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Attica Raceway Park

Babb denies Heckenast, scores repeat at Attica

July 13, 2012, 5:43 pm
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor
Shannon Babb led just the final three laps at Attica. (Jim DenHamer)
Shannon Babb led just the final three laps at Attica. (Jim DenHamer)

ATTICA, Ohio (July 13) — Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., won a wild three-car battle over the final laps Friday at Attica Raceway Park for his fourth victory on the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals circuit. Babb earned $5,000 for winning the 27th and penultimate leg of the grueling month-long tour as he scored a repeat victory at the third-mile oval. | Complete Summernationals coverage

Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., was just two-tenths of a second behind at the finish of the 40-lapper, nipping Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., who slipped to third after leading the first 37 laps in search of his first career series victory.

Series points leader Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., crossed the finish line fourth to unofficially clinch the $25,000 tour championship, but it wasn't without a little controversy. Series officials didn't confirm the final rundown until Saturday morning after Shirley got bogged down in the turn-four cushion with three laps remaining, slowing enough to trigger a yellow flag before he got back up to speed. According to series rules instituted following the fourth event, the offending driver must go the tail if tagged with a caution, but Shirley was restored to his fourth spot, where he finished. UMP series director Sam Driggers had considered putting him 13th as the last car on the lead lap.

Heckenast led comfortably most of the first 30 laps, jumping into the lead from outside the front row as the third-starting Babb quickly worked into second and gave chase along with Unzicker. At the halfway mark it appeared the winner would come from among the top three, and they restarted in a bunch after a lap-30 yellow.

Heckenast stayed in control on the restart, but a couple of turn-four bobbles allowed Babb and Unzicker to pull right up on him in the closing laps. Babb slipped by on lap 38, but the caution for Shirley erased the move, resetting Heckenast as the lead for the final restart.

Heckenast ran through the middle of turns one and two most of the race, but he protected the low line on the lap-37 restart, opening the door for Babb to blow by on the outside. Heckenast and Unzicker didn’t let Babb get away, but neither had enough to get by in the final three laps.

“When he went by the cone (on the final restart), I think he slowed down a little bit too much and went to the bottom, and I was able to go around him on the top,” Babb said. “He had me whooped the whole race. He was really fast. If it had stayed green, he probably would’ve got us. But that’s racing and we were able to pull it off.”

Heckenast, unable to see his crew members for signals, wasn’t sure what to do on the final restart, but said his car wasn’t as fast in the final stages.

“I drove conservative the first 30 laps. I never pushed it, I never overdrove. And then there at lap 30, I’m like, ‘All right, it’s time to turn the fuel on.’ And I started charging harder and I actually think I was going slower,” Heckenast said. “I wanted to win so bad, maybe I drove too hard.”

Heckenast, matched his best career finish with a runner-up performance on the Fourth of July in La Salle, Ill., was again denied a series victory.

“I thought it was our night, but what are you going to do? Maybe one day we’ll win one of these things. Maybe,” he said.

Unzicker, who started third, nearly snuck past both of his competitors in the final laps.

“I’ll take second, but I’m disappointed. I thought I could win this thing,” he said.

Babb, whose hopes for a fourth series title appeared dim entering the Attica event, would've gotten new life if UMP had dropped Shirley to a 13th-place finish, the last car on the lead lap. Shirley's fourth-place finish clinches the championship, but if he would've been placed 13th, Babb would've cut the 76-point lead to 39 points and had a chance to win the title with a victory in Saturday's finale at Oakshade if Shirley finished 11th or worse.

Attica’s feature was slowed by a two cautions, first on lap 30 when Matt Miller stopped outside turn four after losing a driveshaft and again on lap 38 for the slowing Shirley.

Notes: Babb’s Victory Circle Chassis has a Pro Power Engine and sponsorship from Petroff Towing, Kreke’s Powerhouse and Donley Trucking. ... Babb has 76 career series victories, just five behind all-time leader Billy Moyer. ... Babb also won Tuesday at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky. ... Scott James ran third early but slipped to sixth at the finish. ... Thirteen of 22 starters completed 40 laps and 16 were running at the finish. ... Oakshade’s Birthday Race finale pays $10,000-to-win at the 3/8-mile oval just north of Wauseon. Babb won last year's Oakshade feature.

UMP DIRTcar Summernationals @ Attica: (1) Shannon Babb, (2) Ryan Unzicker, (3) Frank Heckenast Jr., (4) Brian Shirley, (5) Jon Henry, (6) Scott James, (7) Brandon Sheppard, (8) Jason McBride, (9) Ryan Missler, (10) Jason Feger, (11) Rusty Schlenk, (12) Jeep Van Wormer, (13) Mike Spatola, (14) Ryan Markham, (15) Dona Marcoullier, (16) Andrew Reaume, (17) Jerry Lierly, (18) Justin Chance, (19) Matt Miller, (20) Jeff Babcock, (21) Mike Bores, (22) Nick Bartels. Fast qualifier (among 54 cars): Heckenast, 14.813 seconds. Heat race winners: Babb, Shirley, Henry, Heckenast, Unzicker. B-main winner: Schlenk. C-main winners: Bartels, Nate Potts. Provisional starters: Spatola, Miller, Bores, Bartels.

