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Federated Raceway at I-55

Moyer rules I-55, bags $10,000 Hell Tour win

June 30, 2012, 6:33 pm
By Joshua Joiner
DirtonDirt.com staff writer
Billy Moyer crosses the finish line for a $10,000 victory (stlracingphotos.com)
Billy Moyer crosses the finish line for a $10,000 victory (stlracingphotos.com)

PEVELY, Mo. (June 30) — After a pair of disappointing outings the previous two nights, Billy Moyer used a trip to a familiar racetrack to return to winning form in Saturday night’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals feature.

Moyer of Batesville, Ark., cruised to a $10,000 victory in the 16th leg of the 29-race tour Saturday at Federated Raceway at I-55, leading every lap to win the third-mile oval's Summernationals event for the third year in a row. | Complete Summernationals coverage

“The first part of the weekend was dismal for us, so we had to make sure we had all our Is dotted and Ts crossed tonight to try and have a good showing,” said Moyer, who recorded back-to-back 20th-place finishes Thursday and Friday in the tour’s races at Clayhill Motorsports in Atwood, Tenn., and Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway. “The car was really good all night. It qualified well, raced well and as it got slick there in the main event, I was real happy with it.”

After getting the jump on fellow front-row starter Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio on the start of the 40-lapper, the polesitting Moyer easily pulled away from the field on each of the race's four restarts and avoided any serious traffic issues thanks to timely cautions.

The race’s final caution on lap 32 gave points leader Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., the chance to challenge for the lead, but Moyer again pulled away in cruising to the victory.

Shirley held off 11th-starting Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, in a late battle for the runner-up finish while Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., claimed fourth. Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., charged from 18th to fifth in a backup car after rolling his primary car earlier in the night during qualifying.

Shirley gave his all in hopes of catching Moyer late in the race, but was satisfied with his runner-up effort.

“I was doing everything I could to try to creep in on him, but we did go with a little bit different tires than him, and I don’t know if that’s what made him a little bit better than us,” said Shirley, who recorded his first top-five finish in three series races. “But when you run second to Billy Moyer, that’s definitely not something to be discouraged about because we hung tough with him.”

Birkhofer thought he could’ve found a way around Shirley for the second spot if he had more time.

“I’d like to have had 10 more laps. I don’t think we had anything for Moyer, but I think maybe we had something for Shirley,” said Birkhofer, who ended a season-long winless drought in Friday’s race at Paducah. "But I could have run fifth, too. So we’ll take third and go on happy.”

Henry, the event's fast qualifier, was running third when he tagged the wall exiting turn four on lap 32. He was then involved in a back straightaway tangle on the next lap that left his car parked against the wall at the entrance of turn three with heavy rear-end damage.

Notes: Moyer’s Clements-powered Victory Circle Chassis is sponsored by Henderson Motorsports, L&D Trucking, Car City, Cooley Transport and Watter’s Autoland. ... Moyer's 81 victories leads the tour's all-time winlist. … The victory was Moyer’s second on this year’s tour. He also won at Tri-City Speedway on June 22. … The tour’s next event is slated for Monday at Peoria (Ill.) Speedway.

UMP @ Federated Raceway: (1) Billy Moyer, (2) Brian Shirley, (3) Brian Birkhofer, (4) Brandon Sheppard, (5) Shannon Babb, (6) Jason Feger, (7) Randy Korte, (8) Kevin Cole, (9) Dennis Erb Jr., (10) Frank Heckenast Jr., (11) Klint Byars, (12) Mike Spatola, (13) Bobby Pierce, (14) Jason McBride, (15) Jerry Lierly, (16) Ryan Unzicker, (17) Dewayne Kierfer, (18) Jon Henry, (19) Kyle Logue, (20) Billy Moyer Jr., (21) Jeff Johns, (22) Scott James. Fast qualifier (among 34 cars): Henry, 12.631 seconds. Heat race winners: Henry, Shirley, Moyer, Sheppard. Consolation race winner: Korte. Provisional starters: Moyer Jr., Spatola, Johns, Heckenast.

