Williams Grove Preliminary race report

MECHANICSUBURG, PA (September 28) -- Tim Shaffer took a big step toward a lifetime goal Friday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the 39th Annual Williams Grove National Open. The former Williams Grove Speedway regular led all 25...

MECHANICSUBURG, PA (September 28) -- Tim Shaffer took a big step toward a lifetime goal Friday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the 39th Annual Williams Grove National Open.

The former Williams Grove Speedway regular led all 25 laps in the Preliminary Feature, giving him the pole position Saturday's Channellock Dash. It's always been his dream to win the National Open.

"When I was racing here every week, I had this '89 Oldsmobile with about 200,000 miles on it, and I could make it out here in about three hours and 20 minutes running 75 miles an hour," the Aliquippa, PA, native said. "We were so close a couple of times, but tonight is really special. It takes a little bit of everything -- the driver, the crew chief, the crew, the tires, the car, the motors -- just to even be close out here, and I can't say enough about how hard my guys have been working.

"Getting locked in for tomorrow helps a ton, because this track changed so much, and you never know what you're going to get here. That's what makes it so great. We're just going to come back tomorrow and give it everything we've got."

Shaffer, the second-fastest qualifier in the 44-car field, passed three cars to win the Second O'Reilly Heat Race. He earned the right to start the Preliminary Feature inside the second row by following Williams Grove regulars Lance Dewease and Todd Hestor across the finish line in the Channellock Dash.

Dewease burst into the lead as the green flag fell in the feature, but Shaffer drove the #11H Vivarin Maxim past Hestor on the front straightaway and took over first place with an inside move between turns one and two.

Jason Meyers, whose crew replaced the engine in the #20 Eagle Raceway Maxim after time trials, passed Hestor high in turn four for third place the next time around.

The 1997 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner was a straightaway ahead of Dewease when he entered lapped traffic six laps into the race. Meyers used an inside move in turn three to pass Dewease for the runner-up spot five laps later.

Shaffer opened a 10-car-length advantage during the 20th lap, only to have Meyers cut his lead in half within two laps. Meyers was gaining on the leader with 1 ½ laps remaining when Shaffer passed Greg Hodnett with a daring slide move to put eight car-lengths behind himself and the Rookie of the Year candidate. Shaffer was 10 car-lengths ahead of Meyers when he took the checkered flag.

"We've been trying all year long to get some good runs, and this place is just so tough to get around," Meyers said. "I junked a car the first time we came here last year, so we're definitely getting better. I'm happy to run as well as I did, and glad to be locked in. We just have one more spot to get tomorrow."

Dewease, who finished third, was disappointed about the start of the race.

"We weren't too good at the beginning, and then we kind of held our own toward the end," the 1996 National Open champion said. "The motor ran a little hot during the dash, and we changed some things around to try to keep it cooler during the feature, and it didn't really take off. I want to congratulate Tim and Jason -- they did a great job. We're locked in so we can work on this thing a little more tonight and tomorrow, and come back better tomorrow night."

Craig Dollansky finished in fourth place, ahead of Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Mark Kinser, Steve Kinser, Hestor, Dale Blaney, 22nd-starting Andy Hillenburg and fast-qualifier P.J. Chesson.

Chesson broke the single-lap record Don Kreitz, Jr., set a year ago, circling the legendary semi-banked, ½-mile oval at an average speed of 108.512 m.p.h.

The $5,000 victory was Shaffer's first in a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Preliminary Feature this season. Winning the race pushed him into sixth place in the point standings, ahead of New Oxford, PA, native Stevie Smith.

Smith, who won the National Open in 1989 and 1991, finished 23rd. He was one of several former champions who had problems Friday. Kreitz, the 1993 champion, finished ninth in the "B" Feature and was forced to use a provisional to start the evening's main event. He passed four cars to finish 21st. Defending National Open champion Donny Schatz finished in 19th place. Sammy Swindell, the 1997 winner, finished seventh in the "B" Feature.

-WoO-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Andy Hillenburg , Tim Shaffer , Mark Kinser , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Craig Dollansky , Jason Meyers , P.J. Chesson
Teams Williams