Sheppard Crowned Mr. DIRTcar
LIVERPOOL, N.Y. — Mr. DIRTcar and DIRTcar Northeast Series champions and stars gathered Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Holiday Inn Liverpool to celebrate another successful season.
Matt Sheppard made 2012 a year for the record books, becoming the first driver to claim three consecutive Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Super DIRTcar Series Championship titles.
“This is where it’s tough for me,” said Sheppard, as the fact hit home that he had rewritten racing history with his third championship title. “I’m still a fan, I’ve always been a fan. I still picture myself as a 15-year-old rooting on Alan Johnson, and Danny Johnson, and here I am now.
“There are a hundred different pieces that go together,” Sheppard continued, “and if one of those one hundred pieces isn’t there, I wouldn’t be standing here today, and I definitely wouldn’t standing here three years in a row.”
Super DIRTcar Series competitors Vince Vitale, of Phoenix, N.Y., and Billy Dunn, of Watertown, N.Y., in addition to receiving 12th- and sixth-place awards, respectively, for their point standings in the Super DIRTcar Series, also received the Gater Racing News Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series Sportsmanship Contribution to Motorsports Award. Bound Brook, N.J., native Rich Scagliotta, eighth in series standings, received the Area Auto Racing News Hard Luck Award and Brisbaine, Queensland, Australia native Peter Britten, seventh, received the Xtreme Lubricants “Slick Move of the Year” Award.
Other DIRTcar Northeast Series competitors received their awards. Joey Ladouceur again took the Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar Pro Stock Series Championship, an honor that caps off an amazing Pro Stock career as the driver enters the Sportsman Modified division.
“It took a little while to get up here after 2004,” said Ladouceur, celebrating his second consecutive Pro Stock Series Championship, but likely his last. The Alexandria, Ontario, native sold his 92 car and is moving to the Sportsman Modified division for 2013, with plans to compete Sundays at Cornwall Motor Speedway and attempt DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series events.
Cody McPherson, of St. Catharines, Ontario, took the Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Championship and Dale Planck the Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Sportsman Modified Champion McPherson, who spent a large portion of his time on the circuit battling with brother Tyler McPherson. “It pushed me to do better. I learned from my brother and that’s what helped me win the championship.”
DIRTcar 358-Modified Champion Dale Planck, of Cortland, N.Y., focused this season on running his small block, seeing success both in weekly shows and running the series.
“It was just fun to get back to my roots, running the 358s all the time and running the series,” Planck said.
This year, one driver took his division’s Mr. DIRTcar Championship title with a perfect record. The Mr. DIRTcar point fund gives local drivers a chance to compete for a championship from their home track, counting only the best 16 finishes of the season for each driver. The 2012 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Champion Dylan Evoy, of Brockville, Ontario, scored 16 total wins of the 16 finishes counted.
Chad Jeseo, of Averill Park, N.Y., was honored as the 2012 Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock Champion with five wins, Dale Planck the 2012 Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Champion with nine wins and Brett Hearn the 2012 Safety-Kleen Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Champion with 11 wins.
Hearn, of Sussex, N.J., after an amazing season leading the field at Lebanon Valley Speedway’s Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A. , NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week’s VP Small Engine Fuels 200 , and Orange County Fair Speedway’s Eastern States 200, clearly demonstrating his ability to charge to the front from any spot on the starting grid, also received the KSE Hard Charger Award.
Dave Seguin, Apple Hill, Ontario, took home the Rookie of the Year award in the Pro Stock division, Corey Wheeler in Sportsman Modifieds, Shane Pecore of in 358-Modifieds and Justin Wright of Piffard, N. Y., in Big-Block Modifieds
“I learned early on: you’ve got to keep all four (tires) on the ground,” said Wheeler, who hails from Cornwall, Ontario, upon receiving his award. “It was a lot of fun and we had a lot of success.”
“It’s unbelievable to be in the first year, to be able to run with all those guys, and pick up this award,” said 358-Modified rookie Pecore, of St. Andrews, Ontario.
Big-Block Modified rookie Wright said running weekly at his home track, Canandaigua Motorsports Park, helped build a good foundation his first year.
“It definitely helped the learning curve and it helped me get better,” said Wright, of Piffard, N.Y., who was always willing to take advice from more experienced drivers and teams. “Anybody that would listen to me, and give me their two cents, I would take it.”