Matt Sheppard opened Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals with the Super DIRTcar Series by making history.

After a whirlwind 30 laps of taking the lead, falling to seventh and then roaring back to the lead in 19 laps, the Waterloo, NY driver scored his 95th Series win and 500th career victory.

It’s so huge,” Sheppard said. “We’ve been so bad in Florida the last decade or so, we didn’t even think we’d be close to 500 coming to Florida. Then we picked off three wins last week and another one tonight. It’s just a huge milestone, and I couldn’t do it without my entire team.”

Sheppard and Anthony Perrego brought the field to the green in the night’s main event, with Sheppard gaining the advantage on Lap 1. However, that lead was short lived when a caution for Rex King Jr. slowed the field on Lap 2. 

On the restart, the 10-time and defending Series champion went too high on the outside of Turn 1, jumping the cushion. That loss of momentum dropped him back to seventh and handed Perrego the lead.

As Sheppard started climbing back to the front, Perrego was battling with Demetrios Drellos, who found momentum on the outside. It took two laps for Drellos to thunder around Perrego, and quickly pull away from the field.

However, on Lap 9, heartbreak struck the Queensbury, NY driver as he slowed on the front stretch with a battery issue, handing the lead back to Perrego.

The Montgomery, NY competitor drove away from the field on the restart, hoping to find his first checkered flag of the season. But like Sheppard, he went over the cushion while leading on Lap 17, allowing Erick Rudolph and “Super Matt,” now back to third, to close in.

That’s when Perrego switched lanes to the bottom, trying to stop Rudolph’s momentum. However, it left the door open for Sheppard on the outside. With a wave of momentum, Sheppard stormed passed Rudolph in Turn 4 for second, setting his sights on Perrego. 

As the two waged war, Perrego slid in front of Sheppard in Turn 2. But Sheppard saw it coming, swiftly moving to the bottom on the backstretch, roaring past Perrego for the lead. 

From there, Sheppard went untouched as he scored the $5,000 prize, and 500th career Feature win.

Once he fell back to seventh, Sheppard’s patience and experience became a significant step toward regaining the lead. He also said it allowed him to find the right lane, a decision that paid off as Perrego defended his position. 

“I fell back there and I kind of gained my composure,” Sheppard said. “I was turning good laps, but I wasn’t going anywhere. We had that (Lap 10) restart, and I got a couple of guys on the top. I was searching around, biding my time, and [Perrego] jumped the cushion a couple of times. I think he moved down to try and block [Rudolph] and that kind of opened the outside lane for me to drive around.

“The stat sheet’s going to show we started pole and won, but I think the race showed a little different story tonight.”

Perrego settled for second – his best DIRTcar Nationals finish in 11 starts. He said he had a good car but fought handling issues throughout the race.

“We took off really well,” Perrego said. “I knew [Sheppard] was struggling early to steer. My car was really good. We could hook it around that bottom. When [Drellos] went around us he kind of showed me the outside was there. And on that caution where he broke, I went up there and I felt really good.

“The car just kind of got to where I couldn’t steer, and I jumped the cushion and got sucked in and we lost all that positioning. After that we still struggled to steer, and on that last caution when we got by Rudolph it kind of came back to us. We’ll try again tomorrow and see if we can do one spot better.”

Rudolph grabbed the final spot on the podium—his third consecutive DIRTcar Nationals top three finish. The Ransomville, NY driver said his car’s handling changed multiple times throughout the 30-lap battle.

“The first third of the race we were OK,” Rudolph said. “We passed a few cars. Then I think about halfway through the race we had the best car. At the end I think I was hanging on. I think I was definitely better than the #4 car, but Sheppard just had a bit extra tonight, and I don’t think we could’ve closed on him. 

“We had a second-place car and can’t complain too much about that.”

Jimmy Phelps, the JAM Performance Fastest Hot Lap award winner finished fourth, and Billy Whittaker Cars Quick Time Award winner Mat Williamson rounded out the top five.

While it wasn’t a typical night, Matt Sheppard still earned a milestone to kick off the 2024 Super DIRTcar Series season—one he won’t forget when he visits Volusia in the future.

“Five-hundred is going to be memorable, no matter what,” Sheppard said.

The Super DIRTcar Series returns to Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park on Thursday, Feb. 15 for another 30-lap, $5,000-to-win Feature. For tickets, visit

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision, either online or with the DIRTVision app.

DIRTcar Nationals Night 1 (30 Laps): 1. 9S-Matt Sheppard[1]; 2. 4*-Anthony Perrego[2]; 3. 25-Erick Rudolph[10]; 4. 98H-Jimmy Phelps[5]; 5. 88-Mat Williamson[7]; 6. 21A-Peter Britten[4]; 7. 91D-Billy Decker[15]; 8. 58-Louden Reimert[17]; 9. 44-Stewart Friesen[26]; 10. 99L-Larry Wight[20]; 11. 7-Rick Laubach[6]; 12. 12-Darren Smith[16]; 13. 2-Jack Lehner[22]; 14. 32C-Justin Haers[11]; 15. 3J-Marc Johnson[24]; 16. 1-Billy Pauch Jr[13]; 17. 70A-Alex Payne[8]; 18. 27J-Danny Johnson[18]; 19. 15X-Justin Stone[23]; 20. 165-Rex King Jr[12]; 21. 91-Felix Roy[21]; 22. 84Y-Alex Yankowski[9]; 23. 7Z-Zachary Payne[19]; 24. 4SL-Bob Hentschel[14]; 25. (DNF) 14-CG Morey[27]; 26. (DNF) 29-Garrett Krummert[25]; 27. (DNF) 111-Demetrios Drellos[3]