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Daily Dirt 08/09/2020 19:32:59

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July 11
Fairbury Speedway,
Fairbury, IL
Sanction: DIRTcar Summer Nationals - $10,000
Information provided by: Todd Turner (last updated July 12, 2:27 pm)
Gundaker rallies from 15th for $10,000 victory
  1. Gordy Gundaker
  2. Rick Eckert
  3. Shannon Babb
  4. Brian Shirley
  5. Ryan Unzicker
  6. Jason Feger
  7. Frank Heckenast Jr.
  8. Bobby Pierce
  9. Tyler Carpenter
  10. Johnny Scott
  11. Allen Weisser
  12. Bob Gardner
  13. Tim Lance
  14. Mike Glasscock
  15. Daryn Klein
  16. Mike Spatola
  17. Scott Schmitt
  18. Jeffrey Ledford
  19. Ryan Gustin
  20. McKay Wenger
  21. Billy Moyer
  22. Matt Lux
  23. Adam Tischhauser
  24. Eric Smith
presented by
Brendon Bauman/brendonbauman.com
Gordy Gundaker (11) stalks Shannon Babb (18) in the closing laps.
What won the race: Rallying from 15th, a hub-hugging Gordy Gundaker went past Shannon Babb on lap 46 Saturday at Fairbury Speedway for a $10,000 DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory.
Key notes: Officials hurriedly beat an approaching storm that hit hard about a half-hour after the checkers, knocking out power and felling limbs and branches. ... Covid-19 restrictions forced a revamping of the tour schedule, which includes splitting the tour for the first time into July and August phases (no racing between July 26-Aug. 11). ... Fairbury is part of VP Racing Fuels Week, the first of five weeks carrying a $5,000 points fund. ... The series pays $25,000 to the champion and $2,000 to each week's top points earner. ... Series events are streamed live at DIRTvision.com.
On the move: Winner Gordy Gundaker started 15th; Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., started 13th and finished fifth.
Winner's sponsors: Gundaker’s Black Diamond Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by McKay NAPA Auto Parts, Lucas Oil, Keyser Mfg., Dooling Machine Products, Dirt Collective and High Caliber Graphics.
Points chase: After Fairbury: 1. Bobby Pierce (201); 2. Brian Shirley (159); 3. Frank Heckenast Jr. (154); 4. Allen Weisser (150); 5. Rick Eckert (145); 6. Jason Feger (138); 7. Ryan Unzicker (135); 8. Tyler Carpenter (131); 9. Gordy Gundaker (124); 10. Bob Gardner (120).
Current weather: Clear, 75°F
Car count: 37
Fast qualifier: Brian Shirley
Time: 12.525 seconds
Polesitter: Frank Heckenast Jr.
Heat race winners: Brian Shirley, Ryan Gustin, Mike Spatola, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Consolation race winners: Allen Weisser, McKay Wenger
Provisional starters: Bob Gardner, Adam Tischhauser, Scott Schmitt, Tim Lance
Next series race: July 12, Bullring at RICo Fairgrounds (East Moline, IL) $5,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.

FAIRBURY, Ill. — There are no ho-hum victories for Gordy Gundaker. And definitely no ho-hum victory celebrations.

The 27-year-old St. Charles, Mo., driver thrilled his fans once again, drawing cheers from the boisterous Fairbury Speedway crowd Saturday night by storming from his 15th starting spot to overtake Shannon Babb with five laps remaining and earn a $10,000 DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory.

The driver whose back-to-back Summer Nationals victories last season came with last-lap passes added more heroics with the deepest winning rally on the series in seven years and he saluted the crowd by climbing out of his car, then climbing the backstretch fence before heading to his raucous victory lane celebration.

"Man, to win in front of these fans means so much. These people here are the best in the country,” Gundaker said after his 50-lap victory. “They come out, they get rowdy, they love their locals. I feel proud to be one of the guys they like who comes from out of town here. Just to win in front of them, I knew I had to get up on that fence for ’em after I won.”

Gundaker, who has led fewer than 20 laps of his four career Summer Nationals victories, worked the low groove to perfection in breaking into the top five at lap 35, muscling past Rick Eckert on lap 42 for third, then going past Brian Shirley and Babb to win by 1.299 seconds at the checkers.

