The Press Newspaper
While the weather was cold, the huge crowd at Attica Raceway Park were warmed by a tremendous 40-lap feature Saturday as Hartford, Ohio's Dale Blaney passed race-long leader Tim Shaffer coming down for the white flag to score his 83rd career All Star Circuit of Champions feature event on H.D. Supply Night.
"We didn't get the yellows, but the car got really, really good in the middle of the race. We caught Tim at the wrong time...he got backed up in traffic at the wrong time and I had one shot at him and there was a lapped car there and I just threw it over in front of him...thought sure I'd see him under me, but he didn't," said Blaney, the defending O'Reilly All Star champion.
"I put us behind with a bad qualifying lap so we had to start in the back (14th) but I knew we could get to the front because George Fisher just gives me such a great car," said Blaney. "I wasn't that good the first five to ten laps, but the track was racy and the car came to me and I could drive it any where.
Blaney had a couple of close calls in the closing laps with back markers and pulled off a classic slide job in turns three and four to pass Shaffer as the white flag flew.
"Hey, when you're racing for the lead, you have to go," added Blaney.
For Shaffer, he knew his time in the front was in danger as his C&H Motorsports car got loose at the end.
"We just got slower and slower... I thought they would catch me sooner. The car just wouldn't go on the bottom and I had to stay up top and that hurt in traffic," said Shaffer. "We got a long year to go."
Two-time All Star champion Greg Wilson continued his early season consistency with a third place finish after running second most of the race.
"We are so much better than what we were this time last year. We struggled last year and Bob Hampshire worked with Gaerte Engines and Ron Shaver to step up our engine program and we're seeing a lot of improvement. I have to thank Veryl and Sabrina Warnimont for sticking with me after such a bad year last year. To be on the horse track with Dale Blaney and Tim Shaffer shows me we are there...we have improved so much," said Wilson beside his All Star Plumbing & Heating sponsored car.
In the Fremont Fence 305 feature, Paul Weaver and Travis Hoffbauer - who won the first two features of the year - put on a tremendous battle throughout the 25-lap affair. The only caution flew on lap 20 and that gave Weaver an open track as he was mired in heavy traffic, allowing Hoffbauer to close. Weaver pulled away for victory with Hoffbauer, Dustin Dinan, Steve Rando and Stuart Brubaker rounding out the top five.
"I really needed that caution...I was having trouble with lapped traffic," said Weaver beside his M&L Excavating, Genzman Racing backed sprint car.
"I'm glad I'm back with the 305 sprints...this is fun. These kids are tough on an old man though," laughed Weaver. "I also have to thank my wife, Andrea, for all her help."
At the start of the 40-lap All Star feature, Shaffer, who picked up the win at Attica the week before, jumped into the lead, but the caution would fly before the second lap could be completed. Three more laps of green were followed by back-to-back cautions, but the race would go green the rest of the way.
Shaffer continued to lead, with Wilson comfortably in second while Rob Chaney, Chad Kemenah, Lee Jacobs, Kasey Kahne and Brandon Martin battled hard behind them. Kemenah would slide into third by lap 7 and would begin to close on Wilson and Shaffer. Jacobs would move into fourth and join the battle up front on lap 12. Meanwhile Blaney began his march to the front. He was sixth by lap 13 and took fifth two laps later. At the halfway mark, it was a tremendous five car battle for the lead with Shaffer leading Wilson, Kemenah, Jacobs and Blaney.
Blaney would dispose of Jacobs on lap 21 and would move into third by lap 24. The fans were on the edge of their seats with 13 laps to go as Shaffer, Wilson and Blaney waged a torrid battle up front. Blaney would move under Wilson into the runner-up position on lap 29 and was on Shaffer's rear bumper as they hit lapped traffic for the first time on lap 31. Then it was a matter of time before Blaney would slide past Shaffer for the win.