Victory laps by feature winners have gone the way of the dinosaur at Grundy County Speedway.
Leave it to a 17-year-old kid to keep the tradition alive.
Paul Shafer Jr. couldn’t have been more proud to take a 31st lap – this one with the victory flag in hand – after winning Friday’s thrilling late-model main.
A yellow flag just six laps from the finish gave the Portage, Indiana, native a chance to catch up to race-long leader John Nutley. And man, did he run.
Shafer spent four laps right behind Nutley, taking away the air between them. On the fifth lap he was able to duck underneath Nutley and create a side-by-side battle.
On the final lap, the two cars grinded it out through Turns 1 and 2 before Shafer was able to get a nose in front and hold a determined Nutley at bay by 0.214 seconds.
It certainly was a tough loss for the veteran driver, who had led from the drop of the green until the final lap. He held off challenges from Brandon Clubb, then Pat Kelly. He was several car-lengths in front of Shafer on Lap 24 when a spin between Eddie Hoffman and Ricky Baker brought out the yellow and spoiled his runaway win.
Third went to Kelly, while Scott Koerner, Mark Sontag and Billy Knippenberg completed the top six.
Tommy Knippenberg crossed the line first for what appeared to be his eighth Mid-American feature win. A post-race inspection turned up a spindle infraction, however, resulting in the victory being awarded to Kevin Gentile.
Joe Vinachi was declared second, followed by Matt Clemens, John Ventrello and Chuck Yuris.
Jake Bradley started on the pole and led the entire way in capturing his first career street stock feature. He did it with points leader Eddie Ligue 0.692 seconds behind him. John Senerchia was third, ahead of Darrell Gay, Rob Scamen and Bob Davis.
Another first-time winner was Heather Page in the pure stocks main. Taking the top spot from the front row, she bested Austin Blackwell, Zach Sontag, Mikey Slabenak, Ricky Wilson and Mike Yuris.