Paul Shafer’s win ruffles Anthony Danta at Illiana Speedway
Tony Baranek Sun-Times Media July 27, 2013 11:24PM
Updated: August 30, 2013 6:49AM
SCHERERVILLE — Anthony Danta thought it could have been done with a little more finesse.
Actually, he used the word respect.
But he didn’t drive away after the white-knuckle finish of Saturday night’s 30-lap late-model feature at Illiana Speedway without one acknowledgement about winner and points leader Paul Shafer Jr.
“Shafer had a faster car, but he needs to learn how to pass without wrecking somebody,” Danta said. “He almost put me in the frontstretch wall on that white flag there.
“I’m not too happy with him. The kid is good, and his car is fast. But he really needs to start driving with a little bit more, respect maybe. Other than that, I’m happy.”
Shafer? He was plenty happy, and felt like he did things the right way when he got underneath Danta on the final lap, built a slight edge on the backstretch, and outran Danta to the finish line by a scant 0.020 seconds.
The win was Shafer’s third in a row at Illiana.
“Well ... with two to go, I was trying to get him,” Shafer said. “Coming out of Turn 4 to the white flag I tried to work him up a little bit and got into him square. I just kind of turned it down, got a nose under him. I might have got into him a little in 1, but we went down the back straightaway, and got him out of 4.
“It was just like last summer, with Mike White. Door to door at the line.”
The battle at the finish was only the final chapter in a race that saw so many contenders running in a bunch up front, that a mishap seemed inevitable.
It happened five laps from the finish, when while running side-by-side with Danta for the lead, D.J. Weltmeyer was contacted from behind by third-running Eddie Hoffman. Weltmeyer went around on the back straightaway, resulting in both he and Hoffman being put to the back.
Shafer, who was running fourth at the time, found himself in a position to challenge, and got it done.
“This was a tough one to win,” Shafer said. “I was waiting and waiting and waiting, and then D.J. and Hoffman got together.”
A Hoffman crew member pleaded a case with the track officials that Hoffman was pushed into Weltmeyer by Shafer.
“I was nowhere close to Eddie,” Shafer insisted. “I felt I was a half-car back.”
Behind Shafer and Danta, third place went to Mike White. Mark Ross Jr., John Nutley and early leader Shaun Wiltjer completed the top six.
Chris King parlayed a restart with three laps remaining into a pass of Garrett Harris and his seventh Legends feature win of the season.
Harris had led much of the race, and was seemingly keeping King at bay before a spinout back in the pack necessitated a yellow.
“Pretty much he went a little farther into Turn 1 than he thought he was going to go,” King said of the restart. “That was good for me. He slid up and I turned underneath him. He wasn’t giving me any breaks, that’s for sure. It was just good, hard short-track racing.”
Jacob Melvin finished third, followed by Paul Shafer Sr., Bryan Watters and Stan Zolodz IV.
Chris Woodall had Ryan Moore right on his bumper with two laps remaining in the turbo stox feature when Moore bounced his No. 88 off the backstretch wall. Moore collected his car, but Woodall was able to ease away and claim the victory by 1.271 seconds. Moore held on for second, ahead of Jacob McKown, John Senerchia, Matt Arvia and Pat Ligue.
Matt Baikie claimed the pure stocks main over Mike Wojcik.