CONCORD, NC – Matt Sheppard, the driver of the FX Caprara No. 9s Big Block Modified, made a mark in history this weekend as he broke a record and won his fifth Super DIRTcar Series Championship. Sheppard proved once again that he was the man to beat Saturday night during the Bad Boy Off Road World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
“This place was so racy tonight,” said Sheppard in victory lane. “These big blocks put on a heck of a show tonight. We were racing two, three, four wide there. Last time we started on the pole and led the whole race. I was happy to get that win and tonight was even more satisfying. Starting in the back a little bit further and driving through the field. I just can’t say enough about this racecar. It was just fantastic.”
Pat Ward and Justin Haers led the 29-car field to the initial green flag. On the drop of the green, a four-car battle for the lead emerged as Ward, Hears, Brett Hearn and Billy Decker all ran wire-to-wire – until Haers took the lead and pulled away from the field on lap two.
Decker, who started fifth, slid his way into third as he began to chase down Ward.
It didn’t take long for eighth place starter, Sheppard, to make his way into the picture as he slipped his way under Tim Fuller and advanced into fifth on lap ten.
The first caution of the night was brought out due to a slow moving Mike Mahaney.
Racing once again resumed but not for long as Ryan Watt made hard contact with the turn one wall on lap 12.
Keith Flach, Erick Rudolph and Mike Maresca made contact going into turn three, sending Flach flipping on lap 14.
The third restart of the night saw Hearn running the outside line as Sheppard tried to sneak up underneath him. Hearn didn’t give up that easily as he managed to close the door on Sheppard.
Justin Haers held a steady lead at the halfway mark over Ward, Decker, Hearn and Sheppard.
The battle for third began to heat up as Hearn and Sheppard started closing in on Decker on lap 24.
Wight soon made his way into the picture as four cars began to battle side-by-side for the third position.
As the battle for third continued, Haers caught the back end of the pack with just eight laps remaining.
Sheppard was a man on the move as he moved his way into third on lap 32 then soon began to close in on Ward.
Sheppard charged hard into one and slid up out of two to pass Ward for second on lap 35.
Haers got out of shape coming out of turn four and Sheppard was there to take advantage. Sheppard blew by Hears on the front stretch and went on to take the lead on lap 36.
Another yellow was thrown with two laps to go due to a slowing Tyler Dippel.
Ward took advantage of the lap 38 restart as he drove by Haers for second, setting his sights on Sheppard.
Ward ran out of time and fell one spot short as Sheppard crossed the line first over Ward, Haers, Hearn and Wight to sweep the weekend at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and to capture his fifth Super DIRTcar Series Championship.
“It’s like we flipped a light switch there about halfway and that thing just took off like a missile,” Sheppard said. “When I could see Justin and Pat there I wanted to win this race again. I didn’t want to settle for third. Thankfully this car was good enough that we could do it.”
Ward had a competitive car as it showed this weekend during World Finals by placing his No. 42p Big Block Modified in the top five in both features.
“Sheppard has had a very dominant car. You can’t say enough about the way he’s been running,” Ward said. “Justin bobbled one time and it just happened to be when Matt was up under me and I was just kind of hoping Justin did that sooner so I could get by. It was a heck of a race between the three of us.”
Friday nights second place finisher was looking to get the job done and move one spot forward but ended up closing out the season with a third place finish.
“We’ll take it. We were on a little bit different tire than Pat and Matt,” Haers said. “I wanted to move down because the top was getting so far out there, my right front was harder than both of these guys. I just couldn’t turn anymore, then I’d get lose up off.
A true podium finish in Charlotte, we can’t complain.”
“I honestly didn’t know how many laps were left,” laughed Sheppard. “I knew there couldn’t be a ton. I was running just as hard as I could and luckily we were able to get to the lead. When we got the lead it was kind of a sigh of relief. Again, I didn’t want to see that yellow at the end but just like last night this car is so good. It felt good to win the race last night but to do it the way we did it tonight felt even better.”
Sheppard proved early on in the season that his new team combination was a force to reckoned with. “It’s kind of funny, we started off good in Florida and came out strong. Then the first series race at Fulton I think I finished seventeenth or something, it was awful. Then after that it was like we just really got rolling. I mean twelve series wins in one year, wow, that’s unbelievable. I think we even had four or five seconds too. When you can finish first or second in 17 of the races that’s pretty impressive. It just goes to show we built a potent team this winter. We had all the right parts, crew, car, engines, the whole deal. Everybody and everything did its job. It’s just a dream season.”
Matt Sheppard was no stranger to doing the confetti dance in victory lane this year as he broke the record for the most wins in a season and clinched the Super DIRTcar Series championship, for the fifth time.
