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Sheppard Back on Top of NE Modified Rankings; Murdick takes over top spot in west

Finally, northeast modified racing got into full swing in June with most home tracks having better luck with the weather and the SDS ramping up into full swing. When the dust settled, Matt Sheppard ended up the TDN driver of the month in the modified category with a performance that left little doubt in the minds of even the hardest critics….

Alright then, so here’s what our criteria is based on:

1. How many races did the driver partake in
2. How big are the purses for any special events
3. What’s the level of competition at home tracks or in special events
4. Bad luck factor wrecks, mechanical problems..etc are taken into account these things happen. However should the driver rebound with solid finishes afterwards, it shall diminish the effect of a bad night.

Basically, WRG events including home tracks, ROC events and American Racer home tracks and 358 modified in both Niagara region, Eastern Ontario and Quebec,  and Eastern PA/NJ are all taken into account as well as the new Short Track Super Series events. Sail panels or not, Hoosier or American Racer, it doesn’t matter

1. Matt Sheppard: 
Super Matt’s been on fire in June, scoring a Brewerton win, two Canandaigua wins while securing two Super DIRTcar tour wins at Cornwall and New Egypt in the month. This one’s a no brainer just as last month’s rankings. Sheppard was simply that dominant.

2. Stew Friesen
The mayor of Fonda and Utica-Rome keeps on keeping on with wins at both locations this past month. Had to take him down a spot this month because Sheppard’s been that good.

3. Brett Hearn
Hearn’s been having a good year, but not quite yet a Hearn-like year if that makes any sense. He’s been on top of the results at Malta for the most part, but his Valley performances have been average and his SDS outings haven’t been up to his usual standards, not that we’ve had that many races though. Let’s see if he can’t carry forward some “Big Show” momentum after a good performance. Could be a turning point July 8.

4. Billy Decker
He’s here on good faith at the moment, but it looks as if he’s about to take his place in the top three should one of them stumble in July. His Brewerton and Fulton finishes have been fairly consistent, but he’s yet to snag a big win yet.

5a.Billy Dunn
The 2013 Syracuse champ added two Mohawk wins to his two previous Canandaigua wins while finishing in the top 10 twice in as many SDS dates.

5b. Larry Wight
Some might be shocked. And if you don’t follow the mods that closely, you might not have heard of him, but get used to the sound of his name, you’re going to be hearing it.  Had a very consistent June with top 5’s at Brewerton, Fulton, and Utica Rome. He currently sits 5th in SDS points as well. This could be a breakout season for him, earning him some recognition outside the geography.

6.  Justin Haers
Had a nice win at Canandaigua to open the month of June and has been very competitive elsewhere.

7. Jimmy Phelps
Still searching for that elusive first win in 2014. Had the pole for the New Egypt “Dirty Jersey 60” but couldn’t turn it into victory. It was a lackluster June for Mr. Phelps though as he came up with only one top five finish for the month.

8. Gary Tomkins
Impressive month at Canandaigua with a win and three top fives at arguably the toughest home track in the geography! He might take the track title there actually which would be quite a feat.

9. Ryan Godown
Has now surpassed Pauch Jr for the season lead at New Egypt and if we could mathematically fold him into the standings at other tracks or series would slide right in to the top five in many locations.

10. Danny Johnson
Father time ended up in a tie for the win with Kevin Hartnett back on June 10th in the RoC’s “Clash at the Can” , not to be confused with the “Can Opener” or the “King of the Can” which also take place there.  He can still get it done as evidenced by his 358 modified tour performances.

Marc Johnson has been quietly having a good run at Malta in 2014

Honorable Mention:
Erick Rudolph- Currently in top 10 in SDS points and has full time big block ride for the rest of the year as well as his successful 358 program.

Pat Ward-Consistent performances at Brewerton, Fulton, and Utica Rome plus he’s committed himself to the full SDS tour with his Gypsum mount. He could be tough the rest of the way

Pete Britten- Gotta give the Aussie credit, he races at tough places and finishes in the top 10 most nights.

Ryan Watt- Had a fair June with a nice podium at RoC Penn Can.

Marc Johnson- Almost as good as Hearn at Malta these days, very underrated driver.

PA/OH- Western Frontier:

1. Dave Murdick
Won back to back weeks at Lernerville and took it to another level in June. Can he carry that momentum forward after a couple of weeks off?

2. Rex King Jr
Cooter’s settled into the model of consistency in June with a win at Sharon and top 5’s at Lernerville

3. Jeremiah Shingledecker
Captured first win of season at Lernerville and two top 5’s at Sharon in June. Mechanical gremlins of the early season look to be in the rear view mirror

4. Brian Swartzlander
 Won at Sharon in June and is starting to show signs of life again at Lernerville after a tough May campaign.

5. Rex King Sr
Not quite as hot as earlier this season but a win at Sharon keeps him in the top 5.

6. Mat Williamson
Canadian sensation has had some bad luck at Lernerville this season, but when he’s on, he makes it look so easy. Expect at least another win or two and perhaps he makes the Lernerville modified title a real dogfight in August.

7. Jim Weller Jr
Dominant at times when at Sharon, Weller stopped by Lernerville once in June and took home a 9th place finish for the effort.  Will be interesting to see if he makes BRP tour a priority this season.

8. Brad Rapp
The Doctor’s been right there in the mix this year. The only problem is, that it’s quite a tough mix in the top 5 at Lernerville.

9. Rick Richner 
Niagara Falls native makes the long two every week for Saturday’s at Sharon, pulling a reverse Williamson if you like. He gets top 5’s though. If we can scrape some hotel room cash together for him, would he consider trading Ransomville for Lernerville on Fridays?

10. Tom Winkle
He’s getting closer to some podiums at Lernerville, and a win wouldn’t be out of the question at all. It’s been a nice return to action for him in 2014.

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