Written by Chris Moore
GEORGETOWN, DE – The year of the ‘9s.’
Matt Sheppard continued his otherworldly 2022 campaign, topping the Melon 1 ‘Blast at the Beach’ presented by Sussex Diesel at Georgetown Speedway with the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco.
“No matter where we’ve been this year our racecar has been so good,” expressed an elated Sheppard in Victory Lane. “It’s nice to come back to Georgetown, we had a different race surface tonight, but we just had a really good car.”
Sheppard survived a war of tire attrition to pick up his 28th career STSS triumph, second on the all-time win list and now just seven behind Stewart Friesen, the all-time leader in STSS wins.
The win for Sheppard was his seventh of the STSS season, and his second in the Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply South Region. The Savannah, N.Y. native took home $6,250 for his victory in the 35-lap affair.
Sheppard also took home the unique ‘surfboard trophy’ presented to the annual ‘Blast at the Beach’ winner.
“I was thinking about how the winner gets one of those cool surfboards and we don’t have one yet so it’s cool to finally have one,” Sheppard expressed.
Following the Beyea Custom Headers redraw, Sheppard fired off from the fourth starting position. Sprakers, N.Y.’s Stewart Friesen and Boyertown, Pa.’s Mike Gular occupied the front row at the drop of series starter Joe Kriss’ green flags.
Friesen led the opening two laps before Gular, using the outside groove, raced around Friesen and into the top spot.
One lap later, Sheppard used a slide job to pick Friesen off for the runner-up position and set his sights on Gular out front.
While Sheppard was trying to run down Gular, a three-car battle was heating up for fourth.
Elizabethtown, N.Y.’s Mike Mahaney and Frenchtown, N.J.’s Billy Pauch Jr. were nose-to-tail with Ringoes, N.J.’s Ryan Godown just car-lengths behind the fight between brothers-in-law.
On the eighth circuit, Gular opened the door for Sheppard.
The driver of the Terry Fasnacht-owned No. 2A slid wide, nearly over the embankment, ruining his momentum for corner exit and allowing Sheppard to drive by for the lead.
A yellow one lap later forced a restart that allowed Friesen to get by Gular as well to nab the runner-up spot. Friesen found another gear around the lap-15 mark, as he began to reel in Sheppard as the leader was working through lap traffic.
Friesen pulled up to Sheppard’s back bumper on numerous occasions before a yellow came on lap 29 that would set the stage for a dramatic final six laps.
Milford, Del.’s Jordan Watson became the first to experience a flat tire.
One lap later, Friesen, running second, and Ryan Godown, running fifth, both pulled up lame.
Another yellow flew on lap 32, as Pauch Jr., who was running fourth, and Covington Township, Pa.’s Alex Yankowski, who was running seventh, both fell victim to flat right-rear tires.
The final three laps of the ‘Blast at the Beach’ clicked off without any further incident, awarding Sheppard the $6,000-plus payday.
Gular came home with the runner-up position.
“I realized right away we weren’t gonna make it (on tires) if I kept running that hard, so I let them guys go, and it paid off with a second.”
Mahaney, the defending South Region champion, rounded out the podium.
“I got hung up on the outside on a lot of those restarts and it shuffled us back, but I saved the right-rear enough for us to come back forward when other guys got flats.”
Boyertown, Pa.’s Ryan Watt came home in fourth and as the Bintelli of Delmarva Street Legal Carts/Mullins Auto Broker $500 Hard Charger for the second consecutive South Region race.
Friesen took advantage of his fresh right-rear tire to make a late race charge to round out the top five and earned the Bob Hilbert Sportswear $250 Move of the Race Award.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were: Neshanic Station, N.J.’s Matt Stangle, who brought out the race’s first yellow on lap nine with a cut left-rear tire; Bechtelsville, Pa.’s Jeff Strunk who limped across the line; Ryan Godown, who charged like Friesen after a late race flat to salvage a top-10; Milford, Del.’s Joseph Watson who came home with a quiet top-10; and Jordan Watson rounded out the top-10.
Heat winners, receiving $50 each from FloRacing, were Godown, Gular, and Sheppard.
Petersburg, N.J.’s Tom Sherby claimed his second career STSS victory in the Crate 602 Sportsman division, both of which have come in the ‘Blast at the Beach.’
Sherby – who started from the pole – led all 25 laps of the main event.
Sherby took home a $1,500 payday for his efforts, topping Ryan Simmons, Joe Toth, Eric Kormann and Logan Watt.
Robert Smith topped an exciting Delaware Super Truck 12-lap feature, outdueling his brother Matthew Smith for the win. Jerry Hill rounded out the top three.
Jay Lowman captured his second consecutive Delmarva Charger feature, racing from last to top Geoff Carey and Garrett Smith.
Up next for the STSS is the ‘New Yorker’ at N.Y.’s Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday, September 4 with a 50-lap STSS Modified event paying $25,000 to win (Halmar International ‘Elite’ Series Round No. 3 & River Valley Builders North Region Round No. 8).
Georgetown Speedway, originally constructed by Melvin L. Joseph in 1949, is located at the intersection of Route 113 and Speedway Road in Georgetown, Del., just miles from the Delaware beaches and less than a 40-minute drive from Ocean City, Md.
