Practice Days Over, Stage Set for Shangri-La II's Concrete Duals, May 1st

asa2Under sunny skies, Shangri-La II Motor Speedway held its long-awaited pre-season open practice days on Friday and Saturday, April 23-24, before the weather man clamped down again and washed out Sunday's activity. Competitors in all four weekly racing divisions at the ASA Member Track were out in force preparing for next week's season opener, the Concrete Duals on Saturday, May 1, featuring dual 25-lap main events for the Modifieds, twin 20's for the ASA Late Models and the Sportsman Modifieds, and a pair 15-lap races for the Street Stocks. Racing starts at 2:15 p.m.

Among the teams doing their homework on Saturday was the crew of the No. 13 Sportsman Modified built and owned by Ray Hedger and driven by Russ Brown. The Hedger-Brown combination won multiple track championships at the Oswego Speedway but for 2010 they plan to concentrate on Shangri-La II.

Updating the team's chassis setup notes after making a handful of appearances at the Concrete Castle in the inaugural season of 2009, Brown said "the track is about a second slower than it was last September now that it doesn't have as much rubber on it, but we expected that." He noted the rubber should be laid down in a hurry with the number of racing laps that will be run on opening day.

Ray Hedger, whose brother Randy was the 1987 and 1988 modified champion at the original Shangri-La Speedway and is now a top NASCAR Sprint Cup technical inspector, said the concrete half-mile with its progressive banking offered no setup obstacles that an experienced team couldn't overcome with practice. "We haven't seen a lot of difference, except that the tires are harder to read" he commented.

Although Shangri-La II doesn't have the quirks of dogleg turns or elevation changes found at some older facilities, Russ Brown says the two ends of the track drive differently. "It's unique. Turns 1 and 2 run much tighter than Turns 3 and 4. It's a real challenge," he related. Brown should know, as he competed at a wide variety of tracks in the Busch North Series earlier in his career, scoring a top ten finish on the road course at nearby Watkins Glen in 1996.

The biggest attention-getter in the pits was ASA Late Model track champion Jim Lamoreaux and his new Camaro-bodied creation. Completely unlike the common late models whose brand identification comes from decals and the shape of the side window, Lamoreaux's car has all the styling elements of Chevrolet's new Camaro, from the aggressive grille to the short rear deck. While he expressed some concern about the lack of downforce at the front due to the almost vertical grille, Lamoreaux lapped within 7/10 of a second of his own track record right off the truck.

Pit gates open for the Concrete Duals at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 1, with the grandstand opening at 11:30. Practice is at high noon with the first green flag at 2:15 p.m.  Shangri-La II Motor Speedway is located on top of the ridge off Route 17C, one mile east of Tioga Center, and is easily accessed from Route 17, the Southern Tier Expressway, via Exit 62 (Nichols) or Exit 64 (Owego/Ithaca).