Sheppard Stars At Merrittville


“It was wild,” Sheppard said. “We got into lapped traffic and it seemed like I would catch him, and then a lapped car would mess me up, and then a lapped car would mess him up. It was back-and-forth there, and then I found a line down on the bottom and I was able to slip by him.”

Sheppard stayed strong after claiming the lead in lap 62, outlasting the remaining laps, keeping his position after two cautions and restarts and again successfully navigating lapped traffic in lap 94 to claim his second Super DIRTcar Series victory of the season. Monday’s race held a special sentimental value for Sheppard, who in victory lane dedicated the win to his grandmother, who recently passed away.

“We definitely wanted to win this one for her,” a triumphant, yet heavy-hearted Sheppard said. “I know she was watching from above.”

Johnson, who started tenth in the grid, also kept his position through the remainder of the race, finishing second in the small block 27J.

“I’m really proud of my team. I had a great run here today, and to be able to come here and get the second spot here with all these modifieds is a great feat for us,” said Johnson. “I worked my way up to second and I was really hoping to win the race, but we need to get just a little bit better.”

He’s hoping to be that much better come Tuesday, when the Super DIRTcar Series takes on I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich. Last year’s first series appearance at the Midwestern track brought victory for Johnson in the Mike Payne-owned Page Trucking 27J, and this year he plans to tackle the half-mile oval in Tyler Siri’s 5*.

Early race leader Bowman finished fourth after losing ground to the 2012 NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week VP Small Engine Fuels Champion, Brett Hearn, in lap 75. Hearn, after starting 13th, piloted the Madsen Overhead Doors No. 20 to third place at the checkered flag. Mat Williamson started seventh and finished fifth.

The finish:

Matt Sheppard, Danny Johnson, Brett Hearn, Mike Bowman, Mat Williamson, Pete Bicknell, Alan Johnson, Erick Rudolph, Dale Planck, Justin Haers, Gary Tomkins, Chris Steele, Brandon Easey, Chad Chevalier, Ryan Susice, Pete Britten, Robbie Krull, Carey Terrance, Mark D’Ilario, Jimmy Phelps, Rich Scagliotta, Scott Wood, Billy Dunn, Billy VanInwegen, Bill Bleich, Tim Currier, Matt Billings, Justin Wright, Tommy Flannigan, Dave Rauscher, Chad Brachmann, Tim Jones.