What A Finish: Sheppard Fends Off Bachetti in Woodhull Raceway ‘Hustlin’ the High Banks’ Thriller

Written by Chris Moore

WOODHULL, NYWhat. A. Finish.

The 55-lap ‘Hustlin’ the High Banks’ headliner at Woodhull Raceway was decided by less than a car-length, as Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard raced across the line for his third Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco Modified win of the 2021 season.

Sheppard’s 18th career STSS triumph pocketed him nearly $6,000 for his efforts and furthered his advantage in the Hurlock Auto & Speed North Region points standings.

“I thought we were done once Andy (Bachetti) got by us; he was just so good… I got a really good restart (lap 12) and drove the heck out of it and cleared him,” explained Sheppard to a capacity crowd of what turned out to be his race-winning move.

The unique Woodhull oval’s hillside grandstands were packed with what was believed to be the largest crowd to date for a series race at the Steuben County facility now owned by Terry and Nikki Brewer.

The evening’s events were presented by NAPA Auto Parts of Addison, Bath, Corning, Hornell, Wellsville and Lawrenceville Pa., in addition to Two Rivers Timber.

Sheppard’s pursuit began from the fifth position, while Rochester, N.Y.’s Danny Johnson and Woodhull regular Joe Dgien on the front row following the Beyea Custom Headers Redraw.

Woodhull, dubbed ‘New York’s Toughest Bullring’ proved to be just that in the early going. Several early yellows continued bringing the field together, including a big one on lap four.

Westfield, Pa.’s Billy Van Pelt collided with East Greenbush, N.Y.’s David Schilling, sending him around and collecting a host of other cars. Van Pelt, the defending event winner, was sent to the rear for the contact.

When the field went back to racing following the lap-four yellow, Johnson was now joined by Sheppard on the front row, and Sheffield, Mass., star Andy Bachetti was joining the party in the early going.

On lap seven, Bachetti slipped by Danny Johnson at the line before another yellow came out, giving Bachetti control of the restart.

On the restart, Sheppard drove by Johnson, and brought Middletown, N.Y.’s Anthony Perrego with him to third.

Following another yellow on lap 12, Sheppard got the restart he was looking for to take the lead back. Bachetti crept around the bottom while Sheppard continued to work the outside continuously, finally driving around Bachetti on lap 15.

A lap-24 caution reset the field, giving two hard chargers, Van Pelt coming back forward, and Unadilla, N.Y.’s Billy Decker a chance to continue to race their way through the top-10.

The recovering Van Pelt was the man to take advantage, as the 22-time Woodhull champion found another gear on the outside lane, quickly flying into the top five around Danny Johnson and Stewart Friesen.

Van Pelt raced around Perrego on lap 34 and appeared to be the fastest car on the track. On a lap 35 restart, Van Pelt grabbed another position, sliding by Bachetti before drifting off the banking in turns three and four, falling back to fourth.

While Bachetti, Perrego, and Van Pelt waged war for the runner-up spot, Sheppard began to coast out front, leaving the field behind.

A few short laps later, Sheppard caught the tail end of the field, and was unable to make ground traffic, allowing the three tailing him to close in.

At the white flag lap, Perrego and Bachetti had pulled within just two car lengths of Sheppard’s Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s. Perrego followed Sheppard to the bottom, while Bachetti wasn’t giving up on the outside.

The slower cars in front of Sheppard got sideways in three and four on the last lap, forcing Sheppard to break his momentum. Bachetti’s charge off the outside came up one car length short in the Garrity Asphalt Reclamation No. 4, as Sheppard held on for the win.

Perrego settled for third in Brian Smith’s owned no. 44 and Van Pelt’s charge stalled in fourth in his Twin Rivers Timber No. 2 machine. Ryan Susice rounded out the top-five in the Hoopes Trucking No. 10.

Billy Decker was the $250 FloRacing Hard Charger, going from 25th to sixth in his Jeremy Smith-owned No. 91. Danny Johnson grabbed seventh in the Tyler Siri-owned No. 27J and Dundee, N.Y.’s Brady Fultz claimed eighth in the Herb Wright No. 88. Jacob Dgien drove from 18th to finish ninth and Beaver Dams, N.Y.’s Dillon Groover rounded out the top-10.

Heat winners, receiving $50 each from FloRacing were Fultz, Alan Johnson, Joe Dgien and Perrego. The consolation victor was Mike Bills.

