On Wednesday evening, Jonathan Shafer promised his father Todd that he would win the Puryear Tank Lines 225 at Ace Speedway on Friday.
Discovering that his father had been diagnosed with cancer was an emotional moment for the younger Shafer and his family, but it only motivated the 17-year-old more to get the most out of his Late Model Stock as he sought to finally claim his first Solid Rock Carriers CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour victory.
That milestone came in dominant fashion for Jonathan, who drove away from the rest of the field to lead all 125 laps in the Late Model Stock feature, all while William Sawalich earned his third consecutive CARS PLM Tour win.
Jonathan Shafer finally breaks through
Jonathan’s victory on Friday continued a trend of drivers earning their inaugural victory in the CARS LMSC Tour victory.
Aside from Josh Berry at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, every different winner in the series in 2022 has visited Victory Lane for the first time. For Jonathan, his moment was even more cathartic knowing that he’s had cars capable of winning since entering the series back in 2020.
“Just winning my first CARS Tour race after running in this series for so long is a big confidence booster,” Jonathan said. “Everyone has been working so hard for this moment, but luck just hasn’t been on our side. To finally get this win is the best feeling ever.”
The closest Jonathan came to claiming his first career win prior to Friday’s Puryear Tank Lines 225 at Ace came during his rookie year at Dominion Raceway.
Jonathan led 58 laps from the pole during that evening, but mechanical issues forced him to forego the lead and climb his way from the back. He managed to salvage a fourth-place run, but Jonathan came away from Dominion wondering what could have been.
The primary lesson Jonathan took away from Dominion was to be more efficient on restarts while leading the race. Only two of them occurred during what proved to be a clean 125-lap Late Model Stock feature, but Jonathan successfully fended off challenges from drivers like Chad McCumbee, Kaden Honeycutt, and points leader Carson Kvapil.
Once Jonathan pulled into Victory Lane, he was immediately greeted by an exuberant Todd. A former driver himself, the elder Shafer knew Jonathan was capable of winning in the CARS LMSC Tour and was overjoyed to finally see his son reach that goal after an emotional week.
“This means everything to me,” Todd said. “Jonathan really needed this for his confidence. He’s worked so hard when it comes to his physical fitness and nutrition. There have been about four races this year where he really should have won, but things just didn’t work out. [Friday] was his time.”
With a diverse set of events that includes a trip to North Wilkesboro Speedway at the end of the month, Jonathan has no plans of slowing down his momentum and intends to keep winning in honor of both Todd and his late grandfather John.
“My grandpa was up there watching me, and I know he’s proud too,” Jonathan said. “We really hit on something this weekend. I know we struggled in practice a little bit, but we’re going to carry this on for the rest of the year.”
Chad McCumbee settles for second at Ace
The only driver who managed to apply some pressure to Jonathan throughout Friday’s Puryear Tank Lines 225 was veteran Chad McCumbee.
Although McCumbee ultimately could not chase down Jonathan for the win, he was satisfied with the overall speed his Late Model Stock showed around Ace and hopes his performance is a sign of things to come over the final races of the 2022 CARS LMSC Tour campaign.
“I’m very happy [with second],” McCumbee said. “We were comparable or even a tick better than Jonathan at times, but we didn’t quite have the long run speed. Some of that was because we needed a chassis adjustment, but we also didn’t have enough brake pedal. This run does give us some positive momentum heading into the rest of the year and it’s exactly what we needed.”
McCumbee admitted that second was a step in the right direction after struggling with his car during the Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway, which ended with him in 14th one lap off the pace.
The misfortunes from that night only emphasized the importance of being vigilant with adjustments for McCumbee. He added that each track on the CARS LMSC Tour schedule presents its own unique obstacles and that he and his crew must be prepared for every scenario.
McCumbee was encouraged by how he and his team responded at Ace following the disappointment of the Throwback 276. He does not anticipate wins coming easy with the parity in the CARS LMSC Tour field, but McCumbee remains optimistic that his experience will enable him to celebrate in Victory Lane again before 2022 concludes.
“I certainly hope we can get a few more wins,” McCumbee said. “At times [on Friday], I thought we had a chance to win the race, but if we keep putting ourselves in position to win like we did at Ace, the wins will come. We’ll just keep working to get better moving forward.”
No one can touch William Sawalich in the PLM Tour
The last time William Sawalich did not lead a lap in the CARS PLM Tour came at Franklin County Speedway back in May.
Since then, not a single driver has been able to match the pace set by Sawalich and Setzer Racing Development. His victory in the Puryear Tank Lines 225 on Friday served as the third consecutive race in which he has led every single lap.
“It’s super cool to do this again,” Sawalich said. “I’m really happy to be back here again in Victory Lane. I can’t thank Dennis and Brandon Setzer enough for this great car. I made a few mistakes, but all in all, it was a great race.”
Sawalich’s dominant PLM Tour win continues what has been a stellar season for him across several different disciplines.
Along with claiming his fourth PLM Tour win of the year, Sawalich has also found Victory Lane driving a Super Late Model for Donnie Wilson. He nearly won his first CARS LMSC Tour race in the Throwback 276 at Hickory but was passed by Connor Hall later after a hard-fought battle for the victory.
Expanding his horizons as a driver is what has made Sawalich so comfortable in the PLM Tour in 2022. Even though he missed a race in the series due to Super Late Model commitments, Sawalich believes he can chase down Luke Fenhaus for the title if he stays on his current trajectory.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself over these past few months,” Sawalich said. “There are still several things I’m trying to figure out. We can still get that championship if we keep running like we are, so we need to keep leading laps, winning poles and winning races.”
Both divisions of the CARS Tour will next hit the track on Aug. 27 when they travel to Radford, Virginia to compete at Motor Mile Speedway. It will be the first visit to the complex for the PLM Tour, while three-time champion Bobby McCarty enters as the most recent LMSC winner at Motor Mile.
For more information on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour and the CARS Pro Late Model Tour, visit www.carsracingtour.com. Be sure to stay active and social with the tour by liking “CARS Tour” on Facebook, following @CARSTour on Twitter and scrolling through photos on Instagram cars_tour.
Additional series information can be obtained by calling the CARS Tour series office, located in
Mooresville, NC, at 704.662.9212.
- 91 Jonathan Shafer
- 16 Chad McCumbee
- 12 Kaden Honeycutt
- 8 Carson Kvapil
- 22 Bobby McCarty
- 14 Jared Fryar
- 8b Chase Burrow
- 5 Carter Langley
- 77 Connor Hall
- 44 Conner Jones
- 77s Blake Stallings
- 2r Braden Rogers
- 95 Jacob Heafner
- 32 Zack Miracle
- 2 Brandon Pierce
- 10w Trevor Ward
- 10 Janson Marcbanks -1
- 24 Mason Diaz -1
- 4 Hayden Swank – OUT
- 1 Andrew Grady – OUT
- 43 William Sawalich – OUT
- 08 Deac McCaskill – OUT
- 77 Dylan Ward – OUT
- 81 Mini Tyrrell – OUT
- 6 William Sawalich
- 96 Luke Fenhaus
- 13 Austin MacDonald
- 29 Nick Loden
- 1 Kody King
- 24c Penn Crim
- 35 Caden Kvapil – OUT
- 8 Rusty Skewes – OUT