Zemken Finishes Second To Schaffer At Utica Rome All Star Race
// June 12th, 2012 // News
VERNON, N.Y. (6-10-12) By Brian Liskai – Just like the summer temperatures, three time and defending champion of the University of Northwestern Ohio All Star Circuit of Champions Tim Shaffer is getting hot. “The Steel City Outlaw” wrapped up a very successful weekend with the UNOH All Stars with his second series win of 2012 at Utica Rome Speedway Sunday.
The victory – Shaffer’s 47th with the UNOH All Stars – moves him to within striking distance of Dale Blaney for the series’ national points lead and Daryn Pittman for the $20,000 championship of the Eastern Region. While Shaffer posted a fifth place finish at Williams Grove and a seventh place finish at Lincoln to go with his win at Utica Rome over the weekend, Blaney, a three time series champion, struggled, not making the feature at Williams Grove, scoring an eighth place at Lincoln and dropping out of Sunday’s event while leading.
Once Blaney dropped out, Shaffer would drive into the lead and survived several late race cautions for the victory.
“It’s been awhile…we’ve got one win so far this year…they keep getting harder and harder to get. Everyone just keeps getting faster and faster and making us work harder. What a great job by my crew, Dave Lawrence, James Chambers and Craig Stephens…they’re all new on this team but one guy. We’re trying to gel together with new people and it’s starting to click,” said Shaffer beside his Aaron Call/Janet Holbrook owned machine.
“Dale was pretty good tonight. I don’t know if we had anything for him later in the feature. He was gone. I thought I was still chasing him and the yellow came out and I looked on the board and thought ‘hey, we’re leading it.’ On those late cautions, you’re always concerned if someone is coming or not and you’re trying to pay attention to lapped cars where they are running in case rubber gets down. But, we were really good. Hats off to my guys, they gave me a great car. Aaron Call is doing a great job back at home. He’s getting this thing ready during the week for us to come out and play. Janet Holbrook giving us everything we need. I can’t thank everyone enough who has helped us through this…it’s been a tough season,” added Shaffer of his Kistler Engines/VRP Shocks backed machine.
Blaney and Shaffer would bring the field to the green Sunday, with Blaney seizing the top spot while third place starter Jessica Zemken drove into second, bringing fourth place starter Shawn Donath into third. Donath would grab second on the second circuit and would move past Blaney a lap later for the lead.
Shaffer would drive by Zemken into third on lap eight and a circuit later Blaney would do the same to Donath to take the lead. But, Blaney would coast to a stop on lap 11 with mechanical issues. On the restart, Shaffer would drive by Donath for the lead. Donath would bobble on lap 13, with Zemken, Stevie Smith and David Gravel getting by. The car on the move was 10th place starter Greg Hodnett as he would move into the top five by the half-way point.
Shaffer would continue to lead Zemken, who, before her sprint car days was a winner and champion at Utica-Rome Speedway in the dirt sportsman ranks. Smith ran third with Hodnett getting around Gravel for fourth on lap 16. The battle for fourth through 10th was a good one throughout the race as Cap Henry, Tony Stewart (who posted a third place finish with NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series earlier in the day at Pocono, Pa.), Paul McMahan, Fred Rahmer and Daryn Pittman joined the fun.
With 10 laps to go, the running order was Shaffer, Zemken, Smith, Hodnett, Gravel, Henry, Stewart, Rahmer, McMahan and Donath. The top nine would stay in that order until lap 25 when Gravel was able to get around Hodnett for fourth. Hodnett would return the favor with three to go.
Shaffer would drive away to the win over Zemken, Smith, Hodnett and Stewart who made a last lap pass to take fifth and the feature’s hard-charger honor after starting 19th.
Zemken, who has three 360 sprint wins at Utica-Rome Speedway, was thrilled with her runner-up finish.
“I’ll take second to Tim Shaffer any day. He’s a hell of a race car driver and I’ve learned a lot from him. And, he’s a really nice guy…kind of like a big brother to me. He’s the first guy I’d go to to ask for help when we’re struggling…he’s always one of the first guys to help out,” said Zemken. “I have to thank Corr-Pak Merchandising for sticking with me and the crew…the guys worked so hard tonight on tires…it was so hot. We had a really good car. We definitely didn’t have anything for Tim, that’s for sure. This is like a home track to me with my family and friends here so it’s great to run good here with the 410…my best finish with a 410.”
For Smith, the good weekend with the UNOH All Stars continued with his podium finish.
“We’re happy with third after starting 11th. Jessica did a good job…she never made a mistake and Tim took off and left us all,” said Smith beside his CL Motorsports/CJB Motorsports/DDNi backed machine. “I’m just happy with the way everything is going. We’re making progress and we’re going to keep working. I have to thank my car owners Chad and Jen and my crew. We started the season off pretty good and then went into a little bit of a slump. We made some changes with the personnel…it’s just been a kind of up and down so far. But I’m really proud of the guys working on the car. We’ve got Shane and Sparky who’s actually from New York and of course Brian Bloomfield and probably one of the best video guys in Kyle (Luetters). I really appreciate what everyone has done for me…they have assembled a great team here.”
For more information go to www.allstarsprint.com