With a pair of top four finishes on the final night of competition this year at Barrie Speedway, Gord Shepherd would take home the 2014 Whelen All-American Series Late Model Ontario Championship, eight points ahead of Rick Walt. For Shepherd, it marks the second time in his career that he has won the Ontario crown, repeating last year’s success. It also marks his third track championship in the last four seasons at Barrie Speedway.
“It’s always nice to win,” Shepherd commented on Saturday night. “I wanted to go back to Charlotte again and it’s always hard to win a championship so it’s good for the team. They worked really hard and no matter who wins, your team is always working hard to get you there. There’s always a lot of hard work to get you into the winner’s circle. You got to have good driving, too, but you have to have a good team backing you up and a lot of great sponsors.”
While last season’s championship came with some ease in the form of multiple victories, this year wasn’t as easy as there were a couple on-track incidents that the Ridge Road Racing team had to bounce back from to get themselves back in contention. With the wreck early in the year, it seemed that the RRR outfit was perhaps off on performance at one point during the year. However, into the second half, they hit their stride and with some wins to close out the year, the pieces fell in place.
Shepherd also played the keys to consistancy right in his wheel house as he drove his No. 10 Progressive Waste Solutions, Shelswell Racing, Puzzle Partner, Cookstown Auto Parts, Montana’s Cookhouse of Orillia, Shepherd Trucking, HWY 400 Transmission, Liberty North, Kruegar Electrical, Seasoned Painting, Checkmate, DesJardins Insurance, Eric’s Car Sales, Fox’s Bakery & Deli, Bill le Boeuf Jewelers and The Dock Guy Late Model to 23 top-fives and 28 top-10s this year, highlighted by seven feature victories.
Now with the season in the rearview, Shepherd shifts his focus to the Short Track Playoffs. The Barrie native kicked those off last Thursday night at Sunset Speedway with a solid finish of sixth in the Canadian Limited Late Model Championship 125.
“I think we had a good start at Sunset – finished sixth. I think we had a little better car than sixth, but we messed up on our pit stop,” Shepherd said. “I think we had a pretty good car to contend with some of the bigger guys at Sunset, Sauble. It’ll be interesting. There’ll be a lot of real good cars, but I think we have a good chance.”
Shepherd has done well in the big distance races before, posting a string of top-five finishes in Sunset’s 75 lap invitational features. He also had a solid performance last year at Autumn Colors, finishing fourth despite being involved in an incident with Ryan Kimball at lap 25.