Provisionals and notes

Billy Moyer Jr. and Frank Heckenast Jr. will both use series provisionals to start the main event while Jeff Johns will use the track provisional and Mike Spatola will use the UMP national points provisional. ... Outside polesitter Jon Henry isn’t surprised by his quick adaption to I-55’s high-banked surface. The third-mile oval reminds him of a track he’s very familiar with. “It’s just like a mini Eldora,” Henry said, referring to the famed half-mile of Eldora Speedway where he’s a former track champion. “It has the same configuration and so far it’s wide open like Eldora.” Henry has been fast all night, setting fast time and winning his heat race, but he’s not overly confident about the feature. “I’m nervous because I don’t know what to do on tires. It’s going to be a guessing game.” ... Second heat race runner-up Klint Byars had to lift a couple of times for Brian Shirley while battling for the lead in his heat, but he isn’t mad about it. “He saw me down there and knew I was good enough to stick (in the bottom) and pass him,” Byars said. “But it’s cool; I’d probably done the same thing.” If I-55’s surface slicks off like it’s known to do, Byars hopes he can adjust to it. “I’m usually slow in the slick and fast in the traction, but hopefully I can flip that around backwards tonight." ... Set to start from the inside of the second row, Brandon Sheppard knows there will to be plenty of different tire combinations among feature starters. The one thing he doesn’t know: what tire combination he’ll choose. “Some are gonna bolt on soft tires and try to run the bottom and others will go hard and run up top,” Sheppard said before watching the Late Model B-main. “I have no idea what I’m doing yet.” ... Ryan Unzicker will start from the tail after blowing an engine on the final lap of his heat race and unloading the backup car for the feature. It was his second round of engine woes in the past three night’s “We’re getting used to this,” crew member Kevin Elston said while rushing to prepare the team’s backup car. ... Polesiter Billy Moyer isn’t expecting an easy victory. “There’s some good ones back there that could be lurking around if the track stays racy,” he said. ... With his best feature starting spot yet in a Summernationals feature, Jerry Lierly is hoping he can make the most of tonight’s race. “We better run good; it’s the best chance we’ve had,” Lierly said laughing after finishing third in his heat race.

B-main

After two attempted starts were waved off, polesitter Randy Korte pulled ahead on the third start and led every lap to top third-starting Shannon Babb in the caution-free 12-lapper. Michael Kloos rallied from a mid-pack starting spot to third, but couldn't close the gap to claim a transfer spot. Niether Korte nor Babb were in the cars they started the night in for the race. Korte drove Brant Kehrer's No. 92 car after his No. 00 had trouble in qualifying and Babb was in a backup car after rolling over in qualifying.

Finish (top 10): Randy Korte, Shannon Babb, Michael Kloos, Nick Bartels, Mike Spatola, Billy Moyer Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Jeff Herzog, Jeff Johns, Tony Toste.

Redraw

Looking to win I-55's Summernationals race for the second year in a row, Billy Moyer will start from the pole of tonight's main event after a redraw among heat race winners. Overall fast qualifier Jon Henry will join Moyer on the front row with Brandon Sheppard and Brian Shirley sharing row two.

Fourth heat

Brandon Sheppard dominated the caution-free final heat race, pulling to nearly a straightaway lead while the rest of the field all battled for second behind him. Third-starting Kyle Logue eased ahead of the fierce battle in the closing laps to claim the runner-up finish while fifth-starting Dewayne Kiefer finished third just ahead of back-row starter Jason Feger in the fourth and final transfer spot. Logue, Mike Spatola and Frank Heckenast Jr. all went three wide for second early in the race with contact nearly sending Heckenast head-on into the front straightaway wall. Heckenast corrected his car just in time to only brush the concrete, but dropped a number of positions in the scramble.

Finish: Brandon Sheppard, Kyle Logue, Dewayne Kiefer, Jason Feger, Mike Spatola, Jeff Johns, Frank Heckenast Jr.