Eckert, the York, Pa., driver piloting Allen Murray’s car, finished second with Moweaqua, Ill.’s Babb, who led laps 33-45, in third. Shirley, the Chatham, Ill., driver who started outside the front low, led the first 32 laps and settled for fourth while reigning track champ Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., came from 13th to round out the top five. Polesitter Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., ran second early but slipped back to finish seventh.

Shirley cruised in the high groove early, but near the middle stages, Babb closed in as the frontrunners methodically tried to overtake lower-running backmarkers.

After the race’s lone caution on lap 32 — Mike Spatola got into the frontstretch wall and stopped just before the flagstand — Babb went around Shirley on the restart to take command while Gundaker continued heading for the front.

“We were so good. We could just roll around the bottom so much better than those guys,” Gundaker said. “I was kind of stuck behind a couple of guys there for a while, but I knew it was 50 laps, and I was kind of biding my time and getting in a groove there.”

After squeezing under the low-running Eckert entering turn three with eight laps remaining, Shirley and Babb were running higher on the track and Gundaker rolled past with ease. Before he knew it, he was climbing the backstretch fence.

“Hey, you’ve gotta give the people what they want. I could hear the crowd going crazy. These people just love energy and that’s what Fairbury’s all about. You know, you come to the (Prairie Dirt Classic), they’re screaming, they’re here for three or four days going nuts,” Gundaker said. “And I felt like we put on a helluva show for ’em, so I wanted to show my appreciation for the FALS Faithful, and I think we did that winning ($10,000) tonight.

“I know on that white flag lap I kind of took a glimpse at ’em as I was coming down the backstretch and I could see ’em standing up. It just sends chills.”

Eckert, who overcame a poor time-trial effort with a runner-up finish in his heat race, sought advice from Mark Richards of Rocket Chassis in trying to improve at the quarter-mile oval where he’s frequently struggled.

“It was a heckuva race,” said Eckert, who was running fourth with six laps remaining but gained two spots late. “There was four or five of us there in a pile and that’s why the fans love this place.

“(Gundaker) got to where he knocked the tires in pretty far out of (turn) four and we could get up on that bank a little bit the last couple of laps. Once I got my left-sides up there, I felt I was as good as him, but it was just too late.”

Babb thought his groove was going to be good enough to win until Gundaker entered the picture.

“The track was really wet tonight and it had a real sticky middle, and just a few shiny shots. We went softer than usual on the right-rear tire and was able to get to the lead, but it wasn’t good in the shine,” Babb said. “I think, evidently Gordy, he definitely made the best of what he could make out of the bottom. We were real happy to get to the lead and I thought we was going to be able to hold ’em off, but I didn’t see that coming.

“He’s a hard-core racer and he deserves moments like this. You know, you don’t win races by getting them given to you. He won this one for sure.”

Notes: The track hurriedly ran the feature to beat an approaching storm that arrived about 9:20 p.m.; rain and high winds littered the nearby roads with limbs and branches and tore the facing off a gas station canopy at I-55's Chenoa exit. ... Gundaker’s Summer Nationals have all come in Illinois, two at Macon Speedway (2018-19 and another at Farmer City Raceway (’19) to go with his Fairbury triumph. … His victory from 15th made him the first series driver since 2016 to win from beyond the fifth row and the deepest winning rally since Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpenterville, Ill., won June 12, 2013, at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway. … The series announced Saturday that July 26’s event at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., has been removed from the schedule because Covid-19 restrictions have kept the track closed in 2020.

Editor’s note: Additional information provided by Andy Savary.

Consolation results

(12 laps; top two transfer)

First consolation: Allen Weisser, Eric Smith, Mike Provenzano, John Provenzano, Titus Sneed, Ryan Weistart, Tim Lance Jr., Trevor Gundaker, Myles Moos. Scratched: Jay Morris, Kevin Weaver.

Second consolation: McKay Wenger, Daryn Klein, Bob Gardner, Billy Hough, Jeff Curl, Scott Schmitt, Adam Tischhauser, Jimmy Miller, Tim Lance, Derek Chandler.

