|Date: 5/3/2009 12:14:33 PM|
Former Micro Sprint Kingpin Shane Penny Enjoying His Time With ARDC
By DINO OBERTO ….. “Keeping Track”
For years Nescopeck’s Shane Penny sat among the leaders of the region’s micro sprint drivers. He amassed over 100 career wins which puts him in an elite group to accomplish that feat and has won numerous track titles between Greenwood Valley Action Track and Selinsgrove Raceway Park.
In 2008 Penny switched seats and began running a midget car with one of the Nation’s oldest and most prestigious racing organizations, the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC).
Winning will get you noticed and near the end of the 2007 season Penny got a call from owner Jerry Steward of Berwick. Steward was looking to give a local driver a shot at piloting his car and was aware of the star racer which prompted him to call and ask if he would run a meet in Winchester, Va. There was no hesitating on Penny’s part.
“I got to run my heat and then in the feature the car broke after about a lap and a half so I never really got to race,” 39-year old Penny recalled.
“He (Steward) then asked me if I would run it the next week at Susquehanna and of course the answer was yes. We started 23rd in that race and finished 16th. I just went out and kept my nose clean.”
Stewart felt confident enough to offer him a full season ride for 2008 and go for Rookie of the Year with the time honored club. Although Penny struggled at times, he was able to earn the top rookie honor.
“The way things started out I really didn’t think it was possible. That’s what my goal was at the beginning of the year. But then with the mechanical failures and dropping out of some races I just kind of forgot about it,” said Penny.
“It (season) was all right, I just wish we didn’t have the mechanical failures and stuff like that but all in all for our first year I would say it turned out okay. You always want to do better.”
For a driver who is accustomed to winning an average of 20-plus features a season, Penny found himself learning all over again about getting to the front with the midget. But despite that curve, he never lost confidence in himself and continued to make headway over the course of the year.
“That’s a big mental part of it. Your confidence is up and that’s always a big part of it and then when you get your tail handed to you every week it sort of pulls your confidence down,” said Penny.
“It’s one thing when you’re racing the same track every week and you know what you have to do to get the car working there. I was going to the same two race tracks all the time and that made it even more complicated when we got going with ARDC.
“The big thing is getting the car right so I’m comfortable in it and getting my confidence level up with the car. I’m still trying to learn what I can do with it and at the same time earn the respect of the other guys.”
Penny noted that the camaraderie among the ranks of ARDC is great. Other drivers or crew persons are quick to lend a hand or advice.
“I’d have been happier running with them (ARDC) and not winning a race then winning 20 more races with a micro sprint. It got to the point where the micros just weren’t fun for me anymore. You can say it was a lack of a challenge. Been there, done that,” he said.
“Jerry’s (Steward) great to be racing for. It’s kind of limited money wise in what I can do and I definitely want to continue down this avenue with ARDC.”
When Penny wasn’t racing with the midgets, he got the chance to return to Greenwood Valley and run a 600cc micro for track owner Jerry Creveling. There he showed his magic touch still remained as he picked up a handful of wins with that car.
“When I get back into a micro now it’s for fun only. I still go with the intent to win races but if I finish second then I’m not ready to go chew someone’s head off after the race. Now my attention is focused on the midget.”
Thus far the plans are to run the entire season and shot for a race win and solid point tally.
“I definitely want to win a race and right now it seems kind of lofty but I’d like to be right around the top five in points. I feel we should no doubt be in the top ten but I’d like to be closer to the top five by the end of the season.”
Penny still runs the 600cc micro and has also been called to race a 410 sprint car at Clinton County. They, however, hinge on his midget endeavors as he is committed to the Steward team and attaining success with ARDC.
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