FARMER CITY, Ill. — While polesitter Jason Feger stuck with the high groove at Farmer City Raceway, a hard-charging Dennis Erb Jr. chased him down by driving through the middle of the corners.
Repeatedly Erb cut into Feger's lead, cutting a nearly three-second margin on lap 22 when Erb took the second spot down to virtually nothing in five laps. Over the next dozen circuits, Feger did his best to repel Erb’s charges, but the Carpentersville, Ill., slid in front of Feger in turn two on lap 39.
Erb, a three-time UMP DIRTcar Summernationals champion, kept the Bloomington, Ill., runner-up in check the rest of the way for a $10,000 victory, his second on this year’s Hell Tour and the 19th of his career.
“It was a good race,” said Erb, who credited a harder tire choice for helping his No. 28 to victory lane. “I had to start off a little slow, and I think once our tires came in, it got a little bit better there. We were able to get up there and follow him for a few laps there, see what he was doing, and (I) knew that we could make a move, and it all worked out.”
Feger settled for second in the 50-lapper while Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. — like Erb a former tour champion and now a regular on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series — rallied from 12th to finished third.
Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., and front-row starter Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., finished fourth and fifth while series points leader Bobby Pierce rallied from his 17th starting spot to finish sixth, salvaging a rough night and losing 10 points off his margin over Moyer.
Heading into Saturday’s finale at Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio, Pierce has a 30-point lead on Moyer and unofficially must finish eighth or better to become the tour’s youngest champion.
Erb, who dropped by Farmer City en route to this weekend’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action in Wheatland, Mo., was glad to find enough racing room to overtake Feger.
“That’s one of the good things here, you know. When the racetrack’s right, you can get out there and move around and put on a good race,” Erb said. “We were having to work our way through there. There was some holes down there in (turns) one and two, it was a little choppy, depending on how you hit it and how you entered the corner, it could’ve bounced you around a little bit.
“You know, we got through it all. He did a good job, he stayed up in his line, and I stayed in my line, and we raced hard and were able to get the win.”
Feger agreed that Erb’s tire choice gave him the advantage later in the race.
“He was able to roll through that middle better,” Feger said. “The top just got awfully rough, and with the softer tire, I lost too much grip. I was just kind of holding on.”
The runner-up tried a crossover move to get back under Erb after the winning pass, but it didn’t quite work out.
“I had a little bit of a run there and I kind of missed the traction a little bit and went sliding. I just didn’t have enough for him,” Feger said. “The top, I just couldn’t run it consistent like I needed to anymore. I could come to him a little bit, and he’d get away, then I’d mess up. It just got too hard up there. It was rough. It was all I could do to hold onto the steering wheel up there. Second’s not too bad.”
At the outset of the feature, Feger took charge with Zeigler and Moyer giving chase in a three-car breakaway. Erb fought his way past Kent Robinson to grab fourth and began tracking down the frontrunners before a lap-10 caution for a slowing Chris Simpson.
Two laps after the restart, the second-running Zeigler slipped over the turn-two banking, then scrambled to recover down the backstretch after losing several positions. The scramble ended with Robinson, the overall fast qualifier, spinning inside turn four.
Zeigler was restored to second behind Feger for the restart with Moyer, Erb and Kevin Weaver in pursuit, but Weaver got into the turn-four wall on the 13th lap and retired while Moyer took second from Zeigler a lap later. Erb dropped Zeigler to fourth on lap 16 while Feger was growing his lead to more than two seconds.
Erb took second from Moyer on lap 22 with Feger comfortably ahead, but Erb quickly closed the gap with the leader in traffic just past the halfway point.
It was nip and tuck for several laps with Erb nearly alongside exiting turn two on lap 33. On lap 36, Feger got too high in turn four and both drivers had to check up to avoid disaster. Erb continued his challenges and made the winning pass three laps later.
Notes: Erb’s previous tour victory came in the opener at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway. … Erb also won a tour event at Farmer City in 2009, the last of his three consecutive title-winning seasons. … Nine drivers finished on the lead lap.
Preliminary results and notes:
Polesitter Bobby Pierce fought off early challenges from Billy Drake for a 12-lap victory. Drake nosed ahead one lap, but Pierce regained command and Drake dropped out on the seventh lap after losing power steering (he received a provisional starting spot. Fifth-starting Chris Simpson got the second and final transfer spot with Scott Bull, Matt Westfall and Joe Harlan rounding out the top five. Ryan Unzicker spun in turn two on the second lap for the race's lone caution. Drake, Unzicker, Harlan and Timothy Culp got provisional starting spots.
Finish (top two transfer): Bobby Pierce, Chris Simpson, Scott Bull, Matt Westfall, Joe Harlan, Timothy Culp, Steve Thorsten, Kyle Logue, Allen Murray, Daniel Flessner, Torin Mettille, Myles Moos, Billy Drake, Chuck Mitchell, Ryan Unzicker.
