Shannon Babb won his first DIRTcar Summer Nationals Feature in 1999 at the dawn of his legendary racing career. Fast forward 23 years later, he now stands alone atop the mountain as the winningest driver in Hell Tour history.
It couldn’t have been more fitting for the four-time champion, breaking through for his 101st career Summer Nationals Feature win in front of his legion of fans, friends and family at Fayette County Speedway – the same place he won his first-ever Feature as a young up-and-comer.
Last year’s celebration of a milestone 100 Summer Nationals wins was sweet, but 101 means even more.
“It knocks it out of the park, really,” said Babb, of Moweaqua, IL. “It means a ton also because we’re right here at a favorite racetrack of mine. My wife and my girls are here tonight, my in-laws and everybody was here.”
A multi-decade veteran of the sport, Babb recalls the days of battling tooth-and-nail for every spot on the track, every win, and every championship against another on of Dirt Late Model racing’s all-time greats, Billy Moyer. With the win Thursday night, he now surpasses the six-time champ for most wins in tour history.
“It blows my mind thinking about all these races,” Babb said. “We might’ve won 101, but there’s probably been 500 of them that we didn’t win that we just got our asses beat at.”
To do it, Babb first had to go through Moyer’s son, Billy Moyer Jr., sneaking past the Batesville, AR-native on the bottom as he got caught-up in lapped traffic on Lap 14 of the 50-lap main event.
From there, Babb played strong defense the rest of the race, holding off players like Moyer, Tanner English and Brian Shirley through multiple restarts and lapped traffic.
“When I got to the lapped cars, the bottom of Turns 1-2 was really good and 3-4 was a little iffy,” Babb said. “You really just don’t know where to go, and I resorted to just staying on the gas, trying to bounce off the cushion and go forward as much as I could. Use the bank a little bit.”
His biggest challenge came on the final restart with three-to-go, when English got a great launch out of Turn 4 and nearly pulled even with Babb into Turn 1. But the Moweaqua Missile held strong on the top, ripping the lip around the quarter-mile to stay ahead of English’s Riggs Motorsports #81E and secure the victory.
“I thought it was a fantastic race,” Babb said. “Tanner, little Billy [Moyer Jr.] and them guys were all over me. We were just fortunate to get to the front early and be able to hold them off.”
English finished second, less than a second behind Babb at the line, while Bobby Pierce completed a remarkable drive from the tail after blowing a tire early to finish third. Trevor Gundaker matched his season-best finish with the Hell Tour in fourth; Moyer Jr. held onto fifth.
The Summer Nationals returns to action Friday night at Paducah International Raceway in Paducah, KY, for another $10,000-to-win showdown. If you can’t be at the track, stream it live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 50 Laps | 00:23:17.752
- 18-Shannon Babb; 2. 81E-Tanner English; 3. 32-Bobby Pierce; 4. 11T-Trevor Gundaker; 5. 21-Billy Moyer Jr; 6. 3S-Brian Shirley; 7. 17X-Michael Kloos; 8. 25-Jason Feger; 9. 14G-Joe Godsey; 10. F1-Payton Freeman; 11. 15-Christian Hanger; 12. 26M-Brent McKinnon; 13. T4-Adam Tischauser; 14. 30-Mark Voigt; 15. 16-Rusty Griffaw; 16. 23NZ-Mick Quin; 17. 14R-Jeff Roth; 18. 10-Daryn Klein; 19. 14-Paul Kuper; 20. 4D-Doug Tye; 21. 10J-Jordan Bauer; 22. 15F-Richard Frost