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Shaffer Snares Western PA Sprint Championship at Mercer Raceway Park
by Lou Long
Mercer, PA (August 24, 2014): The Steel City Outlaw, Tim Shaffer, is the Western Pennsylvania Sprint Car Champion. He earned the honor in the 25th running of the event at Mercer Raceway Park, which is minutes from his home in Aliquippa, PA. The four-time champ of the All Stars Circuit of Champions held off his protege, Danny Holtgraver, and The Wild Child, Jac Haudenschild. It was the second straight night that a local All Star made it to victory lane. The two-day event was presented by Bonnell's Rod Shop, and it included a party with live music, a hog roast, and other activities to entertain the fans and to raise money for the injured driver relief fund.
Tyler Denochick, of Morrisdale, PA, quickly figured out the fast way around Mercer Raceway Park. He held off Michael Bauer to claim the win in the Bonnell's Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors in just his second appearance at the track. Frankie Guidace made a three-wide pass of leader Shawn Fleeger and a lapped car to take the top spot in the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. The nightcap for the Penn Ohio Pro Stock Championship Series belonged to Shaun Fawcett, who inherited the lead after a spectacular tangle between the leaders, Curtis J. Bish and Randy Wyant on what would have been the final lap of the contest.
"I'm just happy to win, it's been a while," said Shaffer. Danny Holtgraver was closing rapidly in the final stages of the race, but Shaffer was able to stay out front with perfectly timed passes of lapped cars. "You got to have some luck in this game, you know, and catching them at the right time is definitely an advantage." Shaffer added, "you have to make it happen to get by, and you can't get tied up too long." Holtgraver acknowledged that Shaffer had the edge in traffic. "He was unbelievable in traffic," Holtgraver said. "He could get through them really good and I just got to them at the wrong time." He added, "if I am going to finish second, it couldn't be to a better guy, he's done a lot for me."
Shaffer had the pole position for the start of the 30 lapper. To his outside was a local talent, Carl Bowser. Shaffer got the jump, while Bowser was fighting to hold his position. Dale Blaney and Jac Haudenschild were hounding him. As the filed was coming to complete lap one, Bowser and Blaney made contact, with the current All Stars points leader spinning to the inside apron. Restarting in the rear of the filed, Blaney's hopes for a sweep at the Park were dashed.
Shaffer got the lead again when the race was officially started and he held it through the conclusion of the contest. Shaffer withstood a close call when he entered traffic for the first time. He had just cleared Francis Sesco when the the slower machine went around. Fortunately, Haudenschild, who was then running second, was far enough behind that he was able to avoid impact with the disabled car.
Shaffer was able to maintain control of the race despite having his pace slowed on several occasions. The last stoppage came on lap 14, for Scott Priester spinning in turn two. With his car pushed off and rejoining the field, the field got ready for a 16 lap run to the checkers.
Shaffer continued to lead Haudenschild when the race resumed, but the man on the move was Danny Holtgraver. He advanced from fourth to second by lap 22 and set out after the high-flying Shaffer. While Holtgraver was able to close the gap on his mentor, he could never pull beside him. Shaffer timed his passes of lapped machines perfectly, and Holtgraver had to check up on more than one occasion when he closed on the slower cars at inopportune times.
Shaffer led Holtgraver to the checkers. Close behind the lead duo was Haudenschild. Lee Jacobs passed Bowser in the second half of the race to get the fourth spot. Cap Henry led Adam Kekich, Andy McKisson, and Brandon Spithaler across the line. Dale Blaney rebounded to take the tenth position at the finish.
The three preliminaries for the All Stars Sprints belonged to Adam Kekich, Jac Haudenschild, and Brandon Spithaler. There was no B Main. Tim Shaffer earned the pole for the feature by winning the dash. The evening's fastest qualifier was Dale Blaney for the second night in a row. His time was 13.784.
Teenager Tyler Denochick bolted out to an early lead in the Bonnell's Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Former champion Michael Bauer was having his best run at the Park since taking over the reins of the Lockhart 58. He challenged the teenager throughout the 20 lapper.
Bauer was positioned well to overtake the youngster in traffic when the action was halted due to a spin by Dan Demyan. With a clear track in front of him for the restart, Denochick was able to keep Bauer at bay. Bauer was closing in on him again when Demyan's second mishap slowed the pace.
