Sheppard Touts DIRTcar All-Star Weekend During Media Day
Young Star Ready To Begin Defense Of Super DIRTcar Series Title at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park
WEEDSPORT, NY – May 25, 2011 – Defending Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified champion Matt Sheppard helped set the stage for the tour’s 2011 season opener, headlining Wednesday afternoon’s DIRTcar All-Star Weekend Media Day at The Retreat restaurant in downtown Liverpool, N.Y.
Sheppard, 28, of Waterloo, N.Y., joined DIRTcar officials in a formal press conference and conducted interviews with two Syracuse television stations while standing in front of his JB Motorsports Bicknell No. 9s, which he will enter in the third annual DIRTcar All-Star Weekend event this Sunday evening (May 29) at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, N.Y.
“We’re definitely excited about running at Rolling Wheels on Sunday,” said Sheppard, who begins his chase of a second straight Super DIRTcar Series title in the 60-lap, $6,000-to-win feature at the five-eighths-mile ‘Fast Track.’ “The Super DIRTcar Series events are the biggest races of the year for us, and the All-Star Weekend is a great way to get the season started. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off last year.”
Sheppard will also bid for some extra cash in Sunday’s inaugural Safety-Kleen Shootout, a program-ending 25-lap sprint that boasts a $2,500 first-place prize. The race’s select group of 12 starters – including top drivers from last year’s Super DIRTcar Series and current Safety-Kleen Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Modified points leaders at DIRTcar-sanctioned tracks – was unveiled during the Media Day activities.
Joining Sheppard in the Safety-Kleen Shootout will be Brett Hearn, Jimmy Phelps, Billy Decker, Danny Johnson, Steve Paine, Dale Planck, Ryan Phelps, Billy Dunn, Jackie Brown Jr., Mike Sowle and Larry Wight. The teenage Wight earned a ‘Wildcard’ berth when his name was pulled in a blind draw by Joe Patrick of Gater Racing News.
Longtime DIRTcar announcer Joe Marotta served as emcee of the Media Day, which also featured remarks from Rolling Wheels Raceway Park general manager Jeff Hachmann and Joe Skotnicki, the Director of DIRTcar Series and Scheduling.
Hachmann enthusiastically looked ahead to Sunday’s spectacular at Rolling Wheels, pointing out the unique atmosphere that will overtake the speedway on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday.
“We’re really focusing on the fans and their overall experience during the DIRTcar All-Star Weekend,” said Hachmann. “Their experience will start from the moment they walk through the gates. (DIRTcar Northeast public relations director) Amanda Hirko has helped put together a great midway area that will include merchandise for drivers, interactive games, bounce-houses for kids, a DJ – even new menus in the concession stands.
“The DIRTcar Modified Hall of Fame induction ceremonies (on Sunday afternoon at the nearby Cayuga County Fairgrounds), the season-opening Super DIRTcar Series race, the Rolling Wheels Raceway Park opener, DIRTcar All-Star Weekend – I can’t think of a better formula that equals excitement.”
Hachmann also revealed that the Grand Marshal for the DIRTcar All-Star Weekend will be Mike Hopkins, a former standout basketball player at Syracuse University who now serves as the top assistant to legendary Orange coach Jim Boeheim. Hopkins will visit the Wheels to give the command to start engines and wave the green flag over the Super DIRTcar Series lidlifter.
Reserved-seat tickets for the DIRTcar All-Star Weekend event, which also includes DIRTcar Sportsman-Modified competition and the DIRTcar Pro-Stock/Stock Car Challenge, are available for $28 on-line at www.dirtcar.com/tickets. General admission tickets, meanwhile, are $25 for adults, $10 for students (ages 10-17) and free for children 10-and-under.
Fans who purchase reserved or general admission tickets by May 27 will also receive a free pit pass to get an up-close look at the cars and stars prior to the start of the evening’s action.