Shaffer Captures $30,000 Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway Sarver, PA -- July 19, 2005 -- Tim Shaffer lifted the weight of his native Aliquippa off of his shoulders Tuesday night when he conquered the Don Martin Memorial ...
Shaffer Captures $30,000 Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway
Sarver, PA -- July 19, 2005 -- Tim Shaffer lifted the weight of his native Aliquippa off of his shoulders Tuesday night when he conquered the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup for the first time in his career.
The prestigious annual entry on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series schedule is the crown jewel of racing each season for sprint car drivers from Western Pennsylvania, but for Shaffer the race heaped nothing but anxiety onto his shoulders.
The 1993 Lernerville Speedway champion and the Outlaws top rookie in 1999, Shaffer returned year after year to the track where he began his career and left with heartbreak each time, including in 2002 when he wound up second to three-time track champion Ed Lynch Jr.
Shaffer was determined this year would be different. He was coming off of a weekend at Eldora Speedway where he surged from 26th to third on Friday and followed it up with a fifth-place run in the Kings Royal. He and his Casey's General Stores team believed they would capture the $30,000 checkered flag Tuesday night, riding confidence into the 35-lap Silver Cup rather than stress.
After he was one of four drivers to get tangled up in Turn 1 with a lap down in the second heat race, Shaffer recovered to transfer to the second Dash. From there he earned the outside starting spot in Row 2 for the feature.
In the main event, Sammy Swindell quickly snatched the lead from pole-sitter Randy Hannagan as Shaffer slid front of Hannagan on the fourth lap in Turns 3 and 4. Steve Kinser worked his way into third as traffic became a major factor for the leaders.
With seven laps down, Shaffer closed fast on Swindell, a three-time Silver Cup winner. Two laps later they raced side-by-side before Shaffer powered to the lead off of Turn 2 on Lap 11. Shaffer then weaved through traffic, put a slide job on two cars in Turns 3 and 4 and pulled away.
"One minute you'd get through [the traffic], and the next minute it was like a roadblock," said Shaffer, who won for the third time this season. "For me running second, it helped us out because Sammy got to them first and he had to try to make something happen and it kind of cleared it out for me."
Once in front, Shaffer survived three cautions with Swindell and Kinser looking for a way around him each time. But Shaffer easily motored back to the lead, clearly pushing his car as hard as he could through the turns. Then traffic became a factor again, allowing Swindell to close the gap.
With six to go, Shaffer was on the bottom, holding Swindell and Kinser at bay, when Terry McCarl caught up to Hannagan as they battled for fourth. On a final restart with four to go, Shaffer again raced out front as Kinser tried to pull alongside Swindell. While those two raced each other, Shaffer kept pushing until he saw the checkered flag. Swindell held off Kinser to finish second with McCarl surging past Hannagan at the line to grab fourth.
Lynch was sixth, followed by fast-qualifier Chad Kemenah, Danny Lasoski, Craig Dollansky and Donny Schatz.
For Shaffer, the victory is the pinnacle of his racing career, especially after missing out on the checkered flag in 2002.
"That was a heartbreaker, but this definitely helps," said Shaffer, a Mean 15 racer. "That was hard to lose that one. [Tuesday night], we had four to go and I looked up at the scoreboard and there's Sammy still behind me and Steve's behind me, I went, 'OK, I'm sure by now they've cleared those lapped cars and are probably right on my butt so don't do anything stupid.'
"I never heard any engines around me. I kept saying to myself they've got to be coming."
But they never caught him.
"We had a good car and this is the best motor we had," Swindell said. "I don't know if we could have beat Tim or not, but I know we're coming out of here with things better than they have been.
"I really only saw Steve twice. He got a run on the outside one time when I went to the bottom and I kind of missed and then I went to the middle and he pulled in, but he was always just there and then I was gone."
Kinser struggled with his motor, especially on restarts.
"I had a motor run wide open, that's the only way it would run," said Kinser, who on Saturday captured the $50,000 Kings Royal with the same car. "As soon as I'd get off the gas it wouldn't pick the throttle back up. We've been chasing it for three nights, just thank goodness at Eldora we didn't have to get out of the gas. We'll just take it out and get rid of it because it's not going to run on anything else.
"I'm happy for Tim. That whole race team has great guys and Tim's a good guy. If I couldn't win it, I'm tickled to death to see him win it."
McCarl's run to the front and late surge to the flag to get Hannagan marks yet another track where he has improved from one race to the next. When the series raced in May at Lernerville, McCarl finished 12th in the A-feature.
"We don't quit running," said McCarl, who finished second to Brooke Tatnell in the March to the Mean 15 that concluded Tuesday night. "You have to keep digging to the checkered flag. We had a great car tonight. I think if we had started up a couple of more rows we might have had something for them. The car was running was great. We did a little bit of Hoosier testing with the new left rear Hoosier and that really worked out good for us.
"Owning your own car is tough, but I've been telling our sponsors and our crew to stick with us and get us past that first time at Eldora, Lernerville, Williams Grove and let us show what we can do the second time we're there. At Eldora we ran great, at Lernerville we were a lot better. Hopefully this week at Williams Grove we can get in the show and run some top 10s. It doesn't take us much to learn, but I'm really proud when we learn from our mistakes and run well."
Shaffer admits the pressure of trying to win an Outlaws race at Lernerville had gotten to him over the years. He started pressing, trying to make his car work the same way it did when he raced weekly at the track in the late 1980s and early '90s.
"Half the township came up from home," Shaffer said. "You always want to good here. I'm telling you, the last couple of years I've tried way too hard and we've still struggled. I came here this time and didn't do what I normally do. I did different things to the racecar. I had it stuck in my head that things worked years ago just aren't going to work anymore. We tried some stuff and got qualified well. Then we were loose in the heat race so we changed the bars for the Dash and got a lot better and then changed some weight for the feature and we were pretty close.
