Matt Sheppard Makes His Mark On 2018; Grabs First Win Of Season At DIRTcar Nationals

Story By: JOE GRABIANOWSKI / DIRTCAR – BARBERVILLE, FL – Super Matt Sheppard started the third Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified DIRTcar Nationals Feature in third but wasted no time positioning himself in pole-sitter Danny Johnson’s tire tracks.

Johnson lead the field for the first 17 laps until he caught up to lapped traffic. Johnson attempted to make a pass on the high-side. Unfortunately for the no. 27j, he slid up and Sheppard made the best of the opportunity and set sail en route to his first victory of 2018 season.

Matt Sheppard described the pass: “I saw [Danny Johnson] go to the top. I was just hoping I could get in there and fill the gap before he could get back to the bottom. He left a little bit of a gap going into one and when he slid up I said I gotta get through here. I just nailed that thing to the guardrail for the rest of the race; It performed flawlessly.”

Coming off a 40-win season, it only took three races in 2018 for Sheppard to park the 9s in Victory Lane. “I put my guys through hell coming down here. We had a bunch of stuff we wanted to give a try. We kind of abandoned ship and went back to the old stuff. This car hasn’t seen a race track since Charlotte at World Finals. It was pretty good in Charlotte and it was pretty good tonight.”

Sheppard was excited about the victory and gave credit to his fellow Gator wranglers on their wins in Thursday’s doubleheader. “It [a win at Volusia Speedway Park] means a lot. You know you travel all the way down here. It’s a long trip and you know we all do it for this Gator. Congrats on Tyler [Siri] and Timmy [McCreadie] for getting their Gators last night. This is what it’s all about.”

Danny Johnson: “Hats off to my crew for doing a fantastic job today getting the car ready. We probably should have won the race but didn’t. Just happy to be here with a podium finish. I tried passing the cars on top but that was a total mistake. It just didn’t work. He [Matt Sheppard] got underneath me and he was gone. It is what it is. It’s all good. We’ve got more to come.”

When the field first took the green flag, Max McLaughlin split Justin Haers and Matt Sheppard through the middle in a three-wide pass. Unfortunately for the Young Gun McLaughlin, J.R. Hefner suffered a flat tire and brought out the caution resulting in a complete restart.

“If we wouldn’t have had that caution after that first lap we were already in second. Who knows what would have happened after that. We picked the wrong tire tonight. We went soft and had to really take care of it. I’m pretty happy with third. T-Mac [Tim McCreadie] was all over me but I just tried to hit my marks every lap, stay on the bottom, and race my own race.”

Saturday, February 17th is the 12th and final night of the Volusia Speedway Park’s 2018 DIRTcar Nationals. The Big-Block Modifieds of the Super DIRTcar Series and the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Models will close out a fabulous 12 days of on-track festivities.

Feature (30 Laps): 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard [3]; 2. 27J-Danny Johnson [1]; 3. 6h-Max McLaughlin [4]; 4. 39-Tim McCreadie [5]; 5. 3-Justin Haers [8]; 6. 5-Ryan Godown [10]; 7. 42p-Pat Ward [16]; 8. 99L-Larry Wight [2]; 9. 43-Jimmy Horton [7]; 10. 88-Mike Mahaney [12]; 11. 9-Ryan Watt [9]; 12. 20-Brett Hearn [15]; 13. 91-Billy Decker [18]; 14. 98h-Jimmy Phelps [21]; 15. 1-Billy Pauch [14]; 16. 19m-Jessey Mueller [20]; 17. 19k-Brett Kressley [19]; 18. 25R-Erick Rudolph [28]; 19. 19-Tim Fuller [23]; 20. 7-Rick Laubach [11]; 21. 30M-Joseph Watson [6]; 22. 4-Billy VanInwegen [26]; 23. 74-J.R. Heffner [17]; 24. 5s-Tyler Siri [22]; 25. cb3-Chad Brachmann [24]; 26. 109-Billy Whittaker [27]; 27. 48t-Dave Rauscher [29]; 28. 6d-Dillon Steuer [13]; 29. 85-H.J. Bunting [25]

Qualifying Flight-A: 1. 27J-Danny Johnson, 17.592; 2. 30M-Joseph Watson, 17.62; 3. 9-Ryan Watt, 17.627; 4. 74-J.R. Heffner, 17.659; 5. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 17.7; 6. 19-Tim Fuller, 17.818; 7. 96-J-F Corriveau, 17.822; 8. 21-Yan Bussiere, 17.829; 9. 109-Billy Whittaker, 17.9; 10. 6d-Dillon Steuer, 18.123; 11. 25R-Erick Rudolph, 18.155

