FARMER CITY, Ill. — Taking advantage of his prime starting spot on a track with limited passing, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., led flag-to-flag at Farmer City Speedway to collect his fourth career UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory and first in a decade. With the Farmer City Speedway surface becoming uncharacteristically one-laned early in the main event Marlar showed patience in lapped traffic while hitting his marks as low as he could get around the 1/4-mile oval.
After taking the lead on the opening circuit, he cruised over the final 25 laps, winning by .188 of a second ahead of Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., as the leaders stayed content to simply ride behind the backmarkers in the waning laps. Marlar led by nearly two seconds early in the race and maintained a margin closer to one second until he closed in on the back of the field.
With no more room on the bottom and no traction on the outside, Moyer settled for second, while Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., finished third for the second night in a row. Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., finished fourth, with Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., rounding out the top five.
Each of the top four finishers were heat race winners on night when results during preliminary action keyed their success.
“The track was real dry. They tried to get it to where they could race a little better, but they just couldn’t,” said Marlar. “Too many cars tonight I think … a lot of classes. A lot of cars in the other classes. We got the lead and the car was awesome. We qualified good and won the heat. It was just one of those nights.”
The win for Marlar — which came exactly 10 years after his last Hell Tour victory on July 7, 2007 at Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway — was worth $10,000. Marlar’s other two series wins came in Missouri — at I-44 in Lebanon and I-55 in Pevely — and all three of his previous victories were in ’07 when he was a regular on the tour.
It’s unlikely that any of those wins a decade ago were as easy as Friday’s victory. Though it wasn’t handed to him on a platter, the southerner who’s used to racing on sunbaked tracks and the occasional less-than-favorable track surface, did what was necessary by qualifying in the top two of his group and then by winning his heat race. He then drew the pole in the redraw to get the inside track to victory — literally.
In the 50-lap feature, it was just a matter of maintaining the proper pace without abusing his tires.
“When I got to where I couldn’t hardly catch up to the lapped cars, I knew I was gonna win if I did’t give it away,” said Marlar. “So that actually was a good indicator for me where to be on the race track. But early in the race, I was really scanning a lot because, you know, we was really racing all over it. I was expecting the one groove to come in and luckily I seen it when it did and I got in it.”
Moyer tried in vain to find a way around the leader, but struggled to find enough grip at the top of the track to make an early pass.
“At the very start I tried to run around up there at that top, where I figured Mikey wanted to be, but there wasn’t much up there just loose crumbs,” said Moyer, who rejoined the series after a three-race break. “We kept searching around and he was a little bit better at times and then I kinda was a little bit better when I moved around there a little bit.”
Sheppard followed Gundaker for most of the race, but finally managed to get around him in the waning laps. As he headed toward the checkered flag, Sheppard threw a haymaker at Moyer, hoping his last-lap attempt could possible net a runner-up finish. Instead, he almost slipped back to fourth.
“I pushed there and I knew I was probably gonna knock the body off of it, but I thought what the heck I knew I won’t be racing this car for awhile so I was just gonna go for it,” Sheppard said of his effort to get by Moyer. “I wasn’t quite as close to him as I needed to be and I probably should’ve just stuck around the bottom. But whatever. I guess maybe I sold a T-shirt or two doing it, I don’t know. We came home with a third-place finish and had a pretty good car. I think if it hadn’t rubbered up we could’ve raced all over it a little bit better and been a lot better, but it is what it is. It’s just another race. We’re gonna go try’er again tomorrow.”
Preliminary results and notes:
Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., drew the pole for the 50-lap main event. Marlar is seeking his fourth career UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory. All of his three previous Hell Tour victories came in 2007 when he won at I-44 in Lebanon, Mo., I-55 in Pevely, Mo., and Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway. Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., the series all-time leader with 96 career wins, will join him on the front row. … Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., gave up his front row starting spot in the fourth heat race due to water pump issues. Shirley loaded up and left early. … Brandon Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis house car team at Farmer City waiting the World of Outlaws’ points leader to finish up so they can make the overnight haul to Saturday’s WoO event at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn. … Bobby Pierce was reportedly having transmission issues after his heat race but is expected to start the A-main.
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Billy Moyer
Row 2: Frank Heckenast Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Ryan Unzicker, Billy Drake
Row 4: Shannon Babb, Bobby Pierce
Row 5: Gordy Gundaker, Tyler Erb
Row 6: Kent Robinson, Kevin Weaver
Row 7: Steve Casebolt, Kyle Bronson
Row 8: Brent Larson, Mike Spatalo
Row 9: Jason Feger, Tim Manville
Row 10: Billy Moyer Jr., Michael Kloos
Row 11: McKay Wenger, Bob Gardner
Third-starting Jason Feger advanced from the second row to easily win the B-main. Tim Manville passed Dustin Nobbe with three laps remaining for the second spot. Feger finished 1.447 seconds ahead of Manville as they each nabbed a starting slot in the A-main. Paul Parker brought out the first caution on lap five. The race was slowed again following a tangle in turn two. Billy Moyer Jr. made a few laps at the back of the field and will take a series provisional to start the feature.
