Babb rules Macon, wins 4th Herald & Review 100
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
MACON, Ill. (July 11) — Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., took the lead from Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., midway through Thursday’s 33rd annual Herald & Review 100 at Macon Speedway and led the remainder of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals event for his series-leading fifth victory during the 19th race on the month-long tour. | Complete Summernationals coverage
Babb mastered the tiny fifth-mile track’s middle groove to climb from his ninth-starting spot and outdueled the high-running Shirley and low-running Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., in a three-wide battle for the lead. He took the top spot on lap 47 and never looked back, dominating the second half of the 100-lap race to earn $5,000 for his fourth-career Herald & Review 100 victory.
Series points leader and polesitter Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., was second while Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., held off Dustin Griffin of Camp Point, Ill., in a late battle for third. Steve Sheppard Jr., the runner-up’s father, rounded out the top five while Shirley ended up 18th after retiring midway through the 100-lapper.
“I found (the middle groove) right away,” said Babb, the three-time Summernationals champion who closed to 45 points behind Sheppard in the tour’s current standings. “The bottom was a little bit slick, and the top is hard to be consistent. My car just felt really good in the middle.
“I didn’t know how long it was gonna last. It kind of went away there at the end, but once we were in the lead we were alright.”
With the victory, Babb not only continued to chip away at Sheppard’s Summernationals points lead; he also closed to within one win of Hall of Fame racer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., atop the tour’s all-time wins list with his 81st-career tour win.
“That’s a little goal I’ve set for myself,” Babb said of his quest to match and surpass Moyer’s Summernationals wins mark. “I’m sure he’s at home right now tuning on that thing getting ready to come out here and school me. But as long as we can get close to him that makes me feel pretty good.”
While Babb dominated the second half of the race, it was Shirley who controlled the early laps. He edged ahead of Sheppard at the line to lead the first lap as part of side-by-side battle that lasted through the first three laps. Sheppard had just conceded the early lead to Shirley and settled into second behind Shirley in the top groove when the race’s first caution waved with four laps complete.
Sheppard chased Shirley in the laps following the restart before Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., shuffled him back to third on lap eight. Four laps later, Sheppard tagged the wall in turn two, causing him to drop to fifth.
A restart with 17 laps complete gave Weaver a chance to challenge Shirley for the lead, and the two drivers went at it for the next 23 laps, with the high-running Shirley maintaining a slight edge of the low-running Weaver each time by the flag stand.
Heavy traffic allowed Babb and Unzicker to close and make it a four-car battle for the lead at times before Rich Bell got into the back straightaway wall to cause the race’s third caution on lap 40.
The pause gave the leaders clear track, and Babb took advantage to grab second from Weaver a few laps later. It was Shirley and Babb’s turn to race side-by-side for the lead in the follow laps before the lapped car of Steve Kester caused Shirley to check up and allowed Babb to pull ahead for the lead on lap 47.
The third-running Sheppard caught a break on lap 55 when he got into the back of the lapped car of Rich Bell, sending Bell spinning directly in front of him. The incident nearly forced Sheppard into the wall, but he somehow managed to crawl between Bell and the concrete and keep his car rolling, allowing him to keep his spot for the restart.
Shirley was knocked from contention a few laps later when he slowed from the second spot and headed for the pits during the ensuing caution.
As the field began to sort out after the race’s halfway point, Babb’s dominance began to pick up. He opened nearly a straightaway lead as the race ran green from lap 55 to lap 70.
Babb continued to flex his muscle after the restart and cruised through the final 30 laps in claiming the victory by nearly a straightaway.
Thursday’s race was the first of five straight nights of racing for the tour, which moves to Kankakee (Ill.) County Speedway on Friday for a $10,000-to-win event.
Notes: Babb’s Victory Circle Chassis is sponsored by Petroff Towing, Donley Trucking, Kreke’s Powerhouse, Allstar Performance and PRC. ... Babb tied Weaver and retired Hall of Famer Bob Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., for the most Herald & Review 100 victories. ... The first caution was four a Matt Taylor and Jason McBride tangle that collected Todd Frank. ... The second caution appeared on lap 17 when the lapped car of Jason Papich got into the front straightaway wall after contact with third-running Unzicker. ... Ryan Little slowed from back in the pack to cause a lap-70 yellow.
