There’s no doubt that Madera Speedway and Buddy Shepherd of Bakersfield are a good fit.

Especially when big money is on the line.

Shepherd won his first Late Model title at the track in 2015, won that championship at Kern County Raceway in 2016, and won the Madera title again in 2017.

He capped last season’s run at Madera by winning $10,000 in the Nut Up Industries Short Track Shootout and will be looking to double down on Saturday in the sixth annual race.

Shepherd has been money in big money races since then, winning $5,000 earlier this year at Madera and coming away with the 10k prize last month in Roseville.

“Probably just consistency,” Shepherd said of what it takes to win races at Madera, where there's lots of side-by-side action. “Just hitting your marks every time and not messing up. As soon as you mess up there’s five guys ready to pounce.”

More than 50 racers, including fellow Bakersfield driver Racin Vernon, will be at Madera.

The rules package at Madera allows for a wide variety of Late Model-style cars to be competitive, which lures large numbers of racers to the facility.

Shepherd said there can be two grooves at the track, and depending on the situation the low or high groove might be the better choice.

“The top is pretty racey when your tires get hot, that’s where a lot of guys migrate to,” he said. “It just depends on how your car is handling and what the track is doing.”

The top-10 qualifiers redraw for starting position in the feature and Shepherd has won from the pole (such as he did last year in the race) and has come from several rows back to win.

“If we can be there at the end (to battle for a win) that will be good,” he said. “I just go and have fun, that’s the biggest goal.”

Sprint cars at KCRP dirt track

The King of the West-NARC Sprint Car Series returns to The Dirt Track at KCRP on Saturday night with five drivers separated by fewer than 50 points in the championship battle.

Five-time winner Kyle Hirst leads the way with 457 points with Shane Golobic (three wins) just seven points back. Bud Kaeding (one win) is in the hunt, 23 behind, with Chase Johnson trailing by 49 points.

Golobic won the season-opening race at The Dirt Track back on April 7, leading all but the first lap.

Also in action will be Racesaver Sprint Cars, American Stocks, Mod Lites and Mini Stocks.

Racing starts at 7.

Quick Shifts

Hailie Deegan of Temecula became the first woman to ever win a K&N Pro Series race when she won a West race Saturday night at Meridian Speedway in Idaho. Deegan bumped teammate Cole Rouse out of the way in turn one on the final lap on the tight quarter-mile track to take her only lead of the night. Derek Thorn of Bakersfield finished fourth and leads his teammate Ryan Partridge and Rouse by 32 points with two races left.

Jacob Gomes raced to his first Spears Southwest Tour since 2015 on Saturday night at Madera Speedway. Blaine Roach was second and Craig Raudman third. Next stop for the Tour is at Kern County Raceway on Oct. 28.

Mike Griffith can be reached at 661 395-7390. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeGriffith54. 

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