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Yellow leads to checkered flag for Paul Shafer Jr. at Illiana

Paul Zolodz (59) Shaun Wiltjer (1) slide toward wall after tangle Turns 3 4 while Landry Potter (57) tries avoid

Paul Zolodz (59) and Shaun Wiltjer (1) slide toward the wall after a tangle in Turns 3 and 4, while Landry Potter (57) tries to avoid them and Jeff Cannon (33) slips by on the bottom during a late-model heat race Saturday at Illiana Speedway. | Goodaker

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Updated: August 22, 2013 7:08AM



SCHERERVILLE — Oh, how a yellow flag can change attitudes.

Paul Shafer Jr. says he was pretty much resigned to being a runner-up in Saturday’s late-model feature at Illiana Speedway when a spun-out car in Turn 2 just 11 laps from the finish gave him a chance to challenge leader Anthony Danta.

The 16-year-old points leader from Portage needed just two laps after the restart to work his way into the top spot. He went on to beat Danta by 0.768 seconds.

The win was Shafer’s second of the season at Illiana as well as his second in a row.

“If I wouldn’t have gotten that yellow flag Danta was gone,” Shafer said. “There was no way I was going to catch him. Maybe a little bit per lap, but nothing major.

“All I could do was keep doing what I was doing, and hope for a yellow.”

He got it, and didn’t squander the opportunity.

“On the restart I kind of jacked it sideways coming out of (Turn) 4,” Shafer said. “He had me by about a car getting into 1. I just kind of worked him up a little bit and went around.

“Two in a row. I don’t see how, but I got two in a row.”

Danta held on for second, ahead of Jeff Cannon.

Cannon wasn’t even on the track at the start of the race, arriving late out of the pits. But a yellow on lap 7, with him as the lead car a lap down, resulted in Cannon receiving the “lucky dog.”

Cannon roared through the pack, eventually passing D.J. Weltmeyer as the white flag came out to claim third place. Weltmeyer was fourth, followed by John Nutley and Bobby Gash.

Paul Shafer Sr., meanwhile, was also victorious in the Legends feature. The long-time dirt ace, who recently returned to oval racing in support of his son, took the lead from Jacob Melvin at the halfway mark of the race and went on to beat Chris King by 0.449 seconds and complete a rare father-son victory double.

“I’m tell you, I’m so proud of my boy. He drove a good race, and he’s getting better and better every week, while I’m getting older and older,” Shafer Sr. said with a smile.

“I blew the motor up and this is a brand new motor for the Legend. To win on the same night (as Shafer Jr.), that’s pretty good.”

Last-lap drama in the turbo stox feature saw points leader John Senerchia slip underneath Ryan Moore in Turn 4 and claim the victory. Jacob McKown, Matt Arvia, Chris Woodall and Michael Moore completed the top six.



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