"I've really had to get into a different mindset the last couple of years. Different things would happen with different teams. I think the biggest key now is I'm with a team that believes in me, we're all working together. Look at Eldora."
After that weekend, Shaffer's confidence had never been higher coming into this Silver Cup. He realizes the next time around he still will feel the weight of the region on his shoulders as he rolls into the pits, but having notched a victory he hopes it will be more manageable.
"It's got to help," he said. "When we were out in the Kings Royal, we rolled out there in third next to Steve Kinser. I'm like, 'How many times has he done this?' It's no big deal. Just get it done. If you keep your cool and you keep your mindset, you're fine. I'm learning that more and more over the years. I've been doing this for a long time, but so have a lot of other guys who are struggling. All you can do is keep your head on and do the right things at the right time throughout the night. I tell [crew member] Adam [Kinnear] and the guys, it's not that hard. We make it too hard. The racecar will tell you what it wants. Adam is really good at watching the racecar. I can feel it sometimes, but there are times I come in and I'm clueless and he can say, 'Well I saw it do this or do that.'
"I put enough pressure on myself a lot of times. I think down the road that's why Steve and Sammy are so good here. They've won so many times here, it's just routine for them. Hopefully I can keep getting that feeling."
The Outlaws roll Thursday into to Williams Grove Speedway for the three-night $20,000-to-win Summer Nationals.
SILVER CUP NOTEBOOK
* Brooke Tatnell and Rush Racing clinched the final spot in the Mean 15 by winning the first heat race. That guaranteed a spot in the feature and is all he needed to do to become the newest member of the elite group of sprint car racers.
* Tim Shaffer's victory Tuesday night in the Silver Cup was third of the season, going with wins Lake Ozark Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway. Steve Kinser earned his series-leading 14th A-feature victory Saturday night by winning the Kings Royal. Kinser also has a preliminary feature win this season in the Eagle Nationals at Eagle Raceway. When Stevie Smith took the checkered flag at Attica Raceway Park, he became the 14th different A-feature winner this season. Kraig Kinser won his fourth A-feature of the season in June at Knoxville Raceway. He also has a preliminary feature win at Las Vegas. Jason Meyers earned his fourth win of the season July 2 at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D. Donny Schatz also has four A-feature victories, at Parramatta, Las Vegas and Houston and Joliet, Ill. Brian Paulus won June 28 at Huset's Speedway for his second victory of the season. Sammy Swindell won his second A-feature of the season June 4 at Eldora Speedway. Swindell also has a preliminary feature win April 8 at Eldora. Craig Dollansky has won two features, most recently at Powercom Park, and he also has two preliminary feature wins. Single-event winners include Tim Kaeding June 11 at Sheboygan County Fair Park, Daryn Pittman April 23 at 81 Speedway in Wichita, Brooke Tatnell July 4 at Cedar Lake Speedway, Chad Kemenah July 9 at I-55 Raceway, and Jeff Shepard Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park. In Preliminary Features, Danny Lasoski has won twice and Joey Saldana has won once.
* In the Stacker 2® Dash, Randy Hannagan raced ahead of Steve Kinser and held on to earn his first pole of the season. Kinser held on to finish second with fast-qualifier Chad Kemenah in third, followed by Jason Meyers, Kraig Kinser and Danny Lasoski.
* In the second Dash, three-time Silver Cup champion Sammy Swindell started on the pole and led flag-to-flag in front of Tim Shaffer, 2002 Silver Cup champion Ed Lynch Jr., Terry McCarl, Donny Schatz and Lucas Wolfe.
* In the B-main, Lernerville single-lap record holder Joey Saldana charged to the lead and drove off with the victory while the rest of the field scrambled for the final transfer spots. Daryn Pittman finished second while Lance Dewease and Brian Paulus went side-by-side before Dewease grabbed third and Paulus grabbed the fourth and final transfer spot. Davey Jones, Scott Bonnell and Brent Matus reached the B-main by transferring through the C-main
* Heat race winners included Brooke Tatnell, who clinched a spot for his Rush Racing team in the Mean 15; Bob Felmlee, who earlier this season was a fast-qualifier with the Outlaws; Jac Haudenschild, who replaced Tim Kaeding in the Dennis Roth-owned Nol 83 Mean 15 car; and Craig Dollansky, who won the inaugural Gumout Series race at Lernerville.
* Chad Kemenah paced the 44 cars that went through time trials with a lap around the 4/10-mile oval in 13.263 seconds at 122.144 mph. It was the seventh time Kemenah, a three time All Stars champion, has been the fastest qualifier this season with the Outlaws, the most of any driver. Joey Saldana established the track record with a lap of 12.334 seconds on May 15, 2002.
"I just try to go as fast as I can whenever I'm out there," said Kemenah, who won his first Outlaws race July 9 at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo. "Sometimes qualifying fast don't benefit you, but I just go as fast as I can."
Local favorite and 2002 Silver Cup champion Ed Lynch Jr. was the second quickest qualifier with a lap of 13.285 seconds.
"That's our first goal when we come out of our garage, to go for a quick time," said Lynch, who has 76 victories in his career at Lernerville. "You go for maximum speed and then you go for handling and speed."
* The Outlaws roll Thursday into to Williams Grove Speedway for the three-night $20,000-to-win Summer Nationals.
* The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. (ET) July 27 and Aug. 3 all of last weekend's action from Eldora Speedway. The Outdoor Channel will then broadcast the Silver Cup at 8 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 10.