Second to None: Matt Sheppard Banks $53,000 in Fonda Speedway 200
Written by Chris Moore
FONDA, NY – Second to none.
For the first time in his career, Matt Sheppard was victorious in the historic ‘Fonda 200’ presented by Southside Beverage.
Sheppard’s triumph rewarded him with the $53,000 payday, his eighth Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco victory of the 2022 season.
“We worked on the car all weekend trying to make it better,” explained an emotional Sheppard in Fonda Speedway Checkered Square. “We took one last stab at it at the halfway break, and we finally got it right.”
The ‘Fonda 200’ was the final ‘crown jewel’ event missing on Sheppard’s resume before conquering the 2022 edition.
“I can’t wait to see my name on that trophy,” said Sheppard of the ‘Fonda 200’ trophy with past winners on it.
Sheppard’s quest started from the 11th starting position following the Beyea Custom Headers Redraw.
Sprakers, N.Y.’s Stewart Friesen and East Greenbush, N.Y.’s Bobby Hackel IV occupied the front row at the drop of the green flag.
Friesen led in the early going, but the driver on the move and staking his claim in the opening 100 laps was Elizabethtown, N.Y.’s Mike Mahaney.
Mahaney raced to third in the opening lap, four laps later Mahaney was by Hackel and into the runner-up spot.
After getting to second and chasing Friesen for several laps through lap traffic, Mahaney used the inside groove to drive by Friesen and take the lead at the completion of lap 29.
Mahaney settled in at the front of the field, while Middletown, N.Y.’s Anthony Perrego began to march to the front.
After starting slow, Perrego joined Mahaney and Friesen at the front of the field. The lead trio began swapping lanes and positions all while dicing through traffic.
Eventually, things settled down around lap 50 and Mahaney was leading Perrego and Friesen at the front of the field.
Things began to shake up at lap 66 when the yellow flag came out, and Ringoes, N.J.’s Ryan Godown, who was running in the top 10, went to the pits.
Over the next 25 laps, multiple drivers began to pit during yellow flags, attempting to cycle their way back forward at the lap 100 break.
A lap 86-yellow saw Mahaney go to the hot pit moving Perrego to the lead and Sheppard had quietly found his way to the runner-up position.
Perrego would lead the remaining 10 laps in the first 100, claiming the $200 halfway bonus courtesy of Superior Remodeling.
Unadilla, N.Y.’s Billy Decker cycled his way to the lead, alongside Sprakers, N.Y.’s Jessica Friesen at the start of the second 100 laps.
Sheppard began the second half from the 13th starting position, before quickly flexing his muscle from the changes made after the halfway break.
With Sheppard on the move, Guilderland, N.Y.’s Marc Johnson was the man pacing the field after sliding by both Decker and Friesen for the top spot.
Sheppard was up to sixth by lap 106, before cracking the top five just two laps later. Sheppard took the runner-up spot on lap 119, while Johnson was out in front by a healthy margin.
Meanwhile, Sheppard wasn’t the only car on the move, as Stewart Friesen had come back to life after restarting in 16th at the halfway point.
Friesen was into fifth on lap 119 before closing in on Mahaney and Decker for the third position.
Mahaney and Friesen both cleared Decker in the next three laps, setting up a battle between the pair for third.
After battling side-by-side with Friesen for several laps, Mahaney eventually shook off Friesen and drove away with the final podium spot.
The yellow flag came out on lap 131, giving the leaders clear racetrack and putting Sheppard alongside Johnson for good.
Sheppard would take advantage of the restart, driving around Johnson and taking the lead away for the first time in the event.
Perrego and Mahaney became the pair to watch in the remaining 65 laps, after Friesen’s night ended early due to a mechanical failure.
They both cleared Marc Johnson by lap 157 to occupy second and third and locking in on Sheppard who was out in front.
Perrego came to life in the last 30-laps of the event. Perrego slid underneath Mahaney for the runner-up spot on lap 180, giving him 20 laps to try to run down Sheppard.
