A pair of veterans and one of Big-Block Modified racing’s young stars visited victory lane at Oswego Speedway (NY) Friday evening. Matt Sheppard, Max McLaughlin and Billy Decker each scored wins in the Triple 30 qualifying races for Sunday’s Super DIRT Week main event.
Sheppard, who earned the pole for Sunday’s race during Thursday afternoon’s time trials, turned in the most dominating performance of the night. The driver with the nickname “Super Matt” led all but two laps of the 30-lap qualifier and lapped all but six cars.
“This Big-Block has been pretty good since we unloaded; the Small-Block is pretty close but it’s not as good as this thing is,” said Sheppard, who also finished second in a 358 Modified Twin 25 earlier in the night. “I can’t thank all of these guys enough, it’s been a long week so far but we’ve got a hot rod here.”
Despite the success early on in the week, Sheppard remains locked in on the top prize.
“That’s all great, but we really want to win on Sunday and that’s why we’re here,” Sheppard admitted. “Next year, nobody is going to remember who won the first triple 30; they’re going to remember who wins on Sunday.”
The closest finish of the night came in the second of the triple 30s when the 17-year-old McLaughlin chased down early leader Rick Laubach. McLaughlin and Laubach weaved in and out of slower traffic before McLaughlin eventually made the winning pass with less than five laps to go.
“This car has been awesome all week. I was a little bit disappointed in my qualifying effort and I told the guy that I needed to make up for it today,” McLaughlin stated. “We came out here and got the win. I’m standing next to two guys I idolized when I was a kid.”
The other guy McLaughlin was standing next to was current Super DIRTcar Series points leader Billy Decker, who fended off Billy Dunn in the closing laps of the final triple 30. Although he made it look relatively easy, he admitted it was anything but that.
“They’re not really,” Dunn said. “We made some gains for sure, though. Our car was pretty good and the guys worked really hard. We certainly made a decent amount of gains on it and hopefully, we can continue to do so.”
At the end of the night, a total of 24 drivers earned starting spots for Sunday’s 200-lap Big-Block Modified race at the 5/8-mile “Clay Palace.”
For on-demand coverage and full results from Friday’s Triple 30s, visit Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos