MERCER, PA (5-12-12) By Brian Liskai – Sometimes you just need to go home.
For Aliquippa, Pennsylvania’s Tim Shaffer it was just what the doctor ordered. The three time and defending champion of the University of Northwestern Ohio All Star Circuit of Champions travelled just up the road from his residence Saturday and proceeded to dominate the 30-lap series event at Mercer Raceway Park to score his first All Star win of 2012.
Shaffer has shown his Aaron Call/Janet Holbrook Motorsports team can win against any competition over the past three years. But, during the off-season, the team under went a few internal changes, leaving many to wonder if “The Steel City Outlaw” could dominate as he has, winning All Star championships and even the 2010 Knoxville Nationals.
And while Shaffer has been very competitive so far in 2012, there have been little things that have gone wrong and even some bad racing luck that have kept him from victory lane.
“It’s been a tough year. We’ve put ourselves in a position four or five times and just couldn’t make it happen,” said Shaffer in victory lane beside his Kistler Engines/Kistler Racing Products/VRP Shocks backed machine. “We started on the pole tonight and then you kind of worry, ‘what’s going to happen tonight?’ It’s been that kind of a year.”
“What a great job by the team. I have Craig Stevens, Aaron Call, James and A.J….there’s five or six guys that are doing a great job on the car. We’re just trying to gel and work together and make this thing fast,” added Shaffer of his 46th career All Star victory. “We will continue to work hard and if we continue to run up front and be competitive the wins will come.”
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Danny Holtgraver also liked racing close to home, driving his Kargo Quality Cars/Alternative Power Sources backed #D4 to a second place finish.
“I had a good care and was able to get through lapped traffic and get by a couple of cars…I’m happy,” said Holtgraver.
“I saw him (Shaffer) when we got to traffic and I saw the two to go and said ‘man I wish it was five to go.’ We came on strong at the end so I can’t complain,” added Holtgraver. “I have to thank Mark and Pam from Kargo…they have a booth up here. And I have to thank Alternative Power Source and Tim Shaffer…he helps me a lot.”
Three time UNOH All star champion Dale Blaney from nearby Hartford, Ohio, would have liked to have his qualifying effort back. But, “The Low Rider” passed Ed Lynch Jr. late in the race for a third place finish.
“This is as good as we’ve run here the past couple of years. I shot myself in the foot qualifying. I didn’t make as good of a lap as I could have and that got us behind. We had a really good race car from there on out. But, if you have to start behind those two guys…it’s hard to pass them,” said Blaney beside his Ti22 Performance/George Fisher Racing #2.
Before the 30-lap feature could get underway, contender David Gravel, who had fired off his #89G, went pit side, refired and again went to the pits to end his night.
Shaffer and Rob Chaney would lead the field to the green, with Shaffer grabbing the lead over Lynch, Chaney, Holtgraver and Blaney. Holtgraver would drive around Chaney into third a lap later with Blaney moving into fourth on lap four.
Shaffer, Lynch, Holtgraver, Blaney and Chaney would continue in that order a caution on lap 11 when Rod George got sideways in turn four, collecting Brian Steinman. Both were done for the night.
On the restart, Scott Priester hit the restart cone, bringing the caution back out. Priester was sent to the tail of the field.
When the green came back out, Shaffer pulled away slightly while Holtgraver began pressuring Lynch for second. Holtgraver was able to take the runner-up spot on lap 18. Meanwhile, Cap Henry, who scored a win during weekly competition at Mercer last season, had raced his way from his eighth starting spot into the top five.
Another car on the move was two-time All Star champion Greg Wilson. Wilson, who started 19th, cracked the top 10 on lap 18 and would ride home 9th to earn the night’s “hard charger” honor.
As Shaffer raced into lapped traffic, Holtgraver was able to close.
“I tried to move around in traffic and I lost some time. I just tried to be patient and not get caught up and do something dumb,” said Shaffer.
With five laps to go, Blaney, who leads the All Star’s national point standings, was able to drive around Lynch into third, but ran out of time to catch Shaffer and Holtgraver. Lynch would bring his Howard Concrete machine home in fourth with Henry rounding out the top five.
The UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions head back to Ohio to wrap up the month of May, with a double-header weekend at the historic Fremont Speedway, Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27 (there is a Monday rain date for the finale). The Sunday finale will pay the feature winner $10,000.
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