RPW Column: Matt Sheppard’s Enjoying Rarefied Air At The Top Of The Super DIRTcar Series

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – LIVERPOOL, NY – In 2021, Matt Sheppard collected his eighth Super DIRTcar Series championship, , breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Brett Hearn.

Depending on who you talk to, though, hat puts the Savannah, NY-native right at the top of the record books for DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series titles.

However, Sheppard understands exactly how this has all come to be.

It’s all been about preparation. It’s all been about hard work. It’s all been about the dedication through the years to get better and make his team the best they could be. In 2021, the MSM #9S was at the top of the class.

With all the success they achieved this past season, Sheppard remembers what it was like all those years ago when he first began in this sport, and what it’s taken to get to the top of the mountain.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up watching guys like Brett (Hearn), Bob (McCreadie), Billy (Decker), Steve (Paine), Alan (Johnson) and Danny (Johnson),” Sheppard said. “Then, I got to race against all of them and learn from them. I use to get my butt kicked night in and night out and it just made us work harder.”

Through those years, Sheppard knows it wasn’t just about him. He knows it took a lot of people to get him to where he is today.

“I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of good people,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s tough to separate the sponsors from the pit crew. There always there ready to help out and it’s really been a fun ride.”

The drive within Matt Sheppard in 2021 is no different than that of Matt Sheppard when he won his first title in 2010 or when he claimed Rookie of the Year In 2003. The fire is still there.

“I think sometimes it’s just about working hard and hating to lose,” he said. “The nights you lose, it just makes you work that much harder. I don’t know if I’m as good of a driver as I am being a competitive person. I think that competitiveness is what’s gotten me to where I am today.”

It’s that competitiveness and the toughness of his fellow racers that keeps Sheppard working hard day in and day out.

“I’ve been fortunate to stay hungry and be surrounded by a lot of great people,” he said. “Every year, you get guys like Mat (Williamson) who whooped our butts a few years ago and Stewie (Friesen), who’s whooping our butts at times right now. Every time you get beat, it just makes you work that much harder.”

Even with all of the accolades he picked up on Saturday night for his achievements during the 2021 DIRTcar season, Sheppard knows this isn’t possible with the support system he has behind him.

“Randy (Kisacky) and Jamie (Bechy) are always willing to go the extra mile for this team,” he said. “I couldn’t do this without all of our sponsors. My Dad, my Mom and my sister have been here every step of the way. My girlfriend Jordan (Lynch) has been a huge inspiration this year. I’m just very fortunate. I couldn’t do it without all of those people and their support.”

Is Sheppard hungry to grab championship #9 in 2022?

“We’re always hungry,” he said with a smile. “It’s time to get to work.”

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