by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher
If you can think of it, it’s probably happened to Zeb Wise this last month and a half. Bad luck, mistakes, and mechanical failures have riddled the Wise-Priddy Racing team as of late, most recently at BAPS Motor Speedway last Sunday, where Wise hit the wall and burst into flames. For an 18 year old with a relatively new race team, it’s hard on everyone. Tonight was one of the nights that makes all the struggles worth it at Attica Raceway Park with the FloRacing All Star Circuit of Champions.
Rolling into Attica, Wise probably had hopes for a good night; he finished second with the All Stars in April and just a few weeks later, picked up a local win at the ⅓ mile oval. Wise followed Tim Shaffer in both their heat race and the dash, which would put Wise in the fourth starting spot for the 35 lap, $5,000 to win feature.
Justin Peck, another previous winner at Attica this year, and Tim Shaffer, defending winner of this race, paced the field to the green flag, and it was Shaffer who took the early advantage as Peck, Jac Haudenschild, and Wise all battled for second. Shaffer took a 1.259 second lead early, but Peck got away from The Wild Child and Wise and set his sights on the veteran.
On lap 10, Peck was slowly reeling in Shaffer, cutting Shaffer’s lead in half, as All Star points leader Tyler Courtney made his presence known to Peck. As Peck and Courtney battled, Shaffer built his lead back up to 1.151 seconds before he reached lapped traffic. Courtney made contact with a lapped car on lap 12, which ended the battle for second. Shaffer was in heavy lapped traffic three laps later, and Peck was right on his bumper as the yellow came out for Courtney.
On the restart, Peck showed Shaffer a nose on the inside of turns one and two, but couldn’t make anything happen as Wise and Haudenschild battled for third. The yellow flag came out once again for Courtney. On this restart, Shaffer got out to a .694 second lead, and by lap 23, it was up to 1.668 seconds. Peck found himself sliding off the backstretch momentarily, which promoted Wise to the second spot as the red came out for a flipping Byron Reed. Justin Peck went to the work area with a flat right rear tire, ending his chances of a win.
Shaffer had an excellent restart when things got back going, but Wise stayed right with him. Shaffer made a mistake on the following lap which allowed Wise to get side-by-side with the Aliquippa native. The red flag came out again, this time for Cole Macedo.
This is the restart where Wise made his move on Shaffer. Wise ripped the top and got an excellent run off of turn two and down the backstretch, which allowed him to be side-by-side with Shaffer at the line. Wise crossed under Shaffer coming out of turn two, and took the lead. Wise scooted away to a half second lead as the yellow came out for Shaffer with mechanical gremlins.
While the battle for the lead was happening, Haudenschild, much to the crowd’s delight, had moved into second place. Wise had passed Shaffer for the lead, and now must hold off another legend for the win. Wise executed a near-perfect restart, and gapped Haudenschild by .904 seconds, which he then built up to 1.610 seconds and 2.274 seconds as the checkered flag flew. It was Wise’s second career All Star win, both coming this season, his first being at Kokomo in May.
“I played it pretty patiently the entire race, and let them work it out and picked my way through,” said the race winner Wise. “I had to race for it, though. I raced with Jac for the first half of the race, and then I got by Peck and I could work with clean air. I picked my way through, and got by Tim down the backstretch. I got really tight off of two, and I was battling for the lead, so I wasn’t going to lift. We came together down the backstretch, and went into three, and then whatever happened from there was a blur.”
“It feels good to rebound, our last All Star win was at Kokomo, so it feels good. We have a lot of big paying races coming up; one tomorrow that pays $10,000. Hopefully we’ll do the same thing that we did here tonight and we’ll come out of here with $15,000. That’d be pretty good,” Wise said.