Auto Racing at Grundy: Victorious Shafer puts on a late show
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org July 11, 2014 11:12PM
Johnny Senerchia (72) eases by Rita Fields (88) en route to his second street stock heat race victory of the season Friday at Grundy County Speedway. | Brian Nolte/For Sun-Times Media
Grundy county speedway results
Fast time: Eddie Hoffman. 1st heat: 1. Pat Kelly, 2. John Nutley, 3. Billy Knippenberg. 2nd heat: 1. Dave Einhaus, 2. Chuck Sottosanti, 3. James Gregait. 30-lap feature: 1. Paul Shafer Jr., 2. Nutley, 3. Kelly, 4. Scott Koerner, 5. Mark Sontag, 6. Knippenberg.
Fast time: Tommy Knippenberg. 1st heat: 1. John Ventrello, 2. Chuck Yuris, 3. Knippenberg. 2nd heat: 1. Jeremy Clubb, 2. Matt Clemens, 3. Kevin Murphy. 25-lap feature: 1. Kevin Gentile, 2. Joe Vinachi, 3. Clemens, 4. Ventrello, 5. Yuris, 6. Jim Kachel.
Fast time: Christy Penrod. 1st heat: 1. John Senerchia, 2. Eddie Ligue, 3. Logan Love. 2nd heat: 1. Jake Bradley, 2. Darrell Gay, 3. Pete Odell. 25-lap feature: 1. Bradley, 2. Ligue, 3. Senerchia, 4. Gay, 5. Rob Scamen, 6. Bob Davis.
1st heat: 1. Mike Stone, 2. Dylan Marshall, 3. Bryce Leake. 2nd heat: 1. Austin Blackwell, 2. Zach Sontag, 3. Jeff Law. 15-lap feature: 1. Heather Page, 2. Blackwell, 3. Sontag, 4. Mikey Slabenak, 5. Ricky Wilson, 6. Mike Yuris.
Updated: July 13, 2014 2:14AM
Victory laps by feature winners pretty much have gone the way of the dinosaur at Grundy County Speedway.
Leave it to a 17-year-old kid to keep the tradition alive.
Paul Shafer Jr. couldn’t have been more proud to take a 31st lap — this one with the victory flag in hand — after winning Friday’s thrilling late-model main.
“I took one the last time I won here. I figured I’d have to do it again,” Shafer said. “He (the starter) gave me the flag, so I thought I’d take it and run.”
A yellow flag just six laps from the finish gave the Portage, Indiana, native a chance to catch up to race-long leader John Nutley. And man, did he run.
Shafer spent four laps right behind Nutley, taking away the air between them. On the fifth lap he was able to duck underneath Nutley and create a side-by-side battle.
On the final lap the two cars grinded it out through Turns 1 and 2 before Shafer was able to get a nose in front and hold a determined Nutley at bay by 0.214 seconds.
“Anything is possible, and I knew that I had a shot,” Shafer said. “I had a good car and I knew we were catching him and maybe we were a little bit faster.
“The restart just gave us all the chance to make it happen. All I had on my mind was to race him clean, not get into him and just keep the car in one piece.”
On that point, Nutley was all good.
It certainly was a tough loss for the veteran driver, who had led from the drop of the green until the final lap. He rebuffed challenges from Brandon Clubb, then Pat Kelly. He was several car-lengths in front of Shafer on lap 24 when a spin between Eddie Hoffman and Ricky Baker brought out the yellow and spoiled his runaway win.
“That’s racing,” a very gracious Nutley said. “I’ve won ’em on the last lap before and I’ve lost a lot of them on the last lap before. Our car is in one piece and that’s what I’m happy about.
“Shafer has a brand new car and a good car. He raced me clean and we had a good night. Second is better than last.”
Third went to Kelly, while Scott Koerner, Mark Sontag and Billy Knippenberg completed the top six.
Tommy Knippenberg crossed the line first for what appeared to be his eighth Mid-American feature win. A post-race inspection turned up a spindle infraction, however, resulting in the victory being awarded to Kevin Gentile.
Joe Vinachi was declared second, followed by Matt Clemens, John Ventrello and Chuck Yuris.
Jake Bradley started on the pole and led the entire way in capturing his first career street stock feature. He did it with points leader Eddie Ligue 0.692 seconds behind him. John Senerchia was third, ahead of Darrell Gay, Rob Scamen and Bob Davis.
Another first-time winner was Heather Page in the pure stocks main. Taking the top spot from the front row, she bested Austin Blackwell, Zach Sontag, Mikey Slabenak, Ricky Wilson and Mike Yuris.