Finish (top two transfer): Jason Feger, Tim Manville, Dustin Nobbe, Eric Cooley, Timothy Culp, Scott Bull, Michael Kloos, Austin Theiss, Russ Adams, Billy Moyer Jr., Devin Gilpin, Don Hammer, Paul Parker, Bob Gardner, McKay Wenger
(12 laps: top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Dustin Nobbe, Paul Parker
Row 2: Jason Feger, Tim Manville
Row 3: Eric Cooley, Bob Gardner
Row 4: Scott Bull, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 5: Daniel Flessner, McKay Wenger
Row 6: Devin Gilpin, Don Hammer
Row 7: Timothy Culp, Michael Kloos
Row 8: Austin Theiss, Russ Adams
Timothy Culp led all the way to win the C-main. Michael Kloos finished second, four car lengths back. Austin Theiss nipped Russ Adams at the line to finish third.
Finish (top four transfer to B-main): Timothy Culp, Michael Kloos, Austin Theiss, Russ Adams, Paul Stubber, Steven Roberts, Mark Rose, Billy Hough. Scratched: Brian Shirley, Rich Bell, Doug Hammer
(10 laps; top four transfer to B-main)
Row 1: Austin Theiss, Timothy Culp
Row 2: Michael Kloos, Russ Adams
Row 3: Paul Stuber, Mark Rose
Row 4: Daryn Klein, Steve Roberts
Row 5: Billy Hough, Rich Bell
Row 6: Doug Hammer, Brian Shirley
Billy Moyer won a race-long battle with Bobby Pierce to win the fourth heat. Moyer and Pierce dueled side-by-side for six laps before Pierce threw a slider exiting turn four to grab the lead. Moyer answered with a slider of his own off of turn two to reclaim the lead as Pierce rode all the way to the edge of the track. Moyer moved up to secure the top spot, with Pierce chasing him to the finish. Kevin Weaver, who started on the second row after Brian Shirley scratched, finished third, while Mike Spatola nipped Tim Manville in a photo finish for the last transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer, Bobby Pierce, Kevin Weaver, Mike Spatola, Tim Manville, Billy Moyer Jr., Don Hammer, Russ Adams, Steven Roberts. Scratched: Brian Shirley
After trading sliders in the first three laps with polesitter Shannon Babb, Brandon Sheppard flexed his muscle over the remaining seven circuits, pulling away for an easy victory. Babb finished second, with Kent Robinson trailing in third. Sixth-starting Brent Larson edged Jason Feger for the final transfer spot. The race was slowed by one caution when Devin Gilpin spun in turn three, drawing a complete restart.
Finish (top four transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Shannon Babb, Kent Robinson, Brent Larson, Jason Feger, Scott Bull, Devin Gilpin, Michael Kloos, Daryn Klein, Doug Hammer
Mike Marlar led all the way from the pole to win the second heat race. Billy Drake fell in behind the leader and chased him to the checkers, finishing four car lengths back. Tyler Erb fiished third, with Kyle Bronson holding the final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Mike Marlar, Billy Drake, Tyler Erb, Kyle Bronson, Paul Parker, Bib Gardner, McKay Wenger, Timothy Culp, Mark Rose. Scratched: Rich Bell
Powering into the lead past polesitter Ryan Unzicker on the top side, Frank Heckenast Jr. won the first heat race. Never letting Heckenast get too comfortable, Unzicker made a bid for the lead on the bottom on the final lap, but settled for second. Third-starting Gordy Gundaker held serve and finished where he started, while Steve Casebolt charged into the final transfer spot from the eighth row, leaving Dustin Nobbe on the outside looking in.
