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Driver and Race Team Owner
Duane Shields

2009 News Archive

Shields Tries to Gain Some Ground in National Points Battle at Home Track
Las Vegas - After winning the NHRA Divisional event at Silver Dollar Raceway in Reynolds, GA which sewed up the Division 2 Top Alcohol Dragster Championship, Duane Shields headed home to Las Vegas for the Ninth annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals. And since The Strip at Las Vegas is his home track, Shields pulled out all the stops for his fellow competitors and friends in the Top Alcohol pits with a hot dog feed throughout the weekend. His pit was also full of friends and family from the surrounding area that come to the event each year to see him race.

Besides the fact that the race was at his home track, the event was especially important to Shields' chances of winning the Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster National Championship. In qualifying, the car ran very consistent which gave the Shortline Express Team confidence going into eliminations. "We were very happy with how consistent the car was running throughout the weekend" ShieldS said after qualifying third with a 5.31 at 261 MPH. On the eve of eliminations the Shortline team had some tense moments as crew member Chris Zedaker had a top end crash racing the team's Super Comp car. Luckily, Zedaker was OK so the team was able to get back to preparing for their first round opponent.

Shields' first round paring turned out to be with none other than his teammate, Brandon Johnson. "Brandon works for me but there's no team orders. We are both here to race" Shields said. Johnson qualified 14th with a decent 5.41 at 260 MPH but would have his work cut out for him as Shields was a tenth quicker. At the hit Johnson got out of the gate quicker with an 0.035 reaction time to Shields' 0.077. As the cars crossed finish line it was a close one as both Shields and Johnson ran identical 5.37 ETs and nearly identical MPH with Shields' 269 being just one MPH faster. But Johnson's slightly quicker reaction time at the starting line was the difference in the race. "We were hoping for a 5.30 and to stay consistent. But it was a good race as Brandon and Mike Johnson really stepped it up. And it was a good race on the spectator side too but we really needed to win that round" Shields said.

While the loss hurt Shields' chances at winning the National Championship, Johnson would go on to defeat Jim Whitely in the second round which helped keep Shields' chances alive. "Brandon was my enemy in the first round but my best friend in the second round" Shields joked.

Even though the Las Vegas Nationals was the last national event that Shields could claim points, he still can claim points at the final division event of the year also held in Vegas next week and can still make up some points there depending on how well he does and how well his opponents do. At Pomona the following weekend, Shields won't be able to claim points but will be a blocker. "We are excited about next week's divisional race since our Shortline Express Market sponsors it and we'll have a chance to make up some points. I'm also looking forward to Pomona since we always do well there" Shields said.

Shields Cools Off in NASCAR Country
Charlotte NC - Duane Shields' objective was simple: go to Charlotte for the NHRA Carolinas Nationals and win the race. Unfortunately, in any competitive sport, things don't always go as planned but Shields did continue to go rounds which will keep him in the hunt for the series championship but with fewer races remaining. "This was a critical loss and narrows our chances of winning the championship and now it depends on how the other teams still in contention do. So far they keep winning so it's really out of our hands right now" Shields said.

Shields qualified fifth with a 5.44 at 249 MPH. This would set up a first round meeting with Indiana's Jared Dreher. At the light it was Dreher out in front with a 0.02 reaction time to Shields' respectable 0.08. However, Dreher's good reaction time wasn't enough for Shields' better ET as Shields got it done with a 5.36 at 265 MPH to Dreher's 5.66 at 248 MPH. "We were able to get the round in on Saturday before it started raining so that gave us a little more time to prepare while some of the teams had to wait until Sunday. So, it worked in our favor" Shields explained.

In the second rou nd Shields took on Dave Weber. Like Dreher, Weber cut a good light but it wouldn't be enough to get past Shields. Weber got off the line with a solid 0.019 to Shields' 0.106 but Weber ran into trouble when he began experiencing tire shake. Meanwhile, Shield's was on a mission with his best run of the weekend, a 5.32 at 269 MPH to get the win over Weber's 5.96 at just 191 MPH.