With series points leader Bobby Pierce failing to transfer through his heat race and Billy Moyer Jr. winning a heat, Moyer has an opportunity to eat into Pierce's 40-point lead. There's a 40-point difference between first- and 16th-place in the feature. ... Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., drew the pole among the redraw of heat race winners. Another No. 25, Mason Zeigler, will be alongside with Moyer Jr. and Kent Robinson in the second row. … Provisionals will be at a premium with series regulars Bobby Pierce, Ryan Unzicker and Timothy Culp in the B-main lineup … Jim Moon of New Florence, Mo., will miss the feature after discovering an engine problem. He time-trialed a borrowed car in hopes of getting a series provisional, but he’s not in line for one. “It was a good run,” said Moon, who ordered engine parts and hoped to be back in action Sunday for a Midwest Big 10 event in Quincy, Ill.
Correction: Fixes detail about Moon missing feature.
First C-Main (top two transfer): Torin Mettille, Myles Moos, Kolby Vandenbergh, Chris Dick, Paul Stubber, John Gardner Jr., Jeff Riddell, Marvin Burton, Kyle Hammer, Russ Adams.
Second C-main (top two transfer): Chuck Mitchell, Donny Walden, Billy Hough, Justin Springer, Ben Nicastri, John Hahler, Dave Baldwin. Scratched: Jim Moon, Brian Diveley.
(12 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Bobby Pierce, Billy Drake
Row 2: Scott Bull, Joe Harlan
Row 3: Chris Simpson, Matt Westfall
Row 4: Kyle Logue, Ryan Unzicker
Row 5: Daniel Flessner, Timothy Culp
Row 6: Allen Murray, Steve Thorsten
Row 7: Torin Mettille, Chuck Mitchell
Row 8: Myles Moos, Donny Walden
(10 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Myles Moos, Torin Mettille
Row 2: Jeff Riddell, Kyle Hammer
Row 3: Marvin Burton, Chris Dick
Row 4: John Gardner Jr., Kolby Vandenbergh
Row 5: Russ Adams, Paul Stubber
(10; top two transfer)
Row 1: Chuck Mitchell, Billy Hough
Row 2: Donny Walden, Justin Springer
Row 3: John Hahler, Ben Nicastri
Row 4: Brian Dively, Dave Baldwin
Row 5: Jim Moon
Billy Moyer Jr. cruised to victory in the final heat race while runner-up Michael Kloos had his hands full with Brandon Sheppard through the first half of the race. Kloos finished .613 seconds behind Moyer in second with Sheppard further back in third. McKay Wenger got fourth after stealing the last transfer spot from Joe Harlan just before halfway. The race went caution-free.
Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer Jr., Michael Kloos, Brandon Sheppard, McKay Wenger, Joe Harlan, Ryan Unzicker, Steve Thorsten, Billy Hugh, Dave Baldwin, Ben Nicastri.
Polesitter Jason Feger got the jump on Kevin Weaver, then fought off a large charge by Weaver for a victory in the 10-lapper. Weaver was second with second-row statters Eric Smith and Mike Glasscock getting the other two transfer spots, Glasscock further back than the top three. Kyle Hammer's spin slowed the action on the fourth lap; another caution flew on a botched restart. Paul Stubber slowed with a flat left-rear tire on the eighth lap, but it didn't draw a caution.
Finish (top four transfer): Jason Feger, Kevin Weaver, Eric Smith, Mike Glasscock, Scott Bull, Kyle Logu, Alen Murray, Torin Mettille, Chris Dick, Kolby Vandenbergh, Paul Stubber.
Fast qualifier Kent Robinson got a good start and cruised in the high groove to win the second heat over Shannon Babb. Babb stayed with Robinson but never made a serious challenge while Daren Friedman was a bit further back in third. Bob Gardner got the final transfer spot a length ahead of Billy Drake. Two first-lap yellows slowed the race. The first start was called back and Gardner got out of shape in turn two on the second start (he got his spot back).
Finish (top four transfer): Kent Robinson, Shannon Babb, Daren Friedman, Bob Gardner, Billy Drake, Matt Westfall, Timothy Culp, Chuck Mitchell, Donny Walden, John Hahler, Brian Diveley.
Polesitter Mason Zeigler slid in front of fellow front-row starter Denni Erb Jr. in turn two on the first lap, then kept Erb in check the rest of the 10-lapper. The top two broke away frm the field by midway with Brian Shirley a distant third after getting out of shape in turn three on the third lap. Shirley transferred along with Scott Schmitt, who held off a late challenge from Bobby Pierce. The lone caution flew on the seventh lap when the No. 74 of Russ Adams went up in smoke and he stopped in front of the frontstretch grandstands. The caution period was lengthy as track workers made sure the oil dropped by the Adams machine wasn't an issue.
Finish (top four transfer): Mason Zeigler, Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley, Scott Schmitt, Bobby Pierce, Chris Simpson, Myles Moos, Daniel Flessner, John Gardner Jr., Marvin Burton, Jff Riddell, Russ Adams.
Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ill., topped 47 entrants in Friday’s qualifying at Farmer City Raceway, turning a lap of 12.432 seconds on the quarter-mile oval.
Robinson, looking for his first series victory, will start on the pole of the second heat race. Other heat race polesitters: Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., and Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark. Series pitns leader Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., is scheduled to start fifth in the first heat.
