Shaffer Takes Gold Cup Opener as Hodnett Breaks By Richard Day CHICO, CA (September 14) -- Greg Hodnett's emotional roller coaster took another nose dive Thursday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the 47th Annual Gold Cup Race...
Shaffer Takes Gold Cup Opener as Hodnett Breaks
By Richard Day
CHICO, CA (September 14) -- Greg Hodnett's emotional roller coaster took another nose dive Thursday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the 47th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway. Hodnett, who sandwiched Preliminary Feature victories at Texas Motor Speedway and Hagerstown Speedway around a broken shoulder earlier this season, was 3 1/2 laps from victory when the drive line broke on the #V12 Wirtgen America Maxim. Tim Shaffer restarted ahead of the field and won his first Preliminary Feature of 2000. "I couldn't really tell if anything was wrong with Greg's car because it was just after a restart," Shaffer said in victory lane. "We'd only run a few laps, but when he slowed down I knew it wasn't the checkered flag yet, so I ducked inside him and just kept going. "Sonny (Kratzer, his crew chief) and I are communicating really well right now, and that's what you need to have a fast car." Shaffer, the second-fastest qualifier in the 45-car field, finished fourth in both the Second NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race and the CHANNELLOCK Dash. Hodnett earned the privilege of starting the 25-lap Preliminary Feature on the pole by winning his sixth CHANNELLOCK Dash of the year. He beat outside pole-sitter Johnny Herrera down the front straightaway as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. Shaffer, who started outside the second row, fell behind Vivarin Fast-Time Award winner Mark Kinser late in the second lap. Hodnett held a comfortable eight-car-length advantage when he entered lapped traffic five laps into the race. Herrera narrowed the gap to two car-lengths in dense traffic within two laps, however. Shaffer regained fourth place early in the 10th lap, steering the #11H Vivarin Eagle to the lowest point between the first and second corners to pass the defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion. The 1999 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner continued his run toward the front during the 17th and 18th laps, passing First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Brent Kaeding deep in turn four and executing an identical move to pass Herrera for second place the next time around. Johnny Rodriguez flipped in the second corner late in the 19th lap, bringing out the red flag and tightening the field. Hodnett surrendered the lead 2 1/2 laps later when he stopped on the back stretch with a broken drive line. Shaffer was in first place when the green flag replaced the yellow, and was 12 car-lengths ahead of Herrera when he took the checkered flag. "We were probably about a third-place car tonight," Herrera admitted. "Usually, when you're leading in traffic you have to weave your way around those lapped cars, and it sometimes helps the guy behind you find the faster line. Greg was pretty strong tonight and Tim got by us too. Like I said, we were probably a third-place car, but we got second so we'll take that and maybe go back and make a couple of changes and be back to get the big money Saturday night." Kaeding, who has finished in the top three at the Gold Cup the last three years, was glad to race with the leaders again. "This is kind of our home track; we've run a bunch of races here," Kaeding said. "It's a small track, which is what I grew up racing on. We're just glad to be on the podium. These guys are tough no matter what size track you race on, and they get tougher every year. "We're looking forward to watching Tim (his son) run in that #10 car tomorrow night. He was pretty strong last year, and maybe he can get it done again this year." Kinser finished fourth, ahead of Brian Paulus, Donny Schatz, Dale Blaney, Second NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Randy Hannagan, and Hillenburg. Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Steve Kinser raced past nine cars to finish in 10th place. Blaney was racing for the lead with three laps remaining in the Second NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race when the right rear radius rod #93 Amoco Maxim broke. The 1998 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year managed to hold off Shaffer for third place and qualify for the CHANNELLOCK Dash and Preliminary Feature. WoO