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Federated Raceway at I-55

I-55 win gives Moyer another UMP hat trick

July 3, 2010, 6:39 pm
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com chief writer
Billy Moyer heads for victory at I-55. (DirtonDirt.com)
Billy Moyer heads for victory at I-55. (DirtonDirt.com)

PEVELY, Mo. (July 3) — Billy Moyer’s domination of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals continued Saturday at I-55 Raceway with a $10,000 victory, his sixth checkered flag in seven 2010 series starts. The 52-year-old Hall of Famer from Batesville, Ark., led all 40 laps from the pole position, fending off a few challenges fellow front-row starter Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., for his series-leading 78th career triumph. | Complete Summernationals coverage

Vaught tried to snooker Moyer in traffic in the race’s late stages, but the leader never faltered in wrapping up his third straight series victory. Moyer also won the first three series races. Vaught settled for second with Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, in third. The winner’s son, Billy Moyer Jr., was fourth.

Series points leader Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., rallied from his 10th starting spot to finish fifth and stretch his points lead as his closest pursuers, Shannon Babb and Jason Feger, were tangled up in the same turn-two accident on the seventh lap. Feger spun and nearly rolled over after Babb was left with nowhere to go and slid underneath Feger's car.

UMP @ I-55: (1) Billy Moyer, (2) Will Vaught, (3) Brian Birkhofer, (4) Billy Moyer Jr., (5) Dennis Erb Jr., (6) Scott James, (7) Ryan Unzicker, (8) Jimmy Mars, (9) Jeep Van Wormer, (10) Brian Shirley, (11) Michael Kloos, (12) Jeff Johns, (13) Mark Voigt, (14) Craig Smith, (15) Jason Feger, (16) Bryan Collins, (17) Nick Lyons, (18) Ron McQuerry, (19) Dave Jumper, (20) Wendell Wallace, (21) Brandon Sheppard, (22) Rodney Melvin, (23) Jack Sullivan, (24) Shannon Babb. Fast qualifier (among 37 cars): Moyer, 12.972 seconds. Heat race winners: Birkhofer, Moyer, Moyer Jr., Vaught. C-main winner: Butch Kruckeberg. B-Main winner: Van Wormer. Provisional starters: Sullivan, Unzicker, Collins, Melvin, Voigt, Jumper.

Correction: Fixes Wallace as 20th place sted Dewayne Kiefer.

Provisional starters

Promoter Ray Marler has doubled provisional starting spots from three to six, meaning two drivers from series points, two drivers from '09 UMP points and two track representatives have been added to the lineup. Jack Sullivan and Rodney Melvin get series provisionals (Sullivan will drive Billy Moyer Jr.s' backup car) while Ryan Unzicker and Mark Voigt will get provisionals based on last year's UMP weekly points. The track representatives will be Bryan Collins and Dave Jumper for a 24-car field. Only two other of the 16 previous series tracks have added cars to the regular 21-car field (Kankakee County and Wilmot added one apiece). The track made the first lineup call for the feature at 10:40 p.m., but there's a planned collection for Special Olympics before the main event.


Jeep Van Wormer rallied from his 10th starting spot, overtaking outside front-row starter and race-long leader Dewayne Kiefer in the second half of the race to capture the B-Main. Van Wormer and Kiefer get the two transfer spots to the main event. Fourth-finishing Ryan Unzicker should be in line for a series provisional, while fifth-finishing Mark Voigt should be in line for a provisional based on '09 UMP weekly points.

Finish: Jeep Van Wormer, Nick Lyons, Ryan Unzicker, Mark Voigt, Rodney Melvin, Jason McBride, Butch Kruckeberg, Jeff Beyers, Dave Jumper, Mark Miner, Dan Jacober, Donny Walden, Bryan Collins, Matt Wiedner, Jason Crump. Disqualified (light at scales): Dewayne Kiefer.

Correction: Fixes Lyons sted Kiefer as runner-up; Kiefer was disqualified for being light at the scales.


Fourth-starting Butch Kruckeberg cruised to a quarter-track victory in the 12-lapper to transfer to the B-Main. Also transferring to the B-Main is Matt Wiedner, Jason Crump and Dan Jacober.

Finish: Butch Kruckeberg, Matt Wiedner, Jason Crump, Dan Jacober, Bruce Unterbrink, Dylan Sharp, Paul Roider, Brandon Thirlby.

