Shane Stewart has Sprint cars wins across the country, but a win at Williams Grove Speedway had eluded him until now. Stewart’s first career Grove win was a big one, too, as it came in the Morgan Cup last Saturday night worth a total of $17,000, including $12,000 base pay and another $5,000 for the Morgan Cup.
“It feels really, really good,” said Stewart. “If you said this was going to be our first win of the year, I don’t think I would have bet anybody’s money on that one.”
Everything finally fell into place for him to get his first Grove win. “It’s no secret that this place hasn’t been my favorite track,” said Stewart. “But, I’ve had decent runs here. I almost won a race here in Scott McClaren’s car. I think Stevie passed me with a couple laps to go, but I started up front. That’s huge here, especially now the way our cars are and the tires and as equal as everybody is and dirty air, dirty track, and all of that plays a huge factor and it seems like more here than a lot of other race tracks we go to.”
His (Kyle) Larson (Justin) Marks No. 2 was fast all night, but he got some help with a favorable dash draw.
“When they drew the eight for the dash, I thought ‘this is my opportunity and I’ve got to try and take advantage of it,’” said Stewart. “I felt like we were a tick off in the dash and the guys changed a few things on the racecar. I spun a little on the initial start, but still felt like my car was pretty good.”
Stewart lost the lead early to Grove regular TJ Stutts, but a lap 11 restart was key. “TJ wasn’t getting away from me and when he picked the bottom on the second restart, I was like ‘here’s my chance.’ And everything worked out good for us. I think the yellows worked out well. As soon as I got to lapped traffic, they came out. My car was definitely better in open air than it was behind cars.”
“I’ve never led here so it was hard to know how hard to push…it’s just a weird race track. I love the history. I love the rivalry that we have. It means a lot to win here much less the Morgan Cup which is a big race around here.”
The 17 grand was important, but the win itself was more important in the grand scheme of things. “The money is important, but to win the Morgan Cup with these guy and Kyle and Justin,” said Stewart. “I thought when I got this ride that this was going to be my last opportunity to come out here and showcase what I can do with a good group of people around me and the right money that it takes to come out here on the Outlaw tour properly. I felt like this was going to be my last opportunity to do it and do it right. We struggled this year. We’re getting it, but it’s tough. You throw in different variables with crew chiefs and different people working around the racecar and sometimes it takes a while to get that jelling. Sometimes, people forget that. Out here in this Sprint car world you’re only as good as your last race, but I did feel like if I ever got the opportunity to start up front here, I felt like I could do a good job here. It’s tough when you’re starting 20th every night here and you get to 14th and feel like you had a pretty good night.” He’s hopeful more wins are on the way as we reach the busy and lucrative summer months of Sprint car racing.
“I’m extremely proud of my guys and I’m glad I could do it for Justin and Kyle,” said Stewart. “Hopefully, we can carry this momentum through the rest of the season.”
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The Morgan Cup finale was full of surprises Saturday night at Williams Grove Speedway. Williams Grove regular TJ Stutts led the first 11 laps of the main event before Stewart got by. Stutts faded to sixth at the finish thanks to a right rear tire that only had four pounds of air in it. He earned $2,400. He timed seventh and finished second in his heat race. “I really thought, at one point, we were good enough to win,” said Stutts. “He haven’t raced here enough. We haven’t raced enough in general. We’re making significant gains. There are nights you go forward and last night we went backwards. We learned a lot and came forward tonight.”
“To tell you that I’m not disappointed to run sixth –I’m a little mad at myself,” he said. “You come and run against these guys and make one mistake and your night is over. We only had four pounds of air in the right rear tire. We’re not really sure what happened there. Honestly, to come here, time as good as we did, do what you have to do in the heat and in the dash, that’s all you can ask for against these guys.”
“We’ve been struggling with our motors a little bit. Not anybody’s fault. Experimenting. We haven’t raced our 410 stuff enough to know what to do to get to where we need to be. Tonight, we made some bad decisions on that we couldn’t change after we got here. Gain one place, but lose somewhere else. It’s part of the deal. It’s hard to come to an Outlaw show and be successful.”
“Without the bleeder situation at the end and the four pounds in the right rear, we were probably going to be a top two or three or car,” said Stutts. “We started on the front row, but we raced there and tonight was a very good learning experience. It’s a very big undertaking we’re trying to do. I need to thank everybody –my mom and dad, Todd and Allison (Shaffer), Village Square, Chubby from CnB, it takes all those people to make this happen.”
Ryan Taylor had a good night as well timing ninth and getting through his heat. He started ninth and finished seventh in a rare Grove start. He earned $2,300.
“Definitely, a rebound from last night,” said Taylor. “I’m really, really proud of my guys. We have a young team here and they’ve been working hard for me and giving me what I need. Mike Carber has really helped me out. He’s down in North Carolina, but we’re talking on the phone each night during the races. I called him right away when I got out of the car and he was happy. He works down there and does all my Factory Kahne Shocks.”
“I thought we had a really, really good racecar in the feature,” said Taylor. “I would have loved the chance to be in that eighth spot in time trials by the end and not get bumped to ninth. You never know with the pill draw where you would start in the dash and where you could have been. I think we could have been a contender for the win had we started up front. That means a lot here. The front row stayed on the front for 75 percent of that race and we had a car that kept getting better as the race went on and building more confidence in me as the race went on. We will definitely take some good notes on tonight. Hopefully, it works out well for CP Carrillo and gets them some good coverage. It’s a good looking car and deserves to be up front for them. I’m pretty excited about that.”
Brandon Rahmer and teenager Anthony Macri made their first Outlaw A-mains finishing 16th and 20th respectively.