Shaffer Sails At Utica-Rome Oval
VERNON, N.Y. — Perennial UNOH All-Star Circuit of Champions kingpin Tim Shaffer turned fast time Sunday night at the Utica-Rome Speedway and went on to win the 30-lap feature.
Dale Blaney built a big lead early on, but stopped with engine trouble after 11 laps, handing the lead to Shaffer. Shaffer sailed to a comfortable victory over fan favorite Jessica Zemken.
“I never saw Blaney stop,” declared Shaffer when asked if he thought he could have caught the fleet Buckeye. “I didn’t know I was the leader until the next yellow. But the car kept getting better and better as the race went on and we might have had something for him before it was over.”
Empire Super Sprints regular Shawn Donath was quick early on, scooting from fourth to the lead on lap three and holding it through lap nine despite giving the frontstretch wall a solid whack on his seventh trip around the big half-mile. But when Blaney decided to go, he left the field in his wake, though two laps later he would roll into the infield off turn three.
“And I wasn’t even serious yet,” offered the disappointed Blaney. “I was just riding around on cruise control.”
Zemken moved to second as Shaffer took command but despite three cautions for spins by Clinton Ide and Davey Sammons in the second half, she never got a run on Shaffer, who always had a gaggle of lapped cars between himself and Zemken for the restart. Stevie Smith, up from 11th, challenged Zemken throughout the second half but had to settle for third ahead of Greg Hodnett, Tony Stewart, David Gravel, Cap Henry, Daryn Pittman, Paul McMahon and ESS regular Paul Kinney.
“I wasn’t even close to being as good as Tim,” said Zemken. “We were way too tight. I could hear Stevie behind me but I never saw him, so I’m pretty happy.”
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