Written By: Alison Watson 

Delmar, Delaware- Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, NY outshined the star-studded field to win the 50-lap Short Track Super Series (STSS) “Diamond State 50” at Delaware International Speedway in the Hurlock, Maryland- based team. The win is Sheppard’s second consecutive “Diamond State 50” victory.  

“We have a whole lot of folks scattered on this car. It is nice to do this for them,” said Sheppard in reference to his onboarding of a variety of eastern shore sponsors that primarily cover the No. 9s Bicknell. 

“This place is so racy, you can run all over,” complimented Sheppard of Charlie Cathell’s half-mile oval. “I never felt comfortable for a second here tonight,” in reference to the stellar competition. 

Veteran, Craig Von Dohren started on the pole position, by virtue of the top-three from each heat race redrawing for the top 12 positions. From the drop of the green, Von Dohren was able to pick his preferred line on the multi-groove surface, with swarms of heavy hitters rushing to the front of the field. 

It was Andy Bachetti who immediately charged from the fifth starting position to second, with Jordan Watson, Matt Sheppard (from 7th), and Stewart Friesen (from 11th). It appeared it would be a similar song and dance, with Friesen and Sheppard continuing their battle throughout the northeast, but it was not that simple.

A lap six caution was brought out by Billy Pauch, Jr. with a flat tire, with third place starter, Danny Bouc, headed to the pits after falling significantly throughout the field within the first few laps.  

A cycle of cautions would keep the top five under a blanket with Bachetti, Watson, Sheppard, and Friesen using all lanes of the racing surface to shuffle through the top-five.

All eyes were on Anthony Perrego, previous Short Track Super Series winner at Port Royal Speedway in the Delaware-based, Gary Simpson-owned Teo, who was the first to consistently work the top of the racetrack. 

Von Dohren continued to maintain the lead with Sheppard, Bachetti, Watson, and Friesen swapping positions in the top-five. 

Over halfway, Sheppard began putting the pressure on Von Dohren, ultimately completing the pass for the lead on lap 30. 

Positions three through eight were now up for grabs, as Perrego, Mike Gular, Ryan Watt and Jeff Struck (from 15th) joined the crowd. 

A lap 36 restart, put Friesen and Von Dohren on the bumper of Sheppard, with Sheppard able to extend to a near three- second lead. Friesen ultimately made the right-hand turn to the pits with debilitating left front damage. Bachetti from Shaffield, Massachusetts ended his top-three efforts, spinning in turns three and four while running third. 

With five laps remaining, the top-five continued to scramble, with Strunk eventually passing Von Dohren for second, and Ryan Watt passing Gular for fourth. Sheppard earned his second “Diamond State 50” victory, continuing his successful 2019 campaign throughout the northeast. 

Strunk, who impressively managed his time throughout the 50-lap event was excited in victory lane. “It feels good to be down here where we belong. Hopefully we can build on this for the series.” Strunk started in the 15th position. 

Von Dohren, who was obviously discontent with his third-place finish admitted, “We need to get a little better, but we are happy with a top-three.” 

Heats were won by Friesen, Watt, Perrego, and Tyler Dippel. 

Jim Housworth led wire to wire to earn his first ever Short Track Super Series Sportsman victory and a $1,500 payday. 

Housworth managed a variety of restarts, including a single-file restart with a few laps remaining to hold off the advances of Ryan McCartney, Trent Willey, Dylan Swinehart, and Joe Toth. 

Noteworthy, local modified lite standout, James Hill, finished in the sixth position in his new Teo ProCar, after starting in the 20th position. 

Jeff Brown flipped his No. 9 during the qualifying event. The team was able to repair the damages and qualify for the feature. 

Heats were won by Ryan McCartney, Michael White, and Dylan Swinehart 

Kelly Putz held off John Butler’s charge with a late race restart to earn the Vintage feature event. LJ Walbert was the Sportsman Vintage event winner. 

Jerry Hill outdueled Robert Smith, Dale Elliott, Kirk Miles, Sr., and Bill Dean in the Delaware Super Trucks feature event. 

Diamond Cuts:

35 modifieds were on hand for the farthest south venue on the STSS tour. The event was Delaware International Speedway’s modified opener for the season.

Unfortunately, Rick Laubach suffered mechanical failure while running in the top-five, early in the feature event.

Jordan Watson suffered significant front-end damage after hitting the inside barrier while leading his heat race. He was able to keep going after spinning and finishing second, earning a redraw position. The team furiously repaired the front-end damage in time to make the call for the feature event. The new team and look, owned by Brent Hall, was the highest finishing Delaware entry, finishing sixth.  

Mike Mahaney utilized a provisional to then earn the Hard Charger contingencies, finishing 11th from the 25th starting position. 

Matt Sheppard’s current STSS South average finish for 2019 is an impeccable 1.6. 

Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Jeff Strunk, Craig Von Dohren, Ryan Watt, Mike Gular, Jordan Watson, David Van Horn, Jr., Tyler Dippel, Andy Bachetti, Anthony Perrego, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Krachun, Brad Trice, Joseph Watson, Stewart Friesen, Brandon Grosso, Howard O’Neal, Billy Pauch, Jr., H.J. Bunting, Danny Bouc, Scott VanGorder, Kevin Sockriter,  Robbie Emory, Carson Wright, Rick Laubach, Duane Howard, Richie Pratt, Jr.

Did Not Qualify: Ryan Riddle, Amanda Whaley, Mike White, Roger Manning, Shawn Ward, Jordn Justice, Ryan Anderson, Clay Tatman 

Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (20 laps): JIM HOUSWORTH, Ryan McCartney, Trent Willey, Dylan Swinehart, Joe Toth, James Hill, Corey Cormier, Scott Hitchens, Tom Moore, Jr., Trent VanVorst, Adam White, Cole Stangle, Samantha Muller, Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Brown, Ethan Simpson, Jeff Marker, Michael White, Sean Metz, David Jenkins, Jim Gallagher, Jr., Sammy Martz, Jr., Dwayne Crockett, John Stevenson, Justin Grosso 

Did Not Qualify: Tommy Wilkins, Jonathan Swift, Nico Flammer, Mark Pettyjohn 

Delaware Super Truck Feature Finish: JERRY HILL, Robert Smith, Dale Elliott, Kirk Miles, Sr., Bill Dean, Kirk Miles, Jr., George Shupp, Dick Beauchamp, Billy Lockwood, Michelle Jackson, Thomas Jackson, Parks Abrams, Tim Quay, Ryan Efford

Vintage Feature Finish: KELLY PUTZ, Jamie Eicholz, John Burton, Andy Castle, LJ Walbert (sportsman winner), DJ Cameron, Justin Schultie, Dave Schamp, Jamie Schirmer, Art Workman, Todd Miller, Oscar Fields, CJ Schirmer