A.E. Blair Photography
CANTON, IL — June 20, 2019 — Defending DIRTcar Summer Nationals Champion Brian Shirley claimed his first-ever victory at the Spoon River Speedway in Canton, Illinois. The Squirrel led flag-to-flag in a thriller from the outside of the front-row to claim the $5,000.00 prize and become the 18th different winner at Spoon River Speedway in tour history.
“It was just our night tonight. Things fell into the right place, and my crew just did an awesome job setting it up for me,” said Shirley in Victory Lane as he scores his 21s Hell Tour victory.
The 24th visit to the 3/8-mile clay oval didn’t disappoint as fans packed the stands to witness a showcase round eight of the Hell Tour. Shannon Babb set the front row with Brian Shirley for the 40-lap feature. Shirley grabbed the lead on the exit of two with Babb underneath him until a caution flew a half lap into the Feature. Shirley played his cards smart on the complete restart, jumping to the lead as he rushed to the bottom entering three and four.
While Shirley jumped to a Spoon River Speedway straightaway lead, Babb fell to second with Tyler Erb, Frank Heckenast Jr., and Tanner English behind him. The top five encountered lapped traffic, and a caution flew on lap nineteen for Babb, who suffered a right-rear flat tire and surrended his runner-up position. Jason Feger inherited a top five after Babb went to the rear.
Erb rushed the bottom on the restart, trying to get passed Shirley, but Shirley was to fast up top. Heckenast Jr. tackled the bottom of the speedway, making enough room to side-step Erb for second. They battled side-by-side for a couple rounds, a tenth of a second separated at the line. Heckenast looked to be winning the battle until Erb got back around him in the closing laps of the Feature.
While the battle for the runner-up honors took place, multiple battles ensued in the top five between Tanner English, Jason Feger, Rodney Melvin, and Bobby Pierce. Feger lived up to his nickname“the High-Side Hustler” tonight as he passed multiple cars on the outside until mechanical issues ended his night early. Feger pulled off with ten laps to go. Pierce and Melvin battled for fifth in the closing stages of the feature as they swapped positions multiple times. Pierce, from the seventeenth starting position, finished fifth over Melvin. English held his own race to finish fourth.
DIRTcar Summer Nationals action continues Friday, June 21 at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, IL. Follow @summernationals on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news, and be sure to tune into DIRTVision.com to watch every lap LIVE with your DIRTVision Fast Pass, powered by DirtonDirt.
Late Model Feature (40 Laps) – 1. 3S-Brian Shirley ; 2. 1T-Tyler Erb ; 3. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, ; 4. 96-Tanner English ; 5. 32-Bobby Pierce ; 6. 33-Rodney Melvin ; 7. 25W-Allen Weisser ; 8. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk ; 9. 77M-Kevin Weaver ; 10. 24-Ryan Unzicker ; 11. 40B-Kyle Bronson ; 12. 15V-Kolby Vandenbergh ; 13. 18-Shannon Babb ; 14. 4G-Bob Gardner ; 15. 31AUS-Paul Stubber ; 16. 16-Rusty Griffaw ; 17. 25H-Chuck Hummer ; 18. 25-Jason Feger ; 19. 30-Mike Glasscock ; 20. 87-Walker Arthur ; 21. 21-Billy Moyer ; 22. 75-Billy Drake ; Hard Charger: 32-Bobby Pierce[+12]