Qualifying Flight-B: 1. 5-Ryan Godown, 17.248; 2. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 17.425; 3. 99L-Larry Wight, 17.68; 4. 5s-Tyler Siri, 17.697; 5. 1-Billy Pauch, 17.794; 6. 118-Jim Britt, 17.996; 7. 13-Rick Regalski, 18.005; 8. 91-Billy Decker, 18.049; 9. cb3-Chad Brachmann, 18.131; 10. 17-Kyle Sheldon, 18.366; 11. 73-Kevin Poitras, 19.837

Qualifying Flight-C: 1. 6h-Max McLaughlin, 17.728; 2. 39-Tim McCreadie, 17.756; 3. 7-Rick Laubach, 17.768; 4. 4-Billy VanInwegen, 17.83; 5. 20-Brett Hearn, 17.847; 6. 19k-Brett Kressley, 17.862; 7. 65-Scott Hitchens, 17.925; 8. 85-H.J. Bunting, 17.975; 9. 165-Rex King, 18.084; 10. 30-Jamie Mills, 18.113; 11. 32-Jim Rasey, 18.694

Qualifying Flight-D: 1. 43-Jimmy Horton, 17.764; 2. 3-Justin Haers, 17.926; 3. 88-Mike Mahaney, 17.931; 4. 19m-Jessey Mueller, 17.998; 5. 42p-Pat Ward, 18.064; 6. 48t-Dave Rauscher, 18.085; 7. 1G-Darwin Greene, 18.397; 8. 44R-Russel Morseman, 18.71; 9. 46-Jeremy Smith, 18.753; 10. 35-Francois Bellemare, 18.867

Heat #1 – Flight (A)(8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer: 1. 27J-Danny Johnson [1]; 2. 30M-Joseph Watson [2]; 3. 9-Ryan Watt [3]; 4. 6d-Dillon Steuer [10]; 5. 74-J.R. Heffner [4]; 6. 98h-Jimmy Phelps [5]; 7. 19-Tim Fuller [6]; 8. 21-Yan Bussiere [8]; 9. 96-J-F Corriveau [7]; 10. 25R-Erick Rudolph [11]; 11. 109-Billy Whittaker [9]

Heat #2 – Flight (B)(8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer: 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard [2]; 2. 99L-Larry Wight [3]; 3. 5-Ryan Godown [1]; 4. 1-Billy Pauch [5]; 5. 91-Billy Decker [8]; 6. 5s-Tyler Siri [4]; 7. 118-Jim Britt [6]; 8. cb3-Chad Brachmann [9]; 9. 17-Kyle Sheldon [10]; 10. 13-Rick Regalski [7]; 11. 73-Kevin Poitras [11]

Heat #3 – Flight (C) – Spon.-3 (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer: 1. 39-Tim McCreadie [2]; 2. 6h-Max McLaughlin [1]; 3. 7-Rick Laubach [3]; 4. 20-Brett Hearn [5]; 5. 19k-Brett Kressley [6]; 6. 4-Billy VanInwegen [4]; 7. 165-Rex King [9]; 8. 65-Scott Hitchens [7]; 9. 32-Jim Rasey [11]; 10. 85-H.J. Bunting [8]; 11. 30-Jamie Mills [10]

Heat #4 – Flight (D) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer: 1. 3-Justin Haers [2]; 2. 43-Jimmy Horton [1]; 3. 88-Mike Mahaney [3]; 4. 42p-Pat Ward [5]; 5. 19m-Jessey Mueller [4]; 6. 48t-Dave Rauscher [6]; 7. 1G-Darwin Greene [7]; 8. 46-Jeremy Smith [9]; 9. 35-Francois Bellemare [10]; 10. 44R-Russel Morseman [8]

Last Chance Showdown (10 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer: 1. 98h-Jimmy Phelps [1]; 2. 19-Tim Fuller [3]; 3. 4-Billy VanInwegen [2]; 4. 21-Yan Bussiere [5]; 5. 165-Rex King [4]; 6. 25R-Erick Rudolph [9]; 7. 65-Scott Hitchens [6]; 8. 85-H.J. Bunting [10]; 9. 32-Jim Rasey [8]; 10. 96-J-F Corriveau [7]; 11. 109-Billy Whittaker [11]; 12. 30-Jamie Mills [12]

Last Chance Showdown (10 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer: 1. 5s-Tyler Siri [1]; 2. cb3-Chad Brachmann [5]; 3. 48t-Dave Rauscher [2]; 4. 46-Jeremy Smith [6]; 5. 118-Jim Britt [3]; 6. 1G-Darwin Greene [4]; 7. 35-Francois Bellemare [8]; 8. 17-Kyle Sheldon [7]; 9. 13-Rick Regalski [9]; 10. 44R-Russel Morseman [10]; 11. 73-Kevin Poitras [11]

  •  
  •