SPRINGFIELD, MO – Earlier this week, Frank Heckenast Jr. was about ready to give up his bid for the 2020 DIRTcar Summer Nationals title after a few frustrating nights on the tour. Fast forward just a few days, and he parks it in Victory Lane.
Heckenast certainly made the most of his first-ever visit to the Springfield Raceway Thursday night, catching and passing points leader Brian Shirley just after halfway and hanging on for his first Summer Nationals victory of 2020 in the 40-lap contest.
Make no mistake, the 2014 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series Rookie of the Year had to work for this one. Heckenast placed fourth in his Heat Race, which set him 11th on the Feature starting grid. But he and the rest of his Jim Weber Motorsports team had set the car up perfectly to cruise around the bottom and were determined to make up the ground.
At the drop of the green, Heckenast took to the bottom of the super-racy quarter mile and went to work, advancing all the way to fifth place before the race was even 10 laps in.
Back out front, Shirley was in command, putting some distance between he and second-place Dennis Erb Jr. A caution on Lap 20 restacked the field and lined Heckenast up in third. Just three circuits later and he was passing for second.
A final restart just past halfway proved to be all Heckenast needed to get by leader Shirley, as he zoomed by on the bottom and led the field back around to the checkers to collect $5,000 and the third Summer Nationals victory of his career.
Since the incident with he and Bobby Pierce last Tuesday night at Plymouth Speedway, Heckenast said he’d been down on himself a bit. But after a great runner-up finish on Sunday night at Randolph County, the Frankfort, IL-native seemed to have his mojo rolling again. Combine that with a few much-needed days off this week, and it’s safe to say the #99jr team is back in business.
“I told my wife that I was thinking about getting off tour, and she looked at me and said, ‘well, you’re not a quitter, so get your ass to the shop,’” Heckenast said in the Summit Racing Equipment Wrap-Up after the race.
“We went down on my favorite motor, my favorite car got wrecked in that Plymouth [Speedway] deal…. It’s so hard to say focused and stay positive. But over the winter and last year, it was my goal to come and run this.”
Lots of local talent was able to gather up the magic to earn themselves spots among the top-10, including Mason Oberkramer (2nd); Jesse Stovall (4th); Scott Crigler (7th) and Dewayne Keifer (10th). Shirley had another great points night and crossed in third while World of Outlaws regular Erb rounded-out the top-five. Tim Lance had the best run of his season in sixth, coming from 18th on the grid.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Model action continues Friday night at the Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, MO – 50 laps and $10,000 on the line in Round #13 of the 2020 Hell Tour campaign. Catch all the action LIVE on DIRTVision!
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (click for full results)
Feature (40 Laps) 1. 99JR-Frank Heckenast [$5,000]; 2. 93-Mason Oberkramer [$2,500]; 3. 3S-Brian Shirley [$1,700]; 4. OO-Jesse Stovall [$1,400]; 5. 28-Dennis Erb [$1,200]; 6. 48-Tim Lance [$1,000]; 7. 12-Scott Crigler [$800]; 8. 25-Jason Feger [$700]; 9. 1-Jim Moon [$600]; 10. O-Dewayne Keifer [$550]; 11. 16-Rusty Griffaw [$500]; 12. 86-Kyle Beard [$500]; 13. 6-Daryn Klein [$500]; 14. 14W-Dustin Walker [$500]; 15. 7J-Ryan Johnson [$500]; 16. 4G-Bob Gardner [$500]; 17. 21-Billy Moyer [$500]; 18. 56-Tony Jackson [$500]; 19. 1V-Will Vaught [$500]; 20. 15-Payton Looney [$500]; 21. 48L-Tim Lance [$500]; 22. 36-Logan Martin [$500] Hard Charger: 48-Tim Lance[+12]