WEEDSPORT, N.Y. – It had been four long years since the mighty big block modifieds of the Super DIRTcar Series had set wheel to the historic three-eighths-mile oval at Weedsport Speedway, and drivers and fans alike were ready to make history Thursday night at the hallowed track.
In the return of the Hall of Fame 100 to the Weedsport site, fans packed in the newly rebuilt grandstands watched as Billy Decker powered past series point leader Matt Sheppard to pick up his sixth career Super DIRTcar Series victory at Weedsport Speedway.
“I really had a great car, started fifth,” said Decker, whose prior series wins at Weedsport Speedway wins fell in 2000, 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2009. “We were pretty tight early in the race, so we just had to be patient.”
Decker was seventh overall in time trials with a lap time of 16.152 seconds, with fellow LJL Racing driver Larry Wight claiming the Pole Position Raceway Fast Qualifier Award. Sheppard was sixth in time trials and both he and Decker finished second in their respective heat races.
Sheppard had the advantage at the green flag having drawn the pole, with Brett Hearn taking the second front-row starting position. Chuck Bower charged from third to second, passing the Madsen Overhead Doors No. 20, but could not find enough speed to challenge Sheppard in the lead.
Caution conditions overtook the speedway early in the race, with the Mohawk Northeast No. 98h of Jimmy Phelps stopped and the Gould Erectors and Riggers No. 43 of Keith Flach spun in turns one and two. Phelps pulled pitside during the lap three caution, but returned to the track before the green flag.
The lap seven restart was soon followed by another caution, this time brought for Tim Fuller whose No. 74 slowed to a stop on the backstretch with mechanical issues. Fuller wheeled to the pit area and packed it in for the night.
Sheppard was strong again off the next restart, and this time would have several green laps to build on his lead. He pulled away from the field, leading over Bower in second, Hearn in third and Decker in fourth. Lapped traffic in lap 23 did not slow Sheppard’s advance, and the distance between the leading FX Caprara Car Co. No. 9h and runner-up Bower continually expanded. Hearn started to build momentum as green laps counted off, finally passing Bower in lap 35 before a lap-38 caution slowed his progress.