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Daily Dirt 04/24/2024 06:50:32

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December 3
The Dome at America's Center,
St. Louis, MO
Sanction: Unsanctioned Supers (Gateway Dirt Nationals) - $30,000
Information provided by: Robert Holman and Kevin Kovac (last updated December 5, 3:37 pm)
Mourning Erb captures emotional Gateway win
Gateway Dirt Nationals
  1. Tyler Erb
  2. Tanner English
  3. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  4. Tyler Carpenter
  5. Mike Spatola
  6. Devin Moran
  7. Cody Bauer
  8. Jason Feger
  9. Wil Herrington
  10. Bobby Pierce
  11. Rusty Schlenk
  12. Carson Hocevar
  13. Gordy Gundaker
  14. Shannon Babb
  15. Patrik Daniel
  16. Brandon Sheppard
  17. Justin Reed
  18. Chris Simpson
  19. Garrett Alberson
  20. Ryan Unzicker
presented by
Todd Boyd/photosbyboyd.smugmug.com
Tyler Erb celebrates his $30,000 victory in St. Louis, Mo.
What won the race: Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, took advantage of the lap-33 restart making a daring move up the middle of a three-car battle for the lead and paced the final seven laps to win Saturday's $30,000 Gateway Dirt Nationals finale at the Dome at America's Center. Erb, emotional in victory lane after earning his first win at the Dome, announced that he lost his father on Wednesday to a heart attack. Erb's $30,000 victory matches the most lucrative win of his career.
Key notes: Tanner English of Benton, Ky., battled inside the top-three the entire race and finished second, 2.209 seconds back ... Two-time Gateway Dirt Nationals champion and Thursday's $5,000 preliminary winner Bobby Pierce finished 10th. ... Devin Moran advanced eight spots and finished sixth. ... Polesitter and winner of Friday's $5,000 preliminary feature Cody Bauer led the first 10 laps before fading to finish seventh. ... Ryan Unzicker hit the turn two wall while running fourth on lap three, ending his night and drawing the race's first caution. ... Garrett Alberson drew the second caution when he lost an engine on lap five. ... Saturday's feature was slowed by two additional yellow flags and lasted 17 minutes, with seven competitors completing all 40 laps.
On the move: Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., started 13th and finished third.
Winner's sponsors: Erb’s winning Best Performance Motorsports Rocket Chassis is powered by an Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Terbo Threads, First Class Septic, Roberts Bee Company, Bazell Race Fuels, M&W Transport, Central Coast Tire, Bulk Material Lift, Gaier’s Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Sunoco Race Fuels, Keyser Mfg., Hoosier Racing Tire, Integra Racing Shocks, R&R Design, Day Motorsports and KBC Graphix.
Car count: 119
Polesitter: Cody Bauer
Heat race winners: Brandon Sheppard, Mike Spatola, Jason Feger, Tyler Carpenter, Chris Simpson, Patrik Daniel
Consolation race winners: Shannon Babb
Provisional starters: Carson Hocevar
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Dec. 3) — The mental fortitude needed to run 40 laps around the fifth-mile temporary dirt oval inside the Dome at America’s Center, home of the annual Gateway Dirt Nationals, is immense. Putting one’s self in position to win the highly sought after trophy featuring a replica of St. Louis’s signature Gateway Arch, along with the $30,000 winner’s prize takes poise and a bit of luck.

The mental toughness needed to accomplish the task despite being surrounded by anguish and turmoil is immeasurable. Somehow, Tyler Erb fought through it all and got the job done. Just four days after losing his father Mark Erb to a heart attack, Tyler Erb showed the grit and toughness many wonder if they possess and most hope they never have to display.

Yet there it was Saturday night in St. Louis, on full display under the bright lights of one of the sport’s biggest stages. And there, Erb, the sometimes brash but always entertaining 25-year-old star from New Waverly, Texas, simply would not be denied. Erb showed his strength all week, though most did not know it (he did not tell anyone of his father’s passing until he was interviewed in victory lane Saturday night) and he got the little bit of good fortune he needed in the form of a late caution.

It was the break he needed. On the lap-33 restart, Erb powered ahead of leader Wil Herrington of Hawkinsville, Ga., and led the final seven circuits, finishing 2.209 seconds ahead of second-starting Tanner English of Benton, Ky. Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., finished third after starting 13th in the 20-car field and two-time event winner Tyler Carpenter of Parkersburg, W.Va., finished fourth in his attempt to become the first three-time Gateway Dirt Nationals winner.

Mike Spatola of Manhattan, Ill., improved three spots to round out the top five, while polesitter Cody Bauer of Farwell, Mich., finished seventh after leading the first 10 laps in a feature where only eight cars were still on track at the finish.

