It was a battle of the super heroes during the 46th edition of Super DIRT Week Sunday night at Oswego Speedway (NY). “Super Matt’ Sheppard wheeled his way around the outside of “Batman” Peter Britten on the final lap to win the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 and pocket a $50,000 check.
The win for Sheppard was his second career Super DIRT Week Big-Block Modified triumph. Combined with his 358 Modified win on Saturday evening, he also became just the second driver to win both the 358 Modified and Big-Block Modified race at Super DIRT Week during the same season.
“What a perfect year,” Sheppard said. “Sit on the pole, win the heat, win the race, win the Small Block race. Thirty-nine wins now, what a storybook season.”
Sheppard started from the pole and dominated the early portion of the race, leading the first 64 laps. After making a visit to pit road, Sheppard gave up the lead to Keith Flach before clawing back through the field to take the lead again on lap 101.
Near the halfway point of the race, the track changed dramatically. After the inside groove was dominant for the first 100 laps, Britten led a charge on the top side. He eventually worked his way around Sheppard for the lead on lap 104 and dominated the second half of the race.
As the laps ticked off, Britten encountered lapped traffic and that allowed Sheppard to close in.
On the final lap, as the leaders entered turn one Sheppard charged to the outside of the track to get a run on Britten. Off of turn two, Sheppard pulled away and charged to the checkered flag.
“This track went through some crazy changes today. It rubbered up pretty hard early and I thought we were in the catbird’s seat,” the winner stated. “It cycled through pit stops and I got to the front and then the track did a 180 and become super slick and fresh tires seemed to be the answer, not track position.
After dropping to the back half of the top 10, Sheppard made a pit stop with less than 50 laps remaining that ultimately paid off.
“We decided to make the call to put some fresh tires on it and give it one last shot to the end. I’m glad it was 200 laps and not 199,” he commented.
“I was kind of coming on the bottom there and Peter moved down to try to really protect the bottom. I think he slowed up a little bit; I think he was a little faster up a lane but he tried to protect it on the last lap. I knew I had one shot and one shot only, and that was to roll around the outside of him.”
For Britten, the runner-up finish was certainly a heartbreaker. After dominating the second half of the race, the Australian came up one spot short.
“I guess he knows how to get it done,” Britten said of Sheppard. “We had an awesome race. Big thanks to Ray Graham for putting me in the car for here, believing in me and believing in Troyer Race Cars. Pretty sure we showed everybody what we’re made of today.
“I know a lot of people in the stands were pulling for us, so thanks to you guys. It’s heartbreaking but we ain’t going nowhere. We’ll get one of these eventually.”
When asked if there was anything he could have done different, Britten had a pair of answers.
“I guess the last lap go to the middle in one or two so Sheppard couldn’t roll me,” Britten answered. “And maybe punt that lapped car a few laps earlier, too.”
Larry Wight rebounded from a pit road speeding penalty to complete the podium after mixing it up with both Britten and Sheppard late. Five-time Super DIRT Week winner Stewart Friesen and Jimmy Phelps rounded out the top five.
Race fans can find full on-demand coverage including lap-by-lap updates, photos and more by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos