AUDIO/RECAP: Sheppard Sets Super DIRTcar Record In World Finals Opener

Jacob Seelman Audio, Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Racing Nation, Southeast, Super DIRTcar Series 0 Comments

Matt Sheppard scored his 11th Super DIRTcar Series win of the season Friday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, fending off Justin Haers in the closing stages. (CSP/Chris Seelman photo)

Matt Sheppard scored his 11th Super DIRTcar Series win of the season Friday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, fending off Justin Haers in the closing stages. (CSP/Chris Seelman photo)

CONCORD, N.C. – Like a speeding bullet, ‘Super’ Matt Sheppard lived up to his nickname and to the Superman logo on the side of his big block modified Friday night during the opener of the Bad Boy Off Road World Finals.

Sheppard started from the pole and never looked back despite four cautions in the final 10 laps, leading wire-to-wire to both clinch his fifth Super DIRTcar Series championship and notch his first-career win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte after four prior runner-up finishes at the four-tenths-mile oval.

“This car was awesome and when you have a car that good; it makes your life as a driver really easy,” said Sheppard. “It has been awesome since we got here. We haven’t had to touch a thing on it. We really didn’t want to see that yellow on lap 39, but we were able to hold on. I’m really glad to finally get a win here in Charlotte, too. It’s been a long time coming down here.”

Sheppard’s win also set the single-season wins record with his 11th series victory on the year, breaking the mark of 10 set by Brett Hearn in 2002 and tied by Billy Decker in 2008.

“To set the record and get (win) number 11 is unbelievable,” the Waterloo, New York native added. “We started our own team over the winter and to come out and make this happen, I would have never believed we would have a season like this. The competition is just so tough here … there are 10 or 15 guys who can win every night in this series, so to have 11 in one year is just mind-blowing.”

With the first 32 laps of the 40-lap A-Main going caution-free, Sheppard carried as much as six seconds over runner-up Justin Haers during the second half of the race.

However, Sheppard was brought back to the field by a caution with eight laps to go, sparked when a multi-car accordion down the backstretch led to Rich Scagliotta hitting the infield tractor tire in turn three.

Sheppard quickly resumed command when the green flag returned, but only two more laps were completed before Danny Johnson got squirrely in turn three and collected Peter Britten, Jimmy Horton and Mike Mahaney in a four-car melee.

Leading the field back to another restart, Sheppard’s torrid pace was slowed for a third time when Max McLaughlin stalled out going down the backstretch with a broken driveline, setting up a four-lap dash to the finish.

Once the green flag returned again, it appeared to be smooth sailing for Sheppard as he made it all the way to the white flag, but Keith Flach’s spinning car in turn three set up a green-white-checkered finish that ultimately extended the race one lap beyond its scheduled distance.

That was of no consequence to Sheppard, however, as he pulled away from a torrid battle for second in the final two laps that saw Billy Decker storm up the outside and nearly wrest the runner-up spot away from Haers.

Haers hung on, though, and finished second behind Sheppard after a brilliant Thursday night performance that saw him win both of his qualifying heat races.

“We got stuck there behind a couple of lapped cars and when I got to his back bumper, I was going to try and take a couple laps and just try to roll him on the outside,” Haers said. “As soon as I did it, (Dave) Blaney went by me, so I had to try and get back by him. I was just trying to protect the bottom after that and Decker still almost got me. It’s a good night, though.”

Decker came home third ahead of Pat Ward and Johnson, who rallied from his incident to complete the top five.

Fast qualifier Larry Wight was sixth, followed by Jimmy Phelps, Gary Tomkins, Stewart Friesen and Brett Hearn.

The Bad Boy Off Road World Finals conclude Saturday night, with racing kicking off at 4:45 p.m. Matt Sheppard will conclude his championship-winning season, while the rest of the 49-car field will search for one final feature victory to close the year.

 

Audio with race winner Matt Sheppard:

 

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