Shields Loses a Close Race in Semi Finals
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 said after the race. 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 to the line 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".