Despite gloomy weather dampening a good portion of the start to the 2019 Northeast Dirt Modified season, Matt Sheppard has found the time and effort to shine through the storm clouds and become the early favorite in as many as six different track and touring championships. Currently he is in the middle of a jaw dropping 10-race winning streak dating back to early April that includes victories on the Short Track Super Series, Super DIRTcar Series, both his home tracks, and two big money races.
This past Monday morning "Super Matt" called into Speed51's 'Morning Bullring' to talk about his thoughts on where this momentum has come from. Truth be told, even he isn't entirely sure.
"I'm not really sure, we got a bunch of really fast race cars, and the racing gods have been on our side to start the season," Sheppard said. "We're just rolling along right now; we've been all over the Northeast with different sanctioning bodies, different tire rules, different engine rules, and so far it hasn't really seemed to matter. We can pick them off one after another after it seemed like the second half of last year we couldn't do anything right. I couldn't run five races in a row without getting a flat tire or something like that. So, to string off 10 in a row, you got to have some fast race cars, but you got to have some good luck go your way as well."
Three wins at Lands of Legends Raceway (NY), two at Outlaw Speedway, two Short Track Super Series wins at Orange County Fair Speedway (NY) and Delaware International Speedway (DE), a Super DIRTcar Series win Can-Am Motorsports Park (NY), plus big money wins at Grandview Speedway (PA) and Fonda Speedway (NY) make up the current hot streak for the Waterloo, New York driver.
"It's been really crazy, kind of surreal," Sheppard admitted. "I think our first eight or nine wins this year, we were at eight or nine different tracks, all over the Northeast. It's unreal, like I said we got some fast cars right now and everything is just clicking. The cars have been hooked up, the motors have been running well, it's just been the perfect storm. We did our homework last year and over the winter, we clicked on something that's been great for me. To do this has been an awful lot of fun."
The best Sheppard can figure is that the success has been the fruit of a great amount of preparation by the No. 9s team going back to before the 2018 racing season had even finished.
"Probably the vast majority of (our success). Knowing you have a solid piece that's 100 percent ready to go underneath you every time does wonders for your confidence," he said. "You know how it is, the more confident you are, the better you are going to run night in and night out. It just seems to be snowballing from one race to another. Right now we're saying that this can't go on much longer if we keep rolling along. I don't know, we're just going to enjoy it while it lasts, and when we do lose it's not going to be the end of the world. We got a lot of racing to come this summer, but with as fast as our race cars are, hopefully it's an enjoyable summer."
As spring turns to summer, Sheppard continues on what may be one of the boldest schedules by any dirt driver in the Northeast, competing for all those same championships at so many different tracks and under a number of different rules packages. Despite the difficulties ahead, this 10-race tear has given Sheppard every bit of confidence that he and his team can win each and every one of them.
"For the most part, you're going to see us at Outlaw and Land of Legends on the weekends. We'll follow the whole Super DIRTcar Series and shoot for that eighth championship. We're going to follow the North and South tours for the Short Track Super Series, as well as the big specials that are around. With all the different tire, engine, and body rules to flip back and forth between, it's going to be an exciting year for Dirt Modified racing. There's a whole bunch of big paying races over the course of the season. I don't know about you, but I can't think of a better time to get on a hot streak and get these cars rolling good with all the exciting stuff happening."
You can hear more about Sheppard's thoughts on his racing season and more by watching Speed51's 'Morning Bullring' on-demand now by clicking here.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51