By CAMDEN PROUD
Right now, it seems Big Block Modified racing is Matt Sheppard’s world and we are all just living in it. Nobody, other than Mother Nature, could beat the defending Super DIRTcar Series champion in the month of April. Outlaw Speedway finally got their Season Opener in on Friday evening and it was certainly no surprise to see the No. 9S in victory lane once again.
It had been a considerable amount of time, since way back in August of 2018, that Sheppard entered his last weekly event at Outlaw. The Yates County oval had four consecutive rainouts to start the season, but things finally worked in owner Tyler Siri’s favor this weekend. After a weeks worth of rain, Siri and his hardworking staff were able to get things underway at last.
“This feels really good to be back here on a Friday night,” Sheppard said post race. “It seems like it has been a really, really long time since we’ve had a weekly show. The whole facility was in really good shape. The track was good, the grounds were good, things got done pretty early, and it really wound up being a pretty solid Opening Night.”
There is no question that after a long wait, it was a great Opening Night at Outlaw Speedway. Track conditions were ideal, the racing was solid, and the busy seven division show was completed in orderly fashion. With the sun peaking through the clouds, there was a good mood about the pit area all night long. A lot of the teams were just grateful to finally get their season underway, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone in a better mood than Sheppard. Of course, it’s hard not to be happy when you’ve won seven races in a row and Super Matt did it again last night. He was simply out for a cruise. Once he took the lead, nobody had anything for him.
“We had a very good car,” added the fifth starting Sheppard, who took the number one spot by the completion of lap 4. “Getting the lead early and going high was key. The top was pretty darn good here tonight. I just wanted to get in the lead and get up there before someone else did and they started cruising. Fortunately we kept out of trouble for 30-laps and got to victory lane.”
Outlaw Speedway has come to be the Friday night norm for Sheppard. He has spent the past two seasons there in Vic Coffey’s Sweetner’s No. 92S, and brought home the 2017 track championship with that car. Last season, his seven wins surprisingly were not good enough to wrap up the title. Matt fell just short of his father in-law Alan Johnson and former car owner Steve Paine in the standings. Regardless of points, its hard to pick anyone but Sheppard to win in Dundee on any given Friday night. In less than two full seasons, he has been victorious in an astounding twenty main events at the facility. The hottest driver in Modified racing was loving the track conditions on Friday.
“The track was very, very good,” commented Sheppard. “Everything was just in great condition here for Opening Night. The place was smooth, wide, and racey, which really is pretty much like a normal night. That top was the place to be for sure. I was happy to get up there, keep the tires on it, and hope we were good enough to keep everyone behind us.”
So yeah, seven wins in a row. Thats seven wins at seven different tracks. Matt and his team have literally been unbeatable. Stewart Friesen came close at Fonda towards the end of April, but that’s about it. Sheppard says the streak probably “breaks his own record,” which he is correct; it does. But, all records and stats aside, what does seven wins in a row mean for Matt Sheppard Motorsports?
“It means we’re off to a good start,” smiled Sheppard. “Its a long season. It is very early and a whole lot can change. We started off strong last year too then things really went to hell in a hurry. We’re excited. This has probably broken the record for any win streak I’ve had in my career. We are going to keep our nose to the grindstone and keep it going as long as we can.”
As hard as it is to believe that its May 11 and Sheppard already has seven wins, it is even harder to grasp due to the fact that only two of those have come at his weekly tracks of Outlaw or Land of Legends. Thankfully, the sun is shining down on Canandaigua and much of Central New York this afternoon. Tonight, Sheppard will set out in search of his eighth win in a row. Whether you love him or hate him, enjoy the show race fans. We’re all witnessing history.
OUTLAW SPEEDWAY MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH – MATT SHEPPARD, Danny Johnson, Steve Paine, Tyler Siri , Alan Johnson, Ray Bliss, Kyle Coffey, Cory Costa, Jin LaRock, Justin Wright, Greg Birosh, Billy Paine, Eldon Payne Jr, Adam Hilton, Brady Fultz, Dale Welty, James Sweeting, Derrick Podsiadlo, and Tim Schram.
Heat Winners – James Sweeting, Ray Bliss, and Matt Sheppard