“Watt” a Race: Ryan Watt Returns to STSS Victory Lane in Caution-Free Bridgeport Thriller

Written by Chris Moore

SWEDESBORO, NJ “Watt” a race!

After a 50-lap, caution-free main event it was Boyertown, Pa.’s Ryan Watt capturing the ‘South Jersey Shootout’ at Bridgeport Motorsports Park Tuesday night. The feature event went off nonstop in just over 14 minutes.

Watt held off Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard’s late-race charge to grab his sixth career Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco triumph, and his first since October 12, 2018 at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway.

“We’ve been close at this new track a lot, I think we had six seconds before tonight,” claimed an elated Watt in Victory Lane. “The car was fast in hot laps and we never really changed anything all night and it worked out.”

Watt’s win was worth $5,300: $5,000 from the posted payout and $300 as the first Bridgeport regular across the line posted by Amwell Auto Body.

Watt fired from the outside pole, next to fellow Keystone State driver Rick Laubach following the Beyea Custom Headers Redraw.

The two PA drivers paced the field for much of the early going, while Matt Sheppard trailed patiently in the third position.

The driver on the move was Sprakers, N.Y.’s Stewart Friesen, who drew 12th in the redraw, but quickly made his way into the top five on lap five. By lap 10, Friesen had worked by Mike Mahaney to take the fourth position.

Friesen’s charge appeared to have more in the tank, as he quickly reeled in and began challenging Matt Sheppard for the third position on the 15th trip around the speedway.

While Friesen continued to pressure Sheppard, Watt – who had quietly been working in second – was suddenly closing on Laubach’s back decklid as the leaders carved through traffic on the 20th circuit.

Friesen and Sheppard began another classic battle for the third position, trading slide jobs and crossovers as they navigated the high banks at Bridgeport.

While the two titans waged war for third, even trading rub rails at one point, Covington Township, Pa.’s Alex Yankowski had suddenly entered the fray, making it a three-car race for the third position.

While the race for third was intensifying, Watt had found his rhythm on the topside of the high banks, racing around Laubach in lap traffic on lap 26, one lap after Laubach claimed the Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz $100 halfway leader bonus.

While Watt raced to the front, suddenly Sheppard shook off Friesen’s bid for third, and began to catch the lead pair. Laubach’s handling was beginning to fade, as Sheppard quickly caught and slid by for second on the lap 32.

Sheppard would use the remaining 18 circuits to zero in the back bumper of Watt’s No. 14w as the duo continuously navigated lapped traffic.

Friesen and Yankowski swept around Laubach as well but appeared to be a step behind the top two in the late stages.

As the laps dwindled, so did Watt’s lead. With lap traffic becoming heavier and heavier with each passing lap, Sheppard closed within striking distance with five laps to go.

In the end, the man they call ‘Super’ Matt couldn’t muster up the momentum to overtake Watt.

“I thought I had a good chance at him with two to go, but I picked up a real bad push, and I couldn’t get back to him on the last lap,” explained Sheppard following his runner-up finish.

Sheppard grabbed another STSS runner-up in his Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s and Friesen held on for a podium run in the Halmar International No. 44. Friesen was the race’s Ad-Art Sign Company Hard Charger ($250) after picking the worst available number – 12 – in the redraw.

Yankowski impressed a star-studded field again in his family-owned No. 84y and Laubach held on for fifth in the Ryan Kerr-owned No. 1K.

South Region point leader Mike Mahaney landed sixth in the George Huttig-owned No. 35 with Middletown, N.Y.’s Anthony Perrego following him to seventh in the Brian Smith-owned No. 44.

Ringoes, N.J.’s Ryan Godown was the first New Jersey driver across the line in eighth and received a $150 cash bonus from Rock Fantasy Concert Shop and Mooresville, N.C.’s Max McLaughlin placed ninth in Norm Hansell’s No. 357. Sayreville, N.J.’s Dominick Buffalino rounded out the top-10 in the Glenn Hyneman-owned Keystone Racing No. 126.

Heat winners, receiving $50 each from FloRacing were Neal Williams, Matt Stangle Laubach, and Sheppard. Consolation victors were Jeff Strunk and Sammy Martz.

A special 3-lap Dash presented by Slideways Productions added a 25th fully paid starter to the feature. Joseph Watson used the Dash to punch his ticket into the main event with the win.

Forty Crate 602 Sportsman were on hand for Round No. 5 of the Belmont’s Garage South Region and Ringoes, N.J.’s Ryan Godown Jr. went wire-to-wire in the 25-lap non-stop race.

Godown Jr. claimed the $1,500 payday in the biggest win of his career. Middletown, N.Y.’s Brian Krummel raced to second and Whitehouse Station, N.J.’s Sammy Martz Jr. rounded out the podium.