For the fifth weekend in a row, Shields would move on to the semifinal round. This time, Shields took on his nemesis of late, Ken Perry. Shields had lost to Perry in his last two losses and was looking for revenge. At the light it was Perry out first with an 0.56 reaction time to Shields' 0.104. Perry was able to nip Shields in the lights by just a few feet with a 5.433 to Shields' very close 5.404. "This is the third time in a row I have lost to Perry. I was distracted when I staged and had a bad light or I would have beat him. We really needed the win to get the points but that's life. It's been a while since I lost in a holeshot and the car is running good so were still happy with how the season has unfolded" Shields said.

The Shortline Express team will skip the Dallas race and instead will focus on trying to pull off a win at their home track, The Strip at Las Vegas. Shields explained his strategy "We usually do very well in Dallas but we can't claim both Dallas and Las Vegas so I'd rather wait and let the points drama unfold at my home track."

The Hot Streak Continues in Atlanta with Another Win
Commerce GA - Duane Shields is red hot after winning three out of the last four races he has competed in. And the race he didn't win, the US Nationals, he barely lost in the semi final round. This week, the Shortline Express A/Fuel Dragster team was at Atlanta Dragway for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event to try and take the Division 2 point lead.

Rather than be content with qualifying just to easily get into the six car field, Shields wanted the single in the second round so he went after the low qualifier position and managed to get it with a 5.33 at 262 MPH. This would set up a first round pairing with Cherissa Griffs of Jacksonville Florida, who had some problems on the run as she damaged her block and coasted down the track. Shields in the other lane was on another great run. "It was a good run for us. We ran a 5.359 as did Robin Samsel" Shields said comparing the runs with his closest competitor.

In the second round, Shields got a single into the final because he was the number one qualifier. "Since we got the single we stepped it up and ran a 5.27 at 272 MPH. We were being aggressive on the tune-up and the track could barely take it" he said.

Shields' opponent in the final round would be Samsel who has stepped up his racing program this season. "Robin has stepped it up and is in the elite group of drivers" Shields said. At the light, Shields was out first with an 0.094 reaction time to Samsel's 0.142. Samsel then smoked the tires and that was all it took for Shields to chalk up another victory. Shields spun the tires on the run which changed the fuel curve but still ran an impressive 5.37 at 263 MPH. "It wasn't a great race for the spectators but we ran well on every run and deserved to win it" Shields said after the event.

The win gave Shields the Division 2 points lead and puts him in third place nationally with a few more races to go. Next week, Shields heads to North Carolina for the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at ZMax Dragway. Shields expressed a lot of interest in racing at the much talked about track. "We get to see Bruton Smith's new facility and like everyone else we are looking forward to the four lane Top Fuel race. But I hope to be busy racing and not have a chance to do much else while I'm there".

Shields Loses a Close Semi Final Match at US Nationals
Indianapolis - After winning two races in a row, Duane Shields' odds of winning the prestigious Mac Tools US Nationals were very good. And just like in the two previous events that Shields had won, the Shortline Express A/Fuel Dragster ran consistently well all weekend. "Things are good as we ran very well" Shields recalled. Shields qualified in the top half of the field with a 5.33 at 269 MPH for the sixth spot.

In the first round, Shields' faced California's Chris Demke who qualified eleventh with a 5.38. At the light it was Shields who got off the starting line first with a 0.042 reaction time to Demke's 0.072. This was a close, competitive race all the way to the finish line with Shields taking the stripe with a 5.32 at 263 MPH to Demke's close 5.38 at 260 MPH.

In the quarter finals, it was a re-match of the final round at Reading with Shields going up against Mike Lewis, who has had great success racing on a very limited schedule. However, this race was over before Shields ever left the starting line as Lewis went red. Lewis' redlight was a lucky break for Shields as he broke the rear end and had to click it off and idle to the finish line.

