Shaffer Shines in Friday Short Track Nationals Prelim at I-30 Speedway LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 26, 2007) -- Aliquippa, Pennsylvania's Tim Shaffer had never raced atop I-30 Speedway's high-banked, 0x00bc-mile clay oval prior to Friday ...
Shaffer Shines in Friday Short Track Nationals Prelim at I-30 Speedway
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 26, 2007) -- Aliquippa, Pennsylvania's Tim Shaffer had never raced atop I-30 Speedway's high-banked, 0x00bc-mile clay oval prior to Friday night.
But that didn't prevent him from racing to victory lane in the second night of the 20th Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires, as he battled past four-time STN king Gary Wright on the 18th of 25 laps to snare his first career O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour National feature win.
And, more importantly, the hard-fought triumph in the electrifying preliminary feature event locked Shaffer into Saturday night's $20,000-to-win and $2,000-to-start STN championship feature event along with runner-up Wright and third-place finisher Jason Meyers, who worked his way forward from seventh to take the final lock-in position.
Those three will join Thursday night's top three finishers, including Shane Stewart, Jason Sides and Zach Chappell, in Saturday night's Pack's Dash for Cash, which will determine the alignment of the front three rows of Saturday night's 40-lap main event. The top two finishers in the Dash will have the option to take the COMP Cams Challenge, which will award a $25,000 bonus to the driver that opts to start at the tail of the field and then can take the prestigious victory, thus bumping the winner's share to $45,000.
Taking the wheel of Doc Sloan's kjmotorsportsracing.com No. 12 machine for the first time, Shaffer was dialed in from the outset, overcoming a big pill draw to race from tenth to third in his heat and then blasting from eighth to second in his qualifying race to earn the pole position for the feature event.
But "The Texan", Gary Wright, matched Shaffer stride for stride with runs of eighth to third in his heat and then seventh to first in his qualifier to earn the front row outside starting slot for the feature on a racy track, setting up what proved to be a barnburner of a feature event with young guns Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Kaley Gharst gridding the feature in row two.
Wright, who will lock up the $50,000 O'Reilly ASCoT National championship by taking a green flag on Saturday night, used the topside to gun into the lead at the outset with Shaffer and Stenhouse in tow.
With the leaders reaching the tail of the field, the caution flew after six laps when Stu Snyder spun in turn three. At the same time, Scott Winters clipped an infield tire exiting turn two and spun to the infield with race-ending front-end damage.
On the restart, Stenhouse entered the mix for the lead as the top three raced three-wide through turns three and four with Wright retaining command as Stenhouse took over second before the red flag flew on the eighth lap when Kaley Gharst bicycled in turn three and flipped over the turn four embankment while dicing for fourth with Meyers. The 2007 Sprint Invaders champion was uninjured.
With the final 17 circuits run in frantic, non-stop fashion, Shaffer battled past Stenhouse to regain second by the tenth round and set his sights on Wright.
With lapped traffic in play at the midway point, Wright continued to work the topside of the track with Shaffer closing in on the low side. Shaffer found the break he needed entering turn one on the 18th circuit, surging ahead exiting turn two with the pair making contact.
Wright kept the pressure on over the final rounds, only to fall two car-lengths short of the World of Outlaws contender at the checkered flag.
"We got into a lot of traffic there, and it just worked out in my favor this time," Shaffer commented after his first feature win since an NST triumph at Dodge City Raceway Park on May 20, 2006. "Winning here on Saturday will be tough, it's a long way to go. We're here with Doc Sloan and his guys and just having a great time, a win tomorrow would just make it that much better."
Denied his first STN preliminary triumph since 2003 and 120th career ASCS National Tour feature win, Wright took the runner-up finish in stride. "Really, finishing first, second or third is all the same, the main thing is just getting locked into tomorrow night's feature."
Working forward from the fourth row, Meyers wrestled the third and final lock-in position from Stenhouse on the 16th lap and held it to the line.
Stenhouse settled for fourth, with 2002 Short Track Nationals champion Paul McMahan rounding out the top five in his reunion with car owner Donnie Cooper.
Greg Wilson turned in the feature's top passing performance by charging from 17th to sixth, with Robbie Standridge, Ernie Ainsworth, Don Droud, Jr., and Eric Lutz completing the top ten.
Brian McClelland, Joe Wood, Jr., Daryn Pittman, Gharst, Stenhouse and Ainsworth topped heat race action for Friday night's 58-car field, with Brandon Berryman, Wright, Meyers and McMahan winning the qualifying races.
Mike Dussel turned over in turn three in the second heat race, while Derek Hagar took a wild flight off turn two in the fourth heat race.JThere were no injuries.
An STN record total of 108 different drivers have competed over the two preliminary nights. With six drivers locked into Saturday night's STN championship finale, the balance of the field will battle through a full card of heat races, last chance races and qualifying races to fill the final 14 positions in Saturday's main event.
