LIVERPOOL, NY – The best DIRTcar racers in the Northeast were honored Saturday night at the annual DIRTcar Night of Champions after a season where fans were treated to one of the closest Super DIRTcar Series championship battles of all time.
More than $212,000 in cash and awards was handed out to nearly 100 drivers across four series as well as the four divisions of DIRTcar Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship.
Mat Williamson outran Matt Sheppard in the final two races of the season to become the Super DIRTcar Series’ first Canadian champion. As Sheppard put it, it’s the consistency that wins championships.
Williamson — piloting the No. 88 Buzz Chew Bicknell chassis Big Block Modified and his family-owned No 6 — was up front all year, but it wasn’t until a Friday the 13th in the Duel at the Demon 100 at Brewerton Speedway when Williamson would finally break out. He went back-to-back with wins at Brewerton and Mohawk Int’l Raceway, and then one month later picked up his final and most memorable checkered flag of 2019. He cemented his place in Super DIRTcar Series history by picking up the victory at NAPA Super DIRT Week’s Billy Whittaker Cars 200.
Those late-season wins catapulted the 28-year-old St. Catharines, Ontario, driver to new heights. Williamson is a champion in every way, but while nothing could shake him up en route to winning the title, getting on stage in front of his team, crew, family and competitors made for too much emotion to hold back.
“First things first is that I am really nervous to be up here right now,” Williamson said. “This is my whole dream to be up here, but I didn’t think it would happen at this age. I looked up to Billy [Decker], Matt [Sheppard], and Brett [Hearn] and everyone who has done this, who I watched growing up.”
Williamson split his time between two cars. The Buzz Chew Racing No. 88 competed in the US races while the family-owned No. 6 took on a majority of the Canadian tracks.
“It says a lot about the super team that we have behind us,” Williamson said. “The guys work so hard and put in so much preparation going into it. Everybody that’s behind me elevates my level and make me better. The preparation of both cars was second to none. It also says a lot of Billy the Kid engines. It’s one hell of a motor to finish every race and every lap.”
Family is extremely important in racing and the Super DIRTcar Series is no exception.
“I have to thank my family,” Williamson said. “My Mom and Dad for getting me to this point in life, to build me into the man today and my girlfriend. She sticks by me.”
For the first time in four years, Sheppard was interviewed by Shane Andrews not as Series champion but as runner-up. It last happened in 2014 when Super Matt fell to Billy Decker.
“This feels a little weird,” Sheppard said with a smile on stage with Andrews. Sheppard congratulated Williamson and his team. Although the No. 9s fell short of another championship, Sheppard led the Series in wins with nine.
Decker, of Unadilla, NY, rounded out the top three. Decker bookended the season with a DIRTcar Nationals win at Volusia Speedway Park in the first race of the season, and then capped off 2019 by winning the finale at the Can-Am World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Decker’s consistency was also key as he only finished outside of the top 10 on three occasions.
Ryan Godown, from Ringoes, NJ, was voted Rookie of the Year as the highest finishing rookie in the points standings. Godown’s best finish came at the Orange County Fair Speedway where he crossed the line in second place to pick up a guaranteed start at NAPA Super DIRT Week.
Fifth-place finisher Erick Rudolph was awarded the KSE Hard Charger of the Year Award. The No. 25R made up the most positions four times throughout the 2019 Super DIRTcar Series season.
Despite finishing fifth in Super DIRTcar Series points after his championship run in 2018, Rudolph still put together a tremendously successful year. Rudolph took his DIRTcar 358 Modified program to the highest reaches in 2019, scoring the overall DIRTcar 358 Modified Series title plus Track Championships at Ransomville Speedway and Utica-Rome Speedway.
“I can’t believe how blessed I am to be able to do what I do here,” Rudolph said. “I am extremely thankful for the opportunities that I have and hope to keep doing the same in the future. I gotta thank my car owners, my sponsors and everyone in my group. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing today.”
No one can deny how good Kevin Root is in his DIRTcar Sportsman Modified. For the second year in a row, Root scored the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series championship. After claiming the Central Region championship, Root went on to have a fantastic NAPA Super DIRT Week in five nights straight of competition cement his second crown.
At the banquet, Root noted that with his current resume he’s, “open to job offers.”
Root’s son, Nicholas, was awarded the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Crew Chief award and took home an eagle for himself. Hopefully, Dad will give him some room on the mantle.
C.D. Beauchamp has a new nickname. According to banquet host Shane Andrews, C.D. can only stand for one thing: Championship Driver. Beauchamp took his slick No. 88x to the top and brought the DIRTcar Pro Stock Series championship home to Quebec.
In addition to the four series champions, weekly racers were also honored. Matt Sheppard in the Big Block Modified class, Mat Williamson in the 358 Modified division, Brad Rouse in Sportsman and Josh Coonradt in Pro Stocks were all honored for their Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship titles.
“Amazing season. Amazing team,” said Beauchamp. “They do so much for me and everyone is just amazing. They give me a good car every race. I’m just the driver, they do all the hard work. This is a family operation.”
Stay tuned to SuperDIRTcarSeries.com and DIRTcar.com as the 2020 season comes together. As always, make plans to escape the winter by coming to the DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford Feb. 4-15 at Volusia Speedway Park near Daytona Beach, FL.