In 2017 Brandon Sheppard earned the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series championship in dominant fashion. But in 2018, Sheppard and his Rocket Chassis house car team went into the final weekend of the season at The Dirt Track in Charlotte as one of three crews with a shot at winning the title but ultimately came up short as Mike Marlar claimed the crown.
In 2019 the New Berlin, Illinois driver says that their goals have not necessarily changed as the new season for the WoO Late Models national touring season approaches. Instead, Sheppard believes the Mark Richards-owned team simply needs a change of fortune to put themselves back on top of the series standings.
“We’ve just got to have a little bit better luck,” Sheppard insisted in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “We had five DNF’s last year and that’s what cost us a championship. That’s basically all it boils down to because we’ve got a good car every night. My hat’s off to Mark Richards and all my crew for everything they do to make sure this thing is top notch every time we go out. I have to make up for it some of the time but they do a good job of nailing it most of the time. We’ve just got to stay consistent and keep from having that bad luck.”
Sheppard ended last season with a series-leading 13 wins. He also compiled and impressive 30 top-5 finishes. But as he pointed out, the races he did not finish proved to be the determining factor as Marlar scored 36 top-10 results compared 33 by Sheppard. It was in those three extra top-10s that the final 28-point difference between the two was made.
That said, Sheppard points out that he and his team do not typically go into races thinking about their place in the standings.
“We try not to look at points at all throughout the year, truthfully,” Sheppard stated. “We want to go in every night and win a race. That’s our goal is to win races. As long as we win races and stay in contention to win races the points are going to fall how they fall. Obviously I’m not going to go out there and do anything stupid to get myself crashed out. That’s just not a very smart thing to do. So I guess to a certain extent that is thinking about points. I’m not going to go out there and wreck trying to win, but I am going to try to win.”
But on some nights things don’t go the way the team might hope. Often times championships are won or lost based on how teams manage those less-than-perfect evenings.
“The car’s not going to be perfect every night so you’ve just got to do the best you can do with what you’ve got once you get out there,” Sheppard explained. “That’s what we do and usually it works out for us. Our car is usually maneuverable and can race all over the race track. As long as we’ve got a good race track, even if we have a bad heat race or bad qualifying, we can come up through the field.”
Ultimately, consistency is the key to success in the final points standings.
“That’s the thing- if you’re consistent and can stay in the top-3 every night you’re going to win races. Like I said, that’s our goal every night is to win the race. As long as we stick to our goal and do what we’re doing there, the points are going to fall where they fall.”
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