The broken rear end lead to a major thrash in the pits. Thanks to the generous help of Tony Samsel, the team got the rear end replaced and back in the staging lanes in time for the semi final round. Shields then rolled up along side Ken Perry in the opposite lane. At the green, Perry got out of the gate first with a 0.069 to Shields' close 0.071 reaction time. At the finish line, Perry was able to hold on and squeak out a close win by just three feet with a 5.342 at 263 MPH to Shields' nearly identical 5.348 at 267 MPH.

Shields was disappointed he ended up on the losing side of the very close race but felt over all it was a good outing for the Shortline Express team. "He (Perry) ran better than I thought he would. We were focused on replacing the rear end between rounds and I didn't have much time to devote to the tune-up. But we still ran good all weekend, we just came up short in the semis".

Shields Wins Two in a Row, Optimistic Going into Indy
Rising Sun MD - Recently, the Shortline Express team of Duane Shields found a new tune-up that they believe is making their A/Fuel Dragster run better now than earlier in the season. After a national event win in Reading Pennsylvania last week one has to believe they are on to something. A week later and another win, this time at a Division 1 event at Cecil County Dragway, must have their opponents concerned and Shields Racing fans ex cited.

Shields qualified in the sixth position for the tough eight car field with a solid 5.47 ET. The team did experience a couple of malfunctions but got everything sorted out before the first round of eliminations. "We smoked the tires in the second round of qualifying but we got the car toned down before the first round" Shields said.

In round one, Shields would take on the likes of another west coast racer, Darren Nicholson, who qualified third with a 5.40. As it turned out, Shields would score low ET of the round with a 5.34 to Nicholson's 5.41. Shields also got off the line first with a 0.039 reaction time against Nicholson's close 0.041. "We felt good about the race as it was a nice smooth run. Darren smoked a piston late into the run and I was able to get around him" Shields said.

Shields then advanced to the semi final round where he would again face Bill Evans whom he raced the previous weekend in Reading. This time the end result would be the same with Shields coming out on top. Shields again got out of the gate first against his opponent with a 0.041 reaction time to Evans' 0.054. The race ended early however, as Evans shut off after he shook the tires. Shields meanwhile had another picture perfect run as he again took low ET of the round with a 5.35 which earned him another final round appearance and lane choice. "There was a lot on the line at this race as we are both claiming Division Two points so we both stepped it up. But he broke loose and was unable to recover" Shields recalled.

Shields' final round opponent would be Dan Mercier who had been running consistently well. This time it would be the opponent, Mercier, who had the better reaction time with a 0.026 to Shields' very close 0.028. Mercier led part of the way but began dropping cylinders. Meanwhile, Shields' tires broke lose at 150 feet out and he had to pedal to straighten the car out. He then came on like a freight train to get by Mercier with a 5.43 at 272 MPH to win the event. Mercier recorded a 5.58 at 227 MPH in a valiant try. "This race was like last week in Reading where we had weather delays. But coming off this race with another win, I feel very good" Shields said after the race.

When asked about the US Nationals which will be held over the Labor Day weekend, Shields was optimistic. I feel upbeat going into Indy, but Indy is Indy. You never know what can happen. We have to bring our "A" game or go home early".

Along with sponsors Hussey Copper and NGK Spark Plugs, Shields wants to thank Joe and Debbie Meadows for housing the crew for the last three weeks and for providing the team a location to store their racing operation between events.

Shields Wins at Toyo Tires Nationals Held at Maplegrove
While Duane Shields' A/Fuel Dragster ran with perfection all weekend, imperfect weather conditions at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Mohnton, Pennsylvania made Shields' march to the winner's circle a very cautious one. The Top Alcohol Dragster class only got one round of qualifying in due to rain and it was stop and go delays from there as the conditions affected the entire event.