Veteran Dale Welty of Montour Falls, N.Y., claimed his third career STSS Crate 602 Sportsman win in Round No. 5 of the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region. Welty started third and worked his way to the front in a stop and start 25-lap main event. He earned $1,500.

By the end, Welty’s lead was nearly a straightaway over fellow Woodhull racer Kenny Peoples Jr. and Addison, N.Y.’s Casey Pavlick.

The win was Welty’s first since 2018 on the STSS tour, and a crowd pleaser, as the hometown racer defended ‘New York’s Toughest Bullring’ against the 36-car field.

Athens, N.Y.’s Ted Morseman Jr. finished fourth and North Region point leader Tim Hartman Jr. furthered his advantage with a solid top-five finish.

Racing returns for the STSS on Tuesday, August 24 at Georgetown Speedway for the Melon 1 ‘Blast at the Beach’ presented by Earth Movers LLC featuring the seventh event of the Velocita-USA South Region presented by Design for Vision and Sunglass Central for the Modifieds (35 laps, $6,000 to win, $1,000 for 10th & $400 to start) and Round No. 6 for the Belmont’s Garage 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 Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply North Region Event No. 7 Modified Feature Finish (55 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Andy Bachetti, Anthony Perrego, Billy Van Pelt, Ryan Susice, Billy Decker, Danny Johnson, Brady Fultz, Jake Dgien, Dillon Groover, Donnie Lawson, Mike Gular, J.R. Hurlburt, Alex Tonkin, Joe Dgien, Dayton Brewer, Brett Haas, Mike Mahaney, Josh Nobriga, Stewart Friesen, Cory Costa, Brian Malcolm, Cole Youse, Mike Bills, Bobby Hackel, David Schilling, Alan Johnson.

Did Not Qualify: Shannon Whaley, Brayden Bills, Brian Doolittle, Joe Judge, Jim La Rock, Nick Mady Jr.

American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): Jake Dgien (ninth) & J.R. Hurlburt (13th)
Autism Awareness Winner’s Award presented by Halmar ($250): Matt Sheppard
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses: Billy Van Pelt (fourth) & Jake Dgien (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Mike Mahaney (Redrew 12th)
FloRacing Heat Winner Bonuses ($50): Brady Fultz, Alan Johnson, Joe Dgien & Anthony Perrego
FloRacing Hard Charger Award ($250): Billy Decker (25th to sixth)
Henry’s Exhaust System Bonus ($50 Certificate):
  Donnie Lawson (11th)
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Matt Sheppard ($150 Certificate – first); Andy Bachetti ($75 Certificate – second); Anthony Perrego ($50 Certificate – third); Dillon Groover ($25 Certificate – 10th)
Spyder High Performance Filters Bonuses: Ryan Susice (FREE Filter – fifth); Joe Dgien (50-percent Certificate – 15th)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Andy Bachetti (second); Mike Gular (12th); Brian Malcolm (22nd)
Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader Bonus ($200): Matt Sheppard
TKS Painting Front-Row Bonuses: Danny Johnson (Pole – $50); Joe Dgien (Outside Pole – $25)
Wilwood Brakes Lucky 7 Bonus ($75 Certificate): Danny Johnson (seventh)

Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region Event No. 5 Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): DALE WELTY, Kenny Peoples Jr., Casey Pavlick, Ted Morseman Jr., Tim Hartman Jr., Will Shields, Dave Dipietroll, Aiden Grover, Isabel Barron, Anthony Tramontana, Kaiden Dgien, Hunter Lapp, Cayden Lawson, Payton Talbot, Art Goodier, Christian Zschoche, Kreg Crooker, Tim Guild, Craig Irvine, Michael Ballestero, Ajay Potrzebowski, Jr., Carter Crooker, Shane Henion, David Mayo, Josh Keesey, A.J. Costley, Josh Nobriga.

Did Not Qualify: Adam Taft, Bryce Bailey, Bob Butcher, Tony Harris, Matt Irwin, Blake Lawson, Josh Makatura, Stacy Jackson, Steve Schrader.

American Racer/Lias Tire Bonus (FREE Tire Certificate): Anthony Tramontana (10th)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($25): Josh Keesey (Redrew 12th)
Fastline Performance Bonuses ($100 Certificates): 
Kenny Peoples Jr. (second) & Hunter Lapp (12th)