Mid-event notebook

Of the top 15 in series points, only seven drivers transferred to the main event through heat races. ... Fourth-place Jeep Van Wormer plans to run the B-Main to test some setups, but he’s in line for the series provisional. ... GRT house car driver Jack Sullivan, fifth in series points, is done for the night after hurting a motor in time trials, giving the team three straight nights of motor problems, potentially ending their series. But engine builder Vic Hill diagnosed the problems with the motor they hurt at Paducah over the phone, calling GRT’s Joe Garrison at 6:30 a.m. Saturday to describe how he’d likely find a pinhole leak in the intake that was causing the problems in that specific engine configuration. “I looked in there and cleaned it out, and there it was,” said Garrison, who initially thought they’d burned a piston. They sealed the pinhole crack with J-B Weld and that powerplant should be ready to go again for Sunday’s race at Lincoln, Ill. If the team has other engine problems, Dennis Erb Jr. is carrying another Vic Hill powerplant that Sullivan could use, if necessary. ... Jason Feger’s team swapped radiators after finishing third in their heat race. “It was a little warm,” Feger said. “Better to be safe than sorry.” ... Will Vaught won the fourth heat, a lively battle where he was glad to get out front and get some racing room. That room allowed him to “run where the car wanted to, not necessarily where I wanted to,” Vaught said. “It’s the best I’ve been in a heat race here in a long time.” Vaught won a MARS DIRTcar Series event at I-55 last August. ... Dan Jacober had problems in time trials and missed his heat race but plans on running the C-Main. “The fuel pump gave up on it,” said Dave Jacober, the driver’s father. “We hope we got it fixed.” ... Wendell Wallace had a flat tire last night while leading the B-Main at Paducah, bad timing for the Arkansas driver. “About everything I’ve done on this deal has been bad timing,” he joked. Wallace is locked into I-55’s main event after finishing fourth in his heat race. ... The C-Main is rolling onto the track at about 9:25 p.m.


In the redraw among heat winners, Billy Moyer is on the pole in gunning for his third straight series victory. Will Vaught starts outside the front row with Brian Birkhofer and Billy Moyer Jr. in row two.

B-Main lineup

The top two finishers start in the ninth row of the main event:

Row 1: Nick Lyons, Dewayne Kiefer
Row 2: Ryan Unzicker, Rodney Melvin
Row 3: Jeff Beyers, Mark Miner
Row 4: Jason McBride, Mark Voigt
Row 5: Donny Walden, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 6: Dave Jumper, Bryan Collins
Row 7: Butch Kruckeberg, Matt Wiedner

Row 8: Jason Crump, Dan Jacober

C-Main lineup

Top four transfer to rear of B-Main (Sullivan is expected to scratch):

Row 1: Jason Crump, Paul Roider
Row 2: Bruce Unterbrink, Butch Kruckeberg
Row 3: Brandon Thirlby, Matt Wiedner
Row 4: Dylan Sharp, Jack Sullivan

Row 5: Dan Jacober

Fourth heat

Fourth-starting Will Vaught slipped under outside front-row starter Rodney Melvin on the sixth lap and led the rest of the 10-lapper for a victory, pulling away from a tight battle that saw multiple lead changes among the four transfer spots. Vaught pulled far away at the finish but it was still a wild battle for second as five different drivers held the spot at different times. Polesitter Scott James, who fell back as far as fourth, rallied to finish second, just nipping fifth-starting Brian Shirley at the line for second. Shannon Babb, who started sixth and was up to second after just two laps, coudn't maintain his high-side pace and ended up fourth. Melvin slipped all the way to fifth in perhaps the best heat race of the Summernationals so far. Jack Sullivan scratched after blowing up an engine in time trials.

Finish: Will Vaught, Scott James, Brian Shirley, Shannon Babb, Rodney Melvin, Mark Voigt, Bryan Collins, Brutch Kruckeberg. Scratched: Jack Sullivan.

Third heat

Duplicating his father's line — and success — from the previous heat, outside front-row starter Billy Moyer Jr. barely held off Jimmy Mars all 10 laps for a heat race victory. Moyer Jr. ran the middle of the track while the polesitting Mars was right on the bottom, pressuring the leader throughout and finishing a half-length back at the finish. Fifth-starting Jason Feger got rolling on the high side midway through the race and gained on the leaders, but he settled for third while a lower-running Wendell Wallace got the final transfer spot. Ryan Unzicker was fifth, just ahead of Jason McBride.

Finish: Billy Moyer Jr., Jimmy Mars, Jason Feger, Wendell Wallace, Ryan Unzicker, Jason McBride, Dave Jumpber, Bruce Unterbrink, Dylan Sharp.

Second heat

Polesitter Billy Moyer led all the way, narrowly leading fellow front-row starter Brandon Sheppard midway through the race in the low groove, then pulling away in the second half of the race while moving up a bit higher on the track. Sheppard was unchallenged in second while Dennis Erb Jr. got third, and Michael Kloos got the fourth and final transfer spot. Dewayne Kiefer was fifth in the caution-free prelim. Mark Miner was sixth, just edging Jeep Van Wormer, who started on the last row and had a tire rubbing through much of the race.

Finish: Billy Moyer, Brandon Sheppard, Dennis Erb Jr., Michael Kloos, Dewayne Kiefer, Mark Miner, Jeep Van Wormer, Paul Roider, Matt Wiedner.

