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La Salle Speedway

Erb collects $2,000 in Thaw Brawl tuneup

March 30, 2013, 6:50 am
From staff reports
Dennis Erb Jr. (28) outduels Shannon Babb (18) in La Salle's first heat. (Jeff Hall)
Dennis Erb Jr. (28) outduels Shannon Babb (18) in La Salle's first heat. (Jeff Hall)

La SALLE, Ill. (March 29) — Pole-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., outdueled fellow front-row starter Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., in the early laps at La Salle Speedway on Friday for a $2,000 victory in the 30-lap weekend opener at the Thaw Brawl. | Video | Slideshow

Erb and the 45 other entrants will continue action Saturday at La Salle with the $10,000-to-win Thaw Brawl finale on the Sunoco American Late Model Series at the quarter-mile oval.

Hubbard got the edge on Erb at the outset, leading the first lap before Erb slipped ahead to grab the point before and early caution for Kevin Weaver, Brian Shirley and Brandon Sheppard, all involved in a turn-two incident.

From there, Erb kept Hubbard in check and raced to victory at La Salle, where he’s among the former track champions.

Hubbard settled for second just ahead of Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., while Frank Heckenast Jr., of Frankfort, Ill., was fourth. Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., rounded out the top five while Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, advanced six positions for a sixth-place finish.

The lone caution slowed the action in the UMP DIRTcar points race as 18 of 23 starters finished on the lead lap.

Notes: Erb’s Bloomquist Race Car has a Kuntz & Co. powerplant with sponsorship from JL Scrap Metals, J.R. McBride Leasing, PRC, Petersen Aluminum and Hoosier Tire. ... He notched his fourth overall victory of 2013; he has three Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victories. ... Erb’s last victory at La Salle came in ALMS action last August; he also earned $5,000 for winning last year’s Thaw Brawl. ... Erb topped his qualifying group in time trials while Torin Mettille, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jimmy Mars and Jon Henry did the same. ... Several of the 46 drivers were refugees from Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway's rainout of its NDRL opener. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature lineup: Ryan Unzicker, Brandon Thirlby, Matt Furman, Jeff Babcock, Greg Kimmons, Chris Keller, Tim Isenberg, Chad Stapleton, Rusty Schlenk, Ryan VanderVeen and Scott Bull. ... Saturday’s action includes a complete program for $10,000-to-win on the ALMS opener.

Thaw Brawl opener: (1) Dennis Erb Jr., (2) Austin Hubbard, (3) Jimmy Mars, (4) Frank Heckenast Jr., (5) Jason Feger, (6) Brian Birkhofer, (7) Chris Simpson, (8) Jesse Stovall, (9) Billy Drake, (10) Brian Ruhlman, (11) Russ Scheffler, (12) Kyle Logue, (13) Torin Mettille, (14) Casey Noonan, (15) Brian Shirley, (16) Rich Bell, (17) Jason Jaggers, (18) Kevin Weaver, (19) Shannon Babb, (20) Scott Schmitt, (21) Jay Morris, (22) Jon Henry, (23) Brandon Sheppard. Fast qualifier (among 46 cars): Erb, 13.01 seconds. Heat race winners: Erb, Hubbard, Heckenast, Mars, Henry. Consolation winners: Noonan, Birkhofer.

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