#NASCAR * DAYTONA BEACH, FL – For those fortunate enough to have visited a short track in Canada, one thing is for certain, Canadian fans love stock car racing. One of the unique characteristics of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is that it is not limited to within the borders of the United States, and that is one reason Gord Shepherd can celebrate a second consecutive NASCAR track championship won at Barrie Speedway. The 35 year old driver also claimed the provincial title in Ontario.
Barrie was one of 11 tracks that host NASCAR-sanctioned events in the country until new ownership decided to no longer operate the facility as a race track in 2015. That doesn’t diminish the pride Shepherd had in winning what would become the final NASCAR championship at the historic track.
“It’s always great to win a championship anywhere you race and it was a good year for us last year at Barrie,” Shepherd said. “We had an up and down year but it all worked out.”
Shepherd began the year on a roll winning right out of the gate the first few weeks before things got interesting for his team.
“You couldn’t ask for a better start to the season over the first month or so until we got caught up in a wreck,” Shepherd said. “But we just fought through it and with the hard work and dedication by the guys on the crew we were able to rebound.”
Crew chief Marcus Keeler, along with crew members Jeff Cuculick, Aldo Granada, Jamie Soule and car owner Peter Shelswell, rolled up their sleeves and went to work with the end result being a title.
Despite being in the accident and having to rebuild cars and get them tuned in, Shepherd was still able to finish in the top-10 in every start going a perfect 28-for-28, he also scored seven wins and 23 top-fives during the season.
“After we got the car worked out and back to where we liked it we were able to get back to winning races” Shepherd said. “We were able to win three of the last four races and claim the championship at Barrie Speedway. And to top off the season we finished second in the Velocity 250 at Sunset Speedway and won the pro late model race at the Autumn Colours Classic at Peterborough Speedway. I couldn’t have accomplished all of this without the help of a lot of great people.”
In addition to the crew Shepherd was also quick to thank his parents, Ray and Marilyn Shepherd, for their continued support.
“I can’t thank my wife, Dayna Shepherd, enough for everything she does for myself and the team. The entire team celebrates this title with me as we did it together,” Shepherd added.
Although he won’t be able to defend his track championship at Barrie in 2015, that hasn’t stopped Shepherd from setting new goals and dreams driving his Port City car sponsored by Progressive Waste Solutions, Cookstown Auto, Puzzle Partner, Seasoned Painting and Contracting, Hwy. 400 Transmission, Krueger Electric and Shepherd Trucking.
“With Barrie closing it looks like we will head down to Sunset Speedway and race there more this year since they are now a NASCAR (sanctioned) track,” he added. “We are really looking forward to getting back on the track.”
Shepherd also knows with Barrie no longer operating as a race track the car counts should be strong at Sunset.
“I would imagine there will be 30 or more late models racing at that track this year,” he said. “If we go there and do well we should be able to reach one of my goals which is to have a Canadian driver finish in the top-10 in the final standings next year at the banquet in Charlotte.”
Although Shepherd has been to Charlotte before in December, he is ready to come back.
“NASCAR just does a great job with the banquet making each champion feel appreciated and special,” Shepherd said. “But I want to go back and be the first to be in the final top-10 and let all of the southern race fans know how much we love NASCAR racing in Canada and that we have a lot of talent driving up here.”
From: Tim Southers / NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications