Sheppard among U-R drivers getting first wins of season

RALLIES FOR WIN — Matt Sheppard celebrates while holding the checkered flag after winning Sunday’s modified feature at Utica-Rome Speedway. It was Sheppard’s first win of the season at the Vernon track as he passed Bobby Varin for the lead with two laps remaining. (Sentinel photo by John Clifford)

VERNON — Matt Sheppard came out victorious in the modified feature at Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday as every division feature had racers winning their first event of the 2012 season.

After getting by defending track champion Stewart Friesen in lapped traffic for second place, Sheppard charged after race leader Bobby Varin with two laps to go in the 32-lap event and made his move on the inside lane to get by Varin while claiming the lead at the line for the last lap.

Friesen made a charge at Varin for second, even making contact with him, but was unable to get by and had to settle for third.

AJ Filbeck scored the victory in the sportsman feature that featured an eight-car accident with point leader Matt Janczuk and Rome native Chris Mackey involved. Heath Carney finished second and Jeremy Vunk raced to third.

Glenn Forward charged from 11th place to win the pro stock feature over runner-up Pete Stefanski and Bret Beldon in third.

Ricky Breed outlasted Nathan Peckham to capture the 15-lap pure stock race.

The speedway will host its annual Victoria 200 Weekend beginning on Sunday with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints joining a regular show of modifieds, sportsman, pro stocks and pure stocks at 5:30 p.m.

On Memorial Day on Monday, the modifieds will return for the 100-lap Victoria 200 event, with gates opening at 2:30 p.m. and racing starting at 6 o’clock.