Editor's note: Updates with confirmation that Shirley finished fourth.

Preliminary results:


Continuing a rebound from suspension and driveshafter issues in time trials, Rusty Schlenk led all 12 laps of the B-main to transfer to the main event. Schlenk stuck with the low groove in racing to victory over fellow front-row starter Andrew Reaume, who dropped back to third early but got back up to second amid a Dusty Moore-Justin Chance battle on the fifth lap. Reaume nearly got alongside Schlenk midway through the race but finished 10th lengths back. Chance got the third and final transfer spot over Moore, who ran second early in the consy. Fifth-starting Devin Shiels spun in turn two to bring out a lap-three caution, one of four slowdowns.

Finish: Rusty Schlenk, Andrew Reaume, Justin Chance, Dusty Moore, Garrett Krummert, Jason Riggs, Cody Scott, Jerry Bowersock, Nate Potts, Devin Shiels, Mike Bores, Rick Bond, Nick Bartels.

Redraw and mid-event notebook

Ryan Unzicker got the pole in a the redraw among heat winners. Frank Heckenast Jr. starts outside the front row while Shannon Babb and Brian Shirley are in row two; Jon Henry starts fifth. ... Henry won a slide-job battle with Brandon Sheppard to win his heat. “I was thinking in my head, ‘We’re putting on a good show for the fans.’ I just didn’t know how it was going to turn out.’ ... Jerry Lierly transferred to the main through his heat race. He’s running tonight for the first time without his traveling partner Dennis Erb Jr., who he sponsors with his J.L. Scrap Metals. He said Erb stuck with the tour longer than he wanted to in part to assist Lierly, who’s tackling the tour for the first time. “I’m really appreciative,” Lierly said. ... Matt Miller has had plenty of problems in his Rick Delong-owned No. 3, including fuel pressure issues and a brake caliper failure. He dropped out on the last lap of his heat but hit the track again for his consolation race. “I need to find out what else is going to fall off,” Miller joked. He and DeLong want to make sure and work out any other bugs to be ready for Saturday’s $10,000-to-win series event at Oakshade, the team’s best track. “It seems like we’ve got the gremlins,” DeLong said. ... Mike Spatola broke a birdcage in qualifying and had to change his car’s rear end, forcing him to miss his heat race. He checked things out in his consolation race and will likely take a provisional in the feature. ... Frank Heckenast Jr. looked as fast as anyone in winning his heat race in his Attica debut. “I’m think I’m going to get that monkey off my back and win one of these,” said Heckenast, who is looking for his first series victory. ... Larry Kingseed peeled his right-rear tire off his his heat race, forcing him out early. ... Rusty Schlenk had suspension and driveshaft issues in time trials that forced him to start on the tail of a heat. He’s on the pole of the B-main. ... Matt Irey was leading the second consolation when he slipped off the backstretch; he dropped out a lap later. ... Nate Potts overtook Ky Harper on the last lap to win the race.

Consolation race finishes

First consolation: Nick Bartels, Jerry Bowersock, Dan Wallace, Rocky Owens, Casey Noonan, Mike Spatola, Steeve Sabo, Brandon Perkins, Jason Hinton, Kyle Berry, Dave Hornikel, Justin Coulter. Scratched: John Bores Jr., Chris Keller, Tim Sabo.

Second consolation: Nate Potts, Ky Harper, Matt Miller, Wayne Maffett Jr., Ken Hahn, John Mayes Jr., Pat Ehlert, Larry Kingseed, B.J. Gregory, Jim Gingery, Matt Irey, Ernie Haynes. Scratched: Kathy Jarvis, Troy Catterene.

