FARMER CITY, IL — The hot streak that Shannon Babb used to kick off this year’s DIRTcar Summer Nationals has cooled about as quickly as the Illinois weather. After winning three of the first four races and five of the tour’s first nine, the Moweaqua, IL, driver has been on an equally paltry streak over the course of the last five races.
Friday that icy patch continued at Farmer City Raceway, where it was Hall-of-Famer Billy Moyer who took advantage of Babb’s latest tough break to win his series-leading 99th career Summer Nationals main event. Moyer, of Batesville, AR, inherited the lead when Babb slowed with a flat right rear tire during a lap 34 caution. Moyer then led the final six laps, pulling away from Brian Shirley of Chatham, IL, for a $10,000 triumph.
Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., finished third, while Kent Robinson of Bloomington, IN, was fourth. Tim Manville of Highland, IL, completed the top five, while Babb rallied back from 13th to six over the final few circuits.
Moyer’s victory comes after the 60-year-old driver spent the last seven days away the tour. Moyer headed back to his shop in Arkansas following a grinding crash at LaSalle (IL) Speedway on June 30. He returned to the circuit fresh, which often spells trouble for his competitors.
“Its what it’s all about is you can’t give up. It’s just so nice to be able to get back home,” said Moyer. “You know we was gone from before the Dream (on June 9 at Eldora Speedway). I used (C.J.) Rayburn’s shop (in Whiteland, Ind.). We wasn’t really out in the parking lot, but it’s not the same as being … it’s just hard to explain. When you can be at your own place and get in your own bed, and even shower, it makes a big difference. Just to go home and get rejuvenated a little bit.”
Apparently a rejuvenated Moyer is a fast Moyer. Starting third after winning his heat, Moyer battled series standouts Babb and Shirley early in the 40-lap feature before finally settling in and taking the lead from Babb with an outside pass on lap six. Babb stayed in Moyer’s tracks for the next 18 laps before sliding to the bottom of the track, where he repeatedly worked the low line until he was able slip in front of Moyer to take the lead on lap 27.
He stayed there until a caution for Frank Heckenast Jr. slowed the pace on lap 34. During the caution Babb knew he had a problem. He finally slowed on the front stretch and made the hard left turn into the infield work area, handing the lead to Moyer.
“We had a really good race going. Early with Brian and then with Billy,” said Babb. “I just followed Billy for a little bit. And just darn the luck again. I had a tire go down. I felt it start getting tight. I’m not too sure Billy’s didn’t start going away, getting tight on him. Anyhow, you get on a string of bad luck, you get on a string of bad luck. At least I do.”
With Babb out of the picture — or at least way back in 13th place — Moyer easily held off Shirley, winning his third Summer Nationals race of the season by 2.016 seconds.
“We hit pretty good on the setup all night long, in the heat race and in the main,” said Moyer. “I was a little bit skeptical if they done the right thing to the track or not when they went out there (and reworked it before the feature). We’re all ready to race and then they kinda gave us a different race track to race on, but it was the same for everybody. Probably a good thing I didn’t do anything to (the car). I’d probably messed something up on the car if I’d been able to mess with something, so we left it alone how it was. The track kinda come back around the way it was anyway. So it all worked out good.”
Moyer wasn’t certain he would’ve been able to reclaim the lead from Babb.
“We hit everything pretty darned good and he got there and got by me,” said Moyer. “I was gonna have to get my elbows up and get back after it. It would’ve been tough. I don’t know. I’m just happy some things went our way. We run good. It ain’t like we got it give to us. We earned it.”
Shirley, who used his runner-up finish to pad his Summer Nationals points lead, agreed with Moyer in that the track was pretty decent for the feature, even though it wasn’t exactly what he planned for.
“The track was a little choppy tonight,” Shirley said. “I really thought it would stay more choppy and actually when they went out there and worked it a little bit it actually made the race track better. We was a little off on the setup tonight, but thankfully that late restart there we was able to dig hard and get the best we could (by) coming up and getting second.
“I honestly set up for it to be a little more choppy and I was just a little looser than I wanted to be out there. But all in all, we fought hard and we was gonna get whatever finish we could get and go on to tomorrow.”
Feature Finish: Billy Moyer, Brian Shirley, Jason Feger, Kent Robinson, Tim Manville, Shannon Babb, Kevin Weaver, Rusty Schlenk, Allen Weisser, Mike Mataragas, Paul Stubber, Bob Gardener, Gordy Gundaker, Frank Heckenast Jr, Jose Parga, Taylor Scheffler, Brian Diveley, Mike Spatola, Billy Drake, Freddie Carpenter, Russ Adams, Ryan Unzicker
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals rolls on to Highland Speedway (IL) on July 7 for night 5 of Independence Week presented by FK Rod Ends. See the complete schedule at the helltour.com/schedule. Follow @SummerNationals on Twitter or Facebook for updates during and between race seasons. The DIRTcar Late Models will be joined by the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds as the Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals runs parallel to the DIRTcar Summer Nationals. Information on the Modifieds can be found at modifiednationals.com.