The race’s final caution fell on lap 190. With only 10 laps remaining, a single-file restart gave Perrego his final opportunity at Sheppard.
Perrego got close, including getting to Sheppard’s back bumper with four laps to go, but never could make the move.
Sheppard was triumphant, claiming the race representing Round No. 4 of the Halmar International ‘Elite’ Series and Round No. 9 of the River Valley Builders North Region.
The win makes Sheppard the point leader in both the ‘Elite’ Series and the North Region.
Perrego settled for second.
“He made that one mistake in turn one and we got to him, but I was just too tight in turn three,” explained Perrego of his last-ditch effort for the top spot.
Mahaney rounded out the podium finishers.
“I felt like we were better in the first 100 but the track changed… it happens, and we’ll try again next year,” proclaimed a dejected Mahaney after taking his third consecutive third place finish in the ‘Fonda 200.’
Fonda, N.Y.’s Danny Varin raced to a quiet-but-productive fourth-place finish in the Ed Monger owned No. 93 and Johnson rounded out the top five in his S&S Asphalt Paving No. 9.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Billy Decker, who battled an ill handling racecar and multiple trips to the pit area in the second 100; Sheffield, Mass., native Andy Bachetti came home seventh in the Garrity Asphalt Reclaiming No. 4; Jessica Friesen aboard her One Zee Tees No. 1z; Max McLaughlin in his HBR Racing No. 8H, and Altamont, N.Y.’s Brian Gleason rounded out the top 10 in his KJG Motorsports No. 3G.
Forty-one STSS big-block/small-block Modifieds took the green for the Southside Beverage ‘Fonda 200.’
Fonda Speedway regular Cody Clark claimed his second career STSS victory in Round No. 6 of the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region.
Clark used a late-race restart to wrestle the top spot away from Troy Zilles to take the win.
Zilles was the runner-up followed by Tim Hartman Jr., Mike Ballestero, and Payton Talbot.
Up next for the STSS is the ‘Short Track SuperNationals’ weekend at N.Y.’s Afton Motorsports Park on October 7-8. A full weekend of racing including match races for both the Crate 602 Sportsman and Modifieds takes place, leading to the 14th running of the ‘Working Man’s Race’ on Saturday, Oct. 8. The STSS Modifieds go for 50-laps and a $5,500 top prize in a non-points event for STSS competitors.
Since 1953, the “Track of Champions” Fonda Speedway has hosted the best in stock car racing. Under the management of BD Motorsports Media LLC, the speedway will operate weekly on Saturday nights from April through August plus several special events. Fonda Speedway is located on the Montgomery County Fairgrounds off New York State Thruway Exit No. 28 at 21 S. Bridge Street Fonda, NY 12068.
Fonda Speedway is on the web at www.thefondaspeedway.com. To learn more, call the office at 518.915.4395, like Fonda Speedway on Facebook or follow the speedway on Twitter: @thefondaspdwy or Instagram: @fondaspeedway.
To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, 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, FloSports, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, River Valley Builders, Hurlock Auto & Speed, Velocita-USA, St. Lawrence Radiology, Design for Vision & Sunglass Central, Belmont’s Garage, Precision Hydraulic & Oil, Prime MAC Tools, F.X. Caprara Car Companies, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Beyea Custom Headers, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, EIBACH, Elite Welder Testing & Training, Flach Performance Products, Henry’s Exhaust, Hig Fab, Penske Racing Shocks, Schultz Racing Fuel Cells, Spyder Filters, Superior Remodeling, Teo-Pro Car, VAHLCO, Wegner Automotive & Wilwood.