While there were just enough cars to fill the 16 car field, Shields took no chances and did everything possible to prevent the car from going up in smoke at the starting line. "We were very cautious in qualifying. We have a new tune-up in the car and the car is running much better so we were more conservative with the tune-up" Shields said. Still, the car ended up in the sixth position with a 5.48 at 258 MPH.

Shields opened the first round by facing Division 2 rival Bill Evans. Shields knew he couldn't take Evans lightly as the pair have raced before. At the hit, Evans was out of the gate first with a 0.09 reaction time to Shields' 0.115 but Shields' better ET quickly made up for Evans' better reaction time and blew by him with a 5.39 to Evans' slower 5.77. "It was a good run for us and we were happy with how well the car performed. Bill is a good racer and we were again cautious when we made our tune-up decisions" Shields said.

In round two, Shields took on Ken Winward. The race was over before it could begin as Winward red lit. Still, Shields didn't allow Winward's red light to spoil a good pass and it turned out to be Shields' best run of the weekend, as he stopped the clocks with a 5.29 at 269 MPH. "We wanted to see if we could step it up and we were just a little too aggressive on the run and slightly hazed the tires" said Shields when looking back on the second round win.

In the semi finals, Shields took on East Coast hitter Mike Kosky. Again, a red light decided the race as Kosky went red. Shields once again made a beautiful run and recorded a fine 5.34 at 267 MPH to earn a trip to the finals. Shields was back in the caution mode in the semis. "We backed it off against Mike as we didn't want to smoke the tires." Kosky meanwhile oiled the track on the run which contributed to NHRA officials decision to postpone several class finals for Monday including Top Alcohol Dragster.

With the finals held on Monday, Shields and his crew had to deal with some added stress and had to make different tune-up decisions. "The one day delay added additional anxiety and the weather changed as it was cooler so the car would make more horsepower on Monday. I wanted to again be sure that we didn't smoke the tires" Shields said. Shields' had to race an unexpected powerhouse, Mike Lewis, who use to operate Maplegrove Raceway, and is now a Senior Vice President of Don Schumacher Racing during his "day" job. "We had to race Mike Lewis driving Tom Conway's car and he was running very close to us. Plus, Mike was cutting good lights so we had to be on our game" Shields said.

Lewis left first but the race didn't last long as a broken fuel line on Lewis' car caused him to smoke the tires which quickly put the brakes on his weekend. Shields in the other lane cruised to the Toyo Tires Nationals victory with a 5.33 at 259 MPH. "It's a good weekend any time you get a win but it was emotionally exhausting for us due to all of the rain and track delays. This is the start of five races in a row so to begin with a win is great" Shields said after the win. The team now heads to Cecil County Dragway for an NHRA divisional event.

Shields Qualifies 10th in Norwalk at Summit Race
Norwalk, Ohio, June 28, 2009 - Duane Shields returned to the NHRA national event circuit wit h a stop at Norwalk, Ohio and the third annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. After three rounds of qualifying, Shields qualified tenth with a 5.41 at 264 MPH.

Shields tenth qualifying position meant that he would face Canadian driver Ken Perry in round one. Perry qualified seventh with a respectable 5.39 at 260 MPH, so on paper this was anyone's race. At the light it was Perry that was out of the gate first with a 0.075 reaction time to Shields' 0.092. Perry was able to hold his lead all the way to the finish line where he won the race by a car length.


Demke's Close Call with the Shortline Express on YouTube!
Watch this final wild round from Houston on You Tube: CLICK HERE

Shields Makes Semis in GA
Valdosta, Ga- After two straight wins on the NHRA national event circuit, Duane Shields posted a semifinal finish at the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at South Georgia Motorsports Park.

In qualifying Shields qualified fifth with a 5.44 at 269 MPH which would set up a first round appointment with Dan Mercier who qualified 4th with a 5.44. At the light it was all Mercier with a 0.046 reaction time to Shields' 0.083. But Mercier's lead was short lived as Shields had him covered by more than a tenth and took the win light with a 5.30 at 270 MPH to Mercier's 5.42 at 267 MPH.

