Kyle Shaw, of Millport, Alabama, celebrates after winning the NeSmith Late Model feature during the Cotton Pickin’ 100 on Sept. 23 at Magnolia Motor Speedway. The $3,000 payday was the most for Shaw since he won the same race in 2013. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
October 9, 2017 10:14:58 AM
Kyle Shaw hadn't won a NeSmith Late Model race in three years.
The Millport, Alabama, native picked the best possible time to break that slump.
Shaw, who finished second in track points at Magnolia Motor Speedway this season, won the NeSmith Late Model feature during the Cotton Pickin' 100 at The Mag on Sept. 23. The $3,000 payday was the most for Shaw since he won the same race in 2013.
The win capped a five-race stretch that saw Shaw navigate the trials of breaking in a new car -- suspension issues knocked him to the back of the field in two races -- but also the immediate boost in speed and performance that drivers expect when they upgrade. Shaw's win at the Cotton Pickin' 100 followed a runner-up finish in the NeSmith Late Model race at the Governor's Cup.
"We were probably going to run top five the first night out in it, but the result was the product of being rushed," Shaw said. "We brought it home, went over it, and found several things that weren't 'wrong,' but different from what I usually run. Jeremy (Shaw) came over, and we got all that straightened out.
"A huge reason I've had success is because of Jeremy. He's super smart when it comes to setup stuff and coached me as a driver from Day 1. I also have a lot of support from my wife (Amy), my dad (David), and friends who support and help me."
Kyle said his "new-to-me" 2014 Trak-Star car had 12 or 15 races on it when he purchased it. He said he made the purchase because his primary car started slowing. His familiarity with Trak-Star cars made the decision a lock.
"(The new car) has the same shocks and everything on it," Kyle said. "We got in this one and we were right back fast again. This past weekend was a product of being confident and having confidence in the car to go out there and make good laps. Then, it was a matter of being patient and trying to make good decisions on the track."
Despite entering the Cotton Pickin' race fresh off a runner-up finish, Kyle said he didn't know he had a shot to win until a lap-34 caution. Up to that point, he had climbed from seventh to third but had fallen back to sixth midway through the race after losing some traction in a high line of a turn.
"From the start, you don't know what tires everyone is gonna go on," Kyle said. "We went three hard tires, and from the initial start, it was a gamble whichever way you chose because each race changes up the track. Monty pulled away from all of us at the beginning of the race, but I felt better after the race, seeing what he was on.
"It's so hard to win these things. I didn't really get excited until after we'd pulled off the racetrack and under the tech shed. It's a stress just going out there week in and week out. You have a lot of people you know who come, watch you and expect you to do well. It was a huge relief to get that win."
The win was Shaw's third of the year; he won a 602 Sportsman race and a Limited Late Model race at Columbus Speedway earlier this year. He'll compete in the $10,000-to-win Possum Town Grand Prix in late November at Magnolia.
"There's a bunch of good drivers out there," Kyle said. "But if your car is working -- look at these (Rocket) XR-1s, those things are fast everywhere -- you will race with more confidence."
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