Brendon Bauman photo
By Ruben Mireles
FAIRBURY, IL — June 22, 2019 — Two-time and defending DIRTcar Summer Nationals Champion Brian Shirley is on a roll, but Saturday night in the 30th Summer Nationals event at Fairbury Speedway Frank Heckenast Jr. kept the pressure on him.
Shirley, of Chatham, IL, was able to fend off Heckenast to win his 22nd all-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals feature and get his second win at Fairbury Speedway in tour history, this one worth $10,000.
The 50-lap feature started with outside pole sitter Kyle Bronson leading early as Shirley gave chase. Bronson surged to a straightaway lead until he jumped the cushion in turn four on Lap 13. Bronson had a big enough lead to remain out front, but Shirley closed the gap, trying every groove on the speedway to get around Bronson. Their battle for the lead allowed Gordy Gundaker to inch closer and make it a three-car battle for the lead.
Eventually, on Lap 18, Shirley went to the top to get around Bronson, then Gundaker went to the bottom to slide past Bronson into second. As Shirley continued to pound the cushion, Gundaker was fast on the bottom and it looked as if he would get Shirley, but a lapped car held him up.
Once a caution flew, it cleared the traffic and Gundaker couldn’t capitalize on the restart with Shirley proving the top was fastest.
Frank Heckenast Jr. later jumped to second after getting around Shannon Babb, Tanner English and Gundaker. Shirley continued his march on the top, but left the door open a couple times as he moved to the bottom. Heckenast ramped up the pressure and caught Shirley’s #3s machine and attempted slide jobs in turns three and four in the closing laps, but it wasn’t enough as Shirley took the checkers for his third DIRTcar Summer Nationals Feature victory this season.
Late Model Feature (50 Laps) – 1. 3S-Brian Shirley ; 2. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, ; 3. 96-Tanner English ; 4. 32-Bobby Pierce ; 5. 18-Shannon Babb ; 6. 11-Gordy Gundaker ; 7. 10-Scott Schmitt ; 8. 77M-Kevin Weaver ; 9. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk ; 10. 89-Mike Spatola ; 11. 1W-Donny Walden ; 12. 42-McKay Wenger ; 13. 25W-Allen Weisser ; 14. 22B-Jonathan Brauns ; 15. 25-Jason Feger ; 16. 24-Ryan Unzicker ; 17. 40B-Kyle Bronson ; 18. 30-Mike Glasscock ; 19. 7R-Kent Robinson ; 20. 11H-Jeff Herzog ; 21. 31AUS-Paul Stubber ; 22. 75-Billy Drake ; KSE Hard Charger Award: 18-Shannon Babb [+12]