Like He Never Left: Matt Sheppard Back On Top of STSS Tuesday at Penn Can Speedway
Written by Chris Moore
SUSQUEHANNA, PA – Like he never left.
To most, winning a second time on the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco in a season would signal a team clicking on all cylinders. Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard sets a different bar for himself and his team.
“We’ve struggled a little bit this season, hopefully this is a sign we are starting to turn things around and we can start beating Stewart (Friesen) instead of chasing him around,” explained a satisfied Sheppard in Victory Lane at Penn Can Speedway Tuesday night.
Sheppard entered Round No. 3 of the Hurlock Auto & Speed North Region fourth in points and 42 points out of first. After picking up the win worth $5,200, Sheppard has vaulted himself right back into contention at the top of the STSS North Region standings.
Billy Decker and Stewart Friesen occupied the front row after the Beyea Custom Headers redraw for the 50-lap ‘Clash at the Can.’ Sheppard rolled off from the seventh position, just as he did in his heat race.
Friesen rolled off the top side at the drop of series starter Joe Kriss’ green flag and quickly grabbed the early advantage. Sheppard was wasting no time, driving from seventh to second in just five laps.
“The car was really fast from the time we unloaded it tonight. I decided after the heat race to just leave it alone, and I’m glad we did… it made my job really easy tonight,” Sheppard proclaimed of his Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s.
‘Super’ Matt Sheppard was not done, quickly closing Friesen’s eight car-length advantage, and challenging for the lead on lap eight. Friesen’s fight was minimal, as Sheppard used the outside to lead lap nine.
One lap later, as the leaders closed in on lapped traffic and Eric Leet spun at the back of the field right in front of Sheppard and Friesen. Both narrowly escaped heartbreak and went back to battling for the lead when the field went back to racing.
Sheppard continued to pace the field on his way to grabbing the $200 Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader bonus.
The halfway point also marked when Sheffield, Mass., native Andy Bachetti’s march to the front became apparent. After coming from the consolation race, Bachetti had marched from 21st to 11th and was nowhere near done.
Bachetti, the 2020 runner-up at the ‘King of the Can’ STSS race, was into the top-10 by lap 30 and ultimately raced his way to fourth, earning the $500 Land Hoe Maintenance LLC Hard Charger Award.
Despite multiple bouts with slower traffic, Sheppard never faced any real threats for the win, despite multiple restarts with Friesen alongside him. The win was the 17th of Sheppard’s STSS career, and his first since the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway in March.
Despite left-rear suspension damage, Friesen, of Sprakers, N.Y., carried the Halmar International No. 44 to a runner-up finish, and Owego, N.Y.’s Byron Worthing grabbed a career best third-place run with the STSS.
Bachetti ended his drive in fourth and Mike Gular of Boyertown, Pa., rounded out the top-five in his Terry Fasnacht-owned No. 2A.
Mike Mahaney of King Ferry, N.Y. continued his consistency, finishing sixth in the George Huttig-owned No. 35. Middletown, N.Y.’s Anthony Perrego brought the Brian Smith-owned No. 44 home in seventh, maintaining his strong 2021 on the STSS. East Greenbush, N.Y.’s David Schilling continues his improvement on the STSS tour, finishing eighth in his family-owned No. 20. Brett Haas of Pittsfield, Mass., came home ninth in the Dave Prime No. 55 and Nick Petrilak of Greenfield, Pa. rounded out the top-10.
Heat winners, receiving $50 each from FloRacing, were Billy Decker, Friesen, Darwin Greene, Worthing and J.R. Hurlburt. The consolations were split by Bachetti and Haas.
CAN QUIPS: Despite the rain date following precipitation on Sunday, a field of 43 STSS Modifieds registered for the Tuesday night event, with five heat races and a pair of consolations starting the 27-car feature starting field….
A top-10 effort for Penn Can regular Brian Malcolm ended late in the distance with a broken shock, sending the Chuck Grimm-owned No. 119 to the infield….
Danny Creeden had a redraw position locked up during his heat race only to suffer a right-rear flat tire on the final lap. Creeden ultimately was unable to qualify for the main event….
Tyler Dippel took a provisional start after battling an apparent misfire in the Bill Pascual-owned No. 3 and was an early retiree from the feature….
Racing resumes next Tuesday, June 8 at Big Diamond Speedway in Minersville, Pa., when the STSS Hurlock Auto & Speed North Region and Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central meet for the annual “Civil War” North vs. South program in Coal Country. Modifieds race for $5,000 to win, $1,000 for 10th and $400 to start plus bonuses and special awards. Crate 602 Sportsman battle in a Belmont’s Garage South Region program offering $1,500 to win.
The general information sheet has been posted on the STSS website: http://shorttracksuperseries.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/AnthraciteAssaultRaceInformationSheet.pdf
To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.
The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, Insinger Performance, FloRacing, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Hurlock Auto & Speed, Velocita-USA, Design for Vision/Sunglass Central, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, Penske Racing Shocks, Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz, Algonkin Motel, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, Belmont’s Garage, Superior Remodeling, Spyder High Performance Filters, Fastline Performance, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO, WELD Racing & Wilwood.
‘CLASH AT THE CAN’ RESULTS SUMMARY – PENN CAN SPEEDWAY TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 2021
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco Modified Hurlock Auto & Speed North Region Event No. 3 Feature Finish (50 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Stewart Friesen, Byron Worthing, Andy Bachetti, Mike Gular, Mike Mahaney, Anthony Perrego, David Schilling, Brett Haas, Nick Petrilak, Billy Van Pelt, Alan Johnson, Duane Howard, Marshall Hurd, Billy Decker, Bobby Hackel, Brett Tonkin, Eric Leet, Casey Plummer, Skylar Sheriff, Brian Malcolm, Tyler Siri, Darwin Greene, J.R. Hurlburt, Cory Costa, Tyler Dippel, Alan Rudalavage.
Did Not Qualify: Alan Barker, Frank Cozze, Richard Smith, Kailee Dimorier, Nick Pecko, Cole Youse, Max McLaughlin, Stanley Wilkins, Danny Creeden, Bud Phillips, Brad Shaffer, Jim LaRock, Kevin Hartnett, Matt Cole, Nick Branning, Ken Titus.
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificate): Nick Petrilak (10th) & Marshall Hurd (14th)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Andy Bachetti (fourth) & Brett Haas (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bucks ($50): Marshall Hurd (Redrew 10th)
FloRacing Heat Winner Bonuses ($50 Each): Billy Decker, Stewart Friesen, Darwin Greene, Byron Worthing & J.R. Hurlburt
Henry’s Exhaust Systems Power Position ($50 Certificate): Billy Van Pelt (11th)
Land Hoe Maintenance Hard Charger Award ($500): Andy Bachetti (21st to fourth)
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Matt Sheppard (first - $150); Stewart Friesen (second - $75); Byron Worthing (third - $50); Nick Petrilak (10th - $25)
Spyder High Performance Filters Bonuses: Mike Gular (fifth – FREE Filter); Billy Decker (15th – 50-percent off)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Stewart Friesen (second); Alan Johnson (12th) & Tyler Siri (22nd)
Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader Bonus ($200): Matt Sheppard
TKS Painting Front-Row Bonuses: Billy Decker (Pole - $50); Stewart Friesen (Outside Pole - $25)
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($75 Certificate): Anthony Perrego (seventh)