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Shields Has Stockpiled Enough Points for Title

September 20, 2000|DARIN ESPER

It did not take much for Randy Shields of Camarillo to clinch the Tri-State Mini-Stockar Racing Assn. Championship on Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway.

The two points Shields received for starting the 20-lap race on the one-third mile course guaranteed the 30-year old the right to display the coveted No. 1 on his car in 2001.

In 16 races of the 18-race series, Shields has three victories, three second-place finishes and three thirds. He began competing with his one-half scale replica of Mark Martin's NASCAR Winston Cup car midway through the 1999 season and finished 11th in the points standings.

Shields struggled with fuel pump problems Saturday and finished seventh to earn 22 points, giving him a 484-402 lead over Russ Uppman of Norwalk.

"He's one of our stellar guys and it's because he asks a lot of questions," said Sandy Denton, race director for the association. "He asks the right questions. He wanted the championship, that is what he was going for, and he deserved it because he worked hard for it."

The mini-stockars are powered by identical 32-horsepower Honda generator engines with centrifugal clutches, capable of hitting 125 mph.

The engine is the only similarity to a go-kart to be found on the car, however.

Mini-stockars look like half-size Winston Cup cars on the inside as well as the outside. The tubular chassis is an exact replica of the design used in America's premier stock car racing series, down to the suspension components.

Shields, who is 6 foot 4, has no problem fitting in the car.

"Believe it or not, they have a lot of room in them," he said.

Shields, who owns an off-road vehicle parts store, was attracted to the series by the relatively low cost.

"I have about $15,000 in this whole setup," said Shields, who hopes to move up to a spec truck in 2002. "If you don't have any accidents and stay clean, it's about $100 per race to run."

Shields became a racing fan when he was 12, attending races at Ventura Raceway, Saugus Speedway and Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield.

He learned about mini-stockars when he saw a display while attending the 1998 California 500 Winston Cup race at California Speedway in Fontana.

"I saw the booth at a couple of more races," Shields said. "Once I went and watched them race, I was sold."

Shields attended the association's racing school, then attended a regular stock car driving school at Mesa Marin.

"That pretty much sealed it," Shields said. "They both felt the same, other than driving on a bigger track."

Another attraction for Shields was the camaraderie.

"They are people who are all real involved and real friendly," Shields said. "Everybody helps everybody, which I don't see in all divisions, and they are real family oriented."

Said Denton: "They swap parts, like carburetors, tires and rims. Whatever is needed to get the whole field out there, they do it."

The mini-stockars also compete at Cajon Speedway in El Cajon and at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino. The two remaining races are Oct. 14 at Orange Show and Nov. 4 at Irwindale. It was appropriate for Shields to clinch his championship at Irwindale, which is his favorite track.

"It's a nice facility," Shields said. "It's fast and it's clean."

Shields ultimately hopes to compete in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour or the NASCAR Winston West series.

"There's nothing like being in the driver's seat."

*

Sean Woodside of Saugus is looking at the Starnursery.com 250 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour race Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a chance to reverse his fortunes.

"Our experience this year has been that we've been better toward the end of the races than at the beginning," Woodside said. "Hopefully, that will be to our advantage this weekend. We typically haven't started at the front, but we've worked our way up there from the back a number of times this year."

The race is longer than a typical Southwest tour event, and car-owner Bob Farmer of Palmdale is hoping Woodside's experience of running long races on short tracks during his three years in the Winston West series will be a factor.

"Thanks to Sean's experience in the Winston West, he knows how to keep the car under himself in a long run," Farmer said. "We expect to go in prepared, give him the car he needs to win, and do our best throughout the race to help get him there."

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