AKWESASNE, N.Y. — After an impressive Super DIRTcar Series win Saturday night at Mohawk Int’l Raceway, Matt Sheppard raced his way to his second victory of the weekend in the DIRTcar 358-Modified Series race Sunday.
Sheppard started 13th after placing fourth in his heat, falling just short of the redraw. The JB Motorsports FX Caprara Car Companies/Xtreme Lubricant No. 9s team quickly adjusted to challenging track conditions, and Sheppard came back to the field ready to take on the 12 cars standing in the way of victory lane.
Heat race winner Carey Terrance redrew the pole, and starting on the inside of the front row next to Pete Britten.
At the green flag, they found out just how fast the inside of the track was, and Terrance charged ahead for the initial lead. Danny Johnson passed Britten from the inside of the second row, but Britten stayed at Johnson’s rear bumper for several tracks.
On lap 10, Terrance slipped to the outside and Johnson cruised past him on the inside for the lead. Britten, Erick Rudolph and Mat Williamson were also able to get by on the fast inside lane.
A lap-20 caution brought the field back together for a double-file restart, and Johnson kept the lead off the restart. Britten, starting on the outside pole, fell behind Rudolph, Terrance, Williamson and Sheppard, who used the restart to crack the top five.
Another yellow flag and restart in lap 24 gave Sheppard the opportunity to make his way to third after Terrance in second and Johnson in first. In lap 32, Sheppard managed to take Terrance on the inside, but the yellow flag waved before the completion of the lap, leaving him in third. Williamson had been turned around in turn two and the 6m took to the pits.
Off the restart, Chris Raabe’s No. 01 brought the yellow after stopping in the backstretch and Lee Ladouceur spun off a lap-34 restart to bring caution back of the track. Johnson clung to his lead off the restarts, and by lap 39 was lapping cars in the back of the field. The yellow lights were on again in lap 40 for Wiliamson, who again went to the rear of the field.
The leaders started to gain some momentum through some caution-free laps, and Sheppard was able to charge past Terrance in lap 47 to claim second and, in lap 49, pass Johnson for the lead. With nothing to hold him back, Sheppard continued forward, establishing a 10-car-length lead by lap 53.
By lap 56, Sheppard was almost half the track ahead of the rest of the field when Terrance got enough bit to get by Johnson for second. Sheppard was quickly approaching cars at the rear of the field, but lapped traffic didn’t cause any problem for him as he kept powering forward.
“I definitely didn’t want to get off that bottom,” Sheppard said. “I wanted to get through them as clean as I could, but I really didn’t want to take any unnecessary chances either. It’s one of those races you never really know what’s going to happen.”
Lance Willix II brought caution in lap 60 with the 16 turned around. Sheppard led off the restart, still followed by Terrance in second and Johnson in third. The leaders again reached lapped traffic in lap 67 and Terrence nosed up to Sheppard hoping to find an opportunity to claim the top spot.
However, Pierre Dagenais clipped a tire in lap 70 to bring caution to the field and slow the pace. the 124 was towed off the track and the field returned to green, Sheppard keeping the lead for the remaining five laps.
Terrance came in second with Johnson third. Rudolph and Britten rounded out the top five.
Mark Lalonde won the pro stock feature.
Matt Sheppard, Carey Terrance, Danny Johnson, Erick Rudolph, Pete Britten, Ryan Arbuthnot, Dale Planck, Pat Ward, Brian McDonald, Larry Wight, Danny O’Brien, Tim Currier, Mario Clair, Mat Williamson, C. G. Morey, Michel Chicoine, Simon Perreault, Bill Mullin, Matt Woodruff, David Papineau, Pierre Dagenais, Lance Willix II, David Hebert, Neal Provost II, Lee Ladouceur, Chris Raabe, Steve Bernard, Billy Dunn, Jordan McCreadie, Justin Lalancette, George Foley, Pat O’Brien.