Third heat

Polesitter Billy Moyer took the lead on the start and led every lap for a convincing victory in the caution-free race. Fourth-starting Kevin Cole moved forward and topped outside polesitter Brian Birkhofer in a race-long battle for the second spot while Bobby Pierce outdueled Shannon Babb in a side-by-side battle for the fourth and final transfer spot that lasted nearly the entire second half of the race. Pierce edged Babb by mere feet at the finish. Babb was in a backup car after going upside-down in qualifying.

Finish: Billy Moyer, Kevin Cole, Brian Birkhofer, Bobby Pierce, Shannon Babb, Michael Kloos, Rodney Melvin

Second heat

Second-starting Brian Shirley survived relentless pressure from polesitter Klint Byars in leading every lap. The two front-row starters raced side-by-side for the first three laps of the 10-lap race before a caution put Shirley out front by himself for a restart. Byars challenged back with the two cars again going side-by-side for a two-lap run before a lap-five caution. Dennis Erb Jr. charged from third to nearly take the lead on the restart, but Byars rallied back on the low side, taking second from Erb and pulling even with Shirley by lap eight. But Shirley slammed the door entering turn three on lap nine and held on to the spot. Behind Byars, Erb settled for third with Scott James taking fourth to also transfer to the feature. Third-starting Billy Moyer Jr. was running in a transfer spot when he tangled with Jason Crump in turn four to bring out the lap-five caution.

Finish: Brian Shirley, Klint Byars, Dennis Erb Jr., Scott James, Nick Bartels, Billy Moyer Jr., Jason Crump, Paul Roider.

First heat

Polesitter Jon Henry turned back repeated challenges from Ryan Unzicker, leading every lap of caution-free 10-lapper. Unzicker made multiple low-side challenges on the high-running Henry, but couldn't complete the pass before the halfway point. After falling back slightly, Unzicker reeled Henry in through the closing laps and was on his bumper at the white flag. But a final-lap battle was negated when Unzicker's car puffed smoke and slowed exiting turn two. Henry pulled away as Unzicker limped to the finish quick enough to hold on to the second spot. Jerry Lierly was third while Jason McBride held off Randy Korte for the fourth and final transfer spot. Korte started from the tail in Brant Kehrer's race car. �

Finish: Jon Henry, Ryan Unzicker, Jerry Lierly, Jason McBride, Randy Korte, Jason Papich, Jeff Herzog, Tony Toste, Matt Zimmerly.

Time trials

Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, blasted to fast time honors during Saturday’s qualifying at Federated Raceway at I-55, topping 34 qualifiers for the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals event.

Henry’s lap of 12.631 seconds earned him the pole starting spot for one of four 10-lap heat races coming up at the third-mile oval. Other heat race polesitters after group qualifying: Klint Byars of Carrollton, Miss.; Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.; and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill.

Each heat race transfers the top four finishers to tonight’s $10,000-to-win main event while consolation race transfers and provisional starters will make up the remainder of the 22-car field.

Reining series champion and current points contender Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., took a slow roll down the banking in turn two after jumping the cushion and climbing the wall in turn one on his second qualifying lap. Babb was uninjured.

