2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Tim Shaffer Concord, NC -- Feb. 7, 2007 -- After missing the final four months of last season due to injury, Tim Shaffer has not missed a single night of racing in Florida to open the 2007 season. In preparation...
2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Tim Shaffer
Concord, NC -- Feb. 7, 2007 -- After missing the final four months of last season due to injury, Tim Shaffer has not missed a single night of racing in Florida to open the 2007 season. In preparation for the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop for the World of Outlaws at Volusia Speedway Park, February 9-11, he arrived in Florida at the end of January and to date has already competed in seven nights of racing, at two different tracks.
Shaffer, who has 11 career World of Outlaws A-Feature triumphs, turned in a very impressive fifth-place effort in his first race back in the car at "The King of the 360's" at East Bay Raceway Park, which featured many fellow World of Outlaws competitors. He followed that up with another solid finish the next night, and wrapped up the three-day event with a fourth-place run.
To open up February, he was back in a 410-sprint car, and scored a runner-up finish in the first of three straight nights at East Bay. A sixth-place run was in store in his next race, which helped him secured a spot in the finale by virtue of the points accumulated in the first two nights of racing. In the finale he was running fourth until an accident with a lapped car ended his night. In the season opener for the O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions on Tuesday night, he turned in another solid run, with a third-place finish.
"I'm definitely wound up and can't wait," said Shaffer, a native of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania when asked about the World of Outlaws season. "I went down early to East Bay to get some extra seat time. I'm anxious to get going."
While it takes some drivers a number of days, weeks, or even months, to return to form after an injury, Shaffer has not missed a beat after the solid performances he has racked up in the Sunshine State over the last few weeks.
"It felt like I was just racing yesterday," he commented, before taking to the track for the first time at East Bay. "I feel real confident. I feel good. I'm healed up well and am 100 percent. I actually think I am in better shape now than before I got hurt."
Prior to his injury, Shaffer filled in for Terry McCarl while he was
injured last season. In the three events that he was in McCarl's car,
he scored three Top-10 finishes, including a fourth at The Dirt Track
Lowe's Motor Speedway. After his injury, Shaffer's team put veteran driver Dean Jacobs in the No. 6 car, as they competed with the National Sprint Tour, where Shaffer had one win before his injury. Ironically, Jacobs also filled in for McCarl last season, scoring his first career World of Outlaws victory at Lernerville Speedway, Shaffer's home track.
"It definitely is hard seeing someone else be in the car when you are hurt," Shaffer explained. "We put Dean (Jacobs) in the car and he is a good friend, and it still was hard. That's part of the racing deal. It goes along with what we choose to do, and sometimes that happens. You just have to make the best of it and move on."
Shaffer knew he was in for an uphill battle as he recovered from the fractured vertebrae that he suffered in a vicious accident at Knoxville Raceway on June 23. While for most people it would probably take years to fully heal, Shaffer's determination helped him cut that time down significantly and ultimately return to the driver's seat.
"My drive helped me get through everything," he shared. "It's what I want to do. If you want to do it 100 percent, you have to give 100%."
He was very anxious to return to the cockpit to see how the rehab he had been doing would affect his abilities in the car. The veteran driver has a unique method of staying in racing shape that he hones by racing itself.
"I have a motocross track to stay in shape," he said. "I do things like that. I have a little go-kart track. Riding those helps to build the muscles inside my neck. It makes the helmet feel heavy playing around with them. My rehab is probably a lot different than most people. When I am in the car, there will be things that you don't workout in a normal workout that you do only in a race car. I think I have covered everything, but you don't know that until you start over again."
With a record number of teams starting the season off full-time with the World of Outlaws this year at the DIRTcar Nationals, Shaffer knows the importance of being fast every time he takes to the track.
"It's going to be a wild season," he admitted. "It's going to be tough. A lot of guys are making their programs better and better. Last year there were more opportunities for people to get out there and get seat time."
Shaffer and his fellow drivers will compete nearly 90 times this season from coast-to-coast, including three events north of the border in Canada. Circled on Shaffer's calendar is the Commonwealth Clash at Lernerville Speedway on May 15 in his home state and the annual Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup on July 17, also at the DIRT MotorSports owned facility, where he is the 1993 track champion.
"The schedule reminds me of the old days," said Shaffer, who has finished in the Top-10 in the World of Outlaws standings six times in his career.
While he does not mind the number of races, he is quick to point out that the crew members of each and every team are the ones ultimately affected as the number of races climb. He believes his Parsons Motorsports team has a solid crew ready for the season, and they look to pace themselves over the course of the always demanding season.
"The hardest thing about running with the Outlaws is keeping a good team under you night in and night out," he explained. "If you can't keep a good group of guys together, you can't be competitive."
After being out of the seat for so long last season, Shaffer just wants to start the World of Outlaws season off in a good rhythm, as he has already done in the early season events leading up to the DIRTcar Nationals.
"The main thing we want to do is be competitive and win races," he said. "The rest usually falls into line. It's going to be a tough deal. It will be hard making shows every night, with that many good cars out there."