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Volusia Speedway Park

Erb dominates Volusia for $10,000 WoO victory

February 23, 2012, 5:13 pm
From series and staff reports
Dennis Erb Jr. scores a $10,000 victory at Volusia. (stlracing.com)
Dennis Erb Jr. scores a $10,000 victory at Volusia. (stlracing.com)

BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 23) – Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., tamed a demanding track to capture Thursday night’s 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series feature at Volusia Speedway Park.

The 39-year-old UMP DIRTcar veteran overtook WoO standout Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., for the lead on lap 28 and never looked back in the national tour’s first event of the 41st annual UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment. He pocketed $10,000 for his first-ever triumph at the half-mile oval outside Daytona Beach.

It was Erb’s third career win on the WoO tour. Both of his previous victories came in a one-week span of May 2007.

“This is a big win for us,” said Erb, a longtime owner-operator who campaigns a Team Zero by Bloomquist Race Car with a Vic Hill Engine under the hood. “The car’s been working real good the last couple nights and to get here in Victory Lane at Volusia for the first time really makes me excited.”

Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., who swept last year’s pair of WoO events run during the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit, passed Frank on lap 48 and went on to finish second. He crossed the finish line 1.935 seconds behind Erb.

Frank, who raced off the outside pole starting spot to lead laps 1-27, settled for a third-place finish in his Rocket machine. Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., started and finished fourth in the Barry Wright house car and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., advanced from the 11th starting spot to place fifth.

Erb, who started from the pole position but was outgunned for the top spot by Frank at the race’s initial green flag, chased the 50-year-old WoO regular through six caution flags and one red flag before finally making his winning move. He ducked underneath Frank exiting turn two and was in front for good as lap 28 was scored.

“We were just sitting back there trying to get a run on him,” Erb said of Frank. “We were looking for the right time to get by him. We were able to get up underneath him, and then after that I knew it was gonna be pretty tough to beat us because we had a pretty good car.”

Erb, who preceded his victory with finishes of second (Monday) and fifth (Tuesday) in DIRTcar UMP-sanctioned 30-lappers at Volusia, built a straightaway-plus advantage before the field was tightened on lap 47 by the the race’s seventh and final caution flag. Frank was unable to offer a challenge on the restart and ultimately lost second to Bloomquist on lap 48.

“I couldn’t get through (turns) one and two,” said Frank, who is winless on the WoO tour since Aug. 22, 2009 (a span of 87 races). “I was horrible unless I hit it just right. I was trying to cut across the bottom, but it would just wash out because I was too tight.

“We’re tickled though. I wanna win, but we’ll take a top three at this place for the points.”

Bloomquist, 48, spent most of the distance running in third place. He reached the spot on lap 18 after starting sixth.

“We tightened our car up – and even though it wasn’t much, it was just too much,” said Bloomquist. “I just thought the couple adjustments I made would be alright, but it was just miserable tight.

“Considering that, I’m happy for Dennis to win, and I’m happy to run second.”

With heavy, extremely fast track conditions prevailing after a rainout of Wednesday’s UMP-sanctioned program and several showers through early afternoon on Thursday, the race proved tough on equipment.

The event was just three laps old when a multi-car accident in turn four swept up Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., and John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y. Fuller and Mars were eliminated from competition.

The race’s most significant incident occurred on lap nine. Mid-pack jostling caused a pileup that saw defending UMP national champion Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., roll onto his roof. Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif., and Frankie Heckenast Jr. of Orland Park, Ill., were also involved in the tangle.

Unzicker climbed out of his car and gingerly walked to the ambulance for a check-up.

Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., moved from the 16th starting spot to sixth at the finish in a Team Dillon car. Defending WoO LMS champ Rick Eckert of York, Pa., was seventh after using a provisional to start 25th because a last-lap heat-race tangle with the lapped car driven by St. Charles, Mo.’s Mike Hammerle knocked him from a transfer spot. Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., was eighth, WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished a quiet ninth and Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., faded to 10th at the finish after climbing as high as third.

Richards, who started 10th, got as high as third and was still running fifth when he brought out the race’s last caution flag on lap 47. He slowed because he had used all his helmet tear-offs and could barely see through his mud-caked shield. He made a quick pit stop to change a flat right-rear tire, which was cut by a hit he absorbed as he slowed, and exchange his helmet.

