If a casual fan of Dirt Late Model racing who does not follow the sport closely on a week-by-week basis were to hear that Brandon Sheppard had won the 2021 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series championship that fan might simply assume the driver of the Rocket Chassis house car had just completed a typical season for him and his team. A typical season for the New Berlin, Illinois driver would consist of numerous wins with a few crown jewels and monster paydays mixed in with complete domination of the national tour on which he competes. But that was not entirely the case for the No. 1 driver and crew this year.
Yes, Sheppard did pull off eleven total wins over the course of this most recent campaign with eight of those victories coming on the WoO Late Models circuit. Both of those numbers would be highly prized by many drivers and teams who compete in this form of motorsports. However, those numbers amassed by the 28-year-old do not match the 20+ win totals of previous seasons. And more, those who follow the sport have become accustomed to the Rocket 1 Racing team collecting at least one crown jewel during each season, but none of those were found in 2021.
In 2019, Sheppard drove to the best season of his Late Model career when he won a championship and 18 World of Outlaws features. Along with those accomplishments, he picked up three paychecks valued at more than $100,000 by capturing the Dirt Late Model Dream, the Dirt Million, and the Dirt Track World Championship. The pandemic riddled 2020 campaign saw Sheppard earn another title along with 14 WoO and 22 total triumphs. In that season, he also grabbed crown jewel trophies in the Silver Dollar Nationals and a fourth Dirt Track World Championship.
At the end of this past season, Sheppard joined an elite club. Only he and the former Rocket Chassis house car driver Josh Richards have won four World of Outlaws Late Model Series championships. Not only was this Sheppard’s fourth series title but it was his third consecutive time to receive those accolades at the season-ending banquet for that tour.
‘The Rocket Shepp’ came very close to making history in another way apart from tying Richards in the number of championships both have earned, as at the same time, he has nearly matched his predecessor in the number of total feature wins. The eight victories scored in 2021 pulled Sheppard up to 77 features won over the course of his career which is only one shy of the all-time lead for the series.
That said, reaching the top spot on the win list may have become a bit more difficult due to the fact that Richards will return to the WoO Late Models tour on a full-time basis in 2022 driving as a teammate to Boom Briggs after having spent the past five seasons with Best Performance Motorsports where he won a championship in 2017 then Clint Bowyer Racing on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
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As stated earlier, it’s certainly not that Sheppard’s 2021 season was any sort of a disappointment. It just didn’t reach the extraordinary levels that those who follow this form of racing have grown accustomed to. Many would love to have a season that is below expectations but still achieves a championship and a double-digit number of wins.
It says a great deal about the past achievements of this driver and team when eleven total wins and a championship are not seen as a stellar season.
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