“This is awesome, you have no idea what this means to me and my family,” said Erb in victory lane. “Racing is so not important if you experience things in life. I really just want to dedicate this win to someone really special and close to me and my family and it's just awesome. I can't think my car owners Eric and Kelly (Brock) enough, my best buddy Steven Roberts, (crew chief) Randall (Edwards) and Corey, who have been with me forever. Every single sponsor on this car, every single person who helps me, it really means a lot and I'm just grateful to be here.”

Erb fielded another question before breaking the news of the death of his 52-year-old father.

“All of our family and everybody close to us is watching this, so it would just be easier for me to say it once and be done,” said Erb, his voice beginning to crack. “But my dad, who is my best friend in the whole world, we got to St Louis and he had a heart attack Wednesday and died. And I'm sorry to my friends and everybody this week. I haven't said anything because it's just tough you know. I apologize to all my friends and everybody, but I've just been dealing with a lot trying to keep to myself.

“We just decided … I just decided it would be better to stay here and support my mom. I love her with all my heart and I always will. Don't think this is a sob story. Man, this is the worst news I could ever have thought of in my whole life, but I just put in the back of my mind and raced and got it done. So I guess he was definitely helping us this week. You know, we'll just have to take life every day from here on out.”

The raw emotion was not lost on the crowd inside the Dome at America’s Center, which roared with approving support for the young star. Without the late caution, however, Erb likely wouldn’t have been hoisting the unique Gateway trophy or ready to cash a $30,000 check that ties the career high payday he earned last season when he won the Al Belt Custom Homes I-80 Nationals in Greenwood, Neb.

“Had to earn it for sure,” said Erb. “(I went) around the top as hard as I could and once I got behind Wil, when I got the second, I just tried to save my stuff because them holes were gnarly. I got beat picking the bottom last night (on the restart) so I picked the top. You know, Wil just did what he was doing trying to protect the bottom and I got a really good run and crossed him. Really I got to thank him for that. He was doing me that way in the heat race and I (went back and) watched all the videos.”

After leading laps 11-33, Herrington, the Crate Late Model star who broke onto the scene this season when he won his first career Super Late Model event with a sweep of the Comp Cams Super Dirt Series Clash at the Mag at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, Miss., slipped to ninth after suffering suspension damage and breaking a j-bar and driveshaft. Herrington held a 1.8-second lead over Erb on lap 32 and seemed headed for a career-best win until the caution came out.

“I just got into (turn) one and got into the fence,” said Herrington. “The right front got to the fence and it was pretty much over after that. I don't know if I had a good enough start where Tyler wasn't going to slide me, but when the right front got to the fence, I was pretty much a sitting duck. I got squeezed a little bit off of (turn) two and just the right rear got into the fence and broke the J-bar and driveshaft and it was pretty much over after that.”

With Herrington out of the picture in the waning laps, Erb had to hold off English, who settled for second for the second year in a row after failing in his bid to overtake Erb on a final lap-35 restart.

“Congratulations to Tyler. He got up on the wheel and made it happen,” said English. “That just wasn't my type of racetrack. I tried to hang in there for a while. I tried to run where the holes weren’t, but I just set up too tight for that cushion … about knocked the wall down four or five times.”

While the track — noticeably choppier than the first two nights — wasn’t necessarily to English’s liking, third-finishing Thornton said he had no complaints. He only wished he had started closer to the front.

“I kind of ran around the bottom, ran across the middle,” said Thornton, who improved 10 positions. “I hit the fence, I hit the infield wall, hit other competitors. I was doing whatever I could to try to get to the front . Congrats to (Erb) on his win, that's pretty cool, especially being his first time here in a Late Model. Congrats to Tanner too. I feel like that's like the 15th time that Tanner has ran second, so maybe he'll get one spot better. Wish I had done a little better earlier and set myself up a little further forward, but overall pretty good weekend.”

Feature lineup

(40 laps)

Row 1: Cody Bauer, Tanner English
Row 2: Wil Herrington, Bobby Pierce
Row 3: Ryan Unzicker, Tyler Erb
Row 4: Brandon Sheppard, Mike Spatola
Row 5: Jason Feger, Tyler Carpenter
Row 6: Chris Simpson, Patrik Daniel
Row 7: Ricky Thornton Jr., Devin Moran
Row 8: Rusty Schlenk, Justin Reed
Row 9: Gordy Gundaker, Garrett Alberson
Row 10: Shannon Babb, Carson Hocevar

Last chance qualifier results

Finish: Shannon Babb, Kyle Hammer, Carson Hocevar, Trevor Gundaker, David McCoy, Jesse Lowe, Jim Rogers, Steve Sheppard Jr., Austin Horton, Freddie Carpenter, Lance Brasington, Bob Gardner.