Consolation lineups

(Top two from each transfer to B-main)
First consolation
Row 1: Nick Bartels, Jerry Bowersock
Row 2: Casey Noonan, Dan Wallace
Row 3: Justin Coulter, Dave Hornikel
Row 4: Rocky Owens, Steve Sabo
Row 5: John Bores, Kyle Perry
Row 6: Tim Sabo, Jason Hinton
Row 7: Brandon Perkins, Chris Keller
Row 8: Mike Spatola.
Second consolation
Row 1: Matt Irey, Ky Harper
Row 2: Ken Hahn, Wayne Maffett Jr.
Row 3: Nate Potts, Ernie Haynes
Row 4: Pat Ehlert, John Mayes Jr.
Row 5: Kathy Jarvis, Matt Miller
Row 6: Larry Kingseed, B.J. Gregory

Row 7: Jim Gingery, Troy Catterene

Fifth heat

Front-row starters Brandon Sheppard swapped the lead with three slide jobs in the early laps, and score it 2-1 Henry as he came out on top to lead the second lap exiting turn four. Henry pulled away for the victory while Sheppard held on to the second spot the rest of the way. The battle for third was between a low-running Jason McBride and a lower-running Devin Shiels. McBride edged away on the seventh lap to secure the spot and Shiels settled for fourth, comfortably ahead of Garrett Krummert. Matt Miller had the fifth spot but pulled off the backstretch on the final lap.

Finish: Jon Henry, Brandon Sheppard, Jason McBride, Devin Shiels, Garrett Krummert, Casey Noonan, Nate Potts, Steve Sabo, Matt Miller.

Fourth heat

Polesitter Ryan Unzicker led all the way in the fourth prelim to outrun fellow front-row starter Ryan Missler, who nearly slipped back to fourth early before rallying to second. Jeff Babcock ran second most of the way before settling for the third and final transfer spot ahead of Justin Chance, who threatened to get a transfer spot early before slipping back at the midway point. Jason Riggs and B.J. Gregory drew an early caution, while Justin Coulter spun in turn two on the second lap for another yellow.

Finish: Ryan Unzicker, Ryan Missler, Jeff Babcock, Justin Chance, Jason Riggs, Ky Harper, Justin Coulter, Pat Elhert, Kyle Perry. B.J. Gregory. Scratched: Mike Spatola.

Third heat

Series points leader Brian Shirley edged away from a side-by-side battle with polesitter Jason Feger in the early laps to capture his 21st heat race victory in the 27th series event. Feger stayed with Shirley the whole race but couldn't find a way past. Further back, the battle for the third and final transfer spot was a good one. Mike Bores looked strong early, but a mid-race slipup allowed Jerry Lierly and then Dusty Moore to get by in the caution-free prelim.

Finish: Brian Shirley, Jason Feger, Jerry Lierly, Dusty Moore, Mike Bores, Jerry Bowersock, Wayne Maffett Jr., Rocky Owens, Kathy Jarvis, Jason Hinton. Scratched: Troy Catterene.

Second heat

Fast qualifier Frank Heckenast Jr., running the high side, held off an early challenge from Jeep Van Wormer on the inside groove and pulled away to win by more than a third-lap margin. Heckenast cruised the second half of the race while Van Wormer moved up to chase him home. Fourth-starting Dona Marcoullier got the third and final transfer spot while outside front-row starter Andrew Reaume dropped back to finish fourth. Track promoter John Bores spun in turn two on the first start, drawing a caution and setting a restart.

Finish: Frank Heckenast Jr., Jeep Van Wormer, Dona Marcoullier, Andrew Reaume, Rick Bond, Matt Irey, Dan Wallace, Ernie Haynes,, Larry Kingseed, John Bores. Scratched: Chris Keller.

First heat

Polesitter Shannon Babb built a half-straightaway lead after just a lap and a half, but had to hold off a late charge from Scott James to win the first prelim. Fellow front-row starter Scott James drew a big closer mid-race and got right on Babb's deck lid when a slowing car hampered Babb on the final lap. James fell just shy of the lead in settling for second. The third transfer spot went to third-starting Ryan Markham, who finished just ahead of tail-starting Rusty Schlenk, who ran the high side into contention after failing to get a qualifying time. Schlenk will be on the pole of the B-main.

Finish: Shannon Babb, Scott James, Ryan Markham, Rusty Schlenk, Cody Scott, Ken Hahn, Nick Bartels, Dave Hornikel, John Mayes Jr., Tim Sabo, Tim Gingery.


Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., topped a series-high 54 qualifiers Thursday at Attica Raceway Park on the 27th and penultimate race of the month-long UMP DIRTcar Summernationals.

In setting his fourth fast time of the tour, Heckenast turned a lap of 14.813 seconds on the third-mile oval and will start on the pole of the second heat race. Other heat race polesitters based on group qualifying: Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill.; Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill.; Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill.; and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill.

The top three finishers of each of five heat races transfer to the 40-lap feature, which pays $5,000-to-win. Two C-mains, a B-main and selection of provisional starters will help fill the the 22-car field.