Pre-race notes

After a delay in getting the program started, time trials got under way around 8:15 p.m. Shannon Babb's car took a slow roll down the banking in turn two after Babb jumped the cushion and climbed the wall in turn one on his second qualifying lap. Babb was uninjured. ... Dewayne Kiefer of St. Genevieve, Mo., hopes his recent success in I-55’s weekly Super Late Model division will lead to a strong run tonight. Kiefer, who leads the track’s Late Model points standings, was strong in preliminary action for I-55’s MARS DIRTcar Series race a few weeks ago before fading from third to ninth in the feature. Kiefer said he was afraid to make any pre-feature setup changes on his car at that race, which led to his disappointing finish. “I won’t make that mistake again tonight,” he said. ... The tour’s race Sunday at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway has been canceled due to record-breaking temperatures that have plagued the Midwest the past few days. While some drivers welcome an extra off night on the grueling tour, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., isn’t thrilled about the cancellation. “That’s one of the ones I’ve been looking forward to,” said Sheppard, who scored his first series victory at the quarter-mile oval last year. Sheppard hopes a trip to a familiar track for him and his team will help them rebound from a 22nd-place finish last night at Paducah that was caused by a broken oil pump belt on his Rocket Chassis house car. Sheppard has always ran well at I-55, earning a $5,000 at the high-banked oval last year, while former house car driver Josh Richards won I-55’s 2011 World of Outlaws race. … Mike Spatola is hoping his first top-five finish on the series last night will signal an overall improvement in his performance. But he isn’t getting his hopes up too much tonight at I-55. “We’re hardly ever good here and when we are we have the worst luck,” said Spatola, who charged from 18th to fifth in in Friday’s race. “But we never were very good at Paducah and it went pretty good.” Spatola cited some setup experiments during last night’s B-main for his strong run. “We hit on something that I didn’t think would ever work,” he said. … Klint Byars of Carrollton, Miss., is making his first appearance at I-55. Noting that the track reminds him of Whynot (Miss.) Motorsports Park with more banking, Byars said he’s looking forward hitting the high banks. ... Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., continues to lead the series standings over reigning series champion Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill. Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., remains third after five consecutive top-five finishes followed by Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., and Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill. Points totals were unavailable Saturday. ... Randy Korte is the most recent Late Model winner at I-55. The Highland, Ill., driver captured a UMP weekly event victory at the track last weekend. ... Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., won last year's Summernationals race at I-55.

Qualifying order

First group

  1. Jon Henry (15) Ada, Ohio, 12.631
  2. Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 12.819
  3. Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 12.957
  4. Randy Korte (00), Highland, Ill., 12.989
  5. Jerry Lierly (7L), Camp Point, Ill., 13.066
  6. Jason Papich (91), Nipomo, Calif., 13.226
  7. Jeff Herzog (11), Herculaneum, Mo., 13.234
  8. Tony Toste (91), Arroyo Grande, Calif., 13.822
  9. Matt Zimmerly (7), DeSoto, Mo., 13.938

Second group

  1. Klint Byars (5), Carrolton, Miss. 12.785
  2. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill. 12.939
  3. Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr) Batesville, Ark. 12.965
  4. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill. 13.04
  5. Nick Bartels (27), El Segundo, Calif. 13.074
  6. Scott James (81), Lawrenceburg, Ind. 13.231
  7. Jason Crump (86), Festus, Mo. 13.565
  8. Jeff Leka (441), Buffalo, Ill. 13.641
  9. Paul Roider (23) Columbia, Ill. 13.783

Third group

  1. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark. 12.791
  2. Brian Birkhofer (15B), Muscatine, Iowa 13.016
  3. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill. 13.031
  4. Kevin Cole (81c), Christopher, Ill. 13.183
  5. Rodney Melvin (27), Benton, Ill. 13.437
  6. Michael Kloos (6k), Trenton, Ill. 13.693
  7. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill. 13.886
  8. Brant Kehrer (92), New Memphis, Ill. 14.131

Fourth group

  1. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill. 13.005
  2. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill. 13.21
  3. Kyle Louge (21k), Oreana, Ill. 13.331
  4. Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill. 13.373
  5. Dewayne Keifer (0), St. Genevieve, Mo. 13.405
  6. Jeff Johns (95J), Belleville, Ill. 13.505
  7. Jason Feger (25) Bloomington, Ill. 13.538
  8. Andrew Johns (95A), Belleville, Ill. 13.636

�

Feature lineup

Row 1: Moyer, Henry
Row 2: Sheppard, Shirley
Row 3: Unzicker, Byars
Row 4: Cole, Logue
Row 5: Lierly, Erb
Row 6: Birkhofer, Kiefer
Row 7: McBride, James
Row 8: Pierce, Feger
Row 9: Korte, Babb
Row 10: Moyer Jr., Spatola
Row 11: J. Johns, Heckenast

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