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Sports

September 7, 2013

THE CHECKERED FLAG: Shaffer rolls; 12-year-old Lane makes history

OPINION — LAST FRIDAY I headed west to Attica Raceway Park for the final time this season.  On tap was a first ever doubleheader featuring the Lucas Oil Late Models and the All Star Sprint Cars.  Thirty-five Sprints and 32 Late Models were in the pit area along with a big crowd in the grandstands on a beautiful evening. 

After an early race battle with Brian Birkhofer and Russell King, Jimmy Owens left the pack on lap six and put on another one of his classic beat downs.  Only one caution slowed the event on lap 35 as the Newport, Tennessee driver was never challenged for the $10,000 victory- his seventh of the season and first ever at Attica in the first ever appearance by Lucas Oil.  Birkhofer was second over Early Pearson, Jr., eighth starting John Blankenship, and Steve Francis.  King of Bristolville, Ohio faded to sixth, while New Castle’s Garrett Krummert was 22nd in his first ever Lucas Oil start.

It’s hard to believe by three-time All Star Champion Tim Shaffer, who has 51 career victories with the Series in his career, entered the weekend winless in 2013.  That changed on Friday night when Shaffer passed Dale Blaney on a lap 25 restart for the $3,000 victory.  Blaney just missed out on setting the all-time Series win mark at 99 as he had to settle for second over Chris Andrews, Greg Wilson, and Pittsburgh’s Danny Holtgraver.

It might have taken Shaffer seven months to win an All Star race this year, but it took him only one day to score win number two as he captured the $5,500 Attica season finale victory on Saturday night for his 53rd career All Star win!  Ironically Shaffer passed Blaney for the second straight night for the lead, this time with nine laps to go.  Cap Henry got by Blaney to finish second with Blaney dropping to third.  Holtgraver was sixth, while western Pa. runner Jack Sodeman, Jr. was 14th.   

In Late Model action on Saturday night, Krummert came up just short to Ryan Missler.  Krummert, who has never won a Late Model race yet in western Pa., does have victories at Attica in 2012 and 2013. 

Lernerville Speedway held their final regular show of the season last Friday night.  Jack Sodeman, Jr. held off Rod George to capture the Sprint Car feature win, but it was Evans City’s Brandon Spithaler winning his first career track title!  Mat Williamson, Alex Ferree, and Corey McPherson all put exclamation points on their championship seasons taking their fifth, fifth, and seventh victories respectively of the year.  Williamson becomes the first Canadian champion at Lernerville!  Ferree ended the regular season winning three straight features!

Mercer Raceway Park and Sharon Speedway were both dark on Saturday night for the Labor Day Weekend, but will be back in action tonight.  Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway hosted “Manufacturers Night” on Saturday for the RUSH Late Model Touring Series.  Forty cars were on hand matching the high from a little over a month ago at the Speedweek event.  Some $30,000 in product prizes was given away to the racers as he one received a prize valued at a minimum of $250!

Track regular Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr. of Pittsburgh charged from the 13th starting spot and held off Ryan Montgomery, who came from the tail for his first career Crate Late Model Tour win.  The victory was $1,500.  Montgomery edged out Series point leader, Mike Pegher, Jr. for runner-up.  Rocky Kugel was a career best tour finish of fourth as was Ben Policz in fifth.

Alex Ferree repeated his Lernerville victory with a dominating performance in the Super Late Models as just 11 cars were on hand.  Jeff Broniszewski dominated the Stock Cars and female racer Hannah Ramsey won her first in the Strictly Stocks.

On Sunday I made what will probably be my final visit of the season to Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio.  The All Star Sprint Cars were the featured attraction for the second straight year and a big crowd turned out on the threatening pre-holiday night. 

The 30-lap feature was a wild one with Cole Duncan coming out on top for his first career All Star win!  Duncan wasn’t much of a factor for the majority of the event until Dale Blaney broke on lap 22 handing him third then race-long leader Jac Haudenschild exited the event with less than five laps to go.  This gave the lead to Andrew Palker who was passed by Duncan with two laps to go!  Duncan of Lockbourne, Ohio won $5,000.  It was a heartbreaking end for the veteran Haudenschild, who was making his first start in Rick Ferkel’s famous #0.  Haudenschild totally dominated the entire night, but his tire came up a little over three laps short.

Dean Jacobs passed Palker for second dropping Palker, who won on August 24 at Lernerville and finished second the next night at Mercer, to third.  Tim Shaffer completed an excellent weekend in the Buckeye State with a fourth after starting 11th.  Rob Chaney was fifth.  Danny Holtgraver missed the top five by a spot for the second straight night.  Brandon Spithaler was ninth.  Adam Kekich of Hermitage was 14th, while Jack Sodeman, Jr. was 21st. 

The Super Late Models put on a great show with Keith Berner edging out Ryan Markham for the victory.  Krummert finished his Ohio weekend with a ninth.  Larry Baldwin won the Stock Cars as the entire show was run off quickly done by shortly after 10 p.m. with rain in the area.

On Monday, I headed to Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex where the NDRL “Kings of Dirt” Super Late Models made their first local appearance.  Thirty-seven cars were on hand for the $20,000 to-win, $1,500 to-start 75-lap feature.  Billy Moyer of Batesville, Arkansas survived an attrition-filled event that saw many racers blow tires.

History was made earlier in the night when 12-year-old Michael Lake scored an upset victory on the RUSH Late Model Touring Series.  The Uniontown racer won his heat, dash, and the 30-lap $2,000 to-win feature to become the youngest Crate Late Model touring series winner ever in the eastern part of the United States.  Lake had a pair of regular event wins earlier this season at Elkins, WV and one at Roaring Knob!

Lake became the Series’ 11th different winner of the season as he held off Montgomery and Pegher, who ironically finished in those two positions on Saturday night at Pittsburgh.  The 16-year-old Montgomery of Fairmont, WV trails Pegher in the championship chase by just 20 points.

Mike Leone is motorsports columnist for Allied News. Follow his updates on Twitter for the latest @mikevleone.

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