Shaffer Survives Tough Texas Preliminary By Richard Day FORT WORTH, TX (October 12) -- Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series drivers are among the toughest in auto racing. Not only do they race more...
Shaffer Survives Tough Texas Preliminary
By Richard Day
FORT WORTH, TX (October 12) -- Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series drivers are among the toughest in auto racing. Not only do they race more often than drivers in any other series, they compete with bumps and bruises that might keep others out of action. Tim Shaffer proved his toughness Thursday on opening night of the O'Reilly Texas Showdown at Texas Motor Speedway. The 1999 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year won the Preliminary Feature despite suffering from the effects of a four-wheeler mishap a week before. He was in a plastic surgeon's office Tuesday after wearing a modified head sock at Lowe's Motor Speedway the previous weekend. Instead of complaining about his injury, Shaffer raved about the rough track surface, which is similar to those he grew up racing on in Pennsylvania. "I wish more tracks were like this," Shaffer said. "It was a heavy and rough race just like the old tracks. The key to winning tonight was my crew chief (Sonny Kratzer) giving me a great car and starting up front." Shaffer won his second Preliminary Feature of the season by keeping the #11H Vivarin Eagle ahead of new track record holder Mark Kinser during the final eight laps. The defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion raced wheel-to-wheel with Shaffer down the back stretch on the final lap and was less than a car-length behind as they dodged Steve Kinser, who coasted under the checkered flag. "I sent Mark Kinser on the outside to win," Shaffer said. "I slowed down at the end and eased up too much, so I had to take a chance." Shaffer, the seventh-fastest qualifier in the 40-car field, won the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race and earned the right to start the Preliminary Feature outside the front row by following Sammy Swindell across the finish line in the CHANNELLOCK Dash. Swindell, who won his 23rd CHANNELLOCK Dash of the season despite blowing an engine midway through the final lap, burst into the lead from the pole as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. Stevie Smith spun on the back straightaway, however, nullifying the start. Andy Hillenburg collided with Smith, but managed to keep the #2 Luxaire J&J in 15th place. Shaffer beat Swindell down the front stretch as the green flag replaced the yellow. He was only two car-lengths ahead of the series' three-time champion when they entered lapped traffic late in the fourth lap. Mark Kinser, who started inside the third row, passed First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Joey Saldana during the first lap and battled Swindell during the race's middle stages. Shaffer was a half-straightaway ahead of Swindell when Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Steve Kinser stopped on the front stretch with stripped gears early in the 19th lap. Donny Schatz, who was right behind Kinser in seventh place, stopped with a mechanical problem as well. Danny Lasoski, Texas Motor Speedway's Southern Bleacher Classic champion in late March, passed Danny Wood for fourth place as the green flag replaced the yellow. Shaffer was approaching lapped traffic when Johnny Herrera stopped against the retaining wall in turn four late in lap 22. Kinser steered the #5M Mopar Maxim deep in the second corner to pass Swindell for the runner-up spot as the race resumed. Mark chased Shaffer for seven laps before catching him as the white flag waved. Kinser made several runs at Tim, but was unable to surge ahead. "At first, we were in third place, then the last lap turned out to be really exciting," Mark said. "Shaffer got a break. If it wasn't for the lapped car, I would have won. This track is always good. I enjoy racing here." Swindell and Lasoski earned the second-row starting positions in Saturday's CHANNELLOCK Dash by finishing third and fourth. Jac Haudenschild finished in fifth place, ahead of Wood, Hillenburg, Randy Hannagan, Saldana and 22nd-starting Greg Hodnett. Kinser received his 23rd Vivarin Fast-Time Award of the season for pacing the qualifying session with a 111.197-m.p.h. lap around the semi-banked, 4/10-mile oval. His 12.950-second lap lowered the record World of Outlaws Gumout Series points leader Craig Dollansky set March 31st by .082 seconds. WoO