First heat

Outside front-row starter Brian Birkhofer slipped around the outside of race-long leader and polesitter Craig Smith at the white flag and kept the lead the final lap for a 10-lap victory in the first prelim. Smith, last night's winner at Tri-City Speedway, settled for second after Birkhofer tried him high and low throughout the race, eventually making the high side work. Jeff Johns was further back in third and Ron McQuerry was a distant fourth for the final transfer spot.

Finish: Brian Birkhofer, Craig Smith, Jeff Johns, Ron McQuerry, Nick Lyons, Jeff Beyers, Donny Walden, Jason Crumb, Brandon Thirlby. Scratched: Dan Jacober.


Red-hot Billy Moyer, going for his third straight series victory and fifth victory in six starts, was fastest among 37 qualifiers Saturday at I-55 Raceway for the 18th leg of the 29-race UMP DIRTcar Summernationals. Moyer’s lap of 12.972 seconds puts him on the pole of Saturday’s second heat race at the 3/8-mile oval.

Other heat race polesitters following group qualifying: Craig Smith of Godfrey, Ill; Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis.; and Scott James of Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Four heat races will transfer four drivers apiece to the main event. The C-Main will send four drivers to the B-Main, which will transfer two drivers to the main event. Three provisional starters round out the 21-car field for the $10,000-to-win, 40-lap feature.

Pre-race notes

Dennis Erb Jr. leads the series with 1,071 points ahead of Shannon Babb (1,064), Jason Feger (1,057) and Jeep Van Wormer (1,044). ... Because waters from Joachim Creek covered the entrance to the track recently, there was some question of whether the I-55 event would be cancelled, as it has the last two years of the Summernationals. But waters receded enough to allow entry, although water still covers a portion of the entry road. ... Driver Dylan Sharp of Hillsboro, Mo., carried a taped message on his car during hot laps for his uncle, Donnie Ballard, who is celebrating his 30th anniversary with his wife Marty. ... Craig Smith (Tri-City Speedway) and Michael Kloos (Belle-Clair Speedway) are on hand after winning Friday night races. ... Rodney Melvin is back in his own No. 27 after one night in a Gary Gerstner-owned No 6k. ... Brian Birkhofer's No. 15B carried Old Glory on a pace lap during the national anthem. ... Besides Late Models, 29 modifieds and 41 sportsman cars are in action. Track co-owner Ken Schrader is competing in the modified division.

Time trials (unofficial)

(Heat races start straight up by qualifying)
First group
Craig Smith (81), Godfrey, Ill., 13.032
Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa, 13.040
Jeff Johns (95), Belleville, Ill., 13.057
Ron McQuerry (1hr), St. Albans, Mo., 13.149
Nick Lyons (2x), Centralia, Ill., 13.164
Jeff Beyers (27B), Pana, Ill., 13.396
Brandon Thirlby (m14), Traverse City, Mich., 13.403
Donny Walden (1w), Towanda, Ill., 13.514
Jason Crump (86), Festus, Mo., 13.994
Dan Jacober (22), Highland, Ill., 16.506
Second group
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 12.972
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 13.044
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 13.069
Michael Kloos (6k), Trenton, Ill., 13.126
Dewayne Kiefer (13), St. Genevieve, Mo., 13.255
Paul Roider (23), Columbia, Ill., 13.571
Mark Miner (78s), Arnold, Mo., 13.848
Jeff Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 13.910
Matt Wiedner (7), Highland, Ill., 13.957
Third group
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 12.992
Wendell Wallace (88), Batesville, Ark., 13.224
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 13.256
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 13.284
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 13.335
Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 13.453
Dave Jumper (2j), Fenton, Mo., 13.812
Dylan Sharp (80D), Hillsboro, Mo., 13.828
Bruce Unterbrink (14u), Highland, Ill., 13.989
Fourth group
Scott James (44), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 13.032
Rodney Melvin (27), Benton, Ill., 13.119
Bryan Collins (11z), Elsberry, Mo., 13.246
Will Vaught (1), Crane, Mo., 13.272
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 13.291
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 13.545
Jack Sullivan (1), Greenbrier, Ark., 13.593
Mark Voigt (30), Marine, Ill., 13.691
Butch Kruckeberg (76), Edwardsville, Ill., 13.971

Feature lineup

Row 1: Moyer, Vaught
Row 2: Birkhofer, Moyer Jr.
Row 3: C. Smith, Sheppard
Row 4: Mars, James
Row 5: Johns, Erb
Row 6: Feger, Shirley
Row 7: McQuerry, Kloos
Row 8: Wallace, Babb
Row 9: Van Wormer, Lyons
Row 10: Sullivan, Unzicker
Row 11:
Collins, Melvin
Row 12:
Voigt, Jumper
(Fixes Lyons sted Kiefer starting 18th)
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