WEEDSPORT, NY – Three days after watching his father get inducted into the Northeast DIRT Modified Hall of Fame, Mat Williamson scored his own Hall of Fame triumph.
The St. Catharines, ON driver bested a robust field with the Super DIRTcar Series at Weedsport Speedway for the second time this year during Sunday’s Hall of Fame 100, notching his fifth win of the season and securing a Super DIRT Week 51 guaranteed starting spot.
“This one is for my dad (Randy Williamson),” Williamson said in Victory Lane. “Without my dad I wouldn’t be where I am today. He’s a great man. He and my mother have gotten me to where I am at in racing. Fortunately, now I’m in a spot where I can drive for a great team like Buzz Chew Racing.”
Returning to the famed 3/8-mile track for the first time since his Heroes Remembered 100 victory in May, Williamson put himself on track for another good night by charging from fifth to second in his Heat Race, securing a redraw spot.
After drawing a fifth-place starting spot for the 100-lap battle, he made quick work of moving up through the field. Williamson passed Danny Johnson for third on Lap 3 and then stayed patient, letting second-place Anthony Perrego – the recent Big Diamond Speedway winner – and leader Stewart Friesen come to him.
He found his way around Perrego on Lap 27 to move into second and then found himself in a three-way, 54-lap, duel for the top spot.
After Williamson passed Perrego, points leader Matt Sheppard followed him through. While he closed on Friesen, Sheppard also closed on him and the two jockeyed for second, running less than a car length apart several times.
The extended duration of the race began to take its toll on Friesen’s tires at the halfway point, while the #88 Buzz Chew Racing machine still had more to give. Williamson found his way around Friesen to take over the lead on Lap 59, with Sheppard passing him as well five laps later.
It was a circumstance seen plenty of times before on the Series, with the top two in points battling until the end for a spot in Victory Lane.
As the last third of the race approached, it largely came down to who’s equipment would last the longest. Williamson extended his lead significantly as Sheppard began to fade, hampered by lapped traffic. He maintained a comfortable lead going into the final laps, poised to take the checkers at Weedsport for the second time in two Series visits. He finished off the marathon race mistake free, winning the $10,000 payday and securing a guaranteed starting spot for the 2023 Billy Whittaker Cars 200.
“I knew when I raced Stew (Friesen) for the lead, I knew if Matt (Sheppard) got by both of us, it was probably going to be race over,” Williamson said. “I knew I had to get aggressive when Matt poked his nose onto the bottom. I started running the top a little harder. I hit the wall prior to that. I knew I couldn’t make mistakes like that when he was that close. That’s what it was going to take to win the race.”
Sheppard crossed the finish line in second, his second runner-up finish in a row.
“We got jammed up in traffic late and lost some ground there,” Sheppard said. “It seemed like in an open race track I was alright… I didn’t feel that good early, then I kind of got rolling the middle part of the race. It felt like last time, like we might be alright here, but then I got kind of progressively worse, or he got better, or vice versa, or a combination of both. But all in all, not a horrible night for us.”
Friesen finished third after being passed by Sheppard, rounding out the podium. It was his first Series podium finish of the season.
“I knew running the at the beginning would keep us in the lead, but it would heat up the right rear and probably seal up,” Friesen said. “I maybe should have been a little bit more patient with it at the beginning of the race and try and keep the right rear under me. I was trying to roll around the track and use the whole track. We’re just trying to get this car running as good as we can.”
Tim Sears Jr. finished in fourth, his highest finish this season while 2022 DIRTcar 358 Modified champion Dave Marcuccilli finished in fifth to round out the top five.
UP NEXT: The Super DIRTcar Series travels to Canandaigua, NY to compete at Land of Legends Raceway on Wednesday, July 19 in a 70-lap, $7,500-to-win, spectacular.
Hall Of Fame 100 (100 LAPS)
1.) 88-Mat Williamson; 2. 9S-Matt Sheppard; 3. 44-Stewart Friesen; 4. 83X-Tim Sears Jr; 5. M1-Dave Marcuccilli; 6. 4-Anthony Perrego; 7. 5H-Chris Hile; 8. 35-Mike Mahaney; 9. X-Chad Phelps; 10. 2-Jack Lehner; 11. 21A-Peter Britten; 12. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 13. 19-Tim Fuller; 14. 8H-Max McLaughlin; 15. 14-CG Morey; 16. 12-Darren Smith; 17. 99L-Larry Wight; 18. 70A-Alex Payne; 19. 27J-Danny Johnson; 20. 215-Adam Pierson; 21. 37M-Mathieu Desjardins; 22. 54-Steve Bernard; 23. (DNF) 29-Matt Caprara; 24. (DNF) 25R-Erick Rudolph; 25. (DNF) 22-Tanner Van Doren; 26. (DNF) 91-Felix Roy
Photo: Alex Bruce