Las Vegas: Duane Shields preview

Shields looking to 'double down' in Vegas LAS VEGAS - Normally when entering a race, your main goal is to win that event. Federal Mogul Dragster driver Duane Shields enters this weekend's SummitRacing.com Nationals at "The Strip" in Las Vegas...

Shields looking to 'double down' in Vegas

LAS VEGAS - Normally when entering a race, your main goal is to win that event. Federal Mogul Dragster driver Duane Shields enters this weekend's SummitRacing.com Nationals at "The Strip" in Las Vegas with the unique situation of having two races to win this weekend. One is this weekend's event, and the other is the finals of the rained out Tucson Division 7 race to be ran in qualifying.

Shields, a Las Vegas resident, has been one of the quickest and fastest Blown Alcohol Dragsters in the category all year. Since dipping into the 5.30's at the season opener in Pomona, Calif., Shields' performance has been second only to defending four time Champion Rick Santos' blown dragster. At his last outing at the O'Reilly Nationals in Houston, Shields ran a career best elapsed time of 5.35 seconds at 261 mph en route to a semifinal finish, where he lost to Santos.

Shields also dominated the Tucson, Ariz., event to be concluded this weekend as well. He qualified his Short Line Express Markets entry No. 1 with a 5.49 at 259.21 mph, and will have lane choice over the "Bud Prince" Brandon Bernstein in the final.

"Since this is our home track, we're going to have a lot of local fans out here this weekend," said Shields. "We're going to come out pretty aggressive. We want to lay down a good number and prepare for our matchup with Bernstein. We just want to come out and do the best we can. We are hoping to run in the 5.40's. With the altitude, we think if we can run in the 5.40's, we can be one of the top qualifiers."

With the unique situation of running two races at the same event, Shields will have to "switch gears" so to speak. After he runs the Tucson final in the second qualifying session Friday afternoon, Shields will have to put all of his focus into the event at hand in Las Vegas.

"We definitely want the win from the Tucson event," stated Shields. "That's why we want to be aggressive. We hope to have that first run down real well, so we have a good baseline to tune from. It eliminates one of our experimental runs in qualifying, because you do have to have a raceday set up going into eliminations."

In addition to winning this weekend, Shields hopes to close the performance gap between him and the Champ Santos. Santos had a best of 5.32 in Houston, compared to Shields' 5.35.

"We're within a couple of hundredths of Santos now," commented Shields. "We may have a little more left in it. Those guys are the champions. We're certainly going to try to step it up a little bit, but take baby steps. We're going to try not to hurt any parts. Right now, we're not hurting any parts."

Qualifying begins on Friday for the Federal Mogul Dragsters with sessions at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Stay tuned to SummitRacing.com's Drag Race Central for round by round updates from "The Strip" in Las Vegas.

-Shields Racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Rick Santos , Duane Shields