Well, try as he might, it comes with the territory. With the four consecutive wins he earned in Pro All Stars Series competition. And with the last name of his prominent driving family from Center Conway, N.H.

Subtract Rowe from the list and Shaw might be the surname most synonymous with the storied short track race. D.J.’s father, Dale, was runner-up the year Dave Dion won his third in 1992. He also finished fourth in 1998.

A cousin, Andy, took home third-place money in 2000. An uncle, Henry, qualified multiple times in the 1970s and ’80s.

So, yes, it’s a name synonymous with “almost,” a trend 24-year-old D.J. hopes to overturn for all time on Sunday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.

“I went to my first race when I was two weeks old. I wasn’t a year old probably the first time I went to the 250,” Shaw said. “It would be nice. I definitely want to have a good run for the family and the team and the owners.”

Driving for Julio and Rita Miglioli of Quebec, Shaw is second in PASS North points.

He launched the spring winning streak with a last-lap pass to win the PASS South Easter Bunny 150 at legendary Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Shaw rode that momentum to North victories at Star Speedway in Epping, N.H., Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee Jonction, Quebec, and White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H.

“It seemed like we could do no wrong. Once we got on a roll, we started to clip them off,” Shaw said. “Four third-mile and quarter-mile bullrings right in a row, and similar set-ups. Oxford and Beech Ridge (in Scarborough) were kind of our bread-and-butter before, but it seems like this year it’s the opposite.”

Shaw stumbled only slightly at the start of June, finishing second to Johnny Clark at Speedway 660 in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

From there, it was north to Autodrome Montmagny in Quebec, another track with tight quarters that should have been in Shaw’s wheelhouse. But when Shaw got ready to roll his car for driver introductions, the engine wouldn’t fire.

Thanks to the good graces of Canadian teammate Michael Lavoie — who purchased a car Shaw drove on a limited basis in 2013 — Shaw was able to take the green at the rear of the field and race all the way to sixth.

The struggles continued when Shaw’s car broke a left front shock and finished 22nd, three laps down to winner Joey Doiron, in the July 5 race at Beech Ridge.

“I’m a little disappointed that we faltered a week before the biggest race, but we’re pretty confident that we had a specific issue,” Shaw said. “It’s usually in our routine to try a few different shock options every week, and for the first time we didn’t. I had every last thing the same as Doiron, and it showed how good and solid his car was. Everything except the most important corner and most important piece of our set-up, so that was disappointing.”

So does Shaw have momentum? Or is he trying to regain it?

For all the success Mike Rowe, Travis Benjamin and Johnny Clark have enjoyed at Oxford and in marathon races past, it’s still tough not to put Shaw at the top of the would-be winners list.

“I’m flattered to be a favorite,” Shaw said. “I’m pretty optimistic going into it. Anybody has a shot at it. It’s all going to depend on what the car does on Sunday.”

Shaw has attempted only three previous 250s, qualifying twice.

He finished 27th in the final late model edition of 2012, then had a shot to win in 2013 … perhaps until Oxford’s version of Indy’s age-old Andretti Jinx reared its head.

“I made some stupid moves last year, so I definitely don’t want to do that again,” Shaw said. “We played the strategy right. We got four tires with 80 laps to go and were the first one out of the pits. We had a pretty good shot at it, I felt, but I ended up behind a car that was four laps down. I basically just panicked and tried to get out from behind him as quickly as I could and made a three-wide move that didn’t work. I looked like an idiot.”

Shaw nursed his car home to 17th place.

D.J.’s earliest memories of the 250 are Dale and Andy’s top-five finishes, both during Ralph Nason’s three-year domination of the race.

“They were fast, but he was almost impossible to beat,” Shaw said of Nason.

He honed his own craft in go-karts before storming onto the scene at 17 with a win over Mike Rowe and Wayne Helliwell Jr. in Wiscasset Raceway’s Coastal 200.

It was his first time competing at the track. Up to now, the $10,000 payday is the largest of his career.

“That’s probably the biggest memory in my career,” Shaw said. “It would be great to win the 250. I try not to think about what it would be like to win it. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I don’t want to let the atmosphere of it get in my head. I want to look at it like another race, and after you get that last set of tires, it’s only that many laps.”

From the Shaw family perspective, he just wants to be the first to lead the last.


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