Matt Sheppard puts his name on the Fonda 200 trophy
FONDA, NY – For the first time in his career, Matt Sheppard has won 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’ve been working on the car all weekend trying to improve it,” an emotional Sheppard told Fonda Speedway Checkered Square. “We tried one last shot halfway through the race, and we finally got it.”
2022 Fonda 200 at Fonda Speedway
The “Fonda 200” was the final “crown jewel” event missing from Sheppard’s resume before conquering the 2022 edition.
“I can’t wait to see my name on this trophy,” Sheppard said of the “Fonda 200” trophy with past winners on it.
Sheppard’s quest started from the 11th starting position after redesigning Beyea’s custom headers.
Sprakers, Stewart Friesen of NY and Bobby Hackel IV of East Greenbush, NY occupied the front row as the green flag dropped.
Friesen led early on, but the driver on the move and who took his victory in the first 100 laps was Mike Mahaney of Elizabethtown, NY.
Mahaney raced in third place on the first lap, four laps later Mahaney was at Hackel and in second place.
After coming in second and chasing Friesen for several laps in turn traffic, Mahaney used the inside groove to drive through Friesen and take the lead at the end of lap 29.
Mahaney moved to the front of the field, while Anthony Perrego of Middletown, NY started walking forward.
VIDEO: Watch highlights from the Fonda 200 on FloRacing.
After a slow start, Perrego joined Mahaney and Friesen at the front of the field. The leading trio began to trade lanes and positions while weaving through traffic.
Eventually things calmed down around lap 50 and Mahaney was leading Perrego and Friesen to the front of the field.
Things started to move on lap 66 when the yellow flag came out and Ryan Godown of Ringoes, NJ, who was racing in the top 10, pitted.
Over the next 25 laps, several riders began to stop during the yellow flags, attempting to backtrack at the 100th lap break.
An 86-yellow lap saw Mahaney head into the hot pit, moving Perrego into the lead and Sheppard had quietly found his way to second.
Perrego would lead the remaining 10 rounds in the top 100, claiming the $200 mid-round bonus courtesy of Superior Remodeling.
Billy Decker of Unadilla, NY fought his way to the lead, alongside Jessica Friesen of Sprakers, NY at the start of the 100 second rounds.
Sheppard started the second half from the 13th starting position, before quickly flexing his muscles following the changes made after the halfway mark.
With Sheppard on the move, Marc Johnson of Guilderland, NY was the man to pace the field after slipping by both Decker and Friesen for first place.
Sheppard was sixth on lap 106, before moving into the top five two laps later. Sheppard took second on lap 119, with Johnson leading by a good margin.
Meanwhile, Sheppard wasn’t the only car on the move, as Stewart Friesen had come back to life after starting 16th at the halfway mark.
Friesen was fifth on lap 119 before closing in on Mahaney and Decker for third.
Both Mahaney and Friesen cleared Decker in the next three laps, setting up a battle between the two for third place.
After battling Friesen side by side for several laps, Mahaney finally rocked Friesen and walked away with the final podium spot.
The yellow flag came out on lap 131, giving the leaders a clear race track and putting Sheppard alongside Johnson for good.
Sheppard would take advantage of the restart, bypassing Johnson and taking the lead for the event for the first time.
Perrego and Mahaney became the pair to watch in the remaining 65 laps, after Friesen’s night ended early due to mechanical failure.
They both cleared Marc Johnson on lap 157 to occupy second and third and lock in Sheppard who was ahead.
Perrego came alive in the final 30 laps of the event. Perrego slipped under Mahaney for second on lap 180, giving him 20 laps to try to topple Sheppard.
The last warning of the race came on lap 190. With just 10 laps remaining, a single-file restart gave Perrego his last chance at Sheppard.
Perrego came close, including reaching Sheppard’s rear bumper with four laps to go, but was never able to make the step.
Sheppard was triumphant, winning the race representing Round #4 of the Halmar International “Elite” Series and Round #9 of the River Valley Builders North Region.
The win makes Sheppard the points leader in the Elite Series and the North region.
Perrego settled for second place.
“He made that mistake in the first corner and we caught him, but I was just too tight in the third corner,” Perrego said of his final effort for the lead.
Mahaney completed the podiums.
“I felt like we were better in the top 100, but the track has changed…it’s happening, and we’ll try again next year,” a dejected Mahaney proclaimed after taking his third straight third-place finish in the the “Founda 200”.
Danny Varin of Fonda, NY, earned a quiet but productive fourth place in the No. 93 owned by Ed Monger and Johnson rounded out the top five in his No. 9 S&S Asphalt Paving.
Billy Decker finished sixth through 10th, respectively, which struggled with a mishandled race car and multiple trips to the pit area in the second 100; Andy Bachetti, a native of Sheffield, Mass., finished seventh in Garrity Asphalt Reclaiming No. 4; Jessica Friesen aboard her One Zee Tees No. 1z; Max McLaughlin in his #8H HBR Racing and Brian Gleason of Altamont, NY rounded out the top 10 in his #3G KJG Motorsports.
Forty-one modified big-block/small-block STSS took the green for the Southside Beverage ‘Fonda 200.’
Fonda Speedway regular Cody Clark picked up his second career STSS victory in round six of the Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region.
Clark took advantage of a late race restart to snatch top spot from Troy Zilles and take the win.
Zilles was the runner-up followed by Tim Hartman Jr., Mike Ballestero and Payton Talbot.
Next up for the STSS is the “Short Track SuperNationals” weekend at New York’s Afton Motorsports Park on October 7-8. A full weekend of racing including match races for the Crate 602 Sportsman and Modifieds takes place, leading up to the 14th running of the ‘Working Man’s Race’ on Saturday October 8th. STSS Modifieds go for 50 spins and a top $5,500. prize in an event without points 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 evenings from April through August along with several special events. Fonda Speedway is located on the Montgomery County Fairgrounds near New York State Highway Exit #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, email email@example.com, check out “Short Track Super Series” on Facebook or @ShortTrackSS on Twitter or Instagram.