OSWEGO, N.Y. – When Matt Sheppard drove around Peter Britten on the last lap of the 2017 Billy Whittaker Cars 200 to steal the win, the Australian turned DIRTcar racer learned his lesson well.
During Saturday’s Camping World 150 for 358 modifieds, he pitted for tires on lap 97 during a competition yellow, drove back through the field and then drove around leader Stewart Friesen to claim the $20,000 win.
Friesen, who’d delighted the crowd with a stirring run around the extreme outside of the big five-eighths-mile to get the lead, settled for second, with last year’s 150 winner Sheppard finishing third after also changing tires. Brett Hearn and Erick Rudolph rounded out the top five.
Fast timer Tim Fuller led early on, looking for a repeat of his wire-to-wire win in 2016, but it was not to be. Mat Williamson hauled his No. 6 around the outside of Fuller on lap 10 to take command and by lap 28 had caught the tail of the field. This let Fuller worm his way by in traffic to retake the lead, with Rudolph soon joining the fray and challenging Williamson as well.
Lap 36 saw both Rudolph and Larry Wight pass Williamson with Friesen, who had been riding just out of the top five, soon duplicating their move.
At lap 50 it was Fuller, Rudolph, Wight and Friesen out front, with Friesen running inches off the steel wall and moving forward using his momentum off the turns. By lap 59 he’d worked around Wight and Rudolph and closed on Fuller, finally driving around the leader off turn two to take a lead nobody thought he would relinquish.
Friesen immediately moved to the low groove and cruised easily in front of Rudolph, but the lap 97 competition yellow, designed to keep low dollar teams from having to purchase dry break refueling equipment, changed the complexion of the race. Britten pitted for tires, along with a few others, and when the green reappeared on lap 106 he began flying through the field.
“We swapped one set of 300’s for another and got lucky,” tipped a crewman. “For once, our move paid off.”
The Australian’s fleet pace convinced others they needed tires as well and when the yellow waved again on lap 112, Sheppard, Jimmy Phelps and a number of others went in for tires as well. The result was the same, with Sheppard flying around cars by the handful to show 12th by a lap 126 caution.
By then, Britten stood third behind Friesen and Hearn and when the green reappeared with 10 to go he went to work.
He blew under Hearn as they hit turn one on the restart, then went to the high side of Friesen. He did a crossover move on lap 142 that almost worked, then the next time around he drove around the outside of Friesen in turns three and four and drove away.
Meanwhile, Sheppard’s mad dash through the field was paying dividends, as he drove around Rudolph and then Hearn with the end in sight to claim third.
“I can’t say enough about my crew. They got me here on the podium,” said Sheppard before jumping on an ATV to get out to the parking lot en route to Saturday night’s Short Track Super Series event at Thunder Mountain Speedway.
The second five in the Camping World 150 included Pat Ward, Fuller, Gary Lindberg, Kenny Tremont Jr. and Ronnie Davis III.
Peter Britten, Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Brett Hearn, Erick Rudolph, Pat Ward, Billy Dunn, Gary Lindberg, Kenny Tremont Jr., Ronnie Davis III, Billy Whittaker, Larry Wight, Corey Wheeler, Jimmy Phelps, Michael Mahaney, Billy Decker, Tim Fuller, Michael Parent, Carey Terrence, Steve Bernier, Brian McDonald, Matt Janiak, Alan Johnson, Louie Jackson Jr., Steve Bernard, Mike Marseca, Mario Clair, Rocky Warner, Todd Root, Demetrois Drellos, David Hebert, Alex Therrien, Lance Willix II, Marc Johnson, Danny Johnson, Tim Sears Jr., Mat Williamson, Alan Therrien, Kyle Dingwall.