CONCORD, N.C. — Matt Sheppard may lock up his fifth Super DIRTcar Series championship on Friday night simply by taking the green flag at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, but that doesn’t mean the Waterloo, New York veteran goes into the Bad Boy Off Road World Finals with nothing to prove.
Sheppard has 10 series victories this year, tied for the single-season record with Brett Hearn (2002) and Billy Decker (2008) during what has been nothing short of a magical campaign for the 34-year-old.
But just being tied for the record isn’t good enough, he said on Friday.
Sheppard wants to score his first-ever Charlotte victory and set the bar at a new level with his 11th win of the season.
“I’m gunning for it,” Sheppard told Race Chaser Online. “We come to the race track to win and man, I want to set that record pretty bad. As a driver, you always hate having to share,” he laughed.
Sheppard said he never expected to have a season like he’s had this year, which includes wins at Fonda Speedway, Volusia Speedway Park, Williams Grove Speedway and a non-points victory at Eldora Speedway in July.
“As a racer you dream of having a year like this, but you never think it will actually happen,” he explained. “The wins that we’ve had this year … starting out at DIRTcar Nationals (in Volusia) with the win we had, winning at Williams Grove, finally getting one at Eldora … passing Stewart (Friesen) for the win in the Jumpin’ Jack (60) race at Fonda; it’s been an amazing journey and a heck of a ride for this team.”
“The Jumpin’ Jack win, especially … that was a really big win for us. You don’t just pass Stewie for a win at Fonda … that’s his house, so that one meant a lot and we had a hell of a race in that one.”
In fact, Sheppard has had a lot of stellar races this season, and he’s quickly moving into the realm of the all-time legends in Northeastern big block modified competition.
His fifth championship ties him with Alan Johnson for third all-time in series titles, and his now 45 career wins are sixth on the cumulative wins list, just a half-dozen behind Johnson and Bob McCreadie for fourth on the list.
But despite those numbers, Sheppard’s year began with uncertainty.
After winning the championship last season in a Heinke-Baldwin Racing-prepared Troyer race car, Sheppard was shuffled out at HBR and forced to start his own team, returning to pilot a Bicknell Racing Products chassis with a small core group around him as he sought his fifth title.
At that point, he said, “everyone laughed at us because they thought this small team couldn’t do what I did last year and dominate the table.”
What does he have to say to them 10 wins (and perhaps more) later?
“I can tell you this much, they’re not laughing now,” Sheppard smiled.
Race Chaser Online is carrying live updates of Friday’s Bad Boy Off Road World Finals program, accessible by clicking here.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as both the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series and the co-track announcer at Millbridge Speedway.
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