Pre-race notes

Rusty Schlenk, Jerry Bowersock and Mike Spatola were among those who had problems in time trials as a deep cushion developed in the corners. ... Jerry Bowersock pounded the turn-three cushion hard during time trials and lost power. ... Series points leader Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., will also be trying to take another step toward the $25,000 title as he enters the event with a solid 76-point leading over reigning and three-time champ Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill. If Shirley finishes 12th or better at Attica and Saturday’s finale at Oakshade Raceway — he’s only been outside the top 10 three times in 26 races — he’ll wrap up the championship even if Babb sweeps the weekend like he did last year. ... The night’s program is apparently the first series points race since the 2004 opener that Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., hasn’t attended. The three-time series champion, sixth in series points with a single victory, told officials of his intentions to drop off the tour Thursday night in Terre Haute, Ind. ... Unofficially Erb had attended 192 consecutive series points races until tonight’s race at Attica. There are two events (Macon in 2005 and Oakshade in 2007 at which he didn’t compete after lengthy rain delays). ... Ky Harper of Holland, Ohio, won last week’s Late Model feature. ... Among other previous winners on hand: three-time and reigning track champ Ryan Missler, Devin Shiels, Garrett Krummert, Rusty Schlenk and Jon Henry, a series regular. ... Besides Late Models, 305 sprints and modifieds are in action. .... The 54 entries are the most on the series since Oakshade Raceway drew 58 cars for the 2010 finale. ... Attica's Late Model qualifying record is 14.303 seconds set by Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., in 2010.

Time trials (unofficial)

(Heat races start straightup by time)
First group
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 14.961
Scott James (81), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 15.576
Ryan Markham (5m), Ashland, Ohio, 15.627
Nick Bartels (27), El Segundo, Calif., 15.861
Tim Sabo (83), Fremont, Ohio, 15.948
John Mayes Jr. (69), Belmore, Ohio, 15.978
Ken Hahn (27), Gibsonburg, Ohio, 16.253
Dave Hornikel (71), Mansfield, Ohio, 16.333
Cody Scott (92), Ontario, Ohio, 16.427
Jim Gingery (03), Bucryus, Ohio, 16.670
Rusty Schlenk (1s), Weston, Ohio, 18.500
Second group
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 14.813
Andrew Reaume (88), Blenheim, Ontario, 15.238
Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 15.473
Dona Marcoullier (6m), Houghton Lake, Mich., 15.54
John Bores (48), Bellevue, Ohio, 15.784
Larry Kingseed (21), Castalia, Ohio, 16.122
Rick Bond (007), Mansfield, Ohio, 16.123
Ernie Haynes (5H), Rising Sun, Ohio, 16.174
Matt Irey (36), Mansfield, Ohio, 16.212
Dan Wallace (x3), Toledo, Ohio, 16.545
Chris Keller (00), Adrian, Mich., no time
Third group
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 15.015
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 15.277
Mike Bores (15), Bellevue, Ohio, 15.549
Dusty Moore (75), Swanton, Ohio, 16.062
Jerry Lierly (7L), Camp Point, Ill., 16.065
Rocky Owens (29), Mansfield, Ohio, 16.247
Wayne Maffett Jr. (40), Mansfield, Ohio, 16.378
Kathy Jarvis (30), Park City, Utah, 16.918
Jason Hinton (151), Mansfield, Ohio, 17.224
Jerry Bowersock (20), Wapakoneta, Ohio, no time
Troy Catterene (9c), Lima, Ohio, no time
Fourth group
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 15.178
Ryan Missler (50B), Bellevue, Ohio, 15.879
Jeff Babcock (1B), Wayne, Ohio, 15.882
Justin Coulter (555), Leamington, Ontario, 15.991
Justin Chance (02), Mansfield, Ohio, 16.092
Kyle Perry (06), Perrysburg, Ohio, 16.291
B.J. Gregory (56), Swanton, Ohio, 16.392
Ky Harper (34), Holland, Ohio, 16.446
Jason Riggs (81jr), Harrisburg, Ill., 16.826
Pat Ehlert (71c), Ovid, Mich., no time
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., no time
Fifth group
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 15.325
Jon Henry (15), Ada, Ohio, 15.489
Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 15.709
Matt Miller (7), Whitehouse, Ohio, 15.832
Devin Shiels (51), Britton, Mich., 15.998
Garrett Krummert (29k), New Castle, Pa., 16.011
Casey Noonan (1n), Sylvania, Ohio, 16.061
Brandon Perkins (01), Republic, Ohio, 16.561
Steve Sabo (99), Fremont, Ohio, 16.803
Nate Potts (30), Bellevue, Ohio, 43.334

Feature lineup

Row 1: Unzicker, Heckenast
Row 2: Babb, Shirley
Row 3: Henry, James
Row 4: Van Wormer, Feger
Row 5: Missler, Sheppard
Row 6: Markham, Marcoullier
Row 7: Lierly, Babcock
Row 8: McBride, Schlenk
Row 9: Reaume, Chance
Row 10: Spatola, Miller
Row 11: M. Bores, Bartels
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