FONDA 200 PRESENTED BY SOUTHSIDE BEVERAGE RESULTS SUMMARY – FONDA SPEEDWAY SEPT. 17, 2022
Fonda 200 presented by Southside Beverage Short Track Super Series Modified Feature Finish (200 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Anthony Perrego, Mike Mahaney, Danny Varin, Marc Johnson, Billy Decker, Andy Bachetti, Jessica Friesen, Max McLaughlin, Brian Gleason, Bobby Varin, Rocky Warner, David Schilling, Tyler Dippel, Chris Curtis, Alex Yankowski, JaMike Sowle, Brian Pessolano, Mat Williamson, Jimmy Horton, Payton Talbot, Stewart Friesen, Alan Johnson, Dave Constantino, Ronnie Johnson, Nick Heywood, Allison Ricci, Bobby Hackel IV, Aaron Jacobs, Matt DeLorenzo, Ryan Godown, Brett Haas, JR Hurlburt, Tucker O’Connor, Jeff Trombley, Craig Hanson, Darwin Greene, Danny Creeden, Tim Fuller, Jack Lehner.
Disqualified: Demetrios Drellos (weight)
Did Not Qualify: Scott Huber, Ryan Darcy, Jason Reome, Nick Stone, Neil Stratton, Danny Johnson, Matt Sobiech, Tanner Warner, Ancel Collins, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Daniel Morgiewicz, Jeremy Slosek
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificate): Brian Gleason (10th) & Chris Curtis (15th)
BDR Speed Hard Charger ($500): Bobby Varin (40th to 11th)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Danny Varin (fourth) & Max McLaughlin (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Jack Lehner (redrew 12th)
Dryzone Racing Hard Luck Award ($200): Jack Lehner
EIBACH Springs Bonus ($100 Certificate): Billy Decker (sixth)
Elite Welder Training & Testing Worst Redraw ($200): Jack Lehner (redrew 12th)
Henry’s Exhaust Power Position ($50 Certificate): Bobby Varin (11th)
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Matt Sheppard (winner – $150 certificate); Anthony Perrego (second – $75 certificate); Mike Mahaney (third – $50 certificate)
Qualifying Race Winners ($500 each): Billy Decker (Parks Companies), Stewart Friesen (Fastline Performance), Max McLaughlin (Upstate Automotive) & Bobby Hackel (Dave Prime Jr. MAC Tools)
Schultz Racing Fuel Cells Bonus ($100 Certificate): Brian Gleason (10th)
Spyder High Performance Filters Bonuses: Marc Johnson (fifth – FREE Certificate) & Chris Curtis (15th – 50 percent off certificate)
Sunoco Race Fuels Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Anthony Perrego (second), Tyler Dippel (12th) & Dave Constantino (22nd)
Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader ($200): Anthony Perrego
Wilwood Brakes Bonus ($75 Certificate): Andy Bachetti (seventh)
Fonda 200 presented by Southside Beverage Short Track Super Series Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): CODY CLARK, Troy Zilles, Tim Hartman Jr., Michael Ballestero, Payton Talbot, Steve Davis, Troy Palmer, Brendan Gibbons, Chad Edwards, Jeremy Tyrrell, Stephen Gray, Chip Constantino, Mark Mortensen, Jeremy Slosek, Dan Santabarbara, Dylan Madsen, Tyler Peet, Michael McCallion, Kyle Dingman, Jason Greco, Tim Deffer, Ben Feldman, Matthew Perry, Michael Arnold, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Carter Gibbons, Clayton DuMond, Travis Green, Harry Shaffer, Tanner Warner.
Did Not Qualify: Jason Reome, Blaine Klinger, Karl Barnes, Dale VanAllen, Dale Welty, Brian Borst, Joe Williams, Brett Mortensen, Gerard LeClair, Ron Proctor, Wesley Sutliff, Michael Kalkbrenner, Greg Crooker, Walt Henry, Corky Warner, Josh Kane, Bob Fachini, Doug Kline, Griffen Mansmith, Adam Taft, John Santolin, Garrett Poland, Greg Havlicek, Don Bellen, Chris Kugler, David Hackett Jr., Tim Dwyer, Joey Scarborough, Zach Dufel, Clyde Peek
Accurate Collision Halfway Leader Bonus ($100): Troy Zilles
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonus (FREE Tire Certificate): Brendan Gibbons (eighth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): Michael Ballestero (12th)
Fastline Performance Bonuses ($100 Certificates): Troy Zilles (second) & Chip Constantino (12th)