DIRTcar Nationals: (1) Dennis Erb Jr., (2) Scott Bloomquist, (3) Chub Frank, (4) Steve Francis, (5) Jimmy Owens, (6) Dale McDowell, (7) Rick Eckert, (8) Josh Richards, (9) Darrell Lanigan, (10) Shane Clanton, (11) John Blankenship, (12) Clint Smith, (13) Mike Marlar, (14) Frank Heckenast Jr., (15) Bub McCool, (16) Vic Coffey, (17) Jason Feger, (18) Tim McCreadie, (19) Earl Pearson Jr., (20) Steve Isenberg, (21) Don O'Neal, (22) Pat Doar, (23) John Lobb, (24) Dennis Franklin (25) Billy Moyer, (26) Ryan Unzicker, (27) Tyler Reddick, (28) Jimmy Mars, (29) Tim Fuller, (30) Brady Smith. Fast qualifier (among 79 cars): Clanton, 15.446 seconds. Heat race winners: Erb, Frank, Moyer, Bloomquist, Feger Francis. Consolation race winners: Blankenship, Franklin, Mars. Provisional starters: Eckert, Coffey, Doar, C. Smith, Lobb, Fuller.

Redraw and provisionals

Dennis Erb Jr. drew the pole in a redraw among heat race winners. He'll be joined on the front row by Chub Frank, while Jason Feger and Steve Francis, who won Monday's feature, will share the second row. Tuesday's winner Billy Moyer will start fifth with Scott Bloomquist sixth. ... Rick Eckert and Vic Coffey will be the races World of Outlaws provisional starters. Eckert, the defending series champion earned the provisional for being the highest finisher in the 2011 standings not to transfer, while Coffey is the highest driver in the current standings not to transfer. ... Pat Doar, Clint Smith, John Lobb, Tim Fuller.

Third consolation

Jimmy Mars cruised the victory in the final consolation race, while Tyler Reddick finished second to grab the final transfer spot.

Finish (top 10): Jimmy Mars, Tyler Reddick, Billy Decker, Clint Smith, Donnie Moran, Eric Wells, Jared Hawkins, Shelby Miles, Pat Doar, Gerg Johnson.

Second consolation

In a three-car battle for the lead, Dennis Franklin overtook a badly fading Brady Smith in the final corner and pulled ahead of Smith and Tim Fuller to score the victory. Smith, whose car suffered heavy sheet metal damage when the lapped car of Mike Hammerlee spun in front of the leaders, held off a hard-charging Fuller to earn the race's other transfer spot. Hammerlee's spin in front of the leaders, his second of the night, took out third-running Hunter Peacock, who was battling Franklin for second.

Finish (top 10): Dennis Franklin, Brady Smith, Tim Fuller, Jack Sullivan, Jim Yoder, Vic Coffey, Brandon Sheppard, Charlie Sandercock, John Lobb, Billy Moyer Jr.

First consolation

Surviving a race of attrition, John Blankenship cruised to the win in a race that only transferred two drivers to the main event. Earl Pearson Jr. rallied on the top side to pass rookie contender Kent Robinson for the final transfer spot on the final lap. After three first-lap cautions, the race was again slowed and went under a red flag after John Lowrey went for a wild barrel roll down the front straightaway on an early restart. Lowrey, the California driver who also had a hard wreck last week during World of Outlaws action at nearby Ocala Speedway, wasn't injured, but his car suffered heavy damage.

Running at finish: John Blankenship, Earl Pearson Jr., Kent Robinson, Morgan Bagley, Aaron Ridley, J.R. Hotovy, Phil Ausra, Jason McBride, Jill George.

Sixth heat

After surving a tangle with Eric Wells on an early restart, second-starting Jason Feger held off a late charge by Don O'Neal to win the final heat race. O'Neal settled for second with polesitter Frank Heckenast finishing third to also make the feature lineup. Feger's left-rear quarter-panel was pushed in when third-running Eric Wells jumped the gun on a lap-two restart and spun both drivers. The field never went green and Feger was given his spot back while Wells went to the rear. The race was slowed by multiple cautions: Billy Ogle Jr. slowed on the opening lap and Michael Norris spun on lap two. Attempts to restart the race were waved off due to the Feger-Wells tangle first, then Chris Nash's ride down the wall on the second attempt. Nash pulled to the pit area.

Finish: Jason Feger, Don O'Neal, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jimmy Mars, Tyler Reddick, Justin Rattliff, Donnie Moran, Eric Well, Jared Hawkins, Gerg Johnson, Chris Nash, Billy Ogle Jr.

Fifth heat

Polesitter Steve Francis got the jump on fellow front-row starter Gregg Satterlee and led every lap for the win. Jimmy Owens and Mike Marlar earned the other two transfer spots after moving up from back in the pack to finish second and third respectively. Satterlee's race went downhill in the first turn when he and Billy Decker tangled and slid high. The race's only caution was caused by Freddie Carpenter with two laps complete.