In round two Shields raced Artie Allen. At the hit it was Allen with a 0.091 reaction time to Shields' 0.101. Shields shook the tires and then pedaled. Artie Allen meanwhile was in route to the win as he stopped Shields' winning streak with a 5.38 to Shields' 7.14.

Shortline Express Team Wins in Houston
Shields Wins Two NHRA National Events In a Row!

Baytown TX March 28, 2009 - For the second time in his career, Duane Shields has won two NHRA national events in a row, this time taking the Top Alcohol Dragster title at the 22nd Annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil in Houston.

As was the case in Gainesville when he won the last event, the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, Shields qualified in the middle of the pack but felt optimistic all weekend. With only two sessions, Shields qualified eighth with a 5.36 at 265 MPH and shook the tires in doing so. "Going into eliminations I felt pretty good because we shook the tires and still ran a 5.36" Shields said.

In first round Shields faced a tough opponent as he would race former World Champion Arthur Gallant, whom Shields had lost to before. "We knew Art Gallant would be tough so we brought our A-game" Shields said. And boy did Shields bring it, as he ran a 5.28 at 267 MPH to Gallant's 5.53 at 269 MPH. Gallant had to pedal as he smoked the tires, meanwhile Shields was long gone as he took the win.

Going into Sunday, Shields felt good and made no changes to the car even though he faced another difficult opponent in Bill Evans. "Like Art we knew we couldn't afford to take Bill lightly so we had to be on our game once again" said Shields. At the starting line, Shields had a big advantage with a 0.056 light to Evans' 0.156. As the cars left the line Shields' car begin to go into shake but Evans dropped a cylinder. At the finish line it was all Shields with a 5.29 at 271 MPH to Evans' 5.52 at 268 MPH. "The car began to shake so we were fortunate that he dropped a cylinder" Shields said. Back in the pits Shields' crew made some adjustments to the car before the semifinal round.

The opponents just kept getting tougher and in the semifinals Shields would face red-hot Mike Manners who had been out running him in the previous rounds. At the hit Shields again had the advantage with a 0.068 to Manners' 0.096 reaction time. Manners then suffered tire shake and then dropped a cylinder to record a 6.16 at 166 MPH. In the other lane, Shields' adjustments paid off as he ran a 5.30 at 271 MPH on a very smooth pass to earn a final round birth against Chris Demke. Demke in the Peen-rite car has also been running very well and had been in several final rounds prior to the Houston race.

Little did anyone in the grandstands know that the final round of Top Alcohol Dragster would be one of the most exciting rounds of the day. At the light it was all Demke as he left on Shields with a 0.027 to Shields' 0.093. "There was big time glare on my side of the tree and I knew I was late. Demke was ahead and I was thinking that this would be the event where Demke would win his first race. But then he started to get close to the center line and knocked out the timing block. He then got back in his lane and I knew I had won as I drove by him and pulled the chutes. After I got out of the car I found out from viewing the ESPN footage that after I drove by Demke he got back in my lane again and was behind me as I pulled the chutes. Fortunately he was far enough behind not to get tangled in my chutes. We were both lucky nobody got hurt. " Shields said.

Since Demke crossed the centerline he was automatically disqualified. Shields ran a 5.36 at 271 MPH on his way to earning the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals title. This wasn't the first time that Shields had a close call in the final round at Houston. In 2002 Shields was in route to the title during the final round when a bolt broke causing the steering column to come a part. "The steering wheel rod separated so I had no steering at all. During the run I was able to slip the steering wheel rod back on the spline and get control of the car once again. Houston is my lucky track when it comes to close calls" Shields said after the win.

