Shaffer Solid at Tucson Tucson, AZ--March 2, 2007 -- After suffering fractured vertebrae last June in a vicious accident at Knoxville Raceway, it was uncertain when and if Tim Shaffer would race again. Determination and perseverance helped him...
Shaffer Solid at Tucson
Tucson, AZ--March 2, 2007 -- After suffering fractured vertebrae last June in a vicious accident at Knoxville Raceway, it was uncertain when and if Tim Shaffer would race again. Determination and perseverance helped him heal at a steady pace and prepare mentally and physically for the rigors of racing a sprint car on a nightly basis. He anxiously awaited the start of the 2007 season, and even began the campaign a few weeks early by heading to Florida to turn as many laps as he could prior to the World of Outlaws season.
On Friday night in his first career visit to USA Race Park in Tucson, Shaffer recorded his third Top-Five finish of the season as he came home fifth. This was his third Top-Five finish of the young season. He was third last Friday night at Thunderbowl Raceway in California, and scored his first Top-Five of the season on February 11 in the finale of the 36th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals, where he was fifth. He is solidly in the Top-10 in points heading to Manzanita Speedway on Saturday.
"It was good for the team and it was good for me," said Shaffer, driver of the Casey's General Stores Maxim, after the event at USA Race Park on Friday. "Anytime you can run in the Top-Five in this deal is a good race."
After missing the final four months of the 2006 season, Shaffer knew that it would take a few races to get into a rhythm and feel fully comfortable again behind the wheel. With nearly 90 races on the schedule this season, he knows that he will be tested both physically and mentally each and every night. After a rigorous rehabilitation program in the off-season and countless visits to the doctor, he is glad to be back behind the wheel of a sprint car doing what he loves each night.
"Every night it is getting better and better," said the 1999 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "I still find little things here and there that I have to improve on. It just takes time. I'm happy to be running as good as we are coming back from an injury like that."
While it was agonizing to watch his car turn laps without him in it, Shaffer knew that it was the right thing to do. Having seen drivers return from injuries too soon in the past, and get injured again, the native of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania received advice from some of the most respected individuals in sprint car racing.
"It was tough watching the races, but actually at first it was not, because I knew I could not race," explained Shaffer. "When I thought in my own mind that I could race, that is what made it really tough. All in all, I had guys like Danny Lasoski, Jimmy Carr, and Guy Forbook convince me to stay out the full year last year and not come back too early. It's a good thing I did. Doing the rehab and getting every thing back to the way it should be helped. I feel close to 100 percent right now. As we keep racing, I will get in better and better shape, and then I think we can perform even better."
While he got a jump on the season by racing in the Sunshine State, Shaffer stills feels as if he had some catching up to do. He makes sure to get every lap he can in during practice, and he also has gotten extra seat time by qualifying for three dashes. He set fast time at Thunderbowl Raceway on February 23, to earn that honor for the first time in the new season.
"It felt like everyone had a head start on me," he stated. "I have a great team. Lonnie (Parsons) and the entire team stood behind me and waited for me to come back. That makes us a really strong team. I think I was able to come back and be successful right off the bat because I have a really strong team."
With nearly 30 teams traveling full-time with the World of Outlaws this season, Shaffer knows the competition will be at an all-time high each and every night. With the vast array of races from coast-to-coast, he also knows that luck plays a big factor over the course of the demanding season along with being consistent and fast.
"In this deal things go up and down," said Shaffer. "It all can change. It's a funny deal. It's a long season you have some great competition. You can run in the Top-Five one week, and the next week, not even make the shows. Running in the Top-Five keeps your confidence up, and it keeps the team pumped up, and it makes it easier to go up and down the road."