Merlin, ON- The easy part was taking the lead. The hardest part was holding on.
But that’s what Steve Shaw Jr. managed to do Saturday night, posting his first feature win in seven years at South Buxton Raceway.
The Merlin driver went from third to first by passing Rob Quick and Denis DeSerrano at the same time and then held off the veteran Cottam drivers over the final six laps to win the Tirecraft Mini-Mod feature.
“Finally!” Shaw yelled as he climbed on the roof of his No. 17 mini-mod in the Winner’s Circle.
It was his first feature win in the class, as he won a Sport Stock feature in 2006 and twice previously in the old Econo class.
Shaw Jr. was running third on Lap 14 when Quick, who took the lead a lap earlier, moved up the track to take away DeSerrano’s line coming out of turn two.
But the strategy backfired when Shaw Jr. shot underneath both to take the lead.
“I don’t know exactly what happened but they both lost a lot of momentum,” Shaw Jr. said of the incident between Quick and DeSerrano.
“They tend to bump and bang a lot when they’re running around each other, I was trying to stay close in case an opportunity opened, and it did,” he said of his pass for the lead.
But Shaw Jr. still had five and-a-half laps to go with two veteran drivers on his back bumper.
“Use up the track,” Shaw Jr. described his strategy once in front. “My car was working really good on the bottom, so I knew if I could get down low going in (the corners) and shoot to the top to take their line away, there was a good chance I could them off.”
DeSerrano had a couple of good runs on the outside but couldn’t get around Shaw Jr., settling for a second-place finish, followed by Quick, and rookie drivers Matt Sorrell of Dresden and Elliot Wilton of Blenheim.
Shaw’s win comes on the heels of two straight second-place finishes and three in the last four weeks.
“They were good second place finishes,” said Shaw Jr. “We only finished in the top-five four times last year and it seems we’ve finished in the top-five every night this year,” said Shaw, who has 10 top-fives in 13 features, with 11th his lowest finish.
Shaw is second in the points standings, 63 points behind DeSerrano with just three points nights left including the September 7 championship night for the mini-mods.
Coincidently, lap 14 was also the turning point for Shaw Jr.’s father in the Windride Transportation Sport Stocks feature. But Steve Shaw’s luck went in the other direction.
The senior Shaw, a five-time track champion with 109 career feature wins, led the first 14 laps on Saturday before his left rear tire went flat, bringing out a caution.
He was able to get back on the track for the restart and worked his way back to an eighth-place finish.
“At least he made tonight worthwhile,” Shaw said of his son’s victory.
“I thought we had it, too,” he added.
Instead, Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere won his third straight and track-leading eighth feature as he took the lead after Shaw’s misfortune.
Vanderiviere admitted Shaw had a winning car.
“He was a little better than me tonight, too bad he got the flat tire because it probably would have been his race, but it worked out in the end for us,” Vanderiviere said.
He admitted there was unintentional contact on a restart three laps earlier that caused Shaw’s tire to go down.
“There was a little bit of contact, nothing serious … rubbing’s racing,” Vanderiviere said.
Shaw said he was waiting for the cars to double up for the restart with 10 laps to go, “but we weren’t told to double up, we got in the firebox and Eren was shot up beside me got into my fender and the left rear went flat.”
The flat tire also took the air out of any hopes Shaw still had of catching Vanderiviere, whose lead is up to 102 points with three race nights remaining.
Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon finished second, followed by Essex’s Doris Lajeunesse, Wallaceburg’s Willy Vyse and Harrow’s Patrick Lajeunesse.
Chatham’s Darryl Hoekstra took another huge step towards his first points championship by leading all 25 laps for his second feature win in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds.
Hoekstra’s win, coupled with second-place point driver Joel Dick’s 14th-place finish, pads the lead to 108 points with four race nights remaining.
“Our luck’s finally turned around,” said Hoekstra, who took the points lead in mid-July and has run away from the pack.
“We had a top-three … top-five car all year, but we had flat tires running in second and got put in the wall the third night,” said Heokstra, who put his No. 36D on his father Eugene’s No. 36 for three weeks in June to run for points.
“We’re not breaking, and it’s about time we got a little luck,” Hoekstra said.
It was an all Chatham-Kent top five as Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr. finished second, followed by Merlin drivers Brad McLeod and Jeff Daniels, with Wallaceburg’s Drew Smith fifth.
Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford moved to within 59 points of Chatham’s Gregg Haskell after winning his seventh feature in the Lube Tech/Great Canadian Oil Change UMP Late Models.
Glassford led all 15 laps, while Chatham’s Brad Authier finished a season-high second, followed by Chatham’s Jim Jones, Goderich’s Mark Glassford and Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis.
“Tonight was a night that whoever got out front was probably going to win,” Glassford said.
“We didn’t make any mistakes, that was the main thing.”
Blenheim’s Shawn Hope won his first Bomber feature, muscling his way past Chatham’s Chris Ellerbeck on the final lap.
From: Mike Bennett/ South Buxton Raceway