Shields celebrated a hard fought victory and was glad to have won again in Houston in front of a special member of his family. "This weekend I brought out my step mom, Tree. I was glad she could be here when we won. The crew had a good weekend as well" Shields said as he thanked the team that includes: Dana and Sheryl Hopewell, Bill Jones, Ralph Freeman and Chris Zedaker. The Shortline Express team also thanks its sponsors Hussey Copper and NGK Spark Plugs.

Next Week's Scheduled Event:
Next week the team will be back east again, this time racing at the Division 2 event at South Georgia Motorsports Park i n Cecil GA. To avoid having to make up a divisional they chose the South Georgia race rather than race at their home track in Las Vegas. It's a new schedule for the team as they are claiming points in the South East Division.

Shields Steps Back to Win ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville
Gainesville, March 15, 2009 - For Duane Shields, qualifying on the pole usually means an early round exit. At the events where he qualifies in the middle of the pack he seems to do his best. So for the 40th Annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, Shields came up with a new strategy: rather than run the best in qualifying, step back and improve the car's performance a little bit on each round.

The strategy paid off as Shields defeated Bill Reichert in the final to win his first ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals title. "I felt comfortable all weekend not being the number one qualifier. It seems like when we are the number one qualifier we often stumble. This time we gave the car some room to step up a little bit on every round" Shields said after the win.

Shields qualified sixth with an elapse time of 5.39. "The car was running a little inconsistent during qualifying and we had to get a handle on it" Shields said. Going into the first round Shields was optimistic but still knew his team needed to get better control on the car's performance. Shields was able to get out of the first round by beating Dan Mercier who posted a 6.22 to Shields' 5.38. That evening after winning the first round, Shields and the Shortline Express crew made some wholesale changes to the dragster.

In round two on Sunday, Shields took on Darryl Hitchman. Hitchman had some problems getting his car out of reverse as Shields patiently waited for him at the starting line. Finally, both cars were staged, and at the hit Shields had a quicker 0.081 reaction time to Hitchman's 0.147. It was all Shields down the length of the track as he posted a 5.36 at 268 MPH to cover Hitchman's slower 5.85 at 191MPH.

In the semifinals Shields took on Artie Allen from near by Jacksonville. "We hopped the car up before we ran Artie Allen as he beat us at the Gainesville divisional event" Shields said. Shields continued to run faster than the prior rounds and dipped into the twenties for the first time during the weekend. Allen got off the line first with an 0.068 to Shields' 0.074 reaction time, but at the stripe it was Shields getting the win with a 5.26 at 272 MPH to Allen's 5.38 at 259 MPH.

The semifinal win earned Shields the right to take on NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster Champion Bill Reichert. Shields had lane choice and chose the left lane while also coming up with a plan not to beat himself in the final. "We struggle with Reichert but we knew if we are consistent, have a good light and not beat ourselves we would have a chance. So all we can do is see how it plays out" Shields said. The game plan worked as Shields scored the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals victory. On his way to the title, Shields' Shortline Express dragster ran a blistering 5.28 while Reichert went up in smoke right off the starting line.

The ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals title was Shields' first win since his father, Lee Shields, had passed away prior to the season. Duane made a special dedication to his father after the race. "I dedicate the win to my dad as racing was a big part of our relationship. Also, my daughter Whitney and her friend Britnay are here for spring break. They are both my good luck charm. I also want to thank Hussey Copper, NGK Spark Plugs and my crew, Dana and Sheryl Hopewell, Chris Zedaker, Bill Jones and Ralph Freeman. They did a great job this weekend getting the car into the Winner's Circle".

Shields Qualifies Third at Winternationals

Pomona - (February 10, 2009) -- It was a long week for racers, officials and fans as intermittent rain showers stretched the NHRA Winternationals to a week long affair. In the Top alcohol class, the rain shortened qualifying to one round. Duane Shields, made the best of it and qualified third with a 5.39. In the first round Shields had a first round appointment with Dennis Swearingen. At the starting line, Shields let go of the button just a little to soon and red lit by -0.025 to lose the round.

To read more stories from the 2008 season  click here