(TeeJay Crawford Photography)
Sweet Springs, MO |July 16, 2018 – Racing close to home in front of friends and family for the first time in 2018, Austin Schaeffer had the opportunity to compete at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, MO and Sweet Springs Raceway in Sweet Springs, MO this weekend for a triple header of micro sprint competition. A native of Kansas City and resident of Columbia, these days Schaeffer’s championship chase with the POWRi Outlaw Micros mainly guide him to the state of Illinois, but this weekend presented a rare occurrence of racing close to home. Strapping in Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, the 21-year old rising star did not disappoint as he racked up finishes of 3rd, 4th and 6th while extending his POWRi Outlaw Micros point lead.
Beginning the weekend on Friday night at Grain Valley’s Valley Speedway, Schaeffer returned to POWRi competition for the first time since his third triumph of the year at Macon Speedway in late June. Making his debut at the quarter-mile, Schaeffer was forced to adapt quickly to the large track for micro sprints. After falling to third-from-second in the heat race, Schaeffer slotted his Stallard SST, Speed Shack Performance No. 71S in the eight-starting spot for the main event. Committed to the high side and flirting with the middle, Schaeffer advanced four spots forward in the main event and claimed a fourth-place finish in the 20-lapper.
Closing out the special “Thunder in the Valley” weekend on Saturday night, Schaeffer and the ASR crew again drove to Grain Valley looking to find just a little more speed in the No. 71S. Storming from fourth-to-second in the heat race, a sixth-place starting spot was earned for the 20-lap feature. Once again determined to make the high side work, Schaeffer took the long way around and put his right rear on the edge of disaster while methodically working the curb. Setting himself up for a last-lap pass for the win, Schaeffer pulled alongside the leader on the white flag lap, but a caution negated his drive and killed all momentum. The restart proved troublesome as a tiny mistake shuffled Schaeffer back to a still respectable third-place finish. The doubleheader of POWRi competition still was good to Schaeffer, who extended his points lead with seven races remaining on the schedule.
Heading to his home track of Sweet Springs Raceway in Sweet Springs, MO on Sunday night, Schaeffer ended the weekend by competing for $2,500 in the fifth annual “John Hinck Championship.” With another strong heat race run of fourth-to-second, Schaeffer found himself locked into the main event by virtue of passing points. Starting from the seventh-spot in the 25-lap main event, track conditions came back to present big challenges as the 1/6th-mile surface left little racing room right around the bottom. Moving up one spot, Schaeffer was able to sneak in a sixth-place finish to end his weekend of racing near home with three top-ten bids.
On tap next for the Columbia, Missouri resident is another trip to the “Illini State,” but this time, without his Lightning Wings on top. Making his first non-wing appearance of the 2018 season, Schaeffer will race the $7,500/Win “Terry Sprague Memorial” at Southern Illinois Raceway from July 26th-28th.
7/13: POWRi Micros at Valley Speedway – Heat Race: 3rd (2), Feature: 4th (8).
7/14: POWRi Micros at Valley Speedway – Heat Race: 2nd (4), Feature: 3rd (6).
7/15: Outlaw Micros at Sweet Springs Raceway – Heat Race: 2nd (4), Feature: 6th (7).
7/26-28: $7,500/Win “Terry Sprague Memorial” at Southern Illinois Raceway in Marion, IL.
Feature Starts (13), Feature Wins (3), Top Fives (7), Top Tens (12), Heat Wins (6).