Last chance qualifier lineup

(10 laps; winner transfers)

Row 1: Kyle Hammer, Jesse Lowe
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Austin Horton
Row 3: David McCoy, Carson Hocevar
Row 4: Bob Gardner, Lance Brasington
Row 5: Freddie Carpenter, Steve Sheppard Jr.
Row 6: Jim Rogers, Trevor Gundaker

Qualifier notes

The six qualifiers were brutally long; slowed by a total of 25 caution flags and two red flags, the prelims started at 3:03 p.m. and didn’t end until 5:56 p.m. … There was a break after the third qualifier for the redraw among the six locked-in drivers (Cody Bauer and Tanner English will share the front row for the 40-lap feature) and a second unplanned delay during the fifth event because the track crew had to make repairs to the backstretch catch fence (the modified redraw was conducted during the second break). … The Qualifier 5 fence damage was caused by outside polesitter Kylan Garner, who rode the backstretch wall until his car’s nose caught a catch-fence pole and was flipped onto its roof. He wasn’t injured. … The qualifying session’s other red flag came on lap three of the second qualifier when Jaden Frame clipped the backstretch concrete just after losing second to Devin Moran and was hit by Greg Kimmons, sending Frame’s machine onto its roof. “I just got up there too high,” said Frame, who escaped injury but had his heavily damaged car cradled back to the pit area. … Brandon Sheppard outran Ricky Thornton Jr. to capture the first qualifier; Thornton briefly lost second to Kyle Hammer on a lap-four restart but regained the spot after another caution period one circuit later. … Jason Welshan was scheduled to start third in Qualifier 2 but scratched due to mechanical woes. … Mike Spatola won the second qualifier, which was shortened to eight laps by time constraints. … Moran overtook Jesse Lowe to finish second in Qualifier 2 when the field jammed up on the deciding green-white-checkered restart. … Jason Feger overtook the polesitting Shannon Babb for the lead at the start of the third qualifier and went on to win the prelim over Rusty Schlenk, who slipped past Babb on a lap-six restart to grab the final transfer spot and send Babb to the last-chance race. … Tyler Carpenter won the fourth qualifier from the pole position, but his road to the checkered flag was anything but easy. He was outgunned for the lead at the initial green flag by Justin Reed and lost second to Austin Horton for one lap before rallying to pass Reed for the win with three laps remaining. … Chris Simpson drove Jason Suhre’s No. 4 to victory over his buddy Gordy Gundaker in the fifth qualifier. … Ryan Montgomery’s Suppa Racing car lost power as he held second place halfway through Qualifier 5. … Patrik Daniel nipped Garrett Alberson by 0.187 of a second to win the sixth qualifier; the pair crossed the finish line three-wide with a lapped car. “I’m from Texas where the rodeo is, and that’s about what it was like,” Daniel said of the rough-and-tumble track surface. “I’m out of breath.”

Qualifier results  

First qualifier: Brandon Sheppard, Ricky Thornton Jr., Kyle Hammer, Bob Gardner, Jayme Zidar, Ryan Wilson, Josh Boller, Dewayne Kiefer, Quentin White, Adam Elliott, Doug Tye, Chris Fetter, Blake Higginbotham, William Stile, Dakota Smith, Jacob Magee, Justin White, Steve Fairbanks. Scratched: Brandon Tibaldi

Second qualifier: Mike Spatola, Devin Moran, Jesse Lowe, Lance Brasington, Michael King Jr., Daniel Jacober, Scott Cimfl, Casey White, Nicky Pennington, Chris Nash, Jadon Frame, Greg Kimmons, Harry Hanson, Brian Wolfmeier, Andy Pickelsimer. Scratched: Jason Welshan, Timothy McKeenhan, Hudson O'Neal, Cody Holtkamp

Third qualifier: Jason Feger, Rusty Schlenk, Shannon Babb, Freddie Carpenter, Daniel Adam, Jeffrey Ledford, Jason Wagner, James Walters, Jake Miller, Preston Farmer, Jeff Neubert, Tegan Evans, Josh Baker, Patrick Kelley, Colt Smith, Tanner Collins, Morgan Alexander, Chad Zobrist. Scratched: Timothy Welch II

Fourth qualifier: Tyler Carpenter, Justin Reed, Austin Horton, Steve Sheppard Jr., Scott Bloomquist, Rylee Knoll, Derek Fetter, Oscar McCown, Robert Ardry, Jordan Barbee, Megan Sanders, Kenny Collins, Jody Knowles, Mike Provenzano, Max Baker, Bob Sidener, Kyle Wiser, Cyle Forgy. Scratched: Max Nelson

Fifth qualifier: Chris Simpson, Gordy Gundaker, David McCoy, Jim Rogers, Scott Rhoades, Scott Bell, Jeffrey Shackelford, Jacob Kolwyck, Rachel Carpenter, Erik Thorne, Ryan Montgomery, Chris Carpenter, Matt Koch, Joe Denby, Kevin Smith, Kylan Garner, Matthew Tribble, Chase Burda. Scratched: Brayton Laster

