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
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"
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 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"
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."
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
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".
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".
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
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
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.
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.
Qualifies 10th in Norwalk at Summit Race
Norwalk, Ohio, June 28,
2009 - Duane Shields returned to the NHRA national event circuit
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.
Call with the Shortline Express on YouTube!
Watch this final wild
round from Houston on You Tube: CLICK
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
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.
Team Wins in Houston
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.
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
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
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
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
Next week the team will be back east again, this time racing
at the Division 2 event at South Georgia Motorsports Park i
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.
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".
Qualifies Third at Winternationals
- (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