Sheppard takes first Thunder race of the season
Oley’s Duane Howard wins the 30-lap NASCAR 358 Modified event
Against the odds of Mother Nature, the NAPA Auto Parts Thunder on the Hill Racing Series presented the 18th running of the TRAFFIC JAM for Big Block Modifieds under the sanctioning body of DIRTcar. The NASCAR 358 Modifieds were also on the program that went on even after a few rain showers hovered over the Grandview Speedway.
Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, NY, enjoyed a big night at Grandview winning the 60 l ap Super DIRTcar Series feature event, earning $6,000 for the win. Sheppard ran a flawless race, first battling with Billy Dunn, negotiating the lapped traffic then holding off a side by side challenge for the lead from Billy Decker on lap 58.
“They don’t call this the Traffic Jam for nothing”, commented Sheppard on the point that he raced in traffic most of the feature event. Sheppard took the win in the 60 lap feature that had one caution and was completed in just twenty-minutes.
In the 30 lap NASCAR 358 Modified feature, Duane Howard of Oley was the winner after a hard fought battle with MeMe DeSantis. Howard earned $3,000 for the win.
Forty nine cars took part in the double header event splitting a total purse of $42,000. A strong crowd turned out despite the variable, threatening and unpredictable weather throughout the day that saw two rain showers pass through after the gates were open.
The ALL MODIFIED, ALL NIGHT of racing started off with VonDohren setting fast time and in the process, he established a new one lap track record of 14.298 earning a onehundred dollar bonus. The well-prepared racing surface was described by several drivers as being scary fast.
Quaker Steak & Lube offered a $50 bonus to each of the heat race winners. In the Super DIRTcar Series qualifying events, victories went to Craig VonDohren, Ryan Watt and Ryan Godown. The NASCAR 358 Modified qualifying events were won by Brett Kressley, MeMe DeSantis and Jared Umbenhauer.
At the start of the 18th Annual Traffic Jam Ryan Watt was the early race leader w ith challenges from Billy Dunn from the drop of the green flag. The one and only caution of the feature came on lap two when Larry Wight lost a wheel going down the backstretch. Wright was towed to the pits and unable to restart the race. When green flag racing resumed, Watt retained control of the top spot and opened a slight advantage over runner-up Billy Dunn. Matt Sheppard was racing in third and well within striking distance of the leaders.
On lap ten, Dunn made a bid for the lead but Watt was able to hold the top spot. As Dunn and Watt battled for the lead, Sheppard was inching closer to the top two. Billy Dunn took the lead on lap thirteen followed by Watt, Sheppard who was now being challenged by Decker with Stewart Friesen making up the top five. The action was fast and on lap fourteen, Matt Sheppard motored passed Ryan Watt for second. One lap later, Billy Decker moved into third and the hunt for Billy Dunn was underway.
The battle for the lead was shaping up on lap sixteen as Sheppard was pressuring Dunn for the lead. After a few side-by- side laps, Sheppard powered to the lead on lap nineteen. Decker was on his charge and on lap twentytwo, Sheppard, Dunn and Decker were in a three car race for the lead. Sheppard prevailed as the race leader as Dunn and Decker continued the chase.
At the halfway sign, Sheppard was on top as Dunn and Decker raced side-by-side for second followed by Friesen and Watt.
Billy Decker moved into second on lap thirty-three and now had to chase down the race leader.
Lapped cars were now in the picture for race leader Matt Sheppard. Decker took advantage and began to close in on the leader who had at least a ten car length lead. Stewart Friesen moved to third on lap thirty-eight and now he was chasing down the front runners. Decker moved closer to Sheppard with each lap and with just five laps to go, the crowd was well aware that Decker was within striking distance of the leader. On lap 57 Decker was on the rear bumper of Sheppard with slower traffic weaving ahead.
Off turn four with just two laps remaining, Sheppard crossed the line side- by-side. In turn one, Sheppard drifted high, Decker squared off the corner and took another run at Sheppard using the inside line. Going into turn three, Sheppard was able to put a lapped car between himself and Decker. With just one lap remaining Sheppard needed to drive just one perfect lap. The leader drifted slightly high entering turn three, Decker dove to the bottom lane and with the run off of turn four, Sheppard darted under the checker flag, earning his first career victory in Thunder on the Hill competition at the Grandview Speedway. Decker, a previous Traffic Jam winner finished a well-deserved second followed by Stewart Friesen, Billy Dunn and Ryan Watt.
The NASCAR 358 Modified feature came onto the track and at the drop of the green flag MeMe DeSantis was the early race leader. Duane Howard and Jeff Strunk followed DeSantis but were well within striking distance. On lap seven Howard nosed ahead of DeSantis as they crossed the line, then in turns one and two, DeSantis regained the lead. Howard came back as race leader as they completed lap eight. Side-by-side the Howard and DeSantis show continued to play out as Howard finally settled in as race leader on lap ten.Two laps later, Strunk passed DeSantis for second and now set his sights on race leader Duane Howard.
At the halfway point, Howard held a comfortable lead over Strunk as DeSantis, Jared Umbenhauer and Doug Manmiller rounded out the top five. Also on a charge was Craig VonDohren.
Stealing the show at this point was Doug Manmiller who advanced to fourth on lap twenty-two. One lap later, Manmiller and DeSanits were door-todoor with Manmiller now racing in third. Howard maintained his solid lead over Strunk as Manmiller was closing in quickly on Strunk With just five laps remaining, VonDohren moved into the top five.
With the checker f lag waiv ing, Duane Howard took the win and the $3,000 first place prize over Jeff Strunk, Doug Manmiller, MeMe DeSantis and Craig VonDohren.
SUPER DIRTcar SERIES 60 LAP FEATURE - - - $6,000 To Win! MATT SHEPPARD, BLLY DECKER, STEWART FRIESSEN, BILLY DUNN, RYA N WATT, BRETT HEARN, DANNY JOHNSON, DUANE HOWARD, PAT WARD, TIM FULLER, CRAIG VONDOHREN, ANTYONY PERREGO, PETER BRITTEN, DANNY CREEDEN, JIMMY PHELPS, JIMMY HORTON, KEITH FLACH, RICH SCAGLIOTTA, ADAM ROBERTS, RYAN GODOWN, RICH LAUBACH, MARK FORTE JR, RYAN FORTE, LARRY WIGHT.
NASCAR 358 MODIFIEDS 30 LAP FEATURE - - - $3,000 To Win! DUANE HOWARD, JEFF STRUNK, DOUG MANMILLER, MEME DESANTIS, CRAIG VON DOHREN, RYAN WATT, JARED UMBENHAUER, BRETT KRESSLEY, DANNY JOHNSON, FRANK COZZE, JOHN WILLMAN, RICK LAUBACH, KYLE WEISS, TIM BUCKWALTER, KEVIN HIRTHLER, JARED MILLER, BRIAN HOUSEKNECHT, MIKE GULAR, KYLE BORROR, MIKE BAILEY, RUSTY SMITH, RYAN GRIM, DANNY ERB, JOE MODNEY, GLENN STRUNK
New One lap Track Record Big Block Modifieds: 14.298 Craig VonDohren
358 Modified Quaker Steak & Lube Heats: Brett Kressley, MeMe DeSantis, Jared Umbenhauer
Big Block Modif ied Quaker Steak & Lube Heats: Craig VonDohren, Ryan Watt, Ryan Godown
Duane Howard wins te 358 feature at Grandview Speedway June 16.
Matt Sheppard celebrates his victory of te 18th rnning of the TRAFFIC JAM for Big Block Modifieds at Grandview Speedway on June 16.