MACON, Ill. — Retaking the lead on lap 73 after a back-and-forth battle with Ryan Unzicker, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., ran away over the final 27 laps to win his second straight Herald & Review 100 at Macon Speedway. Pierce collected $5,000 for his third victory of the season on the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals tour.
The race winner held a 1.2-second advantage when the third and final caution waved on lap 76. With clear track in front of him on the restart, Pierce, 20, pulled away, leaving Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., to battle Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles Mo., and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., for the runner-up spot.
“That was probably one of the funnest races ever. Me and Ryan were duking it out so hard,” said Pierce. “Heck we rubbed fenders a little bit through lapped traffic. I’m just glad that (Bob) Pierce (Race) cars finished 1-2-3, so that’s pretty cool. Man it was such a fun race. Big shout out to Sargent on the race track. Heck we could go anywhere tonight.”
Gundaker, who started on the outside front row, slipped to seventh early in the race, but rallied back to grab the second spot from Unzicker in the waning laps. Sheppard, who was gunning for his sixth straight UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory, followed Gundaker by Unzicker as well, nicking him at the finish line to pace third.
Unzicker slipped to fourth at the finish despite a lengthy lead-swapping battle with polesitter Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., through the first 25 laps and then with Pierce through the middle stages of the race. Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., ran a steady race to finish fifth.
Gundaker led the first two laps before Babb finally nosed ahead on lap three. Unzicker and Moyer Jr. passed Gundaker on lap 7 as he continued to get shuffled back. After a pair of cautions slowed action around the 1/5-mile bull ring early, Babb raced back out front with Unzicker in tow. Unzicker appeared to lead laps 22 and 23, but Babb pulled back ahead. Finally, on lap 27 Unzicker took the lead.
“The car was really good. It shot out of the gate really nice,” said Unzicker. “I knew we was good when we was warming up the tires.”
As Unzicker settled into the lead, Pierce, who started fifth, worked his way up to second. He looked to the inside of the leader on lap 37. Eight laps later he blew by Unzicker on the outside as they exited turn four. Over the next 25 laps the two waged a thrilling battle for the lead, trading jabs with one another while countering each other’s attack blow for blow. Unzicker went back in front on lap 52. Pierce led lap 55. Unzicker was in front on lap 59, but it was Pierce at the point on lap 60.
Lap after lap, they chased one another through heavy traffic. In all, there were 12 official lead changes, among them were 10 between Pierce and Unzicker.
“Racing with Ryan like that, I don’t think me and him have raced side by side for the lead like that ever,” said Pierce. “With us being really good friends, that was a lot of fun too. Gordy getting up to second, that’s really cool for him too.”
After the final caution waved on lap 76, Gundaker, who had recovered from his slow start, continued to roll the bottom. By lap 82, he had managed to grab the second spot from Unzicker.
“I just didn’t get off to a very good start. I was kinda trying the top and bottom and couldn’t really get a hold of anything and fell back,” said Gundaker. “We had that (first) yellow and could catch my breath, regroup. We got rolling around there right around the bottom and I found something and I just kinda took my time. I knew we had 100 laps. I was biding my time. Getting around those lapped cars that was hectic (when) you get in traffic with those guys.”
While the cautions fell in Gundaker’s favor, the last one was a killer for Unzicker. Though he was trailing Pierce when the final yellow waved, he was still within striking distance. When racing resumed, however, he watched as the leader pulled away.
“I didn’t feel like that last caution really helped me,” Unzicker said. “After that caution the car just wasn’t sticking on the right rear. Before that caution it was. So I don’t know, maybe a tire cooled down or maybe I just had it too hot. I don’t know … what the hell. It was a good race between me and Bobby there. At the beginning I thought we were gonna have him and then he was gonna have us.
“Then the track started to fade in the middle there and that’s were I was good. Then I moved to the bottom and it was really good. I don’t think Bobby … he just didn’t trust his car as much down there. But he had a great car. He could move around.
“(I’m) pretty disappointed after leading some and swapping the lead with Bobby. I guess I can’t hang my head with B-Shepp passing me at the line, but you know, we were just trying to hang on there.”
Sheppard nipped Unzicker at the finish, despite having a car that wasn’t quite where he needed it to be.
