By Alli Collis
QUINCY, Ill. (July 3) — Overtaking race leader Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., on lap 15 of 40, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., fought back multiple challenges from Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., to score his fourth straight UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory at Quincy Raceway.
“Luckily, Plymouth was the only track I hadn’t been to and the last three have been really good tracks of mine,” Sheppard said. “The past couple of nights have been close to home and it’s just cool to finally get the family to see me race and see me win at that.”
Starting on the pole of Monday’s main event, Babb led the first few laps, falling to third-starting Bronson on the fourth circuit. Bronson maintained his lead through the early running, with Sheppard moving in to the second-place spot on lap seven.
As the front of the field approaching lapped traffic on lap 13, Sheppard began closing in on the race leader, edging ahead of Bronson at the line to take the lead two laps later. But the race was far from over.
With a yellow flag waving just as Sheppard moved to the front of the field, Babb used the restart to his advantage, powering under Bronson down the backstretch to run in second.
Sheppard continued to hold his lead at the halfway mark, but Babb, Bronson and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., were not far behind. Babb challenged Sheppard for the lead, nearly pulling ahead on a lap-25 restart.
The pair of Illinois drivers battled side-by-side as the race neared the checkers, with Babb pulling ahead down the backstretch on lap 29, only to have Sheppard edge back ahead out of turn four to lead lap 30. Sheppard pulled away in the final circuits to earn a $5,000 payday.
“I didn’t see any gap,” Sheppard said. “My crew guy never gave me a gap the whole race, so I was elbows up the whole time. The top was the only place where I could make consistent laps, so I was just kind of running as hard as I could, trying to get away, but I couldn’t ever get away. But to have the carburator mess up and still have a good enough car to get the job done … I can’t say enough about Rocket Chassis.”
Babb settled for a runner-up finish, with Pierce running third. Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., advanced from the ninth starting spot to finish fourth, with Bronson slipping back to round out the top five.
“It was really good racing with (Sheppard) tonight,” Babb said. “I think everybody’s cars were pretty good. The track pretty treacherous, had a lot of holes, a lot of obstacles out there. A guy didn’t know where to run. In that first turn Bronson got by us. I went down there and tried to avoid the holes and he hit the holes just right and drove by us. I thought I was racing (Sheppard) and realized it was Bronson. We had our hands full out there tonight. Just happy to have a good finish.”
Notes: Sheppard notched his 15th career Summernationals victory. … The race was slowed by four cautions. … The first yellow flag waved on lap four when Brian Shirley slow on the frontstretch. … A heavily damaged Tyler Erb slowed to draw a caution on lap 15. … A yellow flag flew on lap 21 when Rusty Schlenk slowed with a flat tire. … Brent Larson got sideways on the backstretch to draw a caution on lap 25. … Third-place finisher Bobby Pierce was the winner of last year’s Hell Tour stop at Quincy.
FEATURE: 1. Brandon Sheppard; 2. Shannon Babb; 3. Bobby Pierce; 4. Gordy Gundaker; 5. Kyle Bronson; 6. Ryan Unzicker; 7. Bob Gardner; 8. Rob Toland; 9. Brent Larson; 10. Billy Moyer Jr.; 11. Justin Reed; 12. Dustin Nobbe; 13. Rusty Schlenk; 14. Mark Burgtorf; 15. Rodney Sanders; 16. Tyler Erb; 17. Austin Theiss; 18. Dustin Griffin; 19. Brian Shirley; 20. Denny Woodworth; 22. Jason Perry.