Buddy Shepherd has proved adept at pavement oval track racing.
In fact, he’s proven to be very adept at it.
Last Saturday night Shepherd locked up the Madera Speedway Late Model track championship by driving to victory, and a $10,000 payday, in a 150-lap race. He got the win by holding off Eric Holmes, a three-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champ.
“It was awesome, it was 150 laps of pure chaos, that’s pretty much what it was,” Shepherd said.
The win was the biggest ever, payday wise, for the Centennial High School senior, who also earned $5,000 for the track championship.
Shepherd won the Madera Late Model championship in 2015, won every race en route to the Late Model title at Kern County Raceway in 2016, and now has another Madea title.
None of that means a thing Friday or Saturday night, as Shepherd will jump into a dirt Modified and make his first start in the biggest race of the year at Bakersfield Speedway — the 32nd Annual Bud Nationals.
Shepherd will be a teammate of Ethan Dotson, who won a season-high four races this year on the third-mile clay oval.
Shepherd, who turned 18 on Monday, last raced on the dirt at age 11 when he ran 600cc winged Micro Sprint cars.
He found out Monday during a test session at Bakersfield Speedway there is no correlation between a Micro Sprint and a Modified.
“The Micros, you just drive them (into the corner) and they stick,” Shepherd said. “I drove that Modified in there (on Monday) and it didn’t stick. It was pretty fun with all the horsepower. It was definitely gnarly, one of the most gnarly things I’ve driven.”
So why make a Modified debut in the biggest race of the year?
“The Dotsons have wanted me to come and drive one of their dirt cars and I finally got the time off to be able to go race one,” Shepherd said.
As for his goals this weekend, Shepherd said they are simple: “To not look bad, that’s about it. To have some fun.”
More than 150 drivers in seven different divisions will compete over the two days.
Late Models, Modifieds, Mod Lites and American Stocks have a full racing program Friday night with Hobby Stock and Sport Mods drivers competing in heat races.
Late Models, Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Sport Mods are in action on Saturday night.
Racing starts at 5 p.m. both nights and memorials honoring Bailey Schweitzer, who was among those killed in the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, will be held around that time both evenings. Bailey Schweitzer is the daughter of track owner Scott Schweitzer. Track officials are asking fans to wear teal, Bailey’s favorite color.
Pit gates open at noon and grandstand gates open at 4 both days.
ANRA at Famoso
The American Nostalgia Racing Association will hold its Fall Nationals on Saturday and Sunday at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
More than 250 drivers in a variety of classes, including 7.60-second index Nostalgia Eliminator and A/Gas, will be competing in the event. Qualifying and time trials begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with eliminations getting under way at 9 a.m. Sunday.
In other Famoso news, Team Famoso won the 2017 NHRA Pacific Summit ET Finals Team Championship last weekend, edging out host Team Las Vegas by a mere point. CW Hoefer won both the Sportsman and Pro classes to help lead the team to victory.
KCRP set for flurry of activity
Kern County Raceway Park will wrap up its racing season with four straight weekends of action, starting Oct. 28
The Spears Southwest Tour Bulwark FR-Timberland PRO 101 takes place on the half-mile paved oval on Oct. 28, the penultimate race in the series. A week later, on Nov. 4, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West winds up its season with the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame 150.
Things get wild and zany on Nov. 11 with the rescheduled “Night of Mayhem (yes, there will be a trailer drop). The season winds up on Nov. 19 with the fourth annual George Snider Classic King of the Wing National Sprint Car Championship.
West Series in Roseville
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rolls into All American Speedway in Roseville on Saturday for the next-to-last race of the season (the finale is at Kern County Raceway on Nov. 4).
Defending series champ Todd Gilliland (six wins) has an 11 point lead over teammate Chris Eggleston (four wins). Blaine Perkins of Bakersfield is 10th in points.