By Robert Holman
DirtonDirt.com weekend editorDirtonDirt.com weekend editor
HAUBSTADT, Ind. — Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, completed a perfect night with a 40-lap flag-to-flag victory in the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals feature at Tri-State Speedway. From the pole, Erb led every circuit to top Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill. He earned $5,000 for his first-ever Summernationals win in his Tri-State debut.
Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., finished fourth, while Dennis Erb Jr., of Carpentersville, Ill., rallied from 11th to place fifth.
Becoming the first Texan to win on the long-running Midwestern tour, Erb set the fast time, won his heat race and rolled to his first Hell Tour victory.
“It’s huge. I’m a huge fan of the sport. This is probably the next best thing to winning a Lucas or an Outlaws race, and hopefully we can get one of those done,” Erb said. “Man, it’s awesome, I have a Shannon Babb T-shirt in my closet. It’s pretty cool. I’ve watched all these guys and I’ve raced with them and definitely gotten a lot better behind the wheel and it’s paying off.”
While half of Sunday’s field for the 10th stop on the annual Hell Tour’s visit to the quarter-mile Haubstadt oval made a four-hour overnight trek from Fairbury, Ill., where the series competed on Saturday night, Erb and his team traveled more than twice as far. A World of Outlaws regular who had been competing at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., on Friday and Saturday, Erb made a nearly nine-hour overnight haul to enter his first-ever Summernationals race.
“It’s been a long 24 hours, but it was definitely worth it,” Erb said. “I’ve been racing all them Outlaw races and stuff and I feel like I should’ve already won one of them by now. This is definitely just as good competition with guys like Bobby and Babb and Moyer and all them guys. I don’t know … this is probably my biggest win. Not money-wise, you know what I mean, but it means the most so far.
“I finally got everything to go my way. I hit the redraw right and won my heat and it all paid off.”
Erb pulled the field into turn one at the start with Babb, Pierce and Moyer in tow. As he ran up to the cushion, Babb diamonded the corner, turning left under Erb to grab the lead heading down the backstretch. Babb’s slider into turn three carried him well up the track however, allowing Erb to cut back under him and retake the lead as they completed the first lap. He never gave up the top spot, pacing the field for the remaining 39 laps to earn his victory.
“I was kinda hoping that (Babb) couldn’t get a good run. He couldn’t beat me into (turn) one was the main thing,” Erb said, “because if he could get the momentum, he probably might of had a really good shot at this race. When he drove in there hard, I just stuck to the top and was able to turn down and get back by him. Jacob was telling me as long as I wasn’t hittin’ the wall and climbing it, like when I got tight those couple of times, I was maintaining a decent lead. It all worked out, man, that’s all I can say.”
Babb followed in Erb’s tire tracks up around the wall, while Pierce took a more unfamiliar approach — at least for him — down around the hub.
“We’ve run a lot of races here and I don’t think he’s got a lot of experience at this place, but he was in the right position,” said Babb. “I knew on that start I tried to get him and they’d reworked the track and watered it and it was slimy. I shoved and he was able to get back by me. It was definitely top dominant.”
As Erb powered around the top, it didn’t take Babb long to realize he would need some help in the form of either lapped traffic or a bobble by the leader if he was going to win his second straight Summernationals feature.
“The middle came in there for a little bit and I seen Bobby down there in (turns) three and four and I thought if we got to traffic I might (have a chance),” said Babb. “My car was pretty good down there, but I was only gonna be able to do it in traffic, a high side slingshot down the straightaways, carrying a lot of momentum.
“I was hoping he might get in too deep and shove and might open the door for me, but when you roll in the middle, you just don’t have any exit here. What we was hoping for was for him to maybe make the wrong move or whatever, but he did a good job and kept her up front. Congrats to him.”
Like Babb, the fifth-starting Pierce was hoping to be able make a move in lapped traffic. He wanted to see the race stay green in the second half, but a lap 28 caution derailed his plans.
“Me and Babb and him were finally having a good race there when we had that long green-flag run,” said Pierce. “I was really catching him in lapped traffic. I don’t know what it was. I think his tires were going away on the long green run. Then on those cautions they’d come back in and really take off.
“Tyler would really take off and in like 10 laps me and Babb would kinda catch him back, but he was driving the cushion like it was a huge race to win, like $100,000,” Pierce added. “But you know, he snuck in here and got him one. I’m proud of him for that. He drove a heck of a race.”
FEATURE: 1.Tyler Erb; 2. Shannon Babb; 3. Bobby Pierce; 4. Billy Moyer; 5. Dennis Erb Jr.; 6. Billy Moyer Jr. 7. Bob Gardner; 8. Brent Larson; 9. Steve Casebolt; 10. Gordy Gundaker; 11. Ryan Unzicker; 12. Chase Junghans; 13. Jeremy Sneed; 14. Rob Mayea; 15. Paul Stubber; 16. Blake Spencer; 17. Jose Parga; 18. Scott Geaschel; 19. Kent Robinson; 20. Caleb Ashby; 21. Rusty Griffaw; 22. Dustin Nobbe.