BROWNSTOWN, Ind. (June 10) — In the late stages of Wednesday’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals opener at Brownstown Speedway, Dennis Erb Jr. was looking for a way past leader Billy Moyer. Amid a flurry of slower cars, Moyer was looking for a layover flag. And a solid gathering of midweek fans were looking for an exciting battle in the 31st annual Hoosier Dirt Classic.
Score one for Erb and the fans at Brownstown, while Moyer was disappointed.
Steering a promising new Black Diamond Chassis, Erb stuck with the low groove with nine laps remaining, slipping underneath Moyer to take a lead he’d never give up. The Carpentersville, Ill., driver secured $5,000 and his second straight series victory at Brownstown.
“I was just watching traffic there in front of me and watching (Moyer) a little bit, and he wasn’t there all the way at the bottom and I could kind of get turned and go across down there,” said Erb, who started fifth in the 22-car field. “We were just able to try to stay down in that moisture. The top of the racetrack — and the middle — were pretty dirty, but we kind of were set up for the bottom, and it all worked out.”
Erb took the checkers just over a second ahead of Moyer, who started third and grabbed the lead from polesitting son Billy Moyer Jr. on the third lap. A high-side charge by Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., gave him the third spot ahead of Moyer Jr., who led the first two laps, while outside front-row starter Kent Robinson settled for the fifth spot in the opener on the grueling 28-race tour.
Making his fourth feature start in the new car he picked up May 28 in from Stuckey Enterprises in Shreveport, La., Erb continued a streak of finishing third or better, including a $5,000 Dream XXI presented by Ferris Mowers preliminary victory at Eldora and third-place run in the 100-lap Dream finale.
A three-time Summernationals champion, Erb now focuses on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series — he was pointing his hauler toward Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, Miss., when leaving Brownstown — but he’s happy to be running his new car wherever he can.
“Right off the bat it’s doing real good, so hopefully we can get things collected up here and continue on with our Lucas deal and have some good runs there, and be able to come back and run some more Summernationals races,” said Erb, whose series titles came in 2006-'08. “We really enjoy racing around here and on the road … we don’t come around here that much. It’s always good to come back and run these deals. It’s always fun.”
After struggling much of the early season, Erb said his confidence is "building real quick here ever since we got in this thing. We just thought, you know, we needed to make a change. Things just weren’t where I wanted them to be. Hopefully we’re here on our way to having good run.”
Moyer has also made only a handful of starts since a chassis switch — late last month he debut a new Moyer Victory Chassis — but he was more interested in talking about his problems with traffic after finishing second at Brownstown.
“I don’t know what was going on behind me (or) how much room we had,” said Moyer, the winningest driver in Summernationals history. “It just seemed like I was murdering the tires out there. I was trying to do things to keep 'em underneath me a little bit, and probably let 'em catch up there.”
Finding himself behind a three-wide pack of traffic made up of Jason Papich, Rusty Schlenk and Timothy Culp, Moyer was disappointed the flagger didn’t use a layover flag to alert the slower cars that the leaders were behind them.
“I don’t know why we can’t use that. But that cost me the race, I know, because the guy’s too good to use the layover flag I guess, I don’t know,” Moyer said. “I don’t know if (Papich) seen me or not. And (Schlenk), he started racing harder. And that’s why I just went over there and talked to 'em. It’s the same money (running back in the pack), next to nothin' anyway, you know? The guys where we was at, it cost a lot of money from one spot to the next.”
Pierce did all he could to get into the battle up front, charging hard in the high groove that wasn’t consistent enough to allow for repeated fast laps. He’d threaten the leaders one lap, then slip back a few lengths the next.
“I was wanting to win the race so bad, and a couple of times I got by Erb, and a caution came out, and I was like, 'Damn!' But that’s just what happens. You just gotta get back up on the wheel,” Pierce said. “I couldn’t make it work on the bottom. Those guys were really good on the bottom and no one was getting up top to help clean it off except for some lapped cars. I’d like to have seen that happen.”
