RPW Column: Matt Sheppard’s ’22 Season Was Truly One For The Record Books; Crowned Super DIRTcar Champ Saturday Night
Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – LIVERPOOL, NY – Saturday night in Liverpool, NY, Sheppard was honored as the 2022 Super DIRTcar Series champion…his ninth career title.
There are very few in racing that have had the type of season that Sheppard did behind the wheel of a Dirt Modified Forty-two wins, every crown jewel and what seemed like every championship imaginable, all were captured by the driver of the 9s in what was truly a storybook year.
If you ask him, however, this season wasn’t about him.
The 2022 racing campaign was about the people he’s surrounded by. It was about the team that puts extremely fast race cars underneath him which allowed him to do supernatural things on the race track.
“This isn’t my team,” Sheppard said. “This is my family. It’s the longevity since we formed it in 2016. There are so many great people behind this operation, some of which aren’t even here tonight. That’s what makes this work.”
Sheppard was simply phenomenal on the Super DIRTcar Series trail this past season. Seven wins, 13 top 5’s and 15 top 10’s over the course of 19 events set Sheppard apart from the competition this season.
The Savannah, NY driver even captured both ends of the Modified spectrum during the 50th Super DIRT Week, taking home the Big Block and 358-Modified crowns.
“Super DIRT Week was awesome,” he said. “We had some amazing battles in both races at Oswego and when it’s going your way, it’s going your way. Certainly, it was going our way that week.”
Even with the success, Sheppard knows it’s because of the people he surrounds himself with.
“I couldn’t do it without each and every person and sponsor on this team,” he said. “Randy (Kisacky, Sheppard’s crew chief) sells himself short. We throw a lot of ideas off of each other. We can win at Middletown and still talk about how we could be better for three and-a-half hours on the way home.”
It’s that chemistry with Kisacky that has kept Sheppard in the hunt for wins and championships since the two paired together.
“Sometimes, we fight like a husband and wife,” he said. “But when we’re on the same page, it’s magical and everyone gets the see how magical that is. I just couldn’t do this without everyone.”
Setting personal records has never been something high on Matt Sheppard’s bucket list. All he wanted to do was win the next race. However, in 2022, reaching a career high in season wins brings a smile to his face.
“The wins were special this year,” he said. “We’ve won 41 before but to get 42 this year was pretty amazing. We’ve won championships and such but the body of races we won in 2022 was great.”
There’s no doubt that Sheppard was good all season long. However, sometimes, he had luck on his side.
“There were times that it seemed like, when our backs were against the wall, we scratched and crawled our way back to the front,” he said. I’ve been a big follower of Dirt Modified racing and I don’t know if anyone’s ever had a season like we did this year and that’s all because of the people behind this team.”
To say that racers and fans alike witnessed one of, if not the greatest, season on record of any Dirt Modified driver might be an understatement. It was simply impressive.
“You start out with the first win and you’re excited,” he said. “Then, the second one and you’re really excited. The third one you’re just in awe after that. You’re like, ‘shake me, is this really happening?’ Then you throw in a last-lap pass or this or that and you end up in victory lane again and you really don’t even know what to say at that point.”
Even with as much as he won in 2022, Matt Sheppard was amazed at what he and his team accomplished.
“Honestly, when you look back at what we did this year, you’re just awestruck,” he said. “It was just an unbelievable season. Simply storybook is all you can say about it and I’m just fortunate to have the people I do behind me. Year 2022 was one for the record books.”