After a strong third-place showing in the Gandrud Auto Group 250, Paul Shafer Jr. heads to a track he’s extremely familiar with while having a string of momentum from the most recent ARCA Midwest Tour event.
After a year hiatus from the facility, the Tour returns to Grundy County Speedway for the Wayne Carter Classic, where Shafer holds down a 25-point lead in the weekly Late Model standings over area legend Eddie Hoffman. He is no stranger to success in marquee events at the 1/3-mile, winning the Tony Bettenhausen 100 each of the last two years.
He goes into the event with just one race on his new Fury Race Car, which came in the Gandrud 250.
“We’re excited for Grundy, that’s pretty much our home base and we’re ready to get there. I think the last time the Midwest Tour was there we had fast time,” Shafer told Speed51. “Our car’s really good from Kaukauna, we’re going to be running that same car. I won’t say we’re one of the best at Grundy but we’re pretty good over there in terms of being on the ten-inch tires racing against some of the Tour guys.”
A run for the Grundy County points championship wasn’t in the cards for Shafer and his team originally, but plans changed once the season started. He has scored one win on the season while being a mainstay in the top-five.
A former champion of the now-defunct Illiana Motor Speedway in Northwest Indiana, he is now looking to earn track championships at both Chicagoland area racetracks. However, he admits running full-time at Grundy hasn’t been what he thought it would be when they decided on going after the title.
“Originally we thought it would be more fun to run for points at Grundy, try to run the full season out and try to run for points. So far, it hasn’t been what we thought it was going to be. We’ve struggled over there and we haven’t won very many races. We’ve been trying to get the car better but we’ve been fighting it.”
At just six races to date, the ARCA Midwest Tour season is shorter compared to past years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Saturday night’s event marks the halfway point of the currently-scheduled 2020 season, with Oktoberfest looming just over 50 days away.
Despite the shortened season, it’s still full speed ahead for Shafer going into any given race.
“It doesn’t change a whole lot for us, every time we go to race, we just want to win. That’s the goal, we never really look at it for points or anything. If we go out there and win every race, we’ll win the points. Our mindset going into each race is to go out there and run the best we can and hope to come out of there with a win.”
With Grundy becoming a second home track for Shafer after Illiana was closed, he would like nothing more than to score a win in front of the home crowd. The fan attention surrounding his efforts in and away from the weekly shows has been big, and he would love to repay for their support with his second-career ARCA Midwest Tour win.
“If we were able to win that Midwest Tour race it would show that’s really our home track, we’re good there, we’re one of the best at Grundy. That’s what we’re out there trying to do right now. If we could go out there and win at Grundy, that would be awesome.
“All the fans there love us, and we love going out there for them. It’s something exciting to do. A lot of guys mentioned it to me that they were super excited seeing the articles about the Grundy point leader running good at Kaukauna and ready to go to the Midwest Tour race and stuff like that. It gives them something to be excited about and something to really look forward to.”
Stay tuned to Speed51 regarding broadcast details for the ARCA Midwest Tour Wayne Carter Classic at Grundy County Speedway.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo