Matt Sheppard Gets Port Royal Retribution, Wins Thursday Night STSS ‘Speed Showcase 40’

Written by Chris Moore

PORT ROYAL, PA – Dominant. That is the only word to describe Matt Sheppard’s performance.  

After narrowly losing out to Anthony Perrego in the most recent event held at Port Royal Speedway last March, Matt Sheppard got retribution Thursday night at the Speed Palace. The Savannah, N.Y., driver topped the ‘Speed Showcase 40’ for the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco Modified Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central.

Sheppard was clearly the dominant force in an event run on the tacky half-mile clay oval, earning $5,450 for his efforts: $5,000 from the posted purse, $400 as the Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz Halfway Leader and $50 as one of six Ad-Art Sign Company heat winners.

“I led a lot of the race the last time I was here (in March 2019),” offered Sheppard after climbing from his Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s. “We had a really good car tonight. I was being conservative and trying to keep the car straight once I got out front.”

Sheppard will start Saturday night’s ‘Speed Showcase 200’ no worse than 13th via his victory on Thursday. He can improve that position via Friday night’s Dirt Track Digest-sponsored Qualifying Races but is guaranteed to fire off from the seventh row in the 200.

‘Super Matt’ worked past pole starter Joseph ‘Jo-Jo’ Watson on the fourth lap of the 40-lap event. Max McLaughlin, making his Short Track Super Series debut, challenged Sheppard through numerous restarts before slapping the outside wall in the Sweeteners Plus No. 32c to draw the caution.

As Sheppard led, all eyes were on the Rick Holsten-owned No. 96 driven by Billy Pauch Jr. The ‘Kid’s Kid’ started 22nd and sliced through the field to arrive in the runner-up spot by the halfway mark.

With the race’s second half spun off under green-flag conditions, Pauch Jr. closed on Sheppard but took starter Joe Kriss’ checkered flag by roughly a straightaway.

The win for Sheppard was his 11th career STSS Modified victory, second of the season and first-ever at Port Royal.

Pauch Jr. finished second, earning the Southern Super Modified Series-sponsored $200 Hard Charger award, bringing the Milford, N.J., resident’s earnings to $3,200 for the runner-up effort.

Mike Mahaney of King Ferry, N.Y., authored a stout drive to complete the podium in the Adirondack Auto No. 35. Mahaney challenged Pauch heavily in the final five laps for third.

Mat Williamson of St. Catharines, Ont., powered from 19th starting position to finish fourth in the Behrent’s Performance Warehouse No. 3 and Australian Peter Britten completed the front five.

Sheppard, Pauch Jr., Mahaney and Williamson will start no worse than 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th in Saturday’s 200-lap main event.

Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Rocky Warner of Gloversville, N.Y., who ran inside the top-five for much of the race; Stewart Friesen of Sprakers, N.Y., rebounding from a pair of pit stops after impacting the turn-three wall on the race’s opening lap; Richie Pratt Jr. of Woodbury Heights, N.J., in the Daniel Sommeling No. 51; Danny Bouc of Pipersville, Pa.; and Ryan Godown of Ringoes, N.J., who rallied late for a top-10 finish.

A huge field of 61 STSS Modifieds signed in for competition, requiring six heat races. Taking the $50 Ad-Art Sign Company victories were Alex Yankowski, McLaughlin, Michael Maresca, Sheppard, Josh Hohenforst and Bouc.

Three B-Mains were run with victories going to Williamson, Friesen and Billy Decker.

A massive turnout of 65 Crate 602 Sportsman took part in four rounds of practice sessions throughout the night. Garden State driver Stephen Kemery turned the quickest lap of the night (21.305 seconds) and received $50 cash courtesy of Evergreen Fuels.

Tonight (Friday), Bob Hilbert Sportswear presents Qualifying Night with Dirt Track Digest-sponsored, $750-to-win STSS Modified 20-lap qualifiers and Belmont’s Garage $250-to-win Crate 602 Sportsman 15-lap qualifiers plus Four Cylinder Pure Stocks racing for $500 to win in a 20-lap feature.

Gates open at 4 p.m., with hot laps at 6 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m.

In-person attendance is permitted and the event will be streamed live on Dirt Track Digest TV (

Grandstand admission is $15 for Adults, $10 for Seniors (ages 13-18) and Children 12 and under are FREE. Pit admission is $35, with no license required.

Port Royal Speedway is located at 308 West 8th Street Port Royal, PA 17082. To learn more, visit or

To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit, e-mail,  check out ‘Short Track Super Series’ on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.

The Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, Sunoco Race Fuel, Insinger Performance, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Velocita-USA, Design for Vision/Sunglass Central, Rob Sherlock Roofing, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH Springs, Escape RV, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, HyperCo, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Land Hoe Maintenance, K&N, MJK Home Maintenance, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, QA1, Racing Optics, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO, Velocita, WELD Racing & Wilwood.


Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region Event No. 7 Modified Feature Finish (40 laps):  MATT SHEPPARD, Billy Pauch Jr., Mike Mahaney, Mat Williamson, Peter Britten, Rocky Warner, Stewart Friesen, Richie Pratt Jr., Danny Bouc, Ryan Godown, Michael Maresca, Mike Gular, Alex Yankowski, Anthony Perrego, Jeff Strunk, Larry Wight, Max McLaughlin, Alan Johnson, Billy Decker, Tyler Dippel, Rick Laubach, Jordan Watson, Jimmy Horton, Demetrios Drellos, Matt DeLorenzo, David Van Horn Jr., Brandon Grosso, Ronnie Johnson, Andy Bachetti, Joseph Watson, Josh Hohenforst.

Did Not Qualify: Erick Rudolph, Jared Umbenhauer, Justin Wright, Tim Fuller, Jessica Friesen, Ryan Watt, Ryan Riddle, Brett Haas, J.R. Heffner, Matt Stangle, Danny Hieber, Billy  Van Pelt, Ricky Elliott, Danny Johnson, Michael Trautschold, Neil Williams, Josh Nobriga, Eric Williams, David Marcuccilli, Tyler Siri, Rusty Smith, Josh Delea, David Schilling, Brett Tonkin, Brian Gleason, Jacob Dgien, Kurt Hundeland, Billy Pauch, Adam Gage, Dave Shirk.

Ad-Art Sign Company Heat Winners ($50 Each): Alex Yankowski, Max McLaughlin, Michael Maresca, Matt Sheppard, Josh Hohenforst & Danny Bouc
American Racer Lias/Tire Bonuses (TIRE Certificates): Richie Pratt Jr. (eighth) & Anthony Perrego(14th)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bucks ($50): Alex Yankowski (Redrew 12th)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Mat Williamson (fourth) & Danny Bouc (ninth)
Bill Brown & Company Heat-Race Hard Charger ($50): Danny Bouc (gained seven positions)
EIBACH Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Rocky Warner (sixth)
Henry’s Exhaust System Bonus ($50 Certificate): Michael Maresca (11th)
Danny’s Pizza Pizazz Halfway Leader Bonus ($400): Matt Sheppard
Design for Vision/Sunglass Central Winner’s Bonus (Oakley Sunglasses):  Matt Sheppard
Southern Super Modified Series Hard Charger ($200): Billy Pauch Jr. (22nd to second)
Sunoco Race Fuels Bonuses ($50 each): Billy Pauch Jr. (second), Mike Gular (12th) & Jordan Watson (22nd)
Wilwood Brakes Bonus ($75 Certificate): Stewart Friesen (seventh)