Matt Sheppard
Matt Sheppard (9s) battles Brett Hearn during the Bad Boy Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals. (Dick Ayers Photo)

That the team has been first rate is indisputable. Sheppard claimed the Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park and Utica-Rome Speedway championships, the Mr. DIRT Weekly Series title and his fifth Super DIRTcar Series big-block series championship. His 12 series wins, topped by a sweep of the season-ending World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, were a single-season record and his 29 overall victories would be huge in any league.

While he didn’t win the inaugural big-block race at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway during Super DIRT Week, Sheppard did turn fast time and lead most of the race before his car began pushing water out during one of the red flags. After a lengthy, steam-shrouded pit stop, he raced back to fourth at the checkered flag. At age 34, Sheppard and his team have many more shots to win at the “Steel Palace.”

“His secret is that he’s got a real team,” declared DIRTcar star Tim Fuller. “When you have a capable team to go along with wanting to win as bad as Matt does, you’ve got a great combination. Randy Kisacky is a really sharp guy and the rest of his guys are top notch as well.

“Their cars are like everybody else’s, but when his shop was at Weedsport he logged a lot of test laps. He learned a lot and didn’t tell anyone. He’s a quiet, sharp guy with a really thick notebook and he’s going to keep going like this. He’s got the only real race team in the pit area,” Fuller noted. “The rest of us have new guys all the time or just one or two guys to help while he’s got a bunch of experienced crew guys.”

His competitors really hate to think about it but, without the work of building a whole new team before he can turn a wheel, Sheppard’s 2017 season might be even better.