“I didn’t have the car quite right tonight. We were off from the get-go. I considered pulling off about halfway through the race but I figured maybe I could ride around this bottom and salvage a decent finish out of it and Moyer Jr. got up underneath me with a few laps to go there and I decided to just go blast the cushion for a couple laps and got back to third so it was a decent night all in all for as off as we had the car.”
Notes: With the win, Pierce not only padded his UMP DIRTcar Summernationals points lead, he also took the early lead in the weekly points chase for the tour's designated Midwest Week, which runs July 5-9. The weekly points winner will receive $2,000 of the $5,000 points fund, which is sponsored by Petroff Towing. ... Seeking a record sixth Herald & Review 100 victory, Babb led a handful of laps early, but slid all the way back to eighth by race’s end. … The race lasted 27 minutes, 33 seconds, the quickest Herald & Review 100 in the past decade. … Bobby Pierce and his father Bob are the only father-son duo to win the race in its 37-year history. Bob has four wins in the event, including two — ’94 and ’01 — while UMP DIRTcar Summernationals sanctioned. … Sheppard was gunning for his sixth straight Hell Tour victory, but was said he wasn’t completely disappointed with his third-place finish. … Gundaker said he wouldn’t have been upset to see one more caution. “I think we might of had a shot at (Pierce),” he said. “I was rolling around that bottom pretty good. I would’ve like to have seen what we could have done. But this feels like a win to run second at a big race like this. We’ll take it and keep moving on.” … Rusty Schlenk brought out the first caution when he spun on lap nine. Paul Stubber spun in turn four to bring out the second caution. The third caution was for Timothy Culp, who rolled to a stop after his car began spraying sparks from beneath the rear end with 24 laps remaining.
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Gordy Gundaker
Row 2: Billy Moyer Jr., Brian Shirley
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Ryan Unzicker
Row 4: Kevin Weaver, Brandon Sheppard
Row 5: Jordan Bauer, Timothy Culp
Row 6: Rusty Schlenk, Eric Cooley
Row 7: Austin Theiss, Brent Larson
Row 8: Daryn Klein, Bob Gardner
Row 9: Rusty Griffaw, Jeff Herzog
Row 10: Dustin Nobbe, Jason Feger
Row 11: Michael Kloos, Paul Stubber
Rusty Griffaw turned back early challenges from Don Hammer to win the B-main and earn a starting spot in the feature. Hammer held the final transfer spot until the final lap when Jeff Herzog dove to the bottom and grabbed the spot. Jason Feger started 13th and rallied to fourth at the finish. Feger and Michael Kloos, will join Dustin Nobbe and Paul Stubber taking provisionals to start the A-main.
Finish (top two transfer): Rusty Griffaw, Jeff Herzog, Don Hammer, Jason Feger, Justin Reed, Greg Kimmons, Richie Standridge, Tommy Sheppard Jr., Blaze Burwell, Jeff Riddell, Cody Maguire, Brandon Hogenson, Paul Stubber, Michael Kloos, Dustin Nobbe
(12 laps: top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Don Hammer, Rusty Griffaw
Row 2: Justin Reed, Michael Kloos
Row 3: Jeff Herzog, Tommy Sheppard Jr.
Row 4: Paul Stubber, Greg Kimmons
Row 5: Jeff Riddell, Blaze Burwell
Row 6: Adam Tischhauser, Richie Standridge
Row 7: Jason Feger, Dustin Nobbe
Row 8: Brandon Hogenson, Cody Maguire
Feger took the lead on opening lap in a C-main that only drew five of the nine scheduled starters. Feger led the distance, with Dustin Nobbe riding second and Brandon Hogenson third. Cody Maguire went from first to fourth, but managed to transfer to the B-main.
Finish (top four transfer): Jason Feger, Dustin Nobbe, Brandon Hogenson, Cody Maguire, Bryan Leach
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Cody Maguire, Bryan Leach
Row 2: Andrew Barnes, Rick Standridge
Row 3: Brandon Hogenson, Jason Feger
Row 4: Steve Roberts, Dustin Nobbe
Row 5: Brent McKinnon
Billy Moyer Jr. and Brandon Sheppard swapped the top spot early before Moyer Jr. finally took the lead. Dustin Nobbe spun out of a transfer spot to draw the first and only caution. Eric Cooley raced his way into the third spot, while Bob Gardner finished fourth.
Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Eric Cooley, Bob Gardner, Michael Kloos, Greg Kimmons, Richie Standridge, Rick Standridge, Dustin Nobbe
Overall fast qualifier Shannon Babb led flag-to-flag to win the third heat. After being held up early by a struggling Steven Roberts, Kevin Weaver and Rusty Schlenk made their way to the second and third spots. Roberts spun on lap five to bring out the first of two cautions, giving the low-running Weaver a shot at Babb. Babb pulled away on the restart to win over Weaver and Schlenk. Daryn Klein grabbed the final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Shannon Babb, Kevin Weaver, Rusty Schlenk, Daryn Klein, Justin Reed, Paul Stubber, Adam Tischhauser, Steven Roberts, Andrew Barnes
Brian Shirley inherited the lead with two laps remaining when race-long leader Jason Feger had a left rear flat and spun in turn two. Shirley paced the final two laps to win ahead of Ryan Unzicker. Timothy Culp emerged from an early battle with Rusty Griffaw and Brent Larson to grab the third spot. Larson finished fourth.
Finish (top four transfer): Brian Shirley, Ryan Unzicker, Timothy Culp, Brent Larson, Rusty Griffaw, Tommy Sheppard Jr., Blaze Burwell, Bryan Leach, Jason Feger
Using the topside to his advantage, Gordy Gundaker powered into the lead past polesitter Bobby Pierce on the second lap and went on to win the first heat race. The low-running Pierce finally conceded the spot and fell in line. Jordan Bauer fell back early, but ran down the leaders by the halfway mark and was within striking distance when the first and only caution waved for Brent McKinnon, who got upside down on the backstretch after a tangle with Don Hammer. McKinnon was OK. On the restart, Gundaker and Pierce pulled away, while Bauer grabbed third and Austin Theiss followed to take the final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Gordy Gundaker, Bobby Pierce, Jordan Bauer, Austin Theiss, Don Hammer, Jeff Herzog, Jeff Riddell, Cody Maguire, Brandon Hogenson, Brent McKinnon
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Bobby Pierce, Gordy Gundaker
Row 2: Jordan Bauer, Austin Theiss
Row 3: Jeff Herzog, Don Hammer
Row 4: Brent McKinnon, Jeff Riddell
Row 5: Brandon Hogenson, Cody Maguire
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Kevin Weaver
Row 2: Steven Roberts, Rusty Schlenk
Row 3: Paul Stubber, Adam Tischhauser
Row 4: Daryn Klein, Justin Reed
Row 5: Andrew Barnes
Row 1: Ryan Unzicker, Jason Feger
Row 2: Brian Shirley, Rusty Griffaw
Row 3: Brent Larson, Timothy Culp
Row 4: Bryan Leach, Tommy Sheppard Jr.
Row 5: Blaze Burwell
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 2: Dustin Nobbe, Eric Cooley
Row 3: Bob Gardner, Greg Kimmons
Row 4: Michael Kloos, Rick Standridge
Row 5: Richie Standridge
Hometown favorite Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, drew loud cheers from the Macon crowd when he stopped the clock at 10.333 seconds to set the overall fast time. Babb’s mark was just shy of the track record of 10.228 seconds set April 30, 2015 by Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark. Babb, who went out toward the end of the second group, will start on the pole of the second heat race. Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., was the fast qualifier in the first group with a time of 10.458 and will start on the pole of the first heat. Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., earned the pole positions for the other two heats.
