Nine minutes and 52 seconds is all Brian Shirley needed to assert his dominance over the star-studded DIRTcar Summer Nationals field at Farmer City Raceway.
Shirley, the four-time Hell Tour champion from Chatham, IL, put on a clinic Friday night, leading all 40 laps of the caution-free Feature en route to his fourth victory of the summer and 42nd of his career.
A stacked field of 44 DIRTcar Late Models lined the pit area for the third race of Week 4. Shirley won his Heat Race, which set him up to redraw the pole for the Feature. He took full advantage of his starting spot at the drop of the green and immediately jumped to the early lead over Dennis Erb Jr. and Ryan Unzicker.
Unzicker, winner on Thursday night at Macon Speedway, had a fast car on the bottom around the 1/4-mile track and got by Erb Jr. for second on Lap 14. While Shirley ripped around the top side and began to sort his way through lapped traffic, Unzicker began to close the gap behind him.
Within three laps, Unzicker had completely erased Shirley’s lead and nearly pulled even with him at one point, looking for a way around to take the top spot. Shirley acknowledged that somebody was knocking on the door and quickly cracked the whip.
“That was the biggest nerve wrack of it all, to be honest,” Shirley said. “I didn’t know who was in second, I just knew, at times, second was right there.”
After a few smart moves in traffic, Shirley was able to shake Unzicker’s wrath and sped away, stretching his lead out to over a full second again as the laps continued to wind down.
“I was more worried if I picked the right lane coming up on lapped traffic,” Shirley said. “I wasn’t worried about how good my car was. I felt like my car was good enough to win the race. Luckily, when I did get by them guys, I got to get back into my rhythm and get back in the lane I was running.”
From there on out, Shirley was never challenged again. He completed all 40 circuits around and crossed under the checkered flag in an elapsed time of nine minutes and 52 seconds to claim his second career Summer Nationals Feature win at Farmer City.
Week 4 of the 38th annual DIRTcar Summer Nationals continues Saturday, July 8 with a visit to Highland Speedway in Highland, IL. Get a ticket at the gate or stream all the action live on DIRTVision.
Feature (40 Laps): 1. 3S-Brian Shirley; 2. 24-Ryan Unzicker; 3. 96V-Tanner English; 4. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 5. 12-Ashton Winger; 6. 25-Jason Feger; 7. 33-Mike Harrison; 8. 42-Mckay Wenger; 9. 26H-Kyle Hammer; 10. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 11. 18-Shannon Babb; 12. 4G-Bob Gardner; 13. 91-Rusty Schlenk; 14. 22H-Dustin Hodges; 15. 31AUS-Kye Blight; 16. 33H-Roben Huffman; 17. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 18. 21-Billy Moyer Sr; 19. 1M-Mike Mataragas; 20. B12-Kevin Weaver; 21. 29-Spencer Diercks; 22. 162-Logan Moody