Sixth qualifier: Patrik Daniel, Garrett Alberson, Carson Hocevar, Trevor Gundaker, Zach Wohlers, Todd Brennan, Jon Lee, Austin Seelig, Jon Woods, Colin Shipley, Dylan Knowles, Justin Green, Kyle Lear, Donald McIntosh. Scratched: Ruben Mayfield, Timothy Welch, Nathan Carpenter, Justin Carter

Saturday’s qualifier lineups

(12 laps; top two transfer)

First qualifier
Row 1: Ricky Thornton Jr., Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Kyle Hammer, Ryan Wilson
Row 3: Jayme Zidar, Bob Gardner
Row 4: Jacob Magee, Dewayne Kiefer
Row 5: Steve Fairbanks, Josh Boller
Row 6: Chris Fetter, Blake Higginbotham
Row 7: Doug Tye, Quentin White
Row 8: Dakota Smith, Justin White
Row 9: William Stile, Brandon Tibaldi
Row 10: Adam Elliott
Second qualifier
Row 1: Jadon Frame, MIke Spatola
Row 2: Jason Welshan, Greg Kimmons
Row 3: Devin Moran, Jesse Lowe
Row 4: Harry Hanson, Nicky Pennington
Row 5: Daniel Jacober, Timothy McKeenhan
Row 6: Scott Cimfl, Lance Brasington
Row 7: Andy Pickelsimer, Casey White
Row 8: Hudson O'Neal, Chris Nash
Row 9: Cody Holtkamp, Michael King Jr.
Row 10: Brian Wolfmeier
Third qualifier
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Jason Feger
Row 2: Rusty Schlenk, Tanner Collins
Row 3: Freddie Carpenter, Jeffrey Ledford
Row 4: Chad Zobrist, Jake Miller
Row 5: Daniel Adam, Morgan Alexander
Row 6: Colt Smith, Josh Baker
Row 7: Jason Wagner, Jeff Neubert
Row 8: James Walters, Patrick Kelley
Row 9: Preston Farmer, Tegan Evans
Row 10: Timothy Welch II
Fourth qualifier
Row 1: Tyler Carpenter, Justin Reed
Row 2: Steve Sheppard Jr., Austin Horton
Row 3: Kenny Collins, Rylee Knoll
Row 4: Oscar McCown, Jody Knowles
Row 5: Bob Sidener, Max Baker
Row 6: Megan Sanders, Scott Bloomquist
Row 7: Cyle Forgy, Derek Fetter
Row 8: Mike Provenzano, Max Nelson
Row 9: Robert Ardry, Kyle Wiser
Row 10: Jordan Barbee
Fifth qualifier
Row 1: Chris Simpson, Kylan Garner
Row 2: Ryan Montgomery, Chris Carpenter
Row 3: Gordy Gundaker, Jim Rogers
Row 4: Jeffrey Shackelford, Scott Bell
Row 5: Erik Thorne, David McCoy
Row 6: Joe Denby, Rachel Carpenter
Row 7: Matt Koch, Matthew Tribble
Row 8: Kevin Smith, Jacob Kolwyck
Row 9: Scott Rhoades, Chase Burda
Row 10: Brayton Laster
Sixth qualifier
Row 1: Patrik Daniel, Jon Lee
Row 2: Trevor Gundaker, Garrett Alberson
Row 3: Carson Hocevar, Justin Green
Row 4: Colin Shipley, Todd Brennan
Row 5: Kyle Lear, Austin Seelig
Row 6: Dylan Knowles, Donald McIntosh
Row 7: Ruben Mayfield, Timothy Welch
Row 8: Nathan Carpenter, Zach Wohlers
Row 9: Justin Carter, Jon Woods 

Saturday’s schedule

10 a.m.: Registration and credentials office opens
10:30 a.m.: Permitted early access (credential required)
11 a.m.: Pit area opens
11 a.m.: Technical inspection begins
1 p.m.: Driver’s meeting
1 p.m.: Fuel storage opens
2 p.m.: Spectator gates open
2 p.m.: Engine heat permitted
3 p.m.: On-track activity begins
- Super Late Model heats
- Super Late Model hot laps (six locked in cars)
- Modified heats
- Modified hot laps (six locked in cars)
- Super Late Model consolations
- Modified consolations
6:30 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- Super Late Models feature (40 laps)
- Modified feature 30 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Bauer, English
Row 2: Herrington, Pierce
Row 3: Unzicker, T. Erb
Row 4: B. Sheppard, Spatola
Row 5: Feger, T. Carpenter
Row 6: Chris Simpson, Daniel
Row 7: Thornton Jr., Moran
Row 8: Schlenk, Reed
Row 9: G. Gundaker, Alberson
Row 10: Babb, Hocevar

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