Sheppard rolling up wins at raceway

Jeffrey Sheppard Jr. stands next to the No. 13 Kingman Drywall car after placing second in the first heat of the IMCA Modified Division race at Mohave Valley Raceway on Saturday. The 2005-06 champion finished in fifth place in the main event.
SHAWN BYRNE/Miner

Jeffrey Sheppard Jr. stands next to the No. 13 Kingman Drywall car after placing second in the first heat of the IMCA Modified Division race at Mohave Valley Raceway on Saturday. The 2005-06 champion finished in fifth place in the main event. SHAWN BYRNE/Miner

Jeffrey Sheppard Jr. of Golden Valley does a lot of hanging during the days of his life. Sheppard, 21, spends his time during the week hanging drywall for his father's company, Kingman Drywall, and is a regular hanging out at the Mohave Valley Raceway on Saturdays.

Sheppard finished fifth in the International Motor Contest Association's (IMCA) Modified Division that was the main event on opening day at the 2008 Days of Thunder Winter Season at the raceway on Saturday.

After Sheppard spends his day doing drywall, he is in the garage getting the car ready for its next race.

"If the car is okay from the previous week," Sheppard said, "it takes about a good two days to prep it."

The races began at noon, and Sheppard said that he arrives at the track at 10 a.m. Sheppard and his crew, which includes his father, Jeffrey Sheppard Sr., busied themselves with last-minute preparations.

Sheppard's No. 13 is owned and sponsored by Kingman Drywall. Getting local businesses to be additional sponsors is a major challenge that the younger Sheppard faces.

"It's hard to find sponsors," he said. "I'll take any business, from anywhere."

Sheppard realizes that the current state of the economy is a major reason why he is having difficulties finding these sponsors. He said that because of the slowdown in houses being built in Kingman, his hours at work might be cut down to only 10 for the next several weeks.

"It takes some money to come out here every week," Sheppard said. "If I have to sit out, then I just have to sit out."

When the racing season gets into full roar, Mohave Valley Raceway owner Joe Morabito said that the crowd could be between 800 to 1,000 people. Sheppard believes that sponsors will benefit from having their logos on his car.

Sheppard earned the No. 5 position at the start of the main event by his second place finish in the first of four heats. When he took second, he was one of eight drivers that advanced automatically into the main event and was able to bypass the second stage of the event called the B-Main.

In the last half of heat one, Sheppard found himself in third place and was finding it difficult to get past the No. 29 car for second.

"He was making it hard for me," Sheppard said. "He was in the middle of the track, and the top part was hard to bite."

With three laps to go, Sheppard was able to overtake the No. 29 and move into second when the No. 29 had to check up when he approached the leader.

"I was able to get underneath and then hold him off," Sheppard said.

The main event was marred by six cautions and one red flag in the early part of the race. Coming off of turn four, three cars collided and the red flag was issued as two of them had to be towed off the track. It was Sheppard's nemesis from heat one No. 29's second caution flag, and he was disqualified.

At the red flag, Sheppard had maintained his No. 5 position. When the race resumed, the No. 87 car, who was in fourth at the time, couldn't get his car moving up to speed, departed for the pits and Sheppard moved up a position.

At 13 laps to go, Brad Pounds in the No. 114 overtook Sheppard when he dove inside coming out of turn four. At the time, Pounds looked like the fastest car on the track.

"I knew he was there," Sheppard said. "The more fuel I burned, the looser I got in the rear."

For the rest of the race Sheppard had to contend with the car driven by Levi Kiefer to stay in fifth place.

"It was all right," Sheppard said of his fifth place finish worth approximately $200. "Unless we win, it's not really all that exciting."

Sheppard's passion for racing was easily seen on his face when he returned to the pits. There's no doubt that four-year veteran of racing is out having fun.

And that is what a day at Mohave Valley Raceway is all about.

When Morabito finished waving the checkered flag at the start of the Super Stock final, he confirmed the motivation for racing.

"Now that's fun," he said.