Lady Luck on Shaffer's side in Vegas
Tim Shaffer was in route to a dominating performance at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the FVP Platinum Battery Showdown presented by Star Nursery on Wednesday night, leading every lap, but with five laps to go, worry set in.
He could hear his motor sputtering. There was no doubt in his mind he was going to run out of fuel, with Giovanni Scelzi and Tim Kaeding - who made their first World of Outlaws appearance this season - breathing down his neck for the lead.
"I knew the laps had to be getting close," Shaffer said, as the 30-lap feature saw eight cautions by lap 26.
After multiple attempts of restarting the race on Lap 26, Series officials called for an Open Red, stopping the cars on the front stretch and allowing the teams to refuel their cars.
"Everything worked out, the cautions, the red flag," Shaffer said. "It was our night."
After the cars were refueled and the race went back to green on Lap 26, Shaffer acted like nothing changed, commanding the lead once again all the way to victory lane - claiming his 26th World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win and his fourth win at The Dirt Track at LVMS.
While everything worked in Shaffer's favor, Fresno, Calif., native Scelzi was not as fortunate. After falling to fourth from third at the beginning of the race, he worked his way to second place by Lap 10 and began closing in on Shaffer while he entered lap traffic.
Scelzi, in the No. 83JR for Roth Motorsports, never let Shaffer out of his sight in the closing laps of the race. He even stole the lead from him on one of the restart attempts on Lap 26, but a caution was thrown before the field could complete at lap, putting him back in second place.
Once the field took the green flag after stopping to refuel, Scelzi stayed on pace with Shaffer until entering turns three and four too aggressively, hitting the cushion and falling back two positions.
"I blistered my tires, really, and kind of just overdrove the car and made some mistakes," Scelzi said. "But first night in this car, it's a good start with a top five."
Roth Motorsports has had a strong start to the season, with Daryn Pittman winning the two season-opening races at Volusia Speedway Park - also resulting in his third DIRTcar Nationals championship and Roth Motorsport's first. Pittman finished seventh on Wednesday night, maintaining his points lead from Florida, now eight points ahead of reigning Series Champion Donny Schatz.
Schatz also had a strong run, coming from 11th to third to secure his second podium finish in three races.
"That's the best we could do there," Schatz said. "We're gaining on things and feeling a little bit better."
Like Schatz, Kaeding had to climb his way through the field, finishing second after starting 10th. When Shaffer entered lapped traffic, you could throw a blanket over him, Scelzi and Kaeding.
While Scelzi stocked Shaffer, Kaeding in his Sides Motorsports car was close behind, stalking them both. After Scelzi bounced off the cushion, the 21-time Series winner capitalized on the opportunity, darting by the black No. 83JR to take second place.
With a clear track in front of him, he could focus on hunting down Shaffer. The only problem was Shaffer had mastered the high line of the track, keeping more than a second between himself and Kaeding by the end of the race.
"I think we just ran out of time," Kaeding said. "Right before that red flag came out, I knew something was wrong, he might run out of fuel."
Understanding how to drive the Las Vegas track was key to winning, Shaffer said.
"It's a tricky track," Shaffer said. "It's demanding. You know you've got to be on your game. This place is so tough.
"You've got to be good in the slick to get to the tacky (spots). When your car is evil here, it's a handful."
He credits his team for giving him a good-handling car that could handle the track conditions.
While Shaffer has more than 20 wins and has raced with the Series for several years, beating the star-studded field of World of Outlaws drivers is still special to him.
"It's just awesome to be competing with them (the Outlaws)," Shaffer said. "To come here and win this deal is pretty awesome."
World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series action at the DIRTcar Nationals resumes Thursday at The Dirt Track at LVMS, with gates opening at 3 p.m. Pacific Time. As always, fans can catch all the action from the Nationals and the World of Outlaws on DIRTVision.com.
World of Outlaws 30-lap feature
- Tim Shaffer; 2. Tim Kaeding (-1.124 seconds); 3. Donny Schatz (-3.838); 4. Rico Abreu (-4.619); 5. Giovanni Scelzi (-5.613); 6. Kyle Larson (-6.120); 7. Daryn Pittman (-7.112); 8. Cory Eliason (-7.145); 9. Brad Sweet (-9.125); 10. Christopher Bell (-9.783); 11. Brent Marks (-10.479); 12. Logan Schuchart (-10.971); 13. Parker Price-Miller (-13.253); 14. Kasey Kahne (-13.970); 15. Sheldon Haudenschild (-1 lap); 16. Paul McMahan (-1 lap); 17. Aaron Reutzel (-5 laps); 18. David Gravel (-5 laps); 19. Ian Madsen (-5 laps); 20. Carson Macedo (-5 laps); 21. Shane Stewart (-5 laps); 22. Chad Kemenah (-13 laps); 23. Brian Brown (-14 laps); 24. Jason Sides (-14 laps); 25. Kraig Kinser (-26 laps); 26. Jacob Allen (-27 laps).
USAC West Coast 360 Sprints 20-lap feature
- Brody Roa; 2. Jake Swanson (-4.002 seconds); 3. Stevie Sussex (-10.273); 4. Danny Faria (-10.332); 5. Charles Davis Jr. (-16.393); 6. Dennis Gile (-16.877); 7. Tristan Guardino (-17.164); 8. T.J. Smith (-20.694); 9. Colton Hardy (-23.776); 10. Ryan Timmons (-1 lap); 11. Koen Shaw (-1 lap); 12. Hannah Mayhew (-1 lap); 13. Sterling Cling (-1 lap); 14. Austin Ervine (-2 laps); 15. Kyle Edwards (-2 laps); 16. Slatter Helt (-5 laps); 17. John Butler (-5 laps); 18. Micheal Fanelli (-16 laps).
IMCA Modifieds 20-lap feature
- Hunter Marriott; 2. Logan Drake; 3. Travis Perry; 4. Austin Keifer; 5. Cody Laney; 6. Kollin Hibdon; 7. Jake Pike; 8. Joey Price; 9. Brad Hopkins; 10. Chad Rechinbach; 11. Ron Moser; 12. Don Martin; 13. Jason Piker; 14. Justin Miller; 15. D.J. Shannon; 16. Joey Olschowka.