It has been a long time coming, but Paul Shafer Jr. and his crew finally broke through and celebrated their first ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment victory during a Memorial Day weekend special at Jefferson Speedway, located between Cambridge and Jefferson, Wisconsin.
Shafer took over the lead from Dalton Zehr with 45 laps to go and then kept his distance from three-time Jefferson Speedway track champion Casey Johnson to end his long drought and get the long-awaited checkered flag.
The win, especially being the first one in the Tour, at Jefferson Speedway has a special meaning for Shafer and his longtime crew chief Chris Purdy.
“Now that the first one is out of the way, maybe we can get a couple more,” a smiling Shafer said after the race. “It’s awesome to get the first win here for a lot of reasons. One, it’s probably the short track in whole State of Wisconsin, especially with the way how they run it every week. During the Joe Shear Classic, we practiced on Saturday afternoon and we came over here and watched the races. The second is that my crew chief Chris Purdy grew up in the Janesville/Milton area and he ran here a lot. I think he won eight out of nine features one year. It means a lot to me, Chris and everyone on the team because many are from around here.”
Shafer, who was also the fast qualifier, started 13th and was up to second by lap 42 after passing Johnson was an early leader in the race. Shafer was trying to chase down Dalton Zehr for the top spot.
Shafer would inherit the lead when Zehr started to slow on the track and came to a stop to bring out the final of six cautions on the night. Zehr said after the race that he thinks the alternator went on his car and drained the battery. He would finish 17th.
Shafer would drive the final 45 laps without being challenged and capture his first win in 32 starts.
“His care must have shut off or something,” Shafer said. “I think we had a better car, but it was a matter of saving tires. If it would have stayed green, we would not have caught him. But, if we had a yellow I think we would have had a lot for him.”
Johnson was hoping to get the victory at what he would consider to be his home track.
“I thought we were going to be really good. We got going and I could start feeling the brake pedal fading and she just wanted to go on the floor on me. I don’t know if I boiled the fluid or ran it too hard or what. I think one got away from us. We lucked into second. The care was terrible once I couldn’t hit the brakes. We salvaged one tonight.”
Billy Mohn overcame a bad night at last week’s Cabin Fever 100 to finish third.
“The car was really good. We definitely turned our luck around from State Park Speedway. I can’t complain about this, and it’s a good way to end the day,” Mohn said after the race. “I didn’t expect a podium finish tonight. I know our car has been good enough and I haven’t been able to show it with our starting positions. Tonight, we were able to show it and worked out well.”
Joe Shear Classic winner Austin Nason finished fourth with Andrew Morrissey coming back from being involved in an early caution to finish fifth.
Prior to driver introductions, all active and retired service members were invited to come on the track and be a part of one of a large greeting line to meet the drivers before they strapped into their cars for tonight’s 100-lap event.
“That was awesome,” Shafer exclaimed. “To get to see all of the members of the military and shake their hands and tell them thank you for all they do, it means a lot to them and it means a lot to us.
The Midwest Compact Touring Series joined the program and put on a show in their 30 lap feature event. Brandon DeLacy scored the win after the leaders tussled in the closing laps to win back to back main events in the series.
Matt McKinney and Phil Malouf paced the field to green as Malouf held the early advantage. Tom Berens charged up between McKinney and Keith Bell to steal away the second position on lap two. Berens continued forward alongside the leader, Malouf, on lap four. Berens put his car out front a lap later with Gary Stark trying to follow under Malouf for second. Stark cleared for second on lap six as DeLacy in tow for third. The leaders ran single file until lap 14 when Stark began to apply heavy pressure to Berens on the point. Stark drove to the high side, drawing even with Berens as the due raced wheel to wheel trading paint along the way. On lap 18, Berens regained the advantage, but Stark tried to crossover to the bottom side of the racing surface while DeLacy watched from third. With ten laps remaining, Stark once again drew even with Berens, this time on the low side. As the laps ticked away, the pair of competitors continued to fight for position while DeLacy kept a close eye from third. Contact on lap 27 forced both drivers to check up slightly, allowing DeLacy to close the gap and join the battle for the lead. More contact between Berens and Stark forced them to slow enough that DeLacy got a good run to stick his nose out front as they raced past the white flag. DeLacy held the momentum and completed the final lap first to score the win. Berens hung on for second with Stark right behind in third. Mike Lambert and Keith Bell completed the top five.
Rounding out the program was the Hobby Stock division. Jim Tate Jr of Doylestown made the late race pass to pick up the 25 lap feature event. Ricky Sanwick led early from the pole with Jon Benninger still close by and Scott Riedner charging toward the front. Riedner drove under Benninger and slid up next to Sanwick on lap three. Riedner cleared for the top spot bringing Dan Snyder along for second. Bud Riedner joined the front pack as well on lap six with Tate in tow for fourth. On lap ten, Bud Riedner managed to get by Snyder to pick up second and begin pressuring his father, Scott, on the point. Tate moved past Snyder as well, diving under Bud Riedner on lap 14. A lap later, Tate was riding in second and focusing his attention on Scott Riedner out front. Tate took to the high side on lap 17, pulling even a lap later as they raced side by side for the lead. Tate inched forward, eventually clearing for the top spot with just three laps remaining. Tate hung on from there to get the win followed by Scott Riedner, Bud Riedner, Chester Williams and Dustin Ward.
Next Saturday, June 2, is a full program of racing in six divisions featuring the Late Models, Internationals, Road Warriors, Bandits, Legends and Bandoleros. Time trials begin at 5pm with racing at 7pm. Jefferson Speedway is located halfway between Jefferson and Cambridge on Hwy 18. Please visit jeffersonspeedway.com for more information.
JEFFERSON SPEEDWAY RACE SUMMARY
ARCA Midwest Tour Super Late Models-
|1||7S||Paul Shafer Jr.||13.569|
|12||7D||John DeAngelis Jr.||13.747|
|5||7D||John DeAngelis Jr.|
|7||7S||Paul Shafer Jr.|
100 lap Feature Results-
|1||7S||Paul Shafer Jr.|
|12||7D||John DeAngelis Jr.|
Midwest Compact Touring Series-
|Pos||Start Number||Competitor||Best Lap|
|1||35S||Gary Stark Jr.||15.949|
|1||35S||Gary Stark Jr.|
30 lap Feature Results-
|3||35S||Gary Stark Jr.|
|Pos||Start Number||Competitor||Best Lap|
|1||27T||Jim Tate Jr||15.83|
|4||27T||Jim Tate Jr|
25 lap Feature Results-
|1||27T||Jim Tate Jr|