Shields Racing Shields makes fourth straight final round SONOMA, Calif. - NHRA Federal Mogul Dragster driver Duane Shields made his fourth straight final round appearance during this past weekend's Fram-Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway...
Shields makes fourth straight final round
SONOMA, Calif. - NHRA Federal Mogul Dragster driver Duane Shields made his fourth straight final round appearance during this past weekend's Fram-Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Shields qualified No. 1, and worked his way through the field to the finals where he was defeated by fellow Division 6 racer, and current national points leader, Mark Hentges.
Shields, who runs his Short Line Express Market chain in Las Vegas, came into the event hot off of a runner-up finish at the Prolong Northwest Nationals in Seattle. Shields kept his pace up by qualifying No. 1 with a low elapsed time of the race run at 5.415 seconds. It was not 'smooth sailing' from there, however. In his first round bye run, a rod failure caused him to slow to a 5.585 at 236.26 mph, which lost him lane choice to his second round opponent, David Baca. Sears Point's right lane has always been notorious for being the 'bad lane.' Nevertheless, Shields took out Baca by virtue of reaction time, as both cars ran identical 5.541 e.t.'s. Shields was given the right lane again in his semifinal matchup with Paul Jones, but still came through with the win at a 5.591 at 256.99 mph. Shields was handed the right lane once more in the finals against Hentges, who proved to be too strong to overcome from the bad lane. In a close race, Hentges took the win with a 5.503 at 255.77 mph to Shields right-there 5.518 at 256.06 mph. With the runner-up finish, Shields maintained his fifth spot in national standings.
"We were fortunate we got the No. 1 spot," said Shields. "When we came out for our first round bye, we actually had a rod failure about 3/4 track, so we had a pretty slow run. That hurt us because we were going for lane choice. So, coming into the second round, we had actually lost lane choice. At this track, lane choice is critical, being in the right lane with an alcohol dragster was more challenging, and we had a hard time controlling the power. We had violent tireshake against Baca in the second round, and had identical e.t.'s but we took the win. We then came back in the semifinals against Paul Jones, and thought we had toned it down enough, but we didn't, and shook the tires again. Once again, we lost lane choice for the final."
"For the final, we had finally changed things around enough and thought we had a pretty good handle on it," continued Shields. "I think we did pretty well. A .51 in that right lane at that time of the day was pretty stout. We just had to have it tuned down enough that it allowed him [Hentges] to out run us. They deserved the win, they ran great. We can't complain, we didn't hurt any parts after that first round. We're pretty happy with things."
Shields hopes to carry the momentum of his four straight final around appearances to his next event, the biggest event in all of drag racing, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
"Indy is the most prestigious race out there," stated Shields. "I think we have had a performance that has been very strong at all the races. Coming off of going to the final round, I think we'll be looking for our first national event win of the year in Indy."
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