Notes: Erb's last series victory at Brownstown came in 2013; last season's event rained out. ... After Wednesday's race, fourth-place finisher Billy Moyer Jr. discovered his engine had lost water and overheated. He wasn’t signaled by a light in the cockpit. “It’s hurt pretty bad,” he said looking over it after the race. … Two early caution flags slowed the action, neither for serious incidents. Steve Barnett slipped over the banking to draw a first-lap caution while a cone knocked onto the racing surface slowed the race on the ninth lap. … The night-after-night, 28-race tour is scheduled to resume Thursday at Kankakee County Speedway in Kankakee, Ill., before heading to Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., for a pair of races. … Four-time and reigning series champion Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., missed his first Summernationals event in several seasons after his team’s hauler had transmission trouble near Crawfordsville, Ill.; he plans to rejoin the tour at Kankakee.
Preliminary notes and results:
Just like he did when he won in 2012, Billy Moyer Jr. drew the pole for the main event. He’ll start with Kent Robinson to his outside and his father just behind after the draw among heat winners. … Moyer Jr.’s winning draw? No. 21, just like his car number. “We’ve got a good hot rod,” he said, a bit concerned but rugged track conditions. “It’s not fun running through them hols, but we’ve got a good car.” … Tanner English, who got the final transfer spot in the third heat, had his hands full with track conditions, too. “I couldn’t see going into the first corner. They covered me up,” English said. “It’s the first time it’s been like here that I’ve seen.” … Track work during intermission had the crew knocking down the berm at the top of the track and putting water around the same area. … Making his Brownstown debut, Louisiana native Timothy Culp fell from third to fourth on the final lap of his heat, losing a spot to Ryan Unzicker when he jumped over the backstretch banking. “It just got a little too tight and I hit the brake instead of the gas,” said Culp, who, after watching videos of Brownstown racing, expected a smoother, slicker surface. “I like it though,” he said. “I think we’ll be all right.” … Jason Jameson barely made it out in time for the consolation to start outside the front row, but he retired after just a few laps with engine problems. … Kyle Hammer of Clinton, Ill., also had an early night when he broke an oil pump in time trials. The team found metal shavings in the engine and loaded up, better to be safe than sorry, his father Don Hammer said. The team has had minor motor problems in three of the last six races and swapped a motor the day before heading to Brownstown. “The kid’s getting expensive,” Hammer joked. … Feature race provisional starting spots went to Jim Moon (last year’s Summernationals), Rusty Schlenk (last year’s UMP DIRTcar weekly points), Matt Bex (Brownstown provisional) and Bob Gardner (last year’s Summernationals).
Polesitter Jason Papich won the 10-lapper, transferring to the main event along with Cody Mahoney and Steve Barnett.
Finish (top three transfer): Jason Papich, Cody Mahoney, Bob Gardner, Jon Gill, Kevin Cole, Adam Bowman, Brad Eitnear, John Hahler, Matt Bex, Jim Moon, Jason Jameson, Rusty Schlenk. Scratched: Kyle Hammer.
Polesitter Billy Moyer Jr. won an early, lead-swapping duel with fellow front-row starter Devin Gilpin and edged away for a 10-lap victory, joining his fatehr as a heat winner. Gilpin held solidly on to second while Timothy Culp and Ryan Unzicker had a fiesty battle for third further back. Unzicker got the spot when Culp slipped ovr the backstretch bakning on the final lap. Tanner English was a distant fifth, taking the final transfer spot from Cody Mahoney late in the caution-free prelim.
Finish (top five transfer): Billy Moyer Jr., Devin Gilpin, Ryan Unzicker, Timothy Culp, Tanner English, Cody Mahoney, Kevin Cole, Bob Gardner, Kyle Hammer.
Polesitter Kent Robinson raced to victory, keeping fourth-starting Dennis Erb Jr. in check in the final laps of the 10-lapper. Scott James was third while Greg Johnson and Levi Kissinger got the other transfer spots. The first start was called back, and another yellow flew early when Jason Jameson slipped over the backstretch banking.
Finish (top five transfer): Kent Robinson, Dennis Erb Jr., Scott James, Greg Johnson, Levi Kissinger, Jason Jameson, Steve Barnett, Rusty Schlenk, Jim Moon, John Hahler.
Getting a strong high-side run on the start, outside front-row starter wen around polesitter Bobby Pierce (along with four other cars) at the outset and never looked back, winning by nearly five seconds. Third-starting Chad Stapleton chased Moyer in second early before giving up the spot to fifth-starting Daren Friedman, while a recovering Pierce also overtook Stapleton late to get third. Jeremy Hines was a distant fifth as the final driver transferring. The lone caution flew when John Gill slid over the turn-two banking to bring out a lap-one caution.
