Sheppard Takes Center Stage at DIRTcar Racing ‘Night of Champions’
Lebanon Valley Speedway honored as VP Racing Fuels Track of the Year
VERNON, N.Y. — Nov. 21, 2011 — More than $250,000 in point fund money and related awards were distributed on Saturday night at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino during the DIRTcar Racing “Night of Champions” celebration, an annual event honoring DIRTcar competitors and teams in the Northeast Region. (Chris Marks photo)
After winning his second consecutive Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified championship in his Jeff Brownell-owned Bicknell, Matt Sheppard was also rewarded for winning the Safety-Kleen Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Modified weekly crown. In all, Sheppard, of Waterloo, N.Y., pocketed more than $50,000 in cash and awards from the year-end DIRTcar Racing Northeast Region point fund for becoming only the sixth driver in history to win back-to-back Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified titles.
“I’ll tell you what, I was watching the video behind the screen and it showed the guys who had won it before and that old footage and it really gives you the chills,” Sheppard said, referencing a highlight video that preceded him being called to the stage that showed past consecutive Big-Block champions Will Cagle, Brett Hearn, Alan Johnson, Jack Johnson and Bob McCreadie. “Those are the guys who are the heroes of the sport. They’ve won countless races, countless championships. To be part of that crowd really makes you take a step back. It’s really special. It says a lot about the Super DIRTcar Series in general. It has such a great history with so many great drivers. There are so few drivers who have won it two years in a row it just shows how steep the competition is.”
Danny Johnson, of Rochester, N.Y., received top honors for winning his fifth overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar 358-Modified Series championship in the Mike Payne-owned Bicknell. David Hebert, of St. Damase, Quebec, raced to the top of the weekly Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified standings.
In the hugely popular Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series, it was Tim Sears Jr., of Clay, N.Y., earning his second consecutive series crown while Bodie Bellinger, of Johnstown, N.Y., topped the weekly Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Modified division.
Like Sheppard did in the Big-Block field, Joey Ladouceur swept the DIRTcar Pro Stock competition. Ladouceur, of Alexandria, Ontario, earned the Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar Pro Stock Series championship for the second time in three years, while he also raced to the weekly Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock crown.
In other awards presented during the event, the top rookies in each division were honored with Motorsports Safety Systems DIRTcar Northeast Rookie of the Year Awards. Michel Chicoine in Big-Blocks, Chris Raabe in 358-Modifieds, Chris Thurston in Sportsman Modifieds and Gaetan Amesse in Pro Stocks were the recipients of nearly $3,000 in combined cash and awards.
Tom Sears Jr. finished 10th in the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified standings and earned the Area Auto Racing News Hard Luck Award as well as the KSE Hard Charger Award, while Aussie Peter Britten, who wound up a career-best seventh in the Big-Block standings, received the Gater Racing News Special Recognition Award.
Justin Haers, sixth place in the Super DIRTcar Series standings, earned the Xtreme Lubricants Slick Move of the Season Award.
Earlier in the day, promoters and track operators from 16 different speedways, plus the DIRTcar-sanctioned BRP Modified Tour, gathered for annual promoter meetings. Tracks represented included Airborne Speedway, Autodrome Granby, Autodrome Drummond, Bear Ridge Speedway, Brighton Speedway, Brockville Ontario Speedway, Can-Am Speedway, Cornwall Speedway, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park, Humberstone Speedway, Lebanon Valley Speedway, Lernerville Speedway, Merrittville Speedway, Mohawk International Raceway, Ransomville Speedway and Rolling Wheels Raceway Park.
During the meeting, Lebanon Valley Speedway was honored as the VP Racing Fuels Track of the Year.
Reports from promoters indicated that despite the tough economy car counts in 2011 remained steady, and working together with fellow track operators resulted in many positives from bigger fields to more fans in the grandstands as they look forward to the 2012 season.
The Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast Region is brought to fans by several sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, GM Performance Parts, Nationwide Insurance and Safety-Kleen. Promotional partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio and Chizmark Larson Insurance. Contingency sponsors are ASI, Bert Transmissions, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Comp Cams, Intercomp, JE Pistons, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD Ignition, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, R2C, Super Flow, Vicci Racing Apparel, WIX Filters, Wrisco Industries, Xtreme Lubricants and Extreme Mufflers.