DJ Shaw Snaps Winless Drought In Dominant PASS Effort At Lee USA

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DJ Shawn Lee Win

D.J. Shaw celebrates Friday at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H.

LEE, N.H. — After a dominating championship season in which everything went right a year ago, it’s been the polar opposite for DJ Shaw in 2015.

Until he unloaded his No. 60 Friday night at Lee USA Speedway.

Shaw took the lead on lap 25 and never relinquished it, cruising to victory in the PASS North Series Swings N’ Things 150 for his first win in more than a year. He held off part-time competitor Derek Ramstrom of West Boylston, Mass., and Jeremy Davis of Tamworth, N.H. following a restart with 28 laps remaining to secure the win.

Shaw said he had a good feeling as soon as he hit the track for his first practice laps of the afternoon.

“I was cautiously optimistic going in,” Shaw said. “It’s the best car I’ve had in a long time. I thought it might be a tick too free, but it pretty much stayed the same all night… It was good right form the get-go, and it helped having track position, too.”

Shaw, of Center Conway, N.H., snapped a 16-race winless streak with the victory. His last win came May 31, 2014 at White Mountain Motorsports Park.

This season, he’s had fast cars at a number of tracks only to see misfortune dash his chances at winning. In the second race of the season at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, a broken shock mount thwarted his bid, while at Autodrome Chaudiere in May he struggled to a ninth-place finish.

There had been signs of life from the second-generation driver, however. In the three races leading into Lee, Shaw had finished no worse than fourth.

But he felt that he might not quite have shaken his bad luck when Bryan Kruczek spun through the infield on the backstretch on lap 6. A patch of the chewed-up grass ended up clogging Shaw’s radiator, and his car began overheating almost immeidately. It forced him to alter his game plan and challenge for the lead earlier than he wanted.

“I basically thought, ‘Let’s go lead some laps, because it’s going to blow up,’” Shaw said. “But once it got to 240, 245 (degrees) it stabilized for a long time. In lapped traffic… it got up to probably 255. It spit water all night, but it had enough at the end. (The temperature) was starting to go down, and that usually means it’s running out.”

After a quick caution flag on lap 2, the race went green until Ben Rowe tagged the outside wall coming out of turn four on lap 122. That brought distant challengers onto Shaw’s bumper, but he pulled out to a comfortable lead to secure the victory.

Though Ramstrom never dropped lower than second in the running order, he said he had no shot at spoiling Shaw’s night.

“I really didn’t,” Ramstrom said. “We started out too tight, and, in turn, I really fried the tires. We started too tight, and I lost the forward drive and that was all she wrote. We had an excellent car, but (Shaw) was out of everyone’s league.

“But for our second Super Late Model race of the year, I’m happy with second.”

Shaw entered the night second in the standings, 23 points behind Mike Rowe. Rowe got as high as fourth in the running order before falling out of the top five in the closing laps and settling for sixth. With a heat race win on top of his feature victory, Shaw closed the gap in pursuit of a second series title.

He’s hoping that he can get on the kind of midseason roll that championship seasons rely on.

“I hope so,” Shaw said. “We have all the tools that we had last year to do it, so hopefully we can. In other years, we’ve won in spurts with two or three in a row, so hopefully we can do that again.”

Joey Doiron of Berwick, Maine, rallied to finish fourth, with Kruczek recovering for a fifth-place effort.

Mike Rowe, Joe Squelia, Derek Griffith, Cassius Clark and David Oliver completed the top ten at the finish. Wayne Helliwell Jr. and Travis Benjamin were the only other cars running on the lead lap in the 18-car starting field.

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