Early afternoon showers dotted the map but managed to split Mighty Macon, leaving clear evening skies for tonight’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals race. The area showers did little to help with soaring afternoon temperatures, which peaked near 90 degrees on a muggy central Illinois day. … After a rainout on Wednesday night, Thursday’s race at Macon kicks off Midwest Week for the tour’s weekly points fund. Midwest Week, which has a $5,000 points fund sponsored by Petroff Towing, officially runs from July 5 through July 9 at Kickapoo Speedway in Danville, Ill. … The 37 cars on hand are the most for a Hell Tour race at Macon since 2012, when the event drew 38 cars. … Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., said Tuesday night that he was thinking about skipping Belle-Clair, but after his fifth straight series victory he couldn’t pass it up. With Wednesday’s rainout, he didn’t have to worry about making that decision. He’s in the pits tonight aiming for his sixth-straight Hell Tour win, which would tie him with Billy Moyer, Shannon Babb and Scott Bloomquist for the tour’s second-longest win streak. Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., owns the series record with seven consecutive victories during the 2011 season. … Among drivers joining the tour tonight, Eric Cooley from Fulton, Miss., and Timothy Culp of Prattsville, Ark. “It was a last-minute thing,” said Cooley of his trek north, adding that he was bored sitting home. “You’ve gotta start somewhere. We might as well start at the hardest place. (We) just wanted something to do and I’m always up for a challenge.” … Former NASCAR drivers Kenny Schrader and Kenny Wallace are on hand piloting their modifieds. ... Former Macon Summernationals winners competing Thursday include Bobby Pierce, Babb, Brian Shirley and Kevin Weaver. Pierce’s crew chief father Bob Pierce won here in 1994 and 2001.
Time trial results (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 10.458
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 10.536
Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 10.551
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 10.674
Jordan Bauer (9*), Highland, Ill., 10.688
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 10.693
Austin Theiss (7D), Hockley, Texas, 10.775
Rusty Griffaw (16), Festus, Mo., 10.880
Jeff Herzog (11H), Herculaneum, Mo., 10.928
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 11.027
Don Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 11.057
Timothy Culp (c8), Prattsville, Ark., 11.118
Brent McKinnon (26M), Carlyle, Ill., 11.232
Bryan Leach (12L), Waggoner, Ill., 11.522
Jeff Riddell (09), Steward, Ill., 11.593
Tommy Sheppard (T6), New Berlin, Ill., 11.772
Brandon Hogenson (6WGY), Granite City, Ill., 11.876
Blaze Burwell (44), Mt. Vernon, Ill., 11.981
Cody Maguire (32M), Carlinville, Ill., 12.143
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 10.338
Brandon Sheppard (5B), New Berlin, Ill., 10.482
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 10.512
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 10.635
Steve Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., 10.638
Dustin Nobbe (5N), Batesville, Ind., 10.714
Rusty Schlenk (1cj), Weston, Ohio, 10.791
Eric Cooley (33B), Fulton, Miss., 10.831
Paul Stubber (31AUS), West Bunbury, Australia, 10.900
Bob Gardner (4G), Washington, Ill., 10.912
Adam Tischhauser (4T), Mulberry Grove, Ill., 10.922
Greg Kimmons (27), Pleasant Plains, Ill., 10.950
Daryn Klein (10), Fairview Heights, Ill., 11.074
Michael Kloos (6k), Trenton, Ill., 11.171
Justin Reed (11jr), Camp Point, Ill., 11.177
Andrew Barnes (36), Assumption, Ill., 11.178
Rick Standridge (16s), Collinsville, Ill., 11.261
Richie Standridge (12), Caseyville, Ill., 11.724
Macon Speedway hosts Thursday's 18th round of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals with a $5,000-to-win purse on the line at the 1/5-mile oval.
After a rainout at Belle-Clair on Wednesday night, the Hell Tour moved north for the 37th Herald & Review 100. It’s the 18th race on a month-long grind that has now suffered three rainouts .
Points leader and defending series champion Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., won the tour stop at Macon last season, while Shannon Babb of nearby Moweaqua, Ill. — Pierce’s closest pursuer in the points race — won at Macon in 2013 and 2014.
Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, winner of five straight Hell Tour events, aims for his sixth straight win tonight, but although Sheppard never won a Summernationals race at Macon.
4 p.m. - Gates open
5:30 p.m. - Drivers' meeting (draw closes)
6 p.m. - Hot laps/time trials
- UMP DIRTcar Late Model hot laps
- B-Mod hot laps
- Modified hot laps/time trials
- UMP DIRTcar Late Model time trials
- B-Mods heats
- Modified heats
- UMP DIRTcar Late Model heats (10 laps)
— B-mains as needed
- UMP DIRTcar Late Models (100 laps)