From Inside Line Promotions
QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. (November 28, 2016) – Joshua Shipley nearly completed the biggest comeback victory of his young sprint car career last weekend during the Copper Classic.
Shipley opened the two-day ASCS Southwest Region event at Arizona Speedway last Friday by qualifying sixth quickest in the Alan and Kaylene Verville owned ride. Shipley advanced a position to finish fourth in a heat race, which locked him into the 12th starting position for the 25-lap main event.
“We had a troubling start, but still had success,” he said. “The front wing mounts broke during qualifying. Then on the second lap of the heat race the wicker bill got hit and broke off the back of the front wing and got stuck in the cockpit. It was fighting me and the steering wheel, but we did our best to move forward and straight into the A Main.”
The misfortune continued in the main event as Shipley was running 10th when he spun out exiting turn four on Lap 2. That relegated him to the back of the 22-car field.
However, it didn’t take long for Shipley to maneuver back toward the front half of the field. He cracked the top 10 only a few laps later and was up to fifth by the midpoint of the main event. Shipley advanced into second place when a caution came out with four laps remaining.
“I was making a move on Billy Chester (for second place) when the red flag came out for the leader,” he said. “Had we not run out of gas I had full confidence we would have won that race. When we had the restart as soon as I hit the gas the engine stumbled and I knew we were in trouble. We lost a spot to Christopher Bell. We made it to the next restart and we lost power completely and we had to pull in. The tachometer said we did 76 laps including caution laps so the race was extremely long. On a bright note we proved in only my fourth race that we can compete with the national guys.”
Shipley exited the track early and he was credited with a 13th-place finish.
The team returned to the track on Saturday for the season finale, which began with Shipley timing in eighth quickest during qualifying before again moving up one spot in a heat race to place third. This time he started the main event on the outside of the eighth row.
“I felt every bit as confident on Night 2 than I did the first night,” he said. “The track conditions were more what we were used to. With a great number of cars entered to go straight to the main event was huge. That was a big feather in our cap.”
Shipley maneuvered into 11th place within the first two laps of the feature before another driver collided with him exiting turn four on Lap 3. Unfortunately, a fellow competitor crashed into Shipley’s stalled race car and he was unable to restart the race. Shipley finished 21st.
“We were running side by side and the other driver got loose and ran out of race track and shoved me into the wall,” he said. “With me being mid-pack I got collected by another guy who had nowhere to go. Two unfortunate things happened in those main events both nights, but our finishes didn’t show how well our performances were. Our confidence level is to the moon. We can’t wait to get back going.
“We started out with nothing this year. I bought my own (non-wing) team and Alan and Kaylene gave me a great opportunity. Now here we are, a team that can run on a national level. There were national guys there last weekend we can compete with. Racing for Alan and Kaylene gives me a lot of confidence.”
Shipley, who finished the season with three non-wing sprint car wins in limited action, said he will compete in a handful of starts with the NAPA Non-Wing Series in 2017 while the sprint car team goes after the ASCS Southwest Region championship.