Malcom, Joe August, Gary Tomkins,Pat Ward.
(HEAT 6) – Doug Manmiller, Erick Rudolph, Randy Chrysler, Matt Hulsizer, Chris Hile, Bob Henry Jr., Vinnie Vitale, Tim Currier, Chad Phelps, Dan Humes.
MODIFIED CONSOLATIONS –FIVE QUALIFIED
(CONSI 1) – Danny Johnson, Craig VonDohren, Dale Planck, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Phelps, Anthony Perrego, Shawn Donath, Mat Williamson, Jordan McCreadie, Brian Sage, Tim Harris, Geg Birosh.
(CONSI 2) –Roy Bresnahan, Tyler Siri, Tom Kinsella, Katelyn Kane, Jim Walsh, Roy Shields, Jeff Crambo, Kevin Bates, Bruno Lepage, Tim Schneider Jr., Alan Johnson.
(CONSI 3) – Bob Henry Jr., Chris Hile, Gary Tomkins, Pat Ward, Tyler Dipple.