Finish (top five transfer): Billy Moyer, Daren Friedman, Bobby Pierce, Chad Stapleston, Jeremy Hines, Jason Papich, John Gill, Brad Bowman, Matt Bex, Brad Eitniear.
Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., topped 29 qualifiers Saturday in the opening round of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals, earning the pole position for the first of three heat races. Pierce tripped the clock at 13.894 seconds, one of only two drivers to crack the 14-second barrier at the quarter-mile oval.
Other quick group qualifiers earning pole positions in heat races: Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., and Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark. The top five finishers from each of three 10-lap heat races will transfer to the main event with the heat winners drawing for the top three starting spots in the 40-lapper.
Three drivers will transfer from a consolation race and four provisional starters will be added to fill out the 22-car field.
The big news in the pits: Four-time series champion and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., is absent because his hauler’s transmission broke near Crawfordsville, Ind. It appears he won’t make it. Series director Sam Driggers spoke to Babb on the phone. “He was pretty disgusted,” said Driggers, who nevertheless encouraged him to not give up on a series run. “He can still rebound” with a good stretch of racing, Driggers added. “Everybody has a bad night.” … Devin Gilpin of Columbus, Ind., enters the event as Brownstown’s winningest Super Late Model driver this season (three victories). He's still a little bit down, however, after showing his car was plenty fast the opening night of Eldora’s Dream XXI presented by Ferris Mowers, but failing to capitalize the rest of the weekend. “You’re only as good as your last race,” he said. He was leading a Thursday heat race when he got too high, costing him a victory. He was at least glad he still had a race car left after watching many drivers get sucked into Eldora’s concrete to end their nights. “I was just glad to get out of the wall.” …. Jason Jameson, who serves as crew chief for three-time World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Darrell Lanigan, is in action at a track where he finished second in the previous Summernationals race at Brownstown (2013). Lanigan had considered running Jameson as a two-driver WoO team before retreating from those plans at Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. … Kevin Cole of Christopher, Ill., is piloting Steve Lampley’s No. 33 (Wendell Wallace and Tyler Reddick are among drivers who have piloted that car previously in Summernationals action). … John Hahler is racing out of the same hauler as Jim Moon, the Indiana-turned-Missouri driver. ... The top five cars from each of three heats will transfer along with three drivers from the consolation. Four provisionals are available: two from last year's Summernationals points, one from last year's UMP DIRTcar weekly points and one from the track.
Time trials (unofficial)
(Heat races start straightup by time)
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 13.894
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 13.923
Chad Stapleton (32), Edinburgh, Ind., 14.169
John Gill (75), Mitchell, Ind., 14.180
Daren Friedman (89), Forrest, Ill., 14.363
Jason Papich (91P), Nipomo, Calif., 14.381
Jeremy Hines (5H), Seymour, Ind., 14.529
Brad Eitniear (B4U), Defiance, Ohio, 14.875
Adam Bowman (77), Seymour, Ind., 14.930
Matt Bex (80), Avoca, Ind., no time
Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., 14.030
Steve Barnett (89), Franklin, Ind., 14.245
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 14.278
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.314
Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., 14.330
Rusty Schlenk (91), Weston, Ohio, 14.409
Greg Johnson (15), Bedford, Ind., 14.629
Levi Kissinger (8k), Mount Vernon, Ind., 14.723
Jim Moon (1m), New Florence, Mo., 15.113
John Hahler (124), New Florence, Mo., 17.630
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 14.072
Devin Gilpin (1G), Columbus, Ind., 14.220
Timothy Culp (c8), West Monroe, La., 14.229
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 14.341
Kevin Cole (33), Christopher, Ill., 14.495
Tanner English (96), Benton, Ky., 14.500
Cody Mahoney (77), Madison, Ind., 14.635
Bob Gardner (4G), Germantown Hills, Ill., 15.008
Kyle Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 15.073
Order of events
- Late Model hot laps
- Modifids hot laps/time trials
- Super stock hot laps
- Opening ceremonies
- Modified heats (10 laps)
- Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Modified consolation (10 laps)
- Late Model consolation (10 laps)
- Super stock heats (10 laps)
- Other consolations if needed
- Late Model feature (40 laps
- Modified feature (20 laps)
- Super stock feature (20 laps)