DELMAR, Del. – Delaware Int’l Speedway is becoming a favorite stop for Matt Sheppard.
Despite a six-hour-plus, one-way drive from his home in Savannah, N.Y., Sheppard looks forward to his stops at the facility, and on Tuesday night, he proved why.
After a back-and-forth battle with Craig Von Dohren, Sheppard prevailed in the Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply Diamond State 50, worth $5,000.
The event served as Round No. 3 of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central.
“I told Chad (Cathell), I wish this place was closer,” Sheppard said after his second straight Diamond State 50 triumph.
Von Dohren’s Dick Biever-owned No. 14 led the 27-car feature field to STSS starter Joe Kriss’ green flag and shot into the lead. Sheppard rolled off the grid seventh after a redraw of the top qualifiers.
Sheppard’s big-block-powered Bicknell cut through traffic to emerge in second after clearing both invader Andy Bachetti and reigning Delaware champion Jordan Watson.
An all-out war followed between Von Dohren and Sheppard.
Lap after lap, the two swapped lanes and raced wheel-to-wheel through a series of restarts. Von Dohren repelled Sheppard’s advances long enough to collect the $200 Halfway Leader bonus courtesy of Precision Hydraulic & Oil.
However, the winning move for Sheppard came at the exit of turn four on lap 30, when he darted to the top spot.
Stewart Friesen, who started 11th, climbed to second with a methodical drive to the front. Friesen, however, clipped the inside barrier in turn two and flattened the left-front tire on his Halmar International No. 44. He pulled off the track under caution with six laps left.
Jeff Strunk, who started 15th, then took over second. Strunk remained on the bumper of Sheppard, but settled for second in the Glenn Hyneman-owned No. 126, earning a $3,000 runner-up finish.
“It feels good to be down here,” Strunk said during the on-track podium interviews. “It’s where we belong.”
Von Dohren settled for third-place and took $2,200 home to Oley, Pa.
“Starting up front allowed me to run my own line,” Von Dohren said. “We had a good car; just not good enough.”
Ryan Watt rallied late in the going to finish fourth with the Ron Roberts-owned No. 14W. Mike Gular ended his night with a fifth-place result, after starting 14th in the Terry Fasnacht-owned No. 2A.
Jim Housworth picked up a hard-fought $1,500 payday in the accompanying STSS Crate 602 Sportsman 20-lap main event.
The win for Housworth was his first on the Short Track Super Series circuit.
“I really appreciate the Short Track Super Series putting on these races for us,” a smiling Housworth said.
Housworth led the entire distance, but had to fend off the advances of New York State teenager Ryan Macartney, who earned a series-best runner-up finish.
Matt Sheppard, Jeff Strunk, Craig Von Dohren, Ryan Watt , Mike Gular, Jordan Watson, David Van Horn Jr., Tyler Dippel, Andy Bachetti, Anthony Perrego, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Krachun, Brad Trice, Joseph Watson, Stewart Friesen, Brandon Grosso, Howard O’Neal, Billy Pauch Jr., H.J. Bunting, Danny Bouc, Scott Van Gorder, Kevin Sockriter, Robbie Emory, Carson Wright, Rick Laubach, Duane Howard, Richie Pratt Jr.