Finish (top four transfer): Frank Heckenast Jr., Ryan Unzicker, Gordy Gundaker, Steve Casebolt, Dustin Nobbe, Eric Cooley, Daniel Flessner, Austin Theiss, Paul Stubber, Billy Hough
Heat race lineups
(10 laps: top four transfer)
Row 1: Ryan Unzicker, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Gordy Gundaker, Dustin Nobbe
Row 3: Daniel Flessner, Eric Cooley
Row 4: Steve Casebolt, Austin Theiss
Row 5: Paul Stubber, Billy Hough
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Billy Drake
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Tyler Erb
Row 3: Timothy Culp, Paul Parker
Row 4: Bob Gardner, McKay Wenger
Row 5: Mark Rose, Richie Bell
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Kent Robinson, Jason Feger
Row 3: Scott Bull, Brent Larson
Row 4: Michael Kloos, Daryn Klein
Row 5: Devin Gilpin, Doug Hammer
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Billy Moyer
Row 2: Bobby Pierce, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Kevin Weaver, Mike Spatola
Row 4: Russ Adams, Don Hammer
Row 5: Tim Manville, Steven Roberts
Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., stopped the clock at the 13.318-second mark to grab the overall fast time among 40 drivers. Unzicker went out at the end of the first group, bumping Tennessean Mike Marlar off the pole. Marlar was second quick in the first group, while Shannon Babb, with a lap of 13.333 seconds was the quickest in the second group. Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., was the second quick in the second group. Those four drivers will start on the pole of their respective heat races.
Humid temperatures peaking at 96 degrees at Farmer City greeted drivers and fans as the series moved north. Temperatures dropped with the setting sun and as hot laps got underway it’s a pleasant Friday evening. … A handful of World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series drivers decided to make a stopover at Farmer City on their way to their series race Saturday at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn. Among them: Frank Heckenast Jr., Tyler Erb and Brandon Sheppard. … Rejoining the Hell Tour after a few nights off are Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., and Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla. … While Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., is the defending race champion, he also picked up a weekly racing event at Farmer City last week. … Following a solid start at Macon in his first-ever Summernationals foray, Eric Cooley of Fulton, Miss., followed the series to Farmer City. Cooley plans to run at Highland on Saturday as well. ... With his win Thursday at Macon, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., grabbed the early lead in the weekly points battle. Macon was the first night of Midwest Week and its $5,000 point fund sponsored by Petroff Towing. The winner of the weekly points, which runs July 5-9 earns an extra $2,000.
Time trial results (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 13.318
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 13.354
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99JR), Frankfort, Ill., 13.360
Billy Drake (75), Bloomington, Ill., 13.417
Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 13.517
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 13.539
Dustin Nobbe (5N), Batesville, Ind., 13.540
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 13.547
Daniel Flessner (9D), Roberts, Ill., 13.582
Timothy Culp (c8), Prattsville, Ark., 13.639
Eric Cooley (33B), Fulton, Miss., 13.707
Paul Parker (10P), Depere, Wisc., 13.768
Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 13.816
Bob Gardner (4G), Washington, Ill., 13.914
Austin Theiss (7D), Hockley, Texas, 14.142
McKay Winger (42), Fairbury, Ill., 14.159
Paul Stubber (31AUS), West Bunbury, Australia, 14.321
Mark Rose (0), Dorchester, Wis., 14.751
Billy Hough (33H), Thomasboro, Ill., 18.683
Richie Bell (21B), Sheffield, Ill., NT
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 13.333
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 13.420
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 13.451
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 13.481
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ill., 13.546
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 13.557
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 13.572
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 13.684
Scott Bull (83), Fairbury, Ill., 13.689
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 13.694
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 13.715
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 13.776
Michael Kloos (6k), Trenton, Ill., 13.914
Russ Adams (72), Princeville, Ill., 14.123
Daryn Klien (10), Fairview Heights, Ill., 14.159
Don Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 14.206
Devin Gilpin (1G), Columbus, Ind., 14.214
Tim Manville (33), Troy, Ill., 14.217
Doug Hammer (45H), Leroy, Ill., 14.688
Steven Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., N/T
Farmer City Raceway hosts Friday's 19th round of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals with a $10,000-to-win purse on the line at the 1/4-mile oval.
Continuing its trek north, the Hell Tour moves on from Thursday’s longest race, the 37th Herald & Review 100 at Macon Speedway, where points leader Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., won to extend his lead of Shannon Babb of Moweuqua, Ill. It’s the 19th race on the month-long grind that has suffered only three rainouts.
Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., had three series victories last season, with one coming here at Farmer City.
Farmer City schedule
3 p.m. - Gates open
6 p.m. - Drivers' meeting (draw closes)
6:30 p.m. - Hot laps/time trials
- UMP DIRTcar Late Model hot laps
- Stock car hot laps
- Pro Crate Late Model hot laps
- Modified hot laps/time trials
- UMP DIRTcar Late Model time trials
- Stock car heats (eight laps)
- Modified heats (eight laps)
- UMP DIRTcar Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Pro Crate Late Model heats (eight laps)
— C-mains as needed
— B-mains as needed
- Stock cars (15 laps)
- Modifieds (30 laps)
- UMP DIRTcar Late Models (50 laps)
- Pro Crate Late Models (20 laps)