DJ Shaw leads the field during a Pro All Stars Series race at Oxford Plains Speedway in 2018. Shaw can clinch a fifth PASS championship this weekend. Brewster Burns file photo

D.J. Shaw might be one of the most underrated race car drivers of this generation, and that’s just fine with the four-time Pro All Stars Series champion. What’s not fine with him is that the family business doesn’t receive the accolades he feels it rightly deserves thanks to his success.

On the cusp of a fifth PASS title this weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway, Shaw enters the final two 150-lap events of the season with an 80-point lead over Oxford 250 winner Johnny Clark. The series joins the ACT Late Model Tour for a doubleheader at Oxford this weekend, with the final race of the year back at Oxford on Oct. 24.

“When I win, I feel like people generally say things like, ‘Nobody gets the stuff you have,’ “ Shaw said Thursday, following a day of testing at Oxford in preparation for this weekend. “When Jeff Taylor wins, it’s like everybody decides they have to have a Distance (Racing) car now.”

Shaw, the son of Dale Shaw, works full-time at the family business — Dale Shaw Race Cars. The chassis is outnumbered in the PASS pit area most weekends by Distance and Port City Racecars, but that hasn’t meant the Shaws haven’t found success. With his win in the series’ most recent event at Thompson (Connecticut) Speedway Motorsports Park last weekend, Shaw now has 20 career PASS North wins. Those 20 victories rank fourth on the all-time list, and his four championships tie him for second all-time with Ben Rowe behind only Clark’s six.

Were Shaw to clinch his third straight series title this weekend — and fourth in the last five years — the 30-year-old driver would trail only Clark and his six championships.

“I thought (the record six championships) would stand longer,” Clark said. “Maybe I need to start rethinking that. Really, over the last few years when I haven’t been running for points, it’s always been either D.J. or Travis (Benjamin).”

In addition to another PASS championship, Shaw also has the chance to make history this weekend. Shaw, of Center Conway, New Hampshire, is second in the ACT standings with only Sunday’s race remaining on the schedule.

Should he win the ACT title, he’d become the first driver in history to win both the PASS and ACT championships.

“The ACT thing is such a long shot,” Shaw said. “We just want to go there to win and don’t worry about a good points day. There’s only one way to go, and maybe you can get lucky and everything goes your way and at the end of it you’re the champion.”

Johnny Clark, bottom, and Jeff Taylor, top, jockey for position mid-way through the Oxford 250 in August as they negotiate through lapped traffic. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Clark hasn’t closed the door on adding to his PASS championship total over the next eight days, however. Though he concedes the difficulty of gaining 80 points in two races with the PASS points system (five points for a heat race victory, and just two points separating each finishing position in the feature), he is attempting to take carry his Oxford 250 victory momentum back to the .375-mile oval for the final two races of the year.

“If he has one bad day and we win both races, we’ve got a shot,” Clark said. “I don’t think I cared about (the championship) as much at the beginning of the season. I honestly didn’t see myself in a points battle or running for points anymore, but here we are.”

Vermonter Nick Sweet serves as case in point that anything can happen in the span of two races. Sweet has a series-high five wins, including three of the first four to begin the season, but finished 44th in the Oxford 250 and saw any chance of a first career PASS championship vanish.

“At 250 time, the tables turned. We took it more seriously after that,” Shaw said. “We entered the year not wanting to race for points, bouncing around here and there, and it seemed we were racing all the time at Oxford and White Mountain Motorsports Park, which are the two closest tracks to home. We just kind of fell into that.”

How seriously have they taken it?

For the first time in several years, Shaw tested at a track ahead of a race this week. Though he’s finished in the top 10 in 10 of the 12 races this season with eight top fives, he’s looking to snap an Oxford winless streak that dates back to the 2013 season finale.

“It’s hard to be that one guy on a given day,” said Shaw, who has finished in the top five in 51 percent of his PASS starts (88 times in 172 career races). “It seems like we’re really good at being second or third and just missing that one little thing to get us over the top. It’s a great problem to have, but you always want to be better.”

No matter if he emerges from this weekend with two more championships or none, Shaw remains one of the best racers in the Northeast still in the prime of his career.

“The stats are the stats,” Shaw said. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

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