Finish: Steve Francis, Jimmy Owens, Mike Marlar, Billy Decker, Clint Smith, Shelby Miles, Gregg Satterlee, Pat Doar, Freddie Carpenter, Terry Casey, Alan Fink.

Fourth heat

Second-starting Scott Bloomquist took the lead when polesitter Josh Richards bobbled in turn one and led every lap for the victory. Dale McDowell also moved by Richards on the opening lap, but Richards retook the position on a restart with one lap remaining. McDowell settled for the third and final transfer spot. Defending WoO champion Rick Eckert moved by Richards for third late in the 10-lap prelim and was pressuring McDowell for second on the final lap when he tangled with the lapped car of Mike Hammerlee, setting up the final-lap restart. The race's first caution came on the opening lap when Brian Shirley and Shannon Babb got together in turn two. Shirley left the race with a flat left-rear tire.

Finish: Scott Bloomquist, Josh Richards, Dale McDowell, Dennis Franklin, Shannon Babb, Jim Yoder, Vic Coffey, John Lobb, Rick Eckert, Mike Hammerlee.

Third heat

Polesitter Chub Frank pulled to a comfortable lead over runner-up Steve Isenberg on his way to winning another caution-free heat race. Frank avoided disaster when he nearly hit the wall on the front straightaway. He had to let out and jerk left, but his lead was large enough that Isenburg never got close enough to challenge.World of Outlaws rookie contender Bub McCool finished third to also make the main event.

Finish: Chub Frank, Steve Isenberg, Bub McCool, Brady Smith, Hunter Peacock, Dillon Wood, Danny Mitchell, Brandon Sheppard, Tim Fuller, Austin Hubbard, Billy Moyer Jr., Charlie Sandercock, Ron Davies.

Second heat

Polesitter Billy Moyer moved to the lead on the start and led every lap for a convincing victory in the caution-free race. While Moyer pulled to nearly a straightaway advantage, Ryan Unizcker held off Tim McCreadie in a close battle for the runner-up finish. Both Unizicker and McCreadie will join Moyer in the main event. Outside polesitter J.R. Hotovy jumped the cushion on the first lap and never recovered; he finished sixth.

Finish: Billy Moyer, Ryan Unzicker, Tim McCreadie, Kent Robinson, Morgan Bagley, J.R. Hotovy, Dan Stone, Jason McBride, Mason Ziegler, Duane Harbaugh, Scott James, Chad Hollenbeck, Todd Frank.

First heat

Grabbing the lead on the start of the 10-lap prelim, second-starting Dennis Erb Jr. led the entire distacne for the win. Polesitter Shane Clanton was second in the caution-free race, while Darrell Lanigan overtook Jonathan Davenport on the final lap to claim the third and final transfer position.

Finish: Dennis Erb Jr., Shane Clanton, Darrell Lanigan, Jonathan Davenport, John Blankenship, Jared Landers, Earl Pearson Jr., Jill George, John Lowrey, John Harvin Jr., Tyler Bruening, Jeff Beyers, Phil Ausura. Scratch: Randy Korte.

Time trials

Debuting a new engine in his Capital Race Car, Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., topped 79 qualifiers during time trials for Thursday’s UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment event with a lap of 15.446 seconds around Volusia Speedway Park’s half-mile oval.

Clanton will start from the pole of the first of six World of Outlaws Late Model Series heat races coming up. Other heat race polesitters unofficially: Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., who won Tuesday’s feature; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.; two-time WoO champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.; Monday’s winner Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.; and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y.

The six heat races will each transfer three drivers into the night’s 50-lap, $10,000-to-win main event, while three consolation races will each transfer two more drivers. Provisional starting spots will go to the highest finisher in the 2011 WoO standings and the highest driver in the current standings not already in the event.

Thursday’s race is the fourth scheduled event for the six-race Florida Speedweeks miniseries. Francis and Moyer's victories came in UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned events. Wednesday’s third-round action was rained out and rescheduled, forcing a Friday doubleheader at the half-mile track.

Pre-race notes

The race is the fifth event of the season for the World of Outlaws tour. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who won two of the first four races, leads the national tour’s point standings followed by Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., and Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who each have one victory. Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., and rookie contender Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., round out the current top five. ... Shane Clanton is scheduled to compete for the first time since blowing an engine Monday at Volusia. The evening's hot laps session will be the first laps on his new Clements Racing Engine. ... Drivers entering their first event of the week include Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., Jared Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va., Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., Hunter Peacock of Macon, Ga., Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., and Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C. ... Duke Whiseant of Texarkana, Ark., is among drivers not competing Thursday. He’s done for the week.

