A fan favorite at popular Pennsylvania NASCAR dirt track is climbing in the NASCAR Finalist Division II points standings.
Brian Shuey, 40, of Shoemakersville, Pa., jumped into the NASCAR Late Model division track points lead at Grandview Speedway, a .333-mile clay oval in Bechtelsville, Pa., this week. His second-place finish to winner Chuck Schultz in the 20-lap feature, combined with a 22nd-place finish by former track points leader Ron Kline, helped Shuey advance to lead in the track points and to move sixth from seventh in NASCAR Division II points. Entering the July 25-27 race weekend, Shuey leads Randal Paxton, Schultz and Kline in track points. While he has yet to win his first feature of 2010, he has six top five and eight top 10 starts.
The new NASCAR Finalist national recognition program focuses on the divisions outside of the Feature Division at each NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track. Points are kept separately for dirt and asphalt tracks. A NASCAR-licensed driver’s best 14 finishes are counted toward their final points total for the year.
Each track in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series designates its top division as its Feature Division, and assigns its remaining divisions a designation of II, III, IV or V. The Finalist Program was established this season to recognize the drivers in those latter divisions.
Leading the standings at NASCAR dirt tracks include Division II Jim Hendricks Jr., I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb.; Division III, Brad Derry, I-80 Speedway; Division IV, Joe Baker, I-80 Speedway; and Division V, Andy Wilkinson, Junction Motor Speedway, McCool Junction, Neb.
Leading the standings at NASCAR asphalt tracks include Division II, Ryan Robertson, Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Division III, Brent Kane, Raceway Park, Shakopee, Minn.; Division IV, Tim Hollen, Raceway Park; and Division V, Doug Schmitz, Raceway Park.
“Brian Shuey is a first class individual,” said track announcer and publicist Ernie Saxton. “He is willing to go the extra mile to promote the sport and he’s a first class Late Model racer. He represents his sponsors well and that is so important these days when sponsorship can be the difference in being able to race or not race.”
Shuey is the defending track Late Model division champion at Grandview. He also won the track title in 2007, and has been racing at Grandview since 2002. He has 14 career Grandview feature wins, but none so far this year.
“Grandview is a classic ‘bullring,’ and I’m not saying that as a negative,” Shuey said. “It’s a great track. It’s a racy track. There are some big half-mile tracks that aren’t as racy as Grandview. And a lot of guys can win there on any given week. The competition is great. Sometimes it’s hard to stay out of trouble. You especially don’t want to bend your front end, but it happens.”
Twenty-four cars make it into the Late Model feature and typically the previous week’s winner starts 18th. Winning at Grandview is a tough proposition. Winning two in a row is even tougher.
When Shuey won last year’s track title, he had to do so in dramatic style.
“It was a come-from-behind win,” Shuey said. “I was second in points and had to win the race to have a chance to win the championship. (Points leader) Randy Stout had trouble, and I won the championship by 12 points.”
The duo finished one-two in track points in 2007. Stout won the title in 2003.
“I won the most races (three) of anyone in 2009 and won the championship,” Shuey said. “In 2008, I won the most races (five) and finished third in points.”
Shuey is a life-long racer, having started racing go-karts with his brother, Chris, at age seven and stayed in them for 11 years. He estimates he had 300 wins and numerous championships throughout Pennsylvania and New York during that time. He moved up to Late Models driving for Jim Kohler in 1989 and after three years, became an owner/driver.
“We weren’t very competitive, not frontrunners, but it opened the door to Late Models, and I’ve been at it ever since. I didn’t know what a Late Model was until I drove one. I didn’t know Late Models were a major division.”
He got his first career Late Model win at the former Silver Springs Speedway in 1993, then moved on to Port Royal Speedway where he remained through 1999. He went on hiatus from racing in 2000 with the birth of daughter Alexis with wife Renae.
Grandview Late Model owners Dave and Charlotte Eyrich invited Shuey to drive their car in 2002 and the combination has been clicking ever since. Steve Ringer is the crew chief teamed with Greg Snyder andKevin Kuser. The car is powered by a Larry Lombardo-built engine and uses a MasterSbilt chassis.
Sponsors include Bob Fisher Chevrolet and Valley Electrical Wholesale, both of Reading, Pa., Leesport Self Storage, and Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theatre – established in 1934, the oldest drive-in theatre in the country.
“We want to win some races,” Shuey said. “We got a new car this year and it was the right move. We’ve been adjusting and it’s getting better. I think we’ll get back to Victory Lane soon. We didn’t get off to a great start, but this is a way of life.”
The NASCAR Finalist points structure is the same as the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series featured division at each track. The feature winner receives two points for every car in the feature up to 20. Second place receives two fewer points and that distribution continues through the field. Race winners receive five additional bonus points. For example, if there were 20 cars in the feature, the winner would receive 45 points, second gets 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars the winner receives 35 points, second gets 28 and third 26.
At season’s end, the top driver in each of the four asphalt and four dirt NASCAR divisions will receive invitations to the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series awards banquet December 10 in the Crown Ballroom in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. where they will be recognized.