OCALA, FLA. – After three straight rain-outs, the 2014 season for the University of Northwestern Ohio All Star Circuit of Champions finally kicked off Sunday at Bubba Raceway Park.
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney – the Buckeye Bullet – put on a dominating performance early and then held off a charging Tim Shaffer to pick up his 46th career series win.
It was an interesting night to say the least. The previous days’ rains made for a challenging track with several teams opting not to compete. But the racers who did buckle up had nothing but praise for the crew at Bubba Raceway Park. Because of the situation, UNOH All Star officials decided to make the event a show-up points night for the Eastern Region championship.
Blaney and Pennsylvania driver Steve Buckwalter would bring the field to the green with Blaney opening a commanding lead. The caution flew with just three laps in when Logan Schuchart stopped. A few laps later Andrew Palker would bring out the caution with seven laps recorded with the running order Dave Blaney, Buckwalter, a charging Tim Shaffer, Kerry Madsen and Dale Blaney.
When the green reappeared Blaney again checked out while Shaffer battled Buckwalter for second. Jac Haudenschild would spin with 11 laps in with the top five running order remaining unchanged. Mark Coldren and Christopher Jones would bring out the caution on lap 14, necessitating a fuel stoppage.
When the green flew once again, Blaney would power away while Shaffer would eventually get around Buckwalter and started to close on the race leader. But, Blaney would blast to the checkers with Shaffer right on his rear bumper. Buckwalter, Madsen and Dale Blaney would round out the top five.
“No one would have blamed the track a bit if they would have cancelled. All the rain we’ve had down here made it a mess. But the track guys kept working and working and working and got it where we could race,” said Blaney beside his Mohawk Northeast, Global Oil and Gas, Lelands.com, Bill Davis Trucking backed No. 98.
“Hey, someone had to win and I’m glad it was me. I knew I was in trouble there the last few laps. I was covered in mud and had run out of tear-offs and was coasting the last few laps. But we hung on. I’m excited to compete with the All Stars and World of Outlaws this week,” added Blaney.
Shaffer, a four time UNOH All Star champion, behind the wheel of his new ride for 2014, the B&R Racing/Canton Erectors Inc. No. 45, would close on Blaney late, but ran out of time.
A late race restart cost Buckwalter a runner-up finish, but all-in-all he was pleased with his third place run.
“We started up front and that definitely helped tonight. The track knew going in that it was going to be a challenge, but they worked all night and all day on that thing and by the end of the feature it was pretty good. You have to give them all the credit in the world for the effort,” said Buckwalter beside his Sunny Hill Farm Trucking/Don Ott Engines backed No. 17B.
“It was a night of survival. We ran second most of the race but on a restart I hit a rut and bounced around and Shaffer got around me. I didn’t run out of tear-offs…I was pacing myself and tried looking through the openings. It was a physically and mentally challenging night and we got through it and look forward to tomorrow,” added Buckwalter.
Dave Blaney, Tim Shaffer, Steve Buckwalter, Kerry Madsen, Dale Blaney, Danny Holtgraver, Greg Wilson, David Gravel, Greg Hodnett, Chad Kemenah, Jac Haudenschild, Danny Dietrich, Mark Coldren, Christopher Jones, Klint Angelette, Mark Imler, Wayne Johnson, Andrew Palker, Caleb Helms, Logan Schuchart, Jacob Allen.