Qualifying (unofficial)

  1. Shane Clanton (25), Fayetteville, Ga., 15.446
  2. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.447
  3. Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 15.555
  4. Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.588
  5. Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.603
  6. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.624
  7. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 15.638
  8. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.651
  9. J.R. Hotovy (13), Covert, Mich., 15.678
  10. Steve Isenberg (9), Marshfield, Wis., 15.68
  11. Gregg Satterlee (22), Rochester Mills, Pa., 15.752
  12. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.753
  13. Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 15.753
  14. Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 15.785
  15. Bub McCool (57j), Vicksburg, Miss., 15.809
  16. Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., 15.82
  17. Billy Decker (91), Unadilla, N.Y., 15.854
  18. Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 15.861
  19. Jonathan Davenport (15), Blairsville, Ga., 15.865
  20. Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 15.872
  21. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.885
  22. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.888
  23. Aaron Ridley (16r), Chatsworth, Ga., 15.896
  24. John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 15.897
  25. Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 15.902
  26. Hunter Peacock (12), Macon, Ga., 15.91
  27. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.914
  28. Mike Marlar (5), Winfield, Tenn., 15.918
  29. Don O'Neal (1D), Martinsville, Ind., 15.943
  30. Jared Landers (5), Batesville, Ark., 15.957
  31. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., 15.959
  32. Dillon Wood (1w), New Symrna Beach, Fla., 15.971
  33. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 15.99
  34. Pat Doar (11), New London, Wis., 15.999
  35. Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.018
  36. Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.03
  37. Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 16.038
  38. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.059
  39. Dennis Franklin (37c), Gaffney, S.C., 16.072
  40. Clint Smith (44), Senoia, Ga., 16.114
  41. Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 16.131
  42. Jill George (22), Cedar Falls, Iowa, 16.135
  43. Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 16.135
  44. Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 16.147
  45. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.155
  46. Terry Casey (42), New London, Wis., 16.173
  47. Donnie Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 16.219
  48. John Garvin (J4), Sarver, Pa., 16.222
  49. Dan Stone (21D), Thompson, Pa., 16.269
  50. Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.286
  51. Jim Yoder (27), Selinsgrove, Pa., 16.29
  52. Eric Jacobsen (5), Seacliff Beach, Calif., 16.296
  53. Vic Coffey (32c), Caledonia, N.Y., 16.298
  54. Billy Ogle Jr. (201), Knoxville, Tenn., 16.318
  55. John Lowrey (8), Bakersfield, Calif., 16.359
  56. Mason Ziegler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 16.371
  57. Danny Mitchell (18D), Clarksburg, W.Va., 16.373
  58. Lance Matthees (90), Winona, Minn., 16.402
  59. Greg Johnson (49), Bedford, Ind., 16.41
  60. Tyler Bruening, (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.437
  61. Scott James (81), Lawrenceburg, Ind, 16.48
  62. Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y., 16.488
  63. Jack Sullivan (1s), Greenbrier, Ark., 16.496
  64. Freddie Carpenter (c4), Parkersburg, W.Va., 16.504
  65. Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.627
  66. Phil Ausra (15A),Dowagiac, Mich., 16.664
  67. Duane Harbaugh (87), Hedgesville, W.Va., 16.771
  68. Ron Davies (71D), Warren, Pa., 16.808
  69. John Lobb (28), Frewsburg, N.Y., 16.82
  70. Shelby Miles (76), Bloomington, Ind., 16.858
  71. Jared Hawkins (37), Fairmont, W.Va., 16.916
  72. Jeff Beyers (27), Pana, Ill., 16.978
  73. Todd Frank (21), Green Bay, Wis., 16.981
  74. Charlie Sandercock (57), Belleville, Ontario, 17.228
  75. Mike Hammerlee (16), St. Charles, Mo., 17.935
  76. Alan Fink (15), Brewerton, N.Y., 17.965
  77. Chris Nash (54), Kalamazoo, Mich., 18.187
  78. Randy Korte (81), Highland, Ill., no time

Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., time not announced

Feature lineup

Row 1: Erb, C. Frank
Row 2: Feger, Francis
Row 3: Moyer, Bloomquist
Row 4: Clanton, Unzicker
Row 5: Isenberg, Richards
Row 6: Owens, O’Neal
Row 7: Lanigan, McCreadie
Row 8: McCool, McDowell
Row 9: Marlar, Heckenast
Row 10: Blankenship, Franklin
Row 11: Mars, Pearson
Row 12: Smith, Reddick
Row 13: Eckert, Coffey
Row 14: Smith, Doar
Row 15: Fuller, Lobb

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