Denochick led the final three laps to the checkers without any signifcant threat from Bauer. Third went to Mike Miller, who turned in a steady run. Andy Feil fell back to fourth. Jimmy Morris turned in a quiet, but satisfactory performance to climb from mid-pack to fifth at the finish. Joe McEwen, C.J. Jones, George Hobaugh, Darren Pifer, and Mike Marano, II completed the top ten.
Tyler Denochick and Greg Dobrosky prevailed in their respective heat races. There was no B Main.
In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified go, Makayla Guidace led the opening lap before surrendering the top spot to Shawn Fleeger. Fleeger held control for the next ten circuits. However, as the field was crossing for lap 11, he dropped to the inside to pass a slower car. That broke his momentum somewhat, and allowed Frank Guidace to swoop past both Fleeger and the lapper to gain the lead!
Guidace completed two more rounds in front, with Fleeger now fighting with Jimmy Holden and Kyle Fink to hold on for second. A quick caution set up a restart, which proved to be the undoing of Fleeger. Holden and Fink both pounced ahead. As the laps wound down, Tommy Kristyak put a charge on to take fourth away from Fleeger.
At the the checkers, it was Guidace over Holden, Fink, Kristyak, and Fleeger. Matt Reeher was sixth. Shayne Izzo crossed before J.R. McGinley, who started last in the event. Jeff Schaffer, Jr. was ninth and Brian Schaffer was tenth.
Shayne Izzo and Frank Guidace won heat races for the Approved toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds. There was no B Main.
In the Penn Ohio Pro Stack Championship, Curtis J. Bish took command and held off the prevailing track champion, Rusty Moore, for most of the way. However, in the final several laps, Randy Wyant came to life, picking off cars in quick succession. He got to second by the time the white flag flew, and he was pressing Bish hard for the lead as they went through the first and second corners.
Bish slid up a bit coming off the second corner, and that gave Wyant some room to try for an inside pass as they raced towards turn three. However, Bish would not give up so easily, and the two cars came together in the middle of the straight, spinning wildly towards turn three. In the mad scramble, racers were looking for any opening to make it through the corner. Most did, but when the dust settled, there were four machines tangled together. Wyant's car took the most damage, but Bish and Chris Withers pitted for repairs before rejoining the race.
The racers were still keyed up and it took two tries to get the final lap in the books.
Shaun Fawcett was able to hold off Chris Schneider for the final lap. Rusty Moore took third. Rob Shook and Bobby Heim were next. Bob McCann, Pat Fielding, Rob Bates, Rod Laskey, and Tim Burns followed them to the finish.
The three heat winners were Moore, Schneider, and Bish. There was no B Main.
All Stars Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars Western Pennsylvania Championship: Tim Shaffer, Danny Holtgraver, Jac Haudenschild, Lee Jacobs, Carl Bowser, Cap Henry, Adam Kekich, Andy McKisson, Brandon Spithaler, Dale Blaney, Eric Williams, Brandon Matus, Jimmy Light, Dan Kuriger, Billy Dietrich, Brent Matus, Scott Priester, Caleb Armstrong, Taylor Ferns, Michael Bauer, Chris Pochiro, Francis Sesco, Dennis Wagner.
Bonnell's Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors: Tyler Denochick, Michael Bauer, Mike Miller, Andy Feil, Jimmy Morris, Joe McEwen, C.J. Jones, George Hobaugh, Darren Pifer, Mike Marano, II, Greg Dobrosky, Clay Riney, Eric L. Williams, Alex Paden, Kotie Kirkbride, Dan Demyan, Harold Braden Jr. (DNS).
Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modifieds: Frank Guidace, Jimmy Holden, Kyle Fink, Tommy Kristyak, Shawn Fleeger, Matt Reeher, Shayne Izzo, J.R. McGinley, Jeff Schaffer, Jr., Brian Schaffer, Richard Whitney, Makayla Guidace, Kevin Green, William Schaffer.
Penn Ohio Pro Stock Championship Series: Shaun Fawcett, Chris Schneider, Rusty Moore, Rob Shook, Bobby Heim, Bob McCann, Pat Fielding, Rob Bates, Rod Laskey, Tim Burns, Jeff Broniszewski, Bob Schwartzmiller, Shane Applebee, Rusty Martz, Chris Withers, Brett McDonald, Jesse Brock, Curtis J. Bish, Randy Wyant, Tim Bish, Shawn Hooks, Dan Smeal, Colton Gearhart, Gary Miller, Jr., Anthony Brown (DNS).