Sheppard Wants More Syracuse Success

Matt Sheppard will not be playing it safe in this year's World Finals. (Dave Dalesandro/MSI Photo)
Matt Sheppard is hoping to pick up his second victory in the VP Small Engine Fuels 200. (Dave Dalesandro/MSI Photo)

WEEDSPORT, N.Y. – He’s only 30 years old, but Super DIRTcar Series racer Matt Sheppard has a wealth of experience racing at the New York State Fairgrounds “Moody Mile” in Syracuse.

He’ll put it to good use from Oct. 3, through Oct. 7 during NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week XLI.

Sheppard, the two-time and defending Super DIRTcar Series champion, not only charged to victory at the VP Small Engine Fuels 200 in 2009, but he did so after collecting trophies for the DIRTcar 358-Modified championship in 2003 and the DIRTcar Sportsman championship in 2000.

He is the only competitor with victories in three different classes at Syracuse, but he knows a victory in Sunday’s VP Small Engine Fuels 200 won’t come easily.

“It’s difficult every year,” Sheppard said in a conference call with media Wednesday. “There are so many different variables. To win the race, first you’ve got to finish the race, which is tough to do. It’s a long, grueling race. Then you have to have a fast car, you’ve got to have the right strategy, you’ve got to have the right pit stops, you’ve got to have the right fuel mileage, and you’ve got to have luck. Those are a lot of different things to put together on one Sunday afternoon so you can be able to win that race.”

After a successful season, touting three Super DIRTcar Series wins and a big-block modified track championship at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, Sheppard is looking to maintain his momentum through next week’s NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week XLI, tackling one of his favorite tracks with strong Big-Block Modified and 358-Modified entries.

“I think the racing surface is fantastic,” Sheppard commented on the fairgrounds’ “Moody Mile.” “It’s far racier than it has been in the past. It’s more driver-friendly.

“It’s become more about having your car set up and being able to drive it rather than who has the biggest motor and can put the most new tires on it.”