A website is live for the speedway at www.thegeorgetownspeedway.com. Like Georgetown Speedway on Facebook, follow @thegtownspdwy on Twitter, e-mail email@example.com or contact the speedway hotline at 302.563.GTWN (4896).
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, FloSports, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, River Valley Builders, Hurlock Auto & Speed, Velocita-USA, St. Lawrence Radiology, Design for Vision & Sunglass Central, Belmont’s Garage, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, Prime MAC Tools, F.X. Caprara Car Companies, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH, Elite Welder Testing & Training, Flach Performance Products, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, Penske Racing Shocks, Schultz Racing Fuel Cells, Spyder Filters, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO, Wegner Automotive & Wilwood.
MELON 1 & SUSSEX DIESEL ‘BLAST AT THE BEACH’ RESULTS SUMMARY – GEORGETOWN SPEEDWAY AUGUST 30, 2022
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply South Region Round No. 6 Modified Feature Finish (35 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Mike Gular, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Watt, Stewart Friesen, Matt Stangle, Jeff Strunk, Ryan Godown, Joseph Watson, Jordan Watson, Mike Trautschold, Jimmy Horton, Brandon Grosso, Ryan Riddle, Danny Bouc, John Willman, Alex Yankowski, Billy Pauch Jr., Austin Hubbard, Norman Short Jr., Tom Solderich, H.J. Bunting, Carson Wright, Kevin Sockriter, Ryan Krachun.
Ad-Art Sign Company PA/NJ Spec-358 Bonus ($250): John Willman (16th)
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): Jeff Strunk (seventh) & Ryan Riddle (14th)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Ryan Watt (fourth) & Joseph Watson (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Joseph Watson (Redrew 12th)
Bill Brown & Company Heat-Race Hard Charger ($50): Billy Pauch Jr. (gain of five positions)
Bintelli of Delmarva Street Legal Golf Carts/Mullens Auto Brokers Hard Charger ($500): Ryan Watt (15th to fourth)
Bob Hilbert Sportswear ‘Do it in the Dirt’ Move of the Race ($250): Stewart Friesen
Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz Halfway Leader ($200): Matt Sheppard
Design for Vision/Sunglass Central Winner’s Bonus (FREE Sunglasses): Matt Sheppard
EIBACH Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Matt Stangle (sixth)
First State Hauling ‘Longest Haul Bonus’ ($500): Mike Mahaney
FloRacing Heat Winner Bonuses ($50 each): Ryan Godown, Mike Gular & Matt Sheppard
Henry’s Exhaust System Power Position ($50 Certificate): Mike Trautschold (11th)
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Matt Sheppard (winner – $150 certificate); Mike Gular (second – $75 certificate); Mike Mahaney (third – $50 certificate)
Schultz Racing Fuel Cells Bonus ($100 Certificate): Jordan Watson (10th)
Spyder Performance Filters Bonuses: Stewart Friesen (fifth – FREE Filter); Danny Bouc (15th – 50-percent off certificate)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Mike Gular (second), Jimmy Horton (12th) & H.J. Bunting (22nd)
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Award ($75 Certificate): Jeff Strunk (seventh)
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Crate 602 Sportsman Belmont’s Garage South Region Round No. 4 Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): THOMAS SHERBY, Ryan Simmons, Joe Toth, Eric Kormann, Logan Watt, Stephen Kemery, Greg Humlhanz, Jordn Justice, Tom Princiotta, Scott Hitchens, Bobby Watkins, Matt Smith, Brandon Watkins, Matt Smith, Brandon Watkins, Michael White, Sammy Martz Jr., Nick Van Wickle, Paul Hartwig III, Dan Fleming, Matt Yoder, David Miloszar, Rick Wegner Jr., Dylan Swinehart, Adam White, Ethan Bill, Sean Metz, Ryan Godown Jr., Greg Reed, Tom Moore Jr.
Did Not Qualify: Jacob King, Tim Millman, Brian Rogers, Richie Walls Jr., Tyler James, Brian Hughes
Accurate Collision Halfway Leader Bonus ($100): Thomas Sherby
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonus (FREE Tire Certificate): Jordn Justice (eighth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($25): Scott Hitchens (Redrew 12th)
Belmont’s Garage First Non-Qualifier Bonus ($100): Jacob King
Belmont’s Garage Hard Charger Bonus ($100): Brandon Watkins (27th to 13th)
Fastline Performance Bonuses ($100 Certificates): Ryan Simmons (second) & Matt Smith (12th)
Delaware Super Truck Feature Finish (12 laps): ROBERT SMITH, Matthew Smith, Jerry Hill, Zack Phillips, R.J. Robinson, Scott Trice, Andrew Nelson, David Smith, Cameron Benson, Michelle Jackson, Troy Hopkins, D.J. Dewey, Dan Streebig, Jesse West, Thomas Jackson.
Delmarva Charger Feature Finish (12 laps): JAY LOWMAN, Geoff Carey, Garrett Smith, Jeff Merryman, Ron Faulkner, Randy Merritt, Jonathan Pitcher, Ashley Merritt, John Bailey, John Healy, Robbie Strain, Kyle Hurley, Drequan Diaz, Tyler Hottle, Billy Cummings, Joe Waters. —