CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — With his reputation already established as one of the most successful drivers in Super DIRTcar Series history, Matt Sheppard isn’t done yet.
This year, “Super” Matt will look to produce another historic season as he chases a 10th Series title, a fourth Super DIRT Week Billy Whittaker Cars 200 triumph and another accolade in the wins column – currently tied with Danny Johnson for second on the all-time wins list with 89 victories.
The championship season starts at Atomic Speedway, March 31-April 1.
Here’s what he had to say about it:
Q: What is your main goal or focus going into 2023?
Sheppard: “The [goal] every year is to go after that Series championship. Thankfully for us we have been more successful than not, but the competition gets harder every single year. We need to stay on our toes and make sure everything is fresh…with any luck we’ll be chasing number ten when we get to Charlotte at the end of the year.”
Q: What made you so successful in 2022?
Sheppard: “The real magic is knowing what small adjustments to make from track to track. That’s really all it was. It wasn’t anything specific, or any special thing we came up with. It was seat time and looking at the notebook. It was about making right adjustments instead of wrong ones. If we continue that, we’ll be good. If not, we’ll need to get back on track. It was simple adjustments, looking at the notebook from previous years and saying this didn’t work, let’s go in the opposite direction.”
Q: What do you think when people start placing you in the same category as DIRTcar Modified icons such as Brett Hearn?
Sheppard: “Brett is the pinnacle of DIRT Modified racing. Anytime you are mentioned in the same sentence with him, you know you are doing something right. But, at this point we are very thankful to have had all the championships and the great seasons we’ve had. We’re just trying to milk as many more as we can, good seasons, championships, or whatever comes our way. At this point, all we can really do is keep working hard and seeing what comes about. When it comes time to retire or look back, we’ll worry about that when we get there.”
Q: What keeps you coming back to compete every season?
Sheppard: “It’s just the competitive nature. I like to win, I like to try and be the best if I can, work hard, and try to win as many races as we can. That’s why we do this. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of grind up and down the road and we’ve been doing it a lot of years. Those are about the only reasons I can think of any more to keep us going and keep us motivated.”
Q: How are you preparing for Atomic Speedway, the first points-paying race of the season, considering you have never previously competed there?
Sheppard: “Whenever we venture into something like that, we put a basic generic setup in the car and go out and play it by ear. It’s going to be an interesting weekend. There will be guys that will unload really fast and guys that will be playing catch up. And some guys may catch up and some guys may never catch up. It’s always like that when you go to a new track. Hopefully, we can be one of the guys that unloads fast.”