20th Annual O'Reilly Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Friday Night Results:
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 87b-Brian McClelland, 2. 35R-Ron Blair, 3. 53d-Jack Dover, 4. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 5. 29x-Brandon Berryman, 6. 1g-Cody Gardner, 7. 75b-Tyler Blank, 8. 71T-Tim Simmons, 9. 98-Andrew Korte. DNS: 8c-John Carney, Jr.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 2. 18w-Lorne Wofford, 3. 9w-Gary Wright, 4. 12s-Jeff Swindell, 5. 01-Paul McMahan, 6. b4-Eric Baldaccini, 7. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 8. 39-Travis Rutz, 9. 6-Mike Dussel, 10. 38-Rick Pringle.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 21p-Daryn Pittman, 2. 91-Darren Stewart, 3. a12-Tim Shaffer, 4. 15s-Nick Smith, 5. 3a-A.G. Rains, 6. 86F-Josh Fisher, 7. 1m-Sean McClelland, 8. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 9. 66-Kenny Taylor, 10. 81-Jon Freeman.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 3*-Kaley Gharst, 2. 88-Tim Crawley, 3. R19-Scott Winters, 4. 14m-Jason Meyers, 5. w20-Greg Wilson, 6. 5$-Danny Smith, 7. 13k-Lucas Wolfe, 8. 3b-Brad Greer, 9. 9JR-Derek Hagar.
Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 40R-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 2. 20E-Eric Lutz, 3. 12x-Robbie Standridge, 4. 1x-Don Droud, Jr., 5. 58-Wade Oliver, 6. 44-Ronny Howard, 7. 51b-Mike Boston, 8. 28-Jonathan Cornell. DNS: 4T-Justin Sturch.
Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 40e-Ernie Ainsworth, 2. 2d-Stu Snyder, 3. 8s-Steve Short, 4. 51s-Lee Sowell, 5. 21b-Brian Brown, 6. 8w-Jeff Wingate, 7. 7w-Wade Human, 8. 5ma-Mallory Armfield, 9. 8z-Zach Pringle.
Qualifying Races -- Winner from Each Qualifier Locked into "A" Main; Balance of 20-car Feature Field comprised of Top 16 Overall Points Accumulated Through Heats & Qualifiers (Feature Lined up according to total points)
First Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 29x-Brandon Berryman, 2. a12-Tim Shaffer, 3. 1x-Don Droud, Jr., 4. 2d-Stu Snyder, 5. 8s-Steve Short, 6. 18w-Lorne Wofford, 7. 2w-Kenneth Walker, 8. 98-Andrew Korte, 9. 51b-Mike Boston, 10. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 11. 21p-Daryn Pittman, 12. 87b-Brian McClelland. DNS: 8w-Jeff Wingate, 8z-Zach Pringle, 4T-Justin Sturch.
Second Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 9w-Gary Wright, 2. R19-Scott Winters, 3. 91-Darren Stewart, 4. 35R-Ron Blair, 5. 1m-Sean McClelland, 6. 3a-A.G. Rains, 7. 86F-Josh Fisher, 8. 38-Rick Pringle, 9. 7w-Wade Human, 10. 88-Tim Crawley, 11. 51s-Lee Sowell, 12. 21b-Brian Brown. DNS: 3b-Brad Greer, 6-Mike Dussel.
Third Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 14m-Jason Meyers, 2. 58-Wade Oliver, 3. 3*-Kaley Gharst, 4. 40e-Ernie Ainsworth, 5. 20e-Eric Lutz, 6. 1g-Cody Gardner, 7. 5$-Danny Smith, 8. 53d-Jack Dover, 9. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 10. 81-Jon Freeman, 11. 66-Kenny Taylor, 12. 13k-Lucas Wolfe, 13. 12s-Jeff Swindell, 14. 71T-Tim Simmons.
Fourth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 01-Paul McMahan, 2. 40R-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 3. 12x-Robbie Standridge, 4. w20-Greg Wilson, 5. 15s-Nick Smith, 6. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 7. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 8. 75b-Tyler Blank, 9. 39-Travis Rutz, 10. b4-Eric Baldaccini, 11. 9JR-Derek Hagar, 12. 44-Ronny Howard, 13. 5ma-Mallory Armfield, 14. 8c-John Carney, Jr.
"A" Feature -- Top 3 Finishers Locked into Saturday night's $20,000 to win STN Finale.
A Feature (25 Laps -- Starting position in parentheses): 1. a12-Tim Shaffer (1), 2. 9-Gary Wright (2), 3. 14m-Jason Meyers (7), 4. 40R-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (3), 5. 01-Paul McMahan (6), 6. w20-Greg Wilson (17), 7. 12x-Robbie Standridge (9), 8. 40e-Ernie Ainsworth (5), 9. 1x-Don Droud, Jr. (12), 10. 20e-Eric Lutz (16), 11. 91-Darren Stewart (8), 12. 58-Wade Oliver (13), 13. 35r-Ron Blair (11), 14. 18w-Lorne Wofford (19), 15. 03-Joe Wood, Jr. (21), 16. 2d-Stu Snyder (15), 17. 8s-Steve Short (18), 18. 7m-Kevin Ramey (20), 19. 3*-Kaley Gharst (4), 20. 29x-Brandon Berryman (14), 21. R19-Scott Winters (10).