Heat race recap

Several cautions slowed the second and third heats. … In the first heat, fast qualifier Brian Shirley cruised to victory. … In the second heat, Kevin Weaver had a slow rollover accident in turn four when he got sideways between the corners and collected the onrushing cars of Titus Sneed and Trevor Gundaker. The B12 ended up on its lid and while It took a few minutes to right the car, he wasn’t hurt. … Weaver, Sneed and Trevor Gundaker were all done for the heat. … Gordy Gundaker spun when the heat restarted and made the high side work late to nip Eric Smith for the final transfer spot. … In the third heat, Rick Eckert slid under Daryn Klein to take second exiting turn four just as Klein came around to spin on the frontstretch. … Scott Schmitt was part of two third-heat cautions. … Frank Heckenast Jr. ran unchallenged in the caution-free fourth heat.

Heat race results

(10 laps; top four transfer)

First heat: Brian Shirley, Shannon Babb, Jason Feger, Ryan Unzicker, Myles Moos, Allen Weisser, Jay Morris, Mike Provenzano, Ryan Weistart, Tim Lance Jr.

Second heat: Ryan Gustin, Billy Moyer, Bobby Pierce, Gordy Gundaker, Eric Smith, John Provenzano, Kevin Weaver, Trevor Gundaker, Titus Sneed.

Third heat: Mike Spatola, Rick Eckert, Johnny Scott, Mike Glasscock, Derek Chandler, Daryn Klein, Billy Hough, Tim Lance, Scott Schmitt.

Fourth heat: Frank Heckenast Jr., Tyler Carpenter, Jeffrey Ledford, Matt Lux, McKay Wenger, Bob Gardner, Adam Tischhauser, Jeff Curl, Jimmy Miller.

Time trials

Group A
Driver (car no.), hometown

  1. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 12.525
  2. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 12.550
  3. Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 12.603
  4. Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 12.654
  5. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 12.673
  6. Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 12.719
  7. Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 12.722
  8. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 12.759
  9. Myle Moos (84), Lincoln, Ill., 12.792
  10. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 12.855
  11. Jay Morris (77M), Watseka, Ill., 12.889
  12. Eric Smith (9), Bloomington, Ill., 12.976
  13. Allen Weisser (25w), Peoria, Ill., 12.996
  14. Trevor Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 13.147
  15. Mike Provenzano (27), Marseilles, Ill., 13.215
  16. Titus Sneed (76), Justice, Ill., 13.277
  17. Ryan Weistart (73), Peru, Ill., 13.547
  18. John Provenzano (5), Streator, Ill., 13.734
  19. Tim Lance Jr. (48L), Brimfield, Ill., 14.431

Group B

  1. Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 12.599
  2. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 12.633
  3. Daryn Klein (6), Fairview Heights, Ill., 12.778
  4. Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill., 12.837
  5. Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 12.862
  6. Jeffrey Ledford (18), Pontiac, Ill., 13.027
  7. Derek Chandler (35), Pontiac, Ill., 13.038
  8. Tyler Carpenter (28), Parkersburg, W.Va., 13.040
  9. Rick Eckert (0), York, Pa., 13.073
  10. Adam Tischhauer (T4), Greenville, Ill., 13.118
  11. Mike Glasscock (30), LeRoy, Ill., 13.159
  12. Jeff Curl (12), Fairbury, Ill., 13.246
  13. Scott Schmitt (10), Tonica, Ill., 13.269
  14. Matt Lux (111), Franklin, Pa., 13.290
  15. Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 13.410
  16. McKay Wenger (42), Fairbury, Ill., 13.453
  17. Billy Hough (33H), Thomasboro, Ill., 13.622
  18. Jimmy Miller (18), Highland, Ill., 14.206

Saturday’s schedule

4:30 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
5 p.m. - Hot laps
- Super Late Model hot laps
- Modified hot laps/time trials
- Sportsman hot laps
- Super Late Model time trials (2 laps)
Opening ceremonies
- Super Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Modified heats (10 laps)
- Sportsman heats (8 laps)
- Super Late Model B-main (12 laps)
- Modified B-main (12 laps)
Intermission/track prep (if necessary)
- Super Late Model feature (50 laps)
- Modified feature (30 laps)
- Sportsman feature (15 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Heckenast, Shirley
Row 2: Spatola, Gustin
Row 3: Babb, Eckert
Row 4: Moyer, Carpenter
Row 5: Feger, Scott
Row 6: Pierce, Ledford
Row 7: Unzicker, Glasscock
Row 8: G. Gundaker, Lux
Row 9: Weiss, Wenger
Row 10: Smith, Klein
Row 11: Gardner, Tischhauser
Row 12: Schmitt, Lance

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