Matt Sheppard in Utica-Rome victory lane. (Utica-Rome Speedway Photo)

High Side Hustlin’ Puts Matt Sheppard in Utica-Rome Victory Lane

VERNON, N.Y. — For the third consecutive week, Matt Sheppard topped the 3 Bastards Brewing Modified feature at Utica-Rome Speedway.

This time, Sheppard used the extreme outside to race from the 12th starting position to take the lead on lap 24 for the victory.

“The track is a lot different this year,” Sheppard proclaimed. “It’s been really slick and we’re still working on our package to get better.

“I found a little bit of speed on the top side,” the Savannah, N.Y., resident continued. “It seemed like nobody else was up there and it worked out for us.”

With Sheppard rolling from the sixth row, Brandon Walters and Randy Shantel made up the front row.

Walters raced out to the early lead, but Shantel wasn’t deterred from chasing after the leader.


After the race’s only yellow fell on lap one, Shantel reeled back in on Walters and made a move around him to take the lead away on lap 10.

Two laps later, however, Walters found another gear and cleared Shantel again for the lead and began to set sail.

Meanwhile, Sheppard’s charge began on lap 10, picking off one position at a time until he reached seventh on the 12th circuit.

The driver of the No. 9S moved to sixth on lap 14 and then picked off two cars at once to get to fourth at the halfway point.

“I made the one big move when I got a run off of (turn) two and was able to get two cars at once,” Sheppard explained.

From there, the chase was on for Sheppard, moving into third on lap 18, racing around Willy Decker and then Randy Shantel one lap later for the runner-up spot.

By the time Sheppard moved into second, the difference between the lead duo was nearly three seconds and multiple lap cars.

Despite the healthy gap, Sheppard reeled in Brandon Walters and made the pass for the lead and the win with six laps to go.

Walters settled for the runner-up position and Justin Wright rounded out the podium after starting in eighth.

Rocky Warner came home fourth aboard the Jason Simmons Racing No. 98 and Randy Shantel completed the top five in his best finish of the season in his number No. 97.

Feature Finish (30 Laps)

1. 9S-MATT SHEPPARD[12]; 2. 22W-Brandon Walters[1]; 3. 19W-Justin Wright[9]; 4. JS98-Rocky Warner[10]; 5. 97S-Randy Shantel[2]; 6. 76-Jamike Sowle[4]; 7. 84Y-Alex Yankowski[11]; 8. 28T-Michael Trautschold[7]; 9. 1X-Willy Decker[3]; 10. 1Z-Jessica Friesen[6]; 11. 16S-Jeremy Slosek[5]; 12. 91-Billy Decker[16]; 13. 97-Bobby Hackel IV[13]; 14. 77-Alan Barker[8]; 15. 34-Rusty Smith[20]; 16. 23-Brandon Loucks[14]; 17. 4A-Josh Allen[17]; 18. 9J-Jim Becker[21]; 19. 96-Andy Graves[23]; 20. 16-Aaron Jacobs[22]; 21. 8M-Tim Mayne[19]; 22. 28G-Jim Gould[24]; 23. 42P-Pat Ward[15]; 24. 44C-Ed Downing[25]