2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Tim Shaffer Tim Shaffer is on a mission this season to return to Victory Lane with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. After returning to the driver's...
2008 Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Preview: Tim Shaffer
Tim Shaffer is on a mission this season to return to Victory Lane with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. After returning to the driver's seat full-time last year after missing the second half of 2006 due to injury, he racked up several strong runs, including six second-place performances. He enters this season with 11 career A-Feature wins with the series.
After earning a third place finish in the opener of the inaugural Outlaws World Finals, to wrap up a very successful 2007 season, Shaffer returned home to Pennsylvania to regroup for 2008. He headed to Florida last weekend to compete in three races at East Bay Raceway Park. He will be in action tonight at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida in the opener of the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals for the All Star Circuit of Champions.
"I enjoy having some time at home with the family in the winter," said the 1999 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "After two or three weeks, you are ready to get going again. Right now I am craving some racing. We went out to the Chili Bowl to hang out and saw some friends that we hadn't seen for a while."
Shaffer will be driving again this season for longtime car owner Lonny Parsons. He has been a part of the team since the middle of the 2004 season. Last year, they finished ninth in championship points with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series on the strength of 39 Top-10 finishes.
"It's a relief mentally knowing that you have the same deal going," he noted. "We'll have Chris (Strait) back this year and of course Lonny. We'll lose Sparky (John Pate), he's going to do some racing of his own, but hopefully we'll pick another guy up. We had a very strong team at the end of last year and I think if we can put those pieces back together, we should be competitive right off the bat."
With one of the strongest fields ever assembled for an Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series last season, Shaffer had to be on his game each and every night. Of the tracks on the schedule this season, he has won at 11 of them, including at Lernerville Speedway his home track, in the 2005 Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup.
"Last year definitely was the toughest year ever and this year we'll have over 20 cars following the deal again, so it will be just as tough or tougher," explained the native of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. "Even if you have a couple of cars less, the car that you have with you, the drivers have more experience and that makes them that much better as drivers."
While there are over nine months of racing on the calendar after the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Shaffer strives each season to start off strong in the Sunshine State and to carry that momentum into the bulk of the schedule. In his career at Volusia, Shaffer has 13 Top-10 finishes.
"It's a long season, but every night counts," he said. "Getting a good start in Florida is big and to do well down there is good for the whole team. It means a lot to do good down there and to run strong."
Last season, Shaffer quickly got back into the racing rhythm at the beginning of the year by picking up three Top-Five finishes in the first six events. He was able to build on that momentum all season long as he consistently ran in the Top-10 over the nearly 80 race season.
"When you do it long enough, it kind of comes natural," shared Shaffer. "A lot of it is staying mentally fresh. If you let things beat you up, then it will be a long season."
Shaffer, who claimed the Lernerville Speedway track champion in 1993, will have a couple of chances to race at his home track this season, as the series will again contest the Commonwealth Clash and the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at the track. He'll also race at Sharon Speedway near the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, where he is a former winner.
"We always enjoy the races close to home," he said. "You get to see the people you grew up with and the people you raced against for a lot of years. You definitely want to do well when you go home. I used to struggle at Lernerville, trying a little bit too hard, but lately we've been running strong there. I won the Silver Cup a few years back, by being relaxed. Hopefully we can get another win there."
Shaffer used a strong end of the season run in 2007 to earn his seventh Top-10 finish in the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championship standings. He looks to improve on that this season beginning with the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals.
"We would like to finish in the Top-Five in points and pick up some wins," said Shaffer. "Last year was the first year ever that I did not get a feature win. I was close so many times and that made the team hungrier and myself hungrier for this year. I feel good about this year. If we could get some wins and be in the Top-Five it would be a very good season."