Three years ago, Matt Sheppard accomplished a feat that many wouldn’t have fathomed. He tied dirt Modified Hall of Famer Brett Hearn for the most championships in Series history with seven. This year, he took it a step further and surpassed him – an accomplishment the Big Block Modified star couldn’t hide his glee for with the wide smile that accompanied every word.
“It’s definitely huge,” Sheppard said. “If you can beat anyone of Brett Hearn’s records, I feel like you’re doing something pretty good. He’s obviously the best that’s ever done this. To kind of break the tie with him and have the most Super DIRTcar Series championships… if you look at the history of the Super DIRTcar Series and look at all the names listed on it, to have the most is definitely very special to me.”
Sheppard had a slow start to the season, not getting a top-10 finish until the sixth race of the year when he earned his first 2021 win at Lebanon Valley Speedway. By August, “Super” Matt found his stride, not finishing outside the top-five for eight straight races – including a third at the prestigious NAPA Super DIRT Week.
“There’s just always different competition,” Sheppard said about the competitive nature of the Series. “We didn’t do the championship deal last year (due to the pandemic). But the year before I lost to Mat Williamson. So, I mean, it’s a struggle every year. We’ve just been fortunate to string together a bunch of years here where we’ve had really good seasons and years on tour. We’ve been able to string together a bunch of championships.
“I don’t really know what we found (this year). Just quit doing stupid stuff. I think at the beginning of the year we were just shooting ourselves in the foot. We’d take a car that we’d qualify decent with and say, ‘We’ll make a little tweak for the Feature,’ and then we’d ruin it. I don’t know what really happened. We just quit shooting ourselves in the foot and started stringing together some good finishes and wins and turned our season around.”
Already the winningest driver in Series history – with 76 victories – Sheppard now sits alone at the top of the championship mountain, arguably on the path his predecessor was honored with this year: becoming a future Hall of Famer.
He ended the 2021 season with four wins, 11 top-fives and 16 top-10s, eager to make it nine titles of the #9S Big Block Modified in 2022.
- Nick Graziano / Super DIRTcar Series -
See his championship interview:
See the full recap by Nick Graziano:
See what Joe Grabianowski said about Brett Hearns Victory:
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Photo: Jacy Norgaard