Matt Sheppard and Chuck Hebing both experienced the joy of reaching the summit of Weedsport’s Victory Hill during the Labor Day Double Play. Sheppard’s triumph was his eighth of the Super DIRTcar Series season, while Hebing’s was his second of the year on the ESS tour.
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints hit the track first for an extended 30-lap, non-points feature. Chuck Hebing and Sammy Reakes shared the front row for the initial green flag, and Hebing spared no time in establishing himself as the dominant car of the night.
After just the fourth circuit, Hebing reached the tail end of the field and begun masterfully slicing his way through the pack, putting car after car a lap down. Hebing’s extremely fast pace through lapped traffic allowed him to open up a large gap over Reakes in the early stages, who hung onto the runner up position during the opening stages. By lap 10, Jeff Cook had snatched the second position from Reakes, and a whole host of others followed. The middle and later stages of the event saw an intense battle for the runner up spot between a number of others, including Danny Varin, Jason Barney, Mike Mahaney, and Billy VanInwegen. While the battle for the bridesmaid position raged on, Hebing expanded his gap even further, upwards of 10 seconds by the conclusion of the event.
Mark Smith and Billy VanInwegen joined Chuck Hebing on the podium, finishing second and third respectively. Jason Barney was able to rally to fourth, while Jeff Cook slipped to fifth in the final rundown. The caution free feature took just over eight minutes to complete, and without the hindrance of any cautions, Hebing was able to lap up into the top ten.
Once the ESS celebrations were completed, the Super DIRTcar Series went green for 100 laps for the second time this year. Tim Fuller rode the monstrous cushion to the top spot around Erick Rudolph to lead the opening circuits, and began to multiply the distance between himself and Rudolph. An early caution for a slowing Larry Wight regrouped the field, as Wight was forced pitside with a flat right rear. On the ensuing lap 13 restart, Danny Johnson muscled his way to the second position around Chad Brachmann and Erick Rudolph, and then went to work on Fuller’s machine. The pair ran side by side for multiple laps, but Fuller was able to hold onto his lead.
On lap 20, Danny Johnson was able to roll the bottom around Tim Fuller and take command as the duo raced through lapped traffic. Johnson began to pull away from Fuller and Rudolph, but ninth starting Matt Sheppard was quickly working his way towards the front. Sheppard quickly disposed of Frank Cozze for fourth, then immediately charged past Rudolph for third. Like Johnson, Sheppard was able to skate by Fuller on the bottom, and set his sights after the lead. By lap 40, Matt Sheppard was running high and low, trying to find a way past Danny Johnson. The final caution of the race flew on lap 49 for a slowing Billy Decker, bunching up the field for one last, long run to the finish.
Once racing resumed, the pair rekindled their fight for supremacy, with Sheppard closely trailing Johnson. The two drivers reached lapped traffic early, and fought through it and with each other for the majority of the later stages of the event. Sheppard never left the back bumper of Johnson’s ride, even showing Johnson his nose multiple times, but never officially taking the lead. On lap 84, Sheppard was able to get the lead at the line from Danny Johnson, but Johnson reclaimed the position just two corners later. However, Johnson got caught behind a slower car just one lap later, and Matt Sheppard stole the lead for good on lap 85. Johnson did his best to keep pace with Sheppard, but Sheppard was able to slowly pull away over the final few laps to claim his eighth win of the season on the tour. Following the top pair, Tim Fuller, Alan Johnson, and Erick Rudolph completed the top five.
LUCAS OIL EMPIRE SUPER SPRINTS (30 LAPS):
CHUCK HEBING ($2,000), Mark Smith, Billy VanInwegen, Jason Barney, Jeff Cook, Danny Varin, Mike Mahaney, Coleman Gulick, Bryan Howland, Paulie Colagiovanni, Sammy Reakes IV, Tom Wickham, Darryl Ruggles, Steve Collins, Cory Turner, Matt Billings, Parker Evans, Jonathan Preston, Ryan Turner, Dave Axton, Keith Granholm, Josh Azzi
SUPER DIRTCAR SERIES BIG BLOCK MODIFIEDS (100 LAPS):
MATT SHEPPARD ($7,500), Danny Johnson, Tim Fuller, Alan Johnson, Erick Rudolph, Frank Cozze, Brett Hearn, Rob Bellinger, Larry Wight, Peter Britten, Ryan Phelps, Max McLaughlin, Chris Hile, Jimmy Phelps, Vic Coffey, Adam Roberts, Justin Haers, Pat Ward, Keith Flach, Stewart Friesen, Michael Maresca, Rich Scagliotta, Andrew Ferguson, Roy Bresnahan, Chad Brachmann, Mat Williamson, Chad Phelps, Mike Mahaney, Billy Dunn, Billy Decker