Herald & Review 100: (1) Shannon Babb, (2) Brandon Sheppard, (3) Ryan Unzicker, (4) Dustin Griffin, (5) Steve Sheppard Jr., (6) Kevin Weaver, (7) Bobby Pierce, (8) Tim Lance, (9) Kyle Logue, (10) Frankie Martin, (11) Ryan Little, (12) Greg Kimmons, (13) Steve Kester, (14) Joseph Hughes, (15) Rich Bell, (16) Jason McBride, (17) Brian Diveley, (18) Brian Shirley, (19) Jason Papich, (20) Matt Taylor, (21) Rick Standridge, (22) Todd Frank. Fast qualifier (among 32 cars): Logue, 10.719 seconds. Heat winners: B. Sheppard, Shirley, Weaver, Unzicker. B-main winner: Logue. Provisional starters: Frank, Martin, Standridge, Papich.
Blog-style reports of Thursday's prelims:
Redraw and notes
Series points leader Brandon Sheppard will start from the pole of the 100-lap main event after redraw among heat race winners. Last year's race winner Brian Shirley will join Sheppard on the front row with Kevin Weaver and Ryan Unzicker sharing row two. ... The C-main was scratched from the program. All cars not locked in the feature after heats will run the B-main. ... Todd Frank and Jason Papich will use Summernationals series provisionals to start the main event with Frankie Martin using the track provisonal and Rick Standridge using the UMP points provisional. ... Brian Shirley thought that contact that nearly sent him spinning early in the second heat race was from his car owner and teammate Tim Lance. Shirley didn’t know it was actually Bobby Pierce that got into the back of him, and was ready to let Lance hear all about it when he got back to the team’s pit area. “I got back to the truck and shouted at Tim ‘how ya gonna wreck your own car?’ But he told me real quick it wasn’t him,” Shirley joked. ... When Brandon Sheppard drove between Kyle Logue and Jason Papich to make it three wide for the lead in the first heat, Logue though for sure the three drivers were doomed. "I thought 'oh no, we're about to wreck.' But somehow we all stayed off of each other,” Logue said. "You try to leave a little room, and you don't expect somebody to take up that little bit of space, but he made it work." While he was kicking himself for leaving Sheppard enough room to make his bold move, Logue was happy with his performance the rest of the way as he nearly took the lead back in the closing laps. “I felt like we were faster than him,” Logue said. “I think we’ve got something for them here in the feature.”
Brian Diveley used a high-side rally to advancing from fourth in the 12-lap B-main, overtaking Jason McBride in the closing laps to claim the win and a feature starting spot. McBride held off Roger Brickler and Craig Vosbergen to grab the race's other transfer spot. The race was slowed early for a tangle back in the pack, and Andrew Barnes got into the wall and spun to cause a lap-four caution.
Finish: Brian Diveley, Jason McBride, Roger Brickler, Craig Vosbergen, Wes Steidinger, Rick Standridge, Frankie Martin, Jason Papich, Adam Mefford, Randy Myers.
Polesitter Ryan Unzicker lead all the way in the fourth and final heat, beating second-starting Greg Kimmons by a few car lengths at the finish. Kimmons kept within striking distance of Unzicker most of the way, but he couldn't got close enough to make a serious challenge. Joseph Hughes was third with Steve Kester claiming the race's fourth and final transfer spot. The race's only caution appeared with fix laps complete when Todd Frank got into the wall and spun at the top of turn two and Andrew Barnes spun to avoid him.
Finish: Ryan Unzicker, Greg Kimmons, Joseph Hughes, Steve Kester, Randy Myers, Marvin Burton, Todd Frank, Andrew Barnes.
Kevin Weaver topped an early three-wide battle with Dustin Griffin and Steve Sheppard Jr. in heat three, then held off Griffin in a tight battle through the remaining distance. Griffin settled for second after letting Weaver slip away on the final lap, while Sheppard was third and Matt Taylor topped an early battle with Brian Diveley to claim the fourth and final transfer spot in a race with only five finishers. The race needed a complete restart after Diveley and Dick Taylor tangled in turn one on the first attempt to start the race.
Finish: Kevin Weaver, Dustin Griffin, Steve Sheppard Jr., Matt Taylor, Brian Diveley, Rodney Standerfer, Dick Taylor.
Brian Shirley pulled away from third-starting Bobby Pierce in leading every lap from the pole of the second heat. Shirley got the lead over Tim Lance on the start, but soon had pressure from Pierce. Pierce got into the back of Shirley in turns three and four on lap two, nearly sending Shirley for a spin. But Pierce backed off, and both drivers were able to regroup when Frankie Martin spun to bring out the race's only caution on the next lap. Pierce looked under Shirley for the few laps following the restart, but Shirley pulled away in the closing laps. Pierce settled for second with Lance third, while Ryan Little topped Roger Brickler in a close battle for the fourth and final transfer spot.
Finish: Brian Shirley, Bobby Pierce, Tim Lance, Ryan Little, Roger Brickler, Wes Steidinger, Frankie Martin, Adam Mefford.
