Story By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR – CONCORD, NC – From February to November, the 2022 season for the Super DIRTcar Series produced a thrilling tour up and down the east coast.
The season started in Florida with Jimmy Phelps earning his first Big Gator Championship and continued through New York and Pennsylvania until concluding in Charlotte where Matt Sheppard earned his ninth Series championship.
Along the journey where multiple thrilling events, seven different winners in the first seven races, new winners and more, all leading to Beasts of the Northeast preparing for the 2023 season to kickoff Feb. 15-18 at Volusia Speedway Park during DIRTcar Nationals.
Below are the top storylines of the 2022 season:
ON TOP: Matt Sheppard was crowned champion for the ninth time in his celebrated career at the conclusion of The World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte after a season of dominance over his competition.
After starting the points-paying season with a DNF at Bridgeport, Sheppard steadily built steam, becoming a near unstoppable force on the track. The Waterloo, NY driver captured seven wins, including the coveted Billy Whittaker Cars 200 title at the 50th Running of NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week – his third of his career. The day prior, he claimed the victory in the DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150.
The #9S finished 83 points in front of runner-up Mat Williamson, and 160 points in front of third-place Jimmy Phelps.
SO CLOSE: Mat Williamson finished the season in second in points – 83 points behind champion Matt Sheppard. The St. Catharines, ON driver captured four wins in total this season – three during the regular season (Ransomville Speedway and two at The Dirt Track at Charlotte), helping to keep him in the points hunt throughout the year.
He and his Buzz Chew Racing team caught steam late into the season with a second-place finish in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 during Super DIRT Week and then winning two races during the World of Outlaws World Finals, including the season-ending event.
JUST BEGINNING: At 22-years-old, “Mad” Max McLaughlin proved himself to be a serious contender on the Series with an overall fourth-place finish in points. He scored one of the biggest accomplishments of his budding career when he captured his first points-paying victory at Land of Legends Raceway on June 30 with a late race pass. The Mooresville, NC resident also scored six additional top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes.
He went on to notch a second-place podium finish during the DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150 followed by a third-place finish at the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 during Super DIRT Week, again proving he has the skill to run with the Series’ top guns.
ROOKIE(S) OF THE YEAR: In his first full-time season on the Series, Anthony Perrego showed a skill level beyond that of a typical rookie, garnering him the title Super DIRTcar Series Rookie of the Year. The Walden, NY native scored five top-fives and 10 top 10s, with his most preeminent finish coming at his home track of Orange County Fair Speedway on July 28.
Perrego finished second after a hard-fought battle with eventual winner Matt Sheppard. Pulling double duty at the 50th Running of NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week running his DIRTcar 358 Modified and his Big Block Modified, he narrowly missed the podium during the Salute to the Troops 150 when he crossed the finish line fourth. Perrego carried his competitive nature into the final races of the season, recording two more fourth place finishes at the World of Outlaws World Finals.
Also in his rookie year, Guilderland, NY native Marc Johnson scored four top five finishes, with two back-to-back runner-up finishes at Lebanon Valley Speedway and Albany-Saratoga Speedway. One of the highlights of his season was leading a stacked field of competitors in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 for 43 laps with some precision driving.
Newcomer Adam Pierson also made a name for himself on tour logging two top-five finishes, one being a second-place finish on the final night of SummerFAST at Land of Legends Raceway on Aug. 18. Pierson also made an attention-grabbing run at Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Sept. 24 when he led the pack for 83 laps of the 100-lap Feature before eventually having to exit the track due to mechanical issues.
BIG GATORS: The 51st DIRTcar Nationals in February opened the 2022 season for the Super DIRTcar Series with a bang. The five-race event saw five different winners and thrilling finishes each night.
Peter Britten looked like an early favorite to win the title, winning the second race of the event and leading the Big Gator points. But a mechanical issue one night, ruined his plans and dropped him out of contention. That left Heinke-Baldwin Racing teammates Jimmy Phelps and Max McLaughlin to face off against Mat Williamson for the title.
In the end, Jimmy Phelps ended the week with his first Series win in two years, his first Volusia Speedway Park and claimed his first Big Gator Championship. The Baldwinsville, NY driver then went on to win at Weedsport Speedway during the regular season – his first points paying win in three years.