While rain has gotten the better of this year’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals, the tour appears to be ready to go out with a bang with 47 Super Late Models entered for the second-to-last event at a sun-covered Farmer City Raceway.
The month-long tour lost three consecutive events to rain for the second time this week (Vermilion County Speedway in Danville, Ill.; Florence Speedway in Union, Ky.; and Macon Speedway in Macon, Ill.) and, provided Farmer City and Oakshade Raceway’s finale are completed, will have the fewest points races since 1999.
Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., leads Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., by 40 points and can virtually clinch the title by finishing a few positions ahead of Moyer in Farmer City’s feature.
After group time trials, four heat races will send four drivers apiece to the Farmer City main event while two more drivers will transfer from a B-main (after two C-mains) to set a 22-car field with four provisional starters.
If he can wrap up the championship, Bobby Pierce would become the tour’s youngest champion at 18 years old. Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., was 20 when he won the 2013 title. … Series director Sam Driggers dismissed rumors that the series payoff that includes $25,000 to the champion would be reduced because of 11 rainouts. Any rumors are "absolutely not true,” and the posted points fund stand no matter how many series events are completed. … Driggers also said some of the track’s that lost races may add non-point UMP DIRTcar specials later this season paying $5,000-to-win. … Also, in the first drivers’ meeting since the Pierce-Jim Moon clash at Lincoln Speedway, Driggers angrily told drivers that any driver purposefully spinning a competitor would be disqualified. If you take someone out, Driggers said, “make it good, because it’ll be the last (bleeping) time you take sombody out.” ... Instead of heading to Oakshade for the finale, Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., plans to head to Wheatland, Mo., for Sunday's makeup of the $30,000-to-win Show-Me 100 on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (the tour is also racing in Wheatland on Saturday). Babb is locked into the crown jewel lineup along with Billy Moyer Jr. (Pierce and Jason Feger could opt to return to Wheatland on Sunday to start consolation races). ... Lucas Oil regulars Brandon Sheppard and Dennis Erb Jr. are also on hand at Farmer City en route to Wheatland. ... Crate Late Model regular Myles Moos of Lincoln, Ill., is making his fourth start of the season in Dennis Vandersmeerch's Super Late Models. "He wanted to go fast," said Vandersmeerch, who hasn't had as much time to race, "so we're letting him go fast."
Time trials (unofficial)
(Heat races start straightup by time)
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 12.501
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 12.563
Scott Schmitt (10), Tonica, Ill., 12.620
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 12.677
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 12.717
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 12.720
Daniel Flessner (9D), Roberts, Ill., 12.779
John Gardner Jr. (38c), Germantown Hills, Ill., 12.958
Marvin Burton (B97), Georgetown, Ill., 13.151
Myles Moos (25), Lincoln, Ill., 13.326
Jeff Riddell (09), Steward, Ill., 13.580
Russ Adams (74), Princeville, Ill., 13.644
Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ill., 12.432
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 12.583
Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill., 12.763
Daren Friedman (89), Forrest, Ill., 12.767
Matt Westfall (54), Ludlow Falls, Ohio, 12.821
Billy Drake (75), Bloomington, Ill., 12.886
Donny Walden (1w), Towanda, Ill., 12.889
Timothy Culp (c8), West Monroe, La., 12.964
Chuck Mitchell (134), Jacksonville, Ill., 13.000
Brian Diveley (11D), Springfield, Ill., 13.040
John Hahler (124), New Florence, Mo., 14.161
Jim Moon (25), New Florence, Mo., time unavailable
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 12.608
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 12.694
Mike Glasscock (30), LeRoy, Ill., 12.746
Eric Smith (9), Bloomington, Ill., 12.771
Scott Bull (83), Fairbury, Ill., 12.902
Kyle Logue (94), Cisco, Ill., 12.996
Allen Murray (2), San Antonio, Texas, 13.147
Kolby Vandenbergh (15), Ashland, Ill., 13.210
Paul Stubber (31), Bunbury, Western Australia, 13.343
Chris Dick (22), Deland, Ill., 13.375
Torin Mettille (116), Cullom, Ill., 13.488
Kyle Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 13.611
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 12.446
Michael Kloos (6k), Trenton, Ill., 12.735
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 12.766
Joe Harlan (Z), El Paso, Ill., 12.782
McKay Wenger (42), Fairbury, Ill., 12.826
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 12.966
Steve Thorsten (7T), Milford, Ill., 12.973
Ben Nicastri (99), Camden, New South Wales, 13.412
Justin Springer (60), Pekin, Ill., 13.472
Billy Hough (33), Thomasboro, Ill., 13.564
Dave Baldwin (6B), Perrysville, Ind., no time
Friday’s order of events
- Late Model hot laps
- Modified hot laps/time trials
- Late Model time trials
- Heat races (street stocks, Crate Late Models, Late Models, modifieds, hornets); four apiece transfer from Late Model heats
- Late Model C-mains (two apiece transfer to B-main)
- Modified C-main
- Late Model B-main
- Street stocks
- Crate Late Models
- Late Models