Shirley Defends His Crown in Tour Opener

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KANKAKEE, IL — June 13, 2019 — Defending DIRTcar Summer Nationals Champion Brian Shirley kicked off this year’s Hell Tour in true champ fashion, leading all but the first lap of the Feature to score his 20th all-time Summer Nationals win and first-ever win at Kankakee County Speedway. 


With his $5,000 check secured, the Chatham, IL driver commended the track for making it easy on him. “It’s got that old characteristic of dirt that makes things better,” he said. “It’s a little easier on the equipment.”


After qualifying third in his flight and winning his Heat to line up second in the Feature, Shirley stole the lead from Frank Heckenast Jr on lap two of the tour opener and went on to lead the remaining 38 laps. Meanwhile, Heckenast fell back to third but regained second on a lap 18 restart — car trouble for Shannon Babbs — leaving Fast Qualifier Rusty Schlenk to settle for third. The McClure, OH driver started the night with a 14.110-second lap around the quarter-mile.


Completing the top five were Jason Feger and Ryan Unzicker, claiming the Hard Charger Award after having advanced thirteen positions.


Babb drew two cautions during the 40-lap feature — on lap six and lap 18 — due to electrical issues, and was forced to leave the field after the second. “The gauges went out, and I had no power,” he said. While the crew was still working to find the issue on the 18 car, they were yet determined to continue the tour to Sycamore Speedway as planned.


The intensity was high at Kankakee County Speedway after rain claimed the original kickoff at Peoria Speedway the night prior — and despite the previous year’s champion taking the prize, the night was not without its surprises as several strong contenders — Babb, Dennis Erb Jr, and last weekend’s Dirt Late Model Dream winner Brandon Sheppard— experienced unrecoverable setbacks. Twenty-nine DIRTcar Late Models checked in with 38 UMP Modifieds.


The DIRTcar Summer Nationals advances to the Sycamore Speedway in Maple Park, IL on Friday June 14th, 2019. For the latest news follow @SummerNationals on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t miss a single lap of action with a DIRTVision Late Model Fast Pass Powered by DirtonDirt for only $39.00 a month! Visit to get in on the action.


Late Model Feature (40 Laps) – 1. 3S-Brian Shirley [2]; 2. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, [1]; 3. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk [4]; 4. 25-Jason Feger [8]; 5. 24-Ryan Unzicker [18]; 6. 21-Billy Moyer [11]; 7. 32-Bobby Pierce [16]; 8. 89-Mike Spatola [5]; 9. B12-Kevin Weaver [17]; 10. 4G-Bob Gardner [9]; 11. 87-Walker Arthur [7]; 12. 11-Gordy Gundaker [14]; 13. 31AUS-Paul Stubber [12]; 14. 9-Lyle Zanker [15]; 15. 13-David Jaeger [13]; 16. 25H-Chuck Hummer [19]; 17. 28-Dennis Erb, [6]; 18. 2-Allen Murray [10]; 19. 25W-Allen Weisser [22]; 20. 14T-Glen Thompson [21]; 21. 18-Shannon Babb [3]; 22. 15-Matt Shannon [20]; Hard Charger:24-Ryan Unzicker[+13]


Qualifying Flight-A – 1. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk, 14.11; 2. 32-Bobby Pierce, 14.236; 3. 3S-Brian Shirley, 14.348; 4. 33H-Billy Hough, 14.783; 5. 2-Allen Murray, 14.794; 6. 15-Matt Shannon, 14.94; 7. 13-David Jaeger, 15.108; 8. 87-Walker Arthur, 15.424; 9. P3-Truck Robertson, 16.142; 10. 67SR-Scott Robertson, 16.556 


Qualifying Flight-B – 1. 21-Billy Moyer, 14.191; 2. 99JR-Frank Heckenast,, 14.193; 3. 25-Jason Feger, 14.233; 4. 89-Mike Spatola, 14.494; 5. B12-Kevin Weaver, 14.503; 6. 24-Ryan Unzicker, 14.523; 7. 11-Gordy Gundaker, 14.746; 8. 25W-Allen Weisser, 14.945; 9. 14T-Glen Thompson, 15.612; 10. 25H-Chuck Hummer, 16.458 


Qualifying Flight-C – 1. 18-Shannon Babb, 14.608; 2. 31AUS-Paul Stubber, 14.712; 3. 9-Lyle Zanker, 14.852; 4. 28-Dennis Erb,, 15.012; 5. 4G-Bob Gardner, 15.167; 6. 11D-Brian Dively, 15.328; 7. 18M-Jimmy Miller, 16.475; 8. 30C-Josh Anderson, NT; 9. B5-Brandon Sheppard, NT