The South Region point leader, Horseheads, N.Y.’s Ajay Potrzebowski II grabbed fourth with a late-race surge and Laurel, Del.’s Michael White rounded out the top five.

Racing returns for the STSS on Tuesday, August 10 at Woodhull Raceway for the ‘Hustlin’ the High Banks’ featuring the seventh event of the Hurlock Auto & Speed North Region for the Modifieds (50 laps, $5,000 to win, $1,000 for 10th & $400 to start) and Round No. 5 for the Precision Hydraulic & Oil Crate 602 Sportsman event (25 laps, $1,500 to win, $100 to start).

To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail bdmotorsportsmedia@gmail.com, 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, FloRacing, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Hurlock Auto & Speed, Velocita-USA, Design for Vision/Sunglass Central, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, Penske Racing Shocks, Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz, Algonkin Motel, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, Belmont’s Garage, Superior Remodeling, Spyder High Performance Filters, Fastline Performance, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO, WELD Racing & Wilwood.


Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Modified Velocita-USA South Region Presented By Design for Vision & Sunglass Central Round No. 6 Feature Finish (50 laps): RYAN WATT,Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Alex Yankowski, Rick Laubach, Mike Mahaney, Anthony Perrego, Ryan Godown, Max McLaughlin, Dominick Buffalino, Andy Bachetti, Billy Pauch Jr., Dillon Steuer, Jeff Strunk, Mike Gular, Joseph Watson, Frank Cozze, Neal Williams, Danny Bouc, Jordan Watson, Brandon Grosso, Sammy Martz Sr., Jim Gallagher, Tyler Dippel, Billy Osmun, Ryan Krachun, Matt Stangle, John Willman.

Did Not Qualify: Mike Franz, Skylar Sheriff, Dakota Kessler, Tom Moore Jr., Ryan Riddle, Troy Ale, Rick Wegner Jr., Jimmy Horton, Craig Von Dohren, Richie Pratt Jr., H.J. Bunting, Steve Davis.

Ad-Art Sign Company Hard Charger ($250):
Stewart Friesen (12th to third)
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates):
Mike Mahaney(sixth) & Dillon Steuer (13th)
Amwell Auto Body Bridgeport Regular Bonuses: Ryan Watt ($300), Alex Yankowski ($200) & Ryan Godown ($100)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards):
Alex Yankowski (fourth) & Max McLaughlin (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Stewart Friesen (Redrew 12th)
Bill Brown & Company Heat-Race Hard Charger ($50): Stewart Friesen (10th to second)
Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz Halfway Leader Award ($100): Rick Laubach
Design for Vision/Sunglass Central Winner’s Award (Oakley Sunglasses):  Ryan Watt
FloRacing Heat Winner Bonuses ($50 Each): Neal Williams, Matt Stangle, Rick Laubach & Matt Sheppard
Henry’s Exhaust System Power Position ($50 Certificate): Andy Bachetti (11th)
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Ryan Watt (winner – $150 certificate); Matt Sheppard (second – $75 certificate); Stewart Friesen (third – $50 certificate); Dominick Buffalino (10th – $25 certificate)
Rock Fantasy Danny Serrano Memorial Top NJ Driver ($150):
Ryan Godown(eighth)
Spyder Performance Filters Bonuses: Rick Laubach (fifth – FREE Filter); Mike Gular (15th – 50-percent off certificate)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates):
Matt Sheppard (second), Billy Pauch Jr. (12th) & Sam Martz Jr. (22nd)
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Award ($75 Certificate): Anthony Perrego (seventh)

Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Crate 602 Sportsman Belmont’s Garage South Region Round No. 5 Feature Finish (25 laps): RYAN GODOWN JR., Brian Krummel, Sammy Martz Jr., Ajay Potrzebowski Jr., Michael White, Ryan Simmons, Joe Toth, Adam White, Ryan Higgs, Stephen Kemery, Thomas Sherby, Travis Hill, Kyle Smith, Sean Metz, Anthony Tramontana, Ethan Bill, Cole Stangle, Justin Grosso, Paul Mancini, Ryan Stangle, Matt Smith, John Stevenson, Billy Chester, Matt Ellery, Scott Hitchens, Sean Weiss, Ian Humphreys

Did Not Qualify: Cody Manmiller, David Crossman, Jon Meyer, Ryan Conrad, Will Protinick, Kenny Bock, David Jenkins, Parker Guldin, Ethan Young, Doug Snyder, Zac Weller, Jim Dallett, Logan Watt

American Racer/Lias Tire Bonus (FREE Tire Certificate): Adam White (eighth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($25):
Sean Metz (Redrew 12th)