Fourth-starting Brandon Sheppard split front-row starters Kyle Logue and Jason Papich on lap three and later held off Logue through the second-half of the 10-lapper to win in a side-by-side finish. Logue had trouble clearing Papich in the race's first two laps, allowing Sheppard to sneak through the middle of the two in a three-wide pass. Logue moved by Papich a lap later and hung with Sheppard following the race's only restart with four laps complete. The high-running Sheppard turned back each of Logue's low-side challenges for the win. Logue settled for second with Shannon Babb third and Rich Bell fourth to also make the main event. Papich spun from fourth on the final lap.
Finish: Brandon Sheppard, Kyle Logue, Shannon Babb, Rich Bell, Jason McBride, Craig Vosbergen, Jason Papich, Rich Standridge.
Kyle Logue’s qualifying lap Thursday night at Macon Speedway wasn’t quite as fast as his track-record time in 2008, but it was good enough to top 32 qualifiers for Macon’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals-sanctioned Herald & Review 100.
Logue, who was the first car out during Thursday’s qualifying session, will start from the pole of the first of four heat races coming up at the tiny fifth-mile oval. Defending race winner and Summernationals champion Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., will lead the second heat to green, while three-time race winner Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., and Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., will start from the pole of heats three and four.
The top four finishers in each heat will transfer to the $5,000-to-win main event with the heat winners redrawing for their starting spots. Two more drivers will earn feature starting spots through consolation races with four provisional starters rounding out the 22-car field.
The qualifying session was slowed when Rodney Standerfer’s slammed the wall in between turns three and four on his first qualifying lap. After a brief delay, Standerfer restarted his car and completed his run.
Summernationals points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., leads the series into the event with a 50-point advantage over Shannon Babb, the three-time-series champion who moved from fourth to second in the standings after claiming his fourth series victory in the tour’s most-recent event Tuesday at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky. Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., is followed by Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., and Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., who are tied for third in the standings, 61 points behind Sheppard. ... Macon’s event is the first of five straight nights of racing for the tour after Tuesday’s race at Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track was rained out. The Terre Haute event will not be made up, giving the tour eight remaining points races counting tonight’s race. ... Ryan Unzicker switched engines in his No. 24 machine at the track this afternoon after his crew discovered excessive wear on his previous engine. ... After skipping a few races, Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., and Tim Lance of Brimfield, Ill., are back in action in Lance’s two No. 48 cars. Shirley won last year’s race at Macon on his way to the series title. ... Former Herald & Review winner Wes Steidinger of Fairbury, Ill., is making his first appearance on this year’s tour, driving a Larry Reikert-owned Rayburn Race Car. ... Macon is hosting its 26th Summernationals race. The series has visited the track every year since 1987, except for 1998 when the race was twice rained out. ... Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., leads all drivers with four Summernationals victories at Macon. His first victory in the event came in 1991, and he won as recently as 2008. ... Shannon Babb has won the event three times since 2006. ... Twenty-eight of tonight's 32 entries are home-state drivers.
(heat races start straight up among groups)
Kyle Logue (21k), Cisco, Ill., 10.719
Jason Papich (91p), Nipomo, Calif., 10.933
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 10.960
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 11.100
Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 11.191
Rich Bell (21), Sheffield, Ill., 11.244
Craig Vosbergen (8), Perth, Western Australia, 11.273
Rick Standridge (10R), Collinsville, Ill., 11.661
Brian Shirley (48x), Chatham, Ill., 10.809
Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 11.106
Bobby Pierce (32) Oakwood, Ill., 11.188
Ryan Little (38c), Springfield, Ill., 11.246
Roger Brickler (82), Springfield, Ill., 11.361
Frankie Martin (25m), DuQuoin, Ill., 11.366
Adam Mefford (7m), Jacksonville, Ill., 11.380
Wes Steidinger (94), Fairbury, Ill., 11.495
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 10.955
Dustin Griffin (20), Camp Point, Ill., 10.980
Steve Sheppard Jr. (5s), New Berlin, Ill., 11.149
Jeremy Nichols (91), Shelbyville, Ill., 11.238
Brian Diveley (11D), Springfield, Ill., 11.350
Rodney Standerfer (28), Germantown, Ill., 11.542
Matt Taylor (24), Springfield, Ill., 11.648
Dick Taylor (4t), Riverton, Ill., 11.812
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 11.223
Greg Kimmons (27), Pleasant Plains, Ill., 11.242
Marvin Burton (97), Georgetown, Ill., 11.489
Steve Kester (77), Holland, Ohio, 11.594
Joseph Hughes (7h), Springfield, Ill., 11.678
Todd Frank (21), Mellen, Wis., 11.685
Randy Myers (12), Collinsville, Ill., 11.744
Andrew Barnes (36), Assumption, Ill., 12.332