Sheppard, McLaughlin & Decker At Oswego

Matt Sheppard (Dave Dalesandro photo)

OSWEGO, N.Y. —   Matt Sheppard, Max McLaughlin and Billy Decker claimed wins in the Triple 30 qualifying program for the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 Friday night at the Oswego Speedway.

The veterans, Sheppard and Decker, won handily but young McLaughlin had to work for his, fighting his way by race long leader Rich Laubach late in round two.

“It’s been a heck of a week,” said Sheppard, who led hard charger Danny Varin to the checkers in round one. Keith Flach had briefly edged polesitter Sheppard on the first go around but by lap two, Sheppard had regained command and then cruised to the finish. Behind him, the seventh starting Varin was working steadily through the field, showing fourth by lap 10, then dropping Flach a spot on lap 26. The next time around he disposed of Tim Fuller with a low side dive off turn two, though he ran out of time to challenge for the lead.

Fuller was third ahead of Flach, Billy Whittaker, Jimmy Horton, Adam Roberts, Kody Graham, JaMike Sowle and Gary Tomkins.

Round two saw polesitter Laubach take command on the green with the third starting McLaughlin wrestling with outside front row starter Dom Buffalino for a few laps before grabbing second. By then the crowd was watching Mike Mahaney’s charge from seventh with one eye and McLaughlin’s run on Laubach with the other.

McLaughlin finally trapped Laubach behind a pair of lapped cars on lap 26 and drove around the outside to the lead, with Mahaney doing his best to catch Laubach but running out of laps.

At the checkers, it was Laubach, Mahaney, Justin Haers, Larry Wight, Pat Ward, Brett Hearn, Peter Britten, Marc Johnson and Alan Johnson, who slowed on the last lap and lost five spots.

The nightcap saw Decker lead flag to flag before saying: “We’ve got a little homework to do, but we’re close,” an assessment that might make others wary for Sunday.

Billy Dunn advanced from fourth to claim second, with Eric Rudolph, Kenny Tremont Jr., Yan Bussiere, Jimmy Phelps, Rich Scagliotta, Stewart Friesen, Mike Maresca and Brandon Walters trailing.