A-Main (40 laps) – 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 2. 42p-Pat Ward, 3. 3-Justin Haers, 4. 20-Brett Hearn, 5. 99l-Larry Wight, 6. 27j-Danny Johnson, 7. 19-Tim Fuller, 8. 91-Billy Decker, 9. 84-Gary Tomkins, 10. 18h-Peter Britten, 11. 43h-Jimmy Horton, 12. 8-Rich Scagliotta, 13. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 14. 01-Chris Raabe, 15. 44-Stewart Friesen, 16. 15-Billy Pauch Jr., 17. 6m-Mat Williamson, 18. 1-Tyler Dippel, 19. 10h-Dave Blaney, 20. 35-Frank Cozze, 21. 66-Rick Laubach, 22. 19b-Brett Kresley, 23. 7m-Mike Maresca, 24. 43-Keith Flach, 25. 25r-Erick Rudolph, 26. 14w-Ryan Watt, 27. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 28. 115-Kenny Tremont Jr., 29. 88m-Mike Mahaney
Last-Chance Showdown No. 1: 1. 43- Keith Flach; 2. 35- Frank Cozze; 3. 19b – Brett Kresley; 4. 07 – Tim Kerr; 5. 13 – Rick Regalski Jr.; 6. 21 – Gary Edwards Jr.; 7. 37m – Jeremiah Shingledecker; 8. 48T – Dave Rauscher; 9. 747 – Ryan Godown; 10. 17J – Matt Janiak; 11. 19w – Justin Wright.
Last-Chance Showdown No. 2: 1. 15 – Billy Pauch Jr.; 2. 43h – Jimmy Horton; 3. 115- Kenny Tremont Jr.; 4. 8- Rich Scagliotta; 5. 96 – Jean-Francois Corriveau; 6. 6h- Max McLaughlin; 7. 88m – Mike Mahaney; 8. R13- Ralph McBride; 9. 88-Joe August Jr.
Saturday Heat 1 – 1. 42p-Pat Ward, 2. 14w-Ryan Watt, 3. 01-Chris Raabe, 4. 7m-Mike Maresca, 5. 48t-Dave Rauscher, 6. 115-Kenny Tremont Jr., 7. 21-Gary Edwards Jr., 8. 8-Rich Scagliotta, 9. 17J-Matt Janiak
Saturday Heat 2 – 1. 3-Justin Haers, 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 3. 6m-Mat Williamson, 4. 10h-Dave Blaney, 5. 15-Billy Pauch Jr., 6. 35-Frank Cozze, 7. 88m-Mike Mahaney, 8. 37m-Jeremiah Shingledecker
Saturday Heat 3 – 1. 20-Brett Hearn, 2. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 3. 84-Gary Tomkins, 4. 25r-Erick Rudilph, 5. 747-Ryan Godown, 6. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 7. 07-Tim Kerr, 8. 66m-J.R. McGinley, 9. 19w-Justin Wright
Saturday Heat 4 – 1. 99l-Larry Wight, 2. 18h-Peter Britten, 3. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 4. 27J-Danny Johnson, 5. 43h-Jimmy Horton, 6. 43-Keith Flach, 7. 5h-Chris Hile, 8. 66x-Carey Terrance, 9. 88-Joe August Jr.
Saturday Heat 5 – 1. 91-Billy Decker, 2. 1-Tyler Dippel, 3. 66-Rick Laubach, 4. 44-Stewart Friesen, 5. 19-Brett Kresley, 6. 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau, 7. 13-Rick Regalski Jr., 8. R13-Ralph McBridge
Saturday Group 1 Qualifier – 1. 01-Chris Raabe, 16.050; 2. 7m-Mike Maresaca, 16.092; 3. 14w-Ryan Watt, 16.196; 4. 42p-Pat Ward, 16.212; 5. 8-Rich Scagliotta, 16.251; 6. 48t-Dave Rauscher, 16.295; 7. 17j-Matt Janiak, 16.304; 8. 115-Kenny Tremont Jr., 16.577; 9. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 16.740; 10. 21-Gary Edwards Jr., 33.580
Saturday Group 2 Qualifier – 1. 3-Justin Haers, 15.860; 2. 19-Tim Fuller, 15.962; 3. 10h-Dave Blaney, 16.027; 4. 6m-Mat Williamson, 16.108; 5. 15-Billy Pauch Jr., 16.152; 6. 88m-Mike Mahaney,16.407; 7. Y21-Yan Bussiere, 16.451; 8. 37m-Jeremiah Shingledecker, 16.527; 9. 35-Frank Cozze, 32.704
Saturday Group 3 Qualifier – 1. 20-Brett Hearn, 15.955; 2. 84-Gary Tomkins, 16.073; 3. 25r-Erick Rudolph, 16.097; 4. 19w-Justin Wright, 16.098; 5. 07-Tim Kerr, 16.155; 6. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 16.170; 7. 747-Ryan Godown, 16.292; 8. Max McLaughlin, 16.295; 9. 66m-J.R. McGinley, 16.538
Saturday Group 4 Qualifier – 1. 99l-Larry Wight, 15.878; 2. 18h-Peter Britten, 15.898; 3. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 16.037; 4. 43-Keith Flach, 16.039; 5. 27j-Danny Johnson, 16.278; 6. 5h-Chris Hile, 16.280; 7. 66x-Carey Terrance, 16.345; 8. 43h-Jimmy Horton, 16.355; 9. 88-Joe August Jr., 16.780
Saturday Group 5 Qualifier – 1. 91-Billy Decker, 15.913; 2. 66-Rick Laubach, 16.006; 3. 1-Tyler Dippel, 16.216; 4. 19b-Brett Kresley, 16.216; 5. 44-Stewart Friesen, 16.339; 6. 13-Rick Regalski Jr., 16.453; 7. 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau, 16.465; 8. R13-Ralph McBride, 17.513; 9. 11R-Robbie Bellinger, NT