Just by entering the weekend’s NGK NTK World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Brandon Sheppard and Rocket1 Racing officially clinched the 2021 World of Outlaws (WoO) Morton Buildings Late Model Series Championship. (Jacy Norgaard photo)
The WoO title marked the fourth for the driver of the Valvoline No. 1 Seubert Calf Ranches / Durham Racing Engines-powered XR1 Rocket Chassis Super Late Model, which ties him atop the series record book with Josh Richards as the only drivers with four series championships. Richards also achieved his quartet of WoO point’s conquests aboard the Rocket1 Racing No. 1 entry.
Sheppard’s fourth title was achieved in just his fifth attempt.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Sheppard said, before taking a pause to almost comprehend the achievement. “That part of it hasn’t set in for me yet. At the end of the day, that was our goal going into the year to win another championship. We’ve definitely been up and down this year as far as speed goes. Definitely not as good as we wanted to be, but it was a good year for us. Obviously, a good points year for us, winning the championship.
“To be able to tie Josh with four championships is huge for me because I look up to Josh as a driver. I always have. His dad (Mark Richards, owner of Rocket1 Racing) first giving me this opportunity back in 2012 when Josh was doing other things, I never thought we’d be to this point. Not this soon. It’s definitely really cool.”
In 2021 Sheppard and Rocket1 Racing started 85 total events and collected 11 wins, 44 Top-5 finishes and 65 Top-10 finishes along the way. While most drivers and teams would be content to sit on those laurels, everyone at Rocket1 Racing is committed to a bigger and better 2022.
“We still want to get better,” Sheppard added. “We want to win more races. We’re working really hard to get back to that for next year. We’ve been doing a lot of playing around and testing this year. We’ve learned a lot. To be able to learn what we have and run as good as we have and win the championship, it feels really good. It’s a confidence boost going into next year just because of the fact that we’re still making gains on this thing. If we can get to where we need to be over the off-season and go into Florida (for the 2022 season-opening Sunshine Nationals, Jan. 20-22) strong, you know, everyone knows you have to have a good Florida in order to win the points.”
Sheppard concluded by thanking all of the great sponsors on his Rocket1 Racing entry.
“Not only does it take the support of a great team, but it also takes the support of great sponsors to win a national championship. We’ve got some amazing marketing partners on this No. 1, and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for what they do to support us,” Sheppard commented.
Rocket1 Racing and Brandon Sheppard invaded the Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, N.C.) on Friday afternoon to kick off the NGK NTK World Finals. Drawing 48 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series entries, Sheppard topped his time trial group in qualifying before picking up an eight-lap heat race win.
Earning the second-starting position for the A-Main via the redraw, Brandon overtook Ricky Weiss for the lead on the 11th circuit and held the top spot for the next eight laps until a charging Jonathan Davenport took command. Sheppard went on to finish second in the 40-lapper, following Davenport to the checkers with Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Erb, and Ricky Weiss rounding out the Top-5.
For another $12,000-to-win A-Main on Saturday, Brandon outdueled Jonathan Davenport in his heat race to record the win. Receiving the pole position for the A-Main, Sheppard slipped two spots in the 40-lap affair to finish third. He trailed Davenport and Garrett Smith to the checkers with Tim McCreadie and Chris Madden completing the Top-5 finishers.
With his weekend finishes Sheppard claimed the 2021 